Sponge-Like Material Soaks Up Oil Spills

In hopes of limiting the disastrous environmental effects of massive oil spills, scientists from Drexel University and Deakin University, in Australia, have teamed up to manufacture and test a new material. The boron nitride nanosheet absorbs up to 33 times its weight in oils and organic solvents — a trait that supports the quick mitigation of costly accidents.

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Tiny Lenses Capture Very Big View

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the first- ever flexible, Fresnel zone plate microlenses with a wide field of view — a development that could allow everything from surgical scopes to security cameras to capture a broader perspective. The advance centers on a method for creating tiny lenses, each the size of a grain of salt, embedded within a flexible plastic polymer. This approach allowed the researchers, led by Hongrui Jiang, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Lynn H. Matthias Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, to bend an array of multiple lenses into a cylindrical structure. An array of these miniscule lenses, each no larger than a head of a pin, can capture an almost complete panorama, producing images from a 170-degree field of view.

Posted in: Articles, News, Optics, Photonics
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New Electron Microscopy Method Sculpts 3-D Structures at Atomic Level

Electron microscopy researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a unique way to build 3-D structures with finely controlled shapes as small as one to two billionths of a meter. The new technique demonstrates how scanning transmission electron microscopes, normally used as imaging tools, are also capable of precision sculpting of nanometer-sized 3-D features in complex oxide materials.

Posted in: Articles, News, Imaging
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Onion-Like Layers Help New Nanoparticle Glow

A new, onion-like nanoparticle could open new frontiers in bioimaging, solar energy harvesting and light-based security techniques.

Posted in: Articles, News, Energy, Solar Power, Imaging
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Infrared Camera Detects Industrial Gas Leaks

A new low-cost infrared camera makes it possible to quickly and efficiently detect gas leaks that can occur in different industrial facilities. The system can detect gas leaks that are normally invisible to the human eye thanks to a camera that recognizes the infrared signature of these compounds (infrared is electromagnetic and thermal radiation with longer wavelengths than visible light).

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Camera Reveals Details Invisible to the Naked Eye

Researchers at the University of Washington and Microsoft Research developed HyperCam, a lower-cost hyperspectral camera that uses both visible and invisible near-infrared light to “see” beneath surfaces and capture unseen details. Hyperspectral imaging is used today in everything from satellite imaging and energy monitoring to infrastructure and food safety inspections, but the technology’s high cost has limited its use to industrial or commercial purposes.

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Optical System Enables Imaging of Ultrafast Phenomena

A new, all-optical method for compressing narrow electron pulses to a billionth of a billionth of a second could improve real-time movies of chemical reactions and other ultrafast processes.

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NASA's EPIC Camera Captures Developing Tropical Lows

NASA's Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured three developing tropical low-pressure areas in the Indian Ocean. The EPIC instrument flies aboard NOAA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite. EPIC views the entire sunlit face of the Earth from sunrise to sunset in 10 narrowband channels, from ultraviolet to near infrared.

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'Invisible' Wires Improve Solar-Cell Efficiency

Scientists from Stanford University have discovered how to make the electrical wiring on top of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light. The new design, which uses silicon nanopillars to hide the wires, could dramatically boost solar-cell efficiency.

In most solar cells, the upper contact consists of a metal wire grid that carries electricity to or from the device. The wires, however, also act like a mirror and prevent sunlight from reaching the semiconductor, which is usually made of silicon.

The Stanford team placed a 16-nanometer-thick film of gold conducting metal on a flat sheet of silicon. The gold film was riddled with an array of nanosized square holes, but to the eye, the surface looked like a shiny, gold mirror.

To hide the reflective gold film, the engineers created nanosized silicon pillars that "tower" above the gold film and redirect the sunlight before it hits the metallic surface.

In addition to silicon, the new technology can be used with other semiconducting materials for a variety of applications, including photosensors, light-emitting diodes and displays and transparent batteries, as well as solar cells.

Source

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NASA Studies How Volcanic Ash Affects Airplane Engines

NASA researchers are poring over data from a recent test that involved sending volcanic ash through an airplane engine. The primary issue, according to NASA, is that volcanic ash forms glass in the hot sections of some engines that clogs cooling holes and chokes off flow within the engine, which can eventually lead to an engine power loss.

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