News

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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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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'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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Army’s “Robo-Raven” UAV Flies with Flapping Wings

In the future, it's possible that some unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) might sport wings that flap like a bird or a butterfly. The Army Research Lab has been testing such a UAV, known as Robo-Raven.

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Remotely Piloted Plane Bridges Gap Between Wind Tunnel and Crewed Testing

A new modular, subscale remotely piloted aircraft offers NASA researchers more affordable options for developing a wide range of cutting edge aviation and space technologies. The Prototype-Technology Evaluation and Research Aircraft (PTERA) flying laboratory bridges the gap between wind tunnels and crewed flight testing.

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Gamma-Ray Spectroscope Supports Asteroid Mining Missions

A new gamma-ray spectroscope detects the veins of gold, platinum, and rare earths hidden within the asteroids, moons, and other airless objects floating around the solar system. The sensor, developed by teams at Vanderbilt and Fisk Universities, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Planetary Science Institute, will allow miners to find valuable materials beyond Earth.

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