Inexpensive Nano-Camera Operates at the Speed of Light

A $500 nano-camera that can operate at the speed of light has been developed by researchers in the MIT Media Lab. The three-dimensional cameracould be used in medical imaging and collision-avoidance detectors for cars, and to improve the accuracy of motion tracking and gesture-recognition devices used in interactive gaming. The camera is based on “time of flight” technology like that used in Microsoft’s recently launched second-generation Kinect device, in which the location of objects is calculated by how long it takes a light signal to reflect off a surface and return to the sensor. However, unlike existing devices based on this technology, the new camera is not fooled by rain, fog, or even translucent objects. In a conventional time of flight camera, a light signal is fired at a scene, where it bounces off an object and returns to strike the pixel. Since the speed of light is known, it is then simple for the camera to calculate the distance the signal has travelled and therefore the depth of the object it has been reflected from. Unfortunately though, changing environmental conditions, semitransparent surfaces, edges, or motion all create multiple reflections that mix with the original signal and return to the camera, making it difficult to determine which is the correct measurement. Instead, the new device uses an encoding technique commonly used in the telecommunications industry to calculate the distance a signal has traveled. The idea is similar to existing techniques that clear blurring in photographs. The new model, which the team has dubbed nanophotography, unsmears the individual optical paths. The camera probes the scene with a continuous-wave signal that oscillates at nanosecond periods. This allows the team to use inexpensive hardware — off-the-shelf light-emitting diodes (LEDs) can strobe at nanosecond periods, for example — meaning the camera can reach a time resolution within one order of magnitude of femtophotography while costing just $500. Source

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Funding Opportunity: Develop Advanced Biomass Supply Chain Technologies

The Department of Energy has announced about $6 million in funding for projects that will develop and demonstrate supply chain technologies to deliver commercial-scale lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks to biorefineries across the country.

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Can Cobalt-Graphene Beat Out Platinum As Catalyst in Hydrogen Fuel Cells?

Platinum works well as a catalyst in hydrogen fuel cells, but it is expensive and degrades over time. Brown University chemist Shouheng Sun and his students have developed a new material — a graphene sheet covered by cobalt and cobalt-oxide nanoparticles — that can catalyze the oxygen reduction reaction nearly as well as platinum does and is substantially more durable.

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'Nanoflowers' for Energy Storage and Solar Cells

North Carolina State University researchers have created flower-like structures out of germanium sulfide (GeS) – a semiconductor material – that have extremely thin petals with an enormous surface area. The GeS flowers hold promise for next-generation energy storage devices and solar cells.

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Harnessing the Power of Spinach

Vanderbilt University researches have developed a way to combine Photosystem 1 (PS1), the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon (the material used in solar cells), in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous biohybrid solar cells.

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Starting Point for Overcoming Barrier to Fusion Power

The accuracy of a new model for predicting the size of a key barrier to fusion power, which was developed by physicist Robert Goldston of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), has been confirmed. Goldston’s model predicts the width of what physicists call the “scrape-off layer” in tokamaks, the most widely used fusion facilities.

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Promoting Virtual Power Plants for Efficient Renewable Energy Production

Researchers from the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton have devised a novel method for forming virtual power plants (VPPs) to provide renewable energy production in the UK. Small and distributed energy resources (DERs), such as wind farms and solar panels, have been appearing in greater numbers in the electricity supply network (Grid).

Posted in: News, News, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Wind Power, Smart Grid, Mathematical/Scientific Software