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Paper-Like Material Boosts Electric Vehicle Batteries

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. The spongelike silicon nanofibers are 100 times thinner than human hair. The technology could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate. The material is then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.The researchers’ future work involves implementing the silicon nanofibers into a pouch cell format lithium-ion battery, which is a larger scale battery format that can be used in EVs and portable electronics.The technology has the potential to boost by several times the amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.SourceAlso: Learn about NASA's Power Generation & Storage technologies.

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Achieve Better Process Controls with Light Cure Technology

In manufacturing, process controls are used to ensure that products are made to the highest standard possible. When effective procedures are laid out for each step in the manufacturing process, it's much easier to reduce the risk of damage, failure, and loss. Employees are able to understand what to do, when to do it, and how to do it well. Good process controls help a company turn out the best version of its product and have fewer headaches along the way. But some technologies lend themselves to smoother processes than others. Light-curable materials in the manufacturing process actually allow for better process controls than other adhesive options. This white paper shows the benefits of using them, and what those process controls look like.

Posted in: White Papers

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Self-Powered Intelligent Keyboard Could Provide Additional Security

By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered, non-mechanical, intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users. The self-powered device generates electricity when a user’s fingertips contact the multi-layer plastic materials that make up the device.

Posted in: News, Board-Level Electronics, Computers, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Energy Harvesting

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Piezoelectricity in 2D Semiconductor Holds Promise for Future MEMs

A door has been opened to low-power off/on switches in micro-electro- mechanical systems (MEMS) and nanoelectronic devices, as well as ultrasensitive bio-sensors, with the first observation of piezoelectricity in a free standing two-dimensional semiconductor by a team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Xiang Zhang, director of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division and an international authority on nanoscale engineering, led a study in which piezoelectricity – the conversion of mechanical energy into electricity or vice versa – was demonstrated in a free standing single layer of molybdenum disulfide, a 2D semiconductor that is a potential successor to silicon for faster electronic devices in the future.

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How Do You Assess Image Quality?

What does "image quality" mean for you? What exactly differentiates a "good" from a "bad" image? How can image quality be measured in an industrial camera and which criteria are used to assess it?

Posted in: White Papers

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Underwater Robot Monitors Marine Habitats

A new underwater robot designed by University of Washington researchers will monitor the effects of tidal and wave energy on marine habitats.The instrument package has a range of technologies: a stereo camera to collect photos and video, a sonar system, hydrophones to hear marine mammal activity, sensors to gauge water quality and speed, a click detector to listen for whales, dolphins and porpoises, and a device to detect fish tags. A fiber optic cable connection back to shore allows for real-time monitoring and control, and the device will be powered by a copper wire.The instruments fit inside a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, that can maneuver underwater and drop off the instrumentation package at a docking station integrated onto a turbine or other existing subsea infrastructure. The tool attaches to most types of underwater infrastructure, ranging from tidal turbines to offshore oil and gas rigs.Researchers outfitted the underwater surveying machine with five extra thrusters on an external frame to give it more power to move against strong currents. Actuators on the vehicle latch the monitoring instruments onto a subsea docking station, and then the robot can disengage, leaving the instruments in place, and travel back to the water’s surface.The team tested the vehicle, dubbed the"Millennium Falcon," and the instruments it transports, called the Adaptable Monitoring Package, underwater for the first time in January. UW will continue testing in Puget Sound under more challenging conditions starting this month.SourceAlso: Learn about Biologically Inspired Robots.

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NASA Instrument Measures Methane

A NASA scientist, who has played a key role in developing and demonstrating a new technique for gathering carbon-dioxide (CO2) measurements, is applying the same general principles to develop a new laser instrument sensitive to another greenhouse gas, methane.A team, led by the NASA researcher Haris Riris, demonstrated a prototype Methane Sounder. The next-generation instrument will be able to provide remotely collected, high-resolution, highly accurate, around-the-clock global methane measurements should it ultimately fly as a spaceborne instrument. Although carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, lingers in the atmosphere longer, methane is in some respects more worrisome. It is more potent and effective at absorbing heat. Exacerbating concerns is the fact that large quantities of the gas reside beneath permanently frozen ground in the Arctic. As the permafrost melts, which scientists say currently is occurring, more of this gas is released into the atmosphere, creating a feedback mechanism, where emissions lead to more warming, which in turn accelerates the melting.Although some satellite instruments can detect and map Earth’s methane, Riris’ concept gives scientists something they don’t currently have — 24-hour coverage at all latitudes. In sharp contrast to many methane instruments, the Methane Sounder also employs its own light source — tunable laser transmitters. Although laser light cannot penetrate thick clouds, it can measure through thin clouds and particles and at night, which is impossible for passive systems that rely on reflected sunlight for their source of illumination.To gather methane data, the team’s instrument works much like the CO2 Sounder. The system bounces a laser light tuned to a specific wavelength band — in this case, 1.65 microns — off Earth’s surface. Like all atmospheric gases, methane will absorb the light as it travels back to the orbiting instrument. The more methane molecules along the path, the deeper the absorption lines as measured by the instrument’s detectors.SourceAlso: Learn about an Oxygen-Methane Thruster.

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