News

Researchers Create 3D-Printed Soil

Soil scientists at Abertay University are using 3D printing technology to find out, for the very first time, exactly what is going on in the world beneath our feet.The detailed plastic cubes are replicas of the structure of the soil, and are being used by the scientists as experimental systems in the lab.By inserting microorganisms (such as fungi and bacteria) into the pore spaces within the plastic soil, the scientists can now observe how these microorganisms move through it, survive, find food sources and interact. Source Also: NASA’s Next Rover Features 3D-Printed Parts.

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Research Develop 'E-Whisker' Tactile Sensors

Researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have created tactile sensors from composite films of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles similar to the highly sensitive whiskers of cats and rats. The new e-whiskers respond to pressure as slight as a single Pascal, about the pressure exerted on a table surface by a dollar bill. Among their many potential applications is giving robots new abilities to “see” and “feel” their surrounding environment.In this latest effort, the team used a carbon nanotube paste to form an electrically conductive network matrix with excellent bendability. To this carbon nanotube matrix they loaded a thin film of silver nanoparticles that endowed the matrix with high sensitivity to mechanical strain.SourceAlso: Read about Blade Tip Clearance Sensors for Engine Health Monitoring.

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Research Aircraft Measures Climate Effects on Clouds

Which climate effects do clouds have? Under what conditions do they warm or cool the atmosphere? The research aircraft HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) is measuring vertical profiles of all components of atmospheric water such as vapor, liquid, and ice in both cloud and precipitation forms, as well as the aerosol particles upon which cloud droplets form. The aircraft, equipped with a large amount of advanced technology, is an initiative by German climate and environmental research institutions.

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Army Counters Unmanned Aircraft System Threats

As the military use of unmanned aircraft systems has increased dramatically, including by entities that may pose a threat to the United States, scientists at Picatinny Arsenal are part of the effort to counter potential threats to U.S. armed forces by such systems.

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NASA Powers Up Avionics System for Newest Rocket

The modern avionics system that will guide the most powerful rocket ever built was integrated and powered up for an inaugural run. When completed, the Space Launch System (SLS) will be capable of powering humans and potential science payloads to deep space. It has the greatest capacity of any launch system ever built, minimizing cost and risk of deep space journeys.

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Carbon Nanotube Sponge Improves Water Clean-Up

Carbon nanotube (CNT) sponges, uniquely doped with sulphur, demonstrated a high capacity to absorb both wastewater and oil, potentially opening up the possibility of using the material in industrial accidents and oil spill clean-ups.CNTs are hollow cylindrical structures composed of a single sheet of carbon. Owing to their structure, CNTs have extraordinary thermal, chemical and mechanical properties that have led to an array of applications from body armour to solar panels.  They have been touted as excellent candidates for wastewater clean-up; however, problems have arisen when trying to handle the fine powders and eventually retrieve them from the water.In the new study, the researchers, from the University of Roma, University of Nantes and University of L’Aquila, bulked up the CNTs to the necessary size by adding sulphur during the production process―the resulting sponge had an average length of 20 mm.The addition of sulphur caused defects to form on the surface of the CNT sponges which then enabled ferrocene, which was also added during the production process, to deposit iron into tiny capsules within the carbon shells.The presence of iron meant the sponges could be magnetically controlled and driven without any direct contact, easing the existing problem of trying to control CNTs when added onto the water’s surface.SourceAlso: Learn about Use of Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes for Covalent Attachment.

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Bio-Bots Swim by Themselves

Engineers developed the first tiny, synthetic machines that can swim by themselves, powered by beating heart cells.The bio-bots are modeled after single-celled creatures with long tails called flagella – for example, sperm. The researchers begin by creating the body of the bio-bot from a flexible polymer. Then they culture heart cells near the junction of the head and the tail. The cells self-align and synchronize to beat together, sending a wave down the tail that propels the bio-bot forward.The team also built two-tailed bots, which they found can swim even faster. Multiple tails also opens up the possibility of navigation. The researchers envision future bots that could sense chemicals or light and navigate toward a target for medical or environmental applications. Source Also: Read other Medical tech briefs.

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