News

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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Building ‘Belt’ Repairs Earthquake Damage

A ‘belt’ technology offers cheap and quick repair of earthquake-damaged buildings.Metal straps are wrapped around each floor of the building, and the straps are then tensioned either by hand or using compressed air tools. The technology is designed for use on reinforced concrete frame buildings – a common construction technique used around the world, including countries like Haiti. Unlike other repair methods, it does not require expensive materials or a high level of technical knowledge.“The strapping works very much like a weight-lifter’s belt, by keeping everything tightly compressed to reduce tension on the concrete columns of the structure," said lead researcher, Professor Kypros Pilakoutas. SourceAlso: Watch Earthquake Testing on Cold-Formed-Steel Buildings.

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Micro-Windmills Recharge Cell Phones

A UT Arlington research associate and electrical engineering professor have designed a micro-windmill that generates wind energy. The technology may improve cell phone batteries constantly in need of recharging and home energy generation where large windmills are not preferred.Smitha Rao and J.-C. Chiao designed and built the device that is about 1.8 mm at its widest point. A single grain of rice could hold about 10 of the tiny windmills. Hundreds of the windmills could be embedded in a sleeve for a cell phone. Wind, created by waving the cell phone in air or holding it up to an open window on a windy day, would generate the electricity that could be collected by the cell phone’s battery.Because of the small sizes, flat panels with thousand of windmills could also be made and mounted on the walls of houses or building to harvest energy for lighting, security or environmental sensing, and wireless communication.SourceAlso: Read Electronics & Computers tech briefs.

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Electric Tongues Measure Grape Ripeness

Electronic tongues can become an ally of the wine grower by measuring the detailed degree of maturation and improving competitiveness. Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia applied electronic tongues to measure the maturity of eight different types of grapes (Macabeo, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shyrah, Merlot, and Bobal) in several vineyards in Valencia. The researchers observed a good correlation between the total acidity of the fruit and the amount of sugar. The results confirm the usefulness of these devices for controlling the grape maturity and, therefore, evaluating the most appropriate time for harvest. Current methods of analysis usually require further assessment in the laboratory. The electronic tongues perform actions on the fruit where the harvest moves. Source

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