News

Electrical Current Sensors Harvest Wasted Electromagnetic Energy

New smart sensors produce large and clear output voltage signals, which are 2,000 times higher than the traditional current sensors.Measuring about 1 mm in thickness, the chip can be placed on any sensing point of interest such as electrical cables, conductors, junctions, and bus bars to detect electrical currents. Made from rare earth multiferroics with giant magnetoelectric properties, the chip enables a direct detection of magnetic fields generated by electricity and a linear conversion of these magnetic fields into electrical voltage signals. The smart wireless sensors, which do not have power cords and electronic active components, can now reach hard-to-access locations such as rails where conventional sensors are either impossible or not cost effective.SourceAlso: Learn about a Miniature Fine Sun Sensor for Nanosatellites.

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NASA Laser Technology Tracks Earth's Ice Sheets

A photon-counting technique will allow NASA researchers to track the melt or growth of Earth’s frozen regions. CESat-2 is tasked with measuring elevation across Earth's entire surface, including vegetation and oceans, but with a focus on change in the frozen areas of the planet, where scientists have observed dramatic impacts from climate change. There, two types of ice – ice sheets and sea ice – reflect light photons in different patterns. Ice sheets and glaciers are found on land, like Greenland and Antarctica, and are formed as frozen snow and rain accumulates. Sea ice, on the other hand, is frozen seawater, found floating in the Arctic Ocean and offshore of Antarctica."Using the individual photons to measure surface elevation is a really new thing," said Ron Kwok, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's never been done from orbiting satellites, and it hasn't really been done much with airborne instruments, either."SourceAlso: Read a "Who's Who" Q&A with glaciologist Lora Koenig.

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Film Industry Technology Enables Motion Analysis of Stroke Patients

Researchers have been using 3D technology from the film industry to analyze the everyday movements of stroke patients. The results indicate that computerized motion analysis increases knowledge of how stroke patients can improve their ability to move through rehabilitation.

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Micro-Sized Motor is 1,000 Times More Powerful Than Human Muscle

A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that for its size is a thousand times more powerful than a human muscle, able to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within 60 milliseconds – faster than the blink of an eye.

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Handheld Device Hoists Soldiers in Seconds

Since MIT spinout Atlas Devices’ flagship product, the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender (APA), first hit the market in 2007, it’s been touted as a real-world version of Batman’s famed utility-belt grappling gun: At the pull of a trigger, the handheld device can hoist two people about 30 stories up a rope in 30 seconds. Now the device is becoming a practical tool for motorized scaling (or “power ascension”) in the military and other fields.

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Electrical Generator Harnesses Power of Evaporating Water

A new type of electrical generator uses bacterial spores to harness the untapped power of evaporating water, according to research conducted at the Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Its developers foresee electrical generators driven by changes in humidity from sun-warmed ponds and harbors.The prototype generators work by harnessing the movement of a sheet of rubber coated on one side with spores. The sheet bends when it dries out, much as a pine cone opens as it dries or a freshly fallen leaf curls, and then straightens when humidity rises. Such bending back and forth means that spore-coated sheets or tiny planks can act as actuators that drive movement, and that movement can be harvested to generate electricity.SourceAlso: Learn about a Phase Change Material Thermal Power Generator.

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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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