News

Fluidic Actuator Harnesses Instability to Trigger Movement

Soft machines and robots are becoming more and more functional, capable of moving, jumping, gripping an object, and even changing color. The elements responsible for their actuation motion are often soft, inflatable segments called fluidic actuators. These actuators require large amounts of air or water to change shape, making the machines slow, bulky and difficult to untether.   Harvard researchers engineered a new, soft actuator that harnesses the power of instability to trigger instantaneous movement.

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New Approach Gives Robotic Grippers More Dexterity

Most robots on a factory floor are equipped with large pincers or claws to grab an object and place it somewhere else in an assembly line. Engineers at MIT have now hit upon a way to impart more dexterity to simple robotic grippers: using the environment as a helping hand. The team developed a model that predicts the force with which a robotic gripper needs to push against various fixtures in the environment in order to adjust its grasp on an object.

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Recycling Electric Motor Permanent Magnets

The latest generation of electric motors is increasingly being equipped with strong, multi-ton permanent magnets instead of a gearbox. The most powerful magnets are based on neodymium, iron, and boron. Dysprosium is also frequently contained. But while iron and boron are readily available, the supply of neodymium and dysprosium is critical. Therefore, scientists are trying to recycle magnets. Up until now, this meant extracting the rare earth elements from the magnets again.

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New Method Builds Microscopic Robots of Complex Shapes

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide, and magnetically controlled.

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Fabrication Technique Cuts Cost of Aircraft Turbine Production

Compressor disks for aircraft turbines are milled from a single piece of material. During processing, the blades begin to vibrate. Now, a novel clamping system boosts vibration absorption for the blades by more than 400 times, and cuts manufacturing costs. The new clamping system lets manufacturers roughly mill the blades first, and then perform the precise finishing work because the blades no longer vibrate.

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Manufacturing Method Creates Organic Solar Cells With Improved Efficiency

New research findings contradict a fundamental assumption about the functioning of "organic" solar cells made of low-cost plastics, suggesting a new strategy for creating inexpensive solar technology. Because organic solar cells are flexible, they could find new applications that are unsuitable for rigid silicon cells such as photovoltaics integrated into buildings, and they have the potential to be lower-cost and less energy-intensive to manufacture than silicon devices.

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High-Definition 3D Lossless Imaging System

The imaging process is often affected by the field of view, wavefront aberration, ambient light, as well as the resolution of optical imaging system and detector. As a result, the image information of the object cannot be accurately transferred to the image plane, resulting in distortion, deviation, and noise convolution that affect the ultimate image quality.

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