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Silicon Block Inspection with SWIR Imaging

In a world where oil production is declining, and where both nuclear energy plant and spent-fuel storage safety have proven to be inadequate, there is increased pressure on solar power generation to fill the gap. In response to the increased demands for energy, the photovoltaic manufacturing industry has focused on two primary objectives: driving down the cost of solar panels and increasing panel efficiency.

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Solar energy, Product development, Production, Silicon alloys, Inspections

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New Video Documents Three-Year Trek by Mars Rover

A new video compiles 309 images taken by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, providing an historic record of a three-year trek that totaled about 13 miles across a Martian plain pocked with smaller craters. While Opportunity was traveling from Victoria crater to Endeavour crater, between September 2008 and August 2011, the rover team took an end-of-drive image on each Martian day that included a drive. The video featuring the end-of-drive images shows the rim of Endeavour becoming visible on the horizon partway through the journey and growing larger as Opportunity neared that goal. The drive included detours, as Opportunity went around large expanses of treacherous terrain along the way.

Posted in: Articles, Video, Imaging and visualization, Documentation, Historical reference, Spacecraft

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Retrofitting for Sustainability: Carbon-Smart and Cost-Effective Solutions

As the sustainable design movement continues to grow rapidly throughout the US, architectural engineers, building product manufacturers, and construction business owners must keep up with stringent environmental regulations amidst a quickly changing landscape of new green materials.

Posted in: Features, GDM, Articles, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Materials

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New NASA Material Redefines “Dark”

NASA engineers have produced a material that absorbs, on average, more than 99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared, and far-infrared light that hits it -- a development that promises to open new frontiers in space technology. Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, developed the nanotech-based coating, a thin layer of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (tiny hollow tubes made of pure carbon about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair). They are positioned vertically on various substrate materials, much like a shag rug. The team has grown the nanotubes on silicon, silicon nitride, titanium, and stainless steel -- materials commonly used in space-based scientific instruments.

Posted in: Articles, Materials, Exterior lighting, Product development, Materials properties

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NASA Looks to Make Tractor Beams a Reality

Tractor beams — the ability to trap and move objects using laser light — are not just “Star Trek” science fiction, and are not beyond current technology. A team of NASA scientists has won funding to study the concept of remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles, and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis. NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) has awarded Principal Investigator Paul Stysley and team members Demetrios Poulios and Barry Coyle at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland funding to study three experimental methods for capturing particles and transporting them via laser light to an instrument. Once delivered, an instrument would then characterize their composition. The team has identified three different approaches for transporting particles, as well as single molecules, viruses, ribonucleic acid, and fully functioning cells, using the power of light. The team will study the state of the technology to determine which of the three techniques would apply best to sample collection. One technique is the optical vortex or "optical tweezers" method, and involves the use of two counter-propagating beams of light. Another technique employs optical solenoid beams — those whose intensity peaks spiral around the axis of propagation. The third technique exists only on paper and involves the use of a Bessel beam. Click here to watch a video of how a hypothetical future mission might employ tractor beam technology.

Posted in: Articles, Lasers & Laser Systems, Lasers, Materials handling, Robotics, Spacecraft

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Industry Update: Analysis & Simulation Software

While industry continues to weather a slowly improving economy, there is optimism among leading vendors in the analysis and simulation software market. In our annual poll of executives in this area, we found that while there is still a long way to go, growth is occurring, and the products are evolving. Other positive trends are strides in high-performance computing, and the increasing use of simulation and analysis at all levels of the development process.One of the advantages resulting from a slow economy is the increased scrutiny placed on reducing expenses and improving efficiency. This has been the case during the past few years in the simulation and analysis software arena. “The simulation market has continued to grow strongly over the years since 2008 as companies have increasingly moved to simulation to help them reduce the time and costs of expensive physical prototyping,” said Dale Berry, Director of Technical Marketing for Dassault Systèmes SIMULIA.

Posted in: Articles, Simulation Software, Software, Computer simulation, Simulation and modeling, Cost analysis, Market research

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Grand Prize Winner

Alpha-Screen (αScreen) Fast and Cheap Bacteria DetectionMonika Weber, Christopher Yerino, Hazael Montanaro, Kane Siu Lung Lo, and Mark Reed, Yale University, New Haven, CT Every year, food-borne bacteria cause thousands of infections in humans and animals. Outbreaks of E.Coli and Salmonella commonly occur in meat, vegetables, and processed food products. The most recent and deadliest recorded E.Coli outbreak caused 39 deaths and over 3,500 reported cases of poisoning in May and June of this year in Germany. An effective method for disease detection and prevention is still missing, mostly due to long incubation times and a high operation cost associated with conventional methods.

Posted in: Articles, Detectors, Design processes, Collaboration and partnering, Product development

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