News

What Makes Quantum Dots Blink?

Quantum dots are nanoparticles of semiconductor that can be tuned to glow in a rainbow of colors. Since their discovery in the 1980s, these remarkable nanoparticles have held out tantalizing prospects for all kinds of new technologies, ranging from paint-on lighting materials and solar cells to quantum computer chips, biological markers, and even lasers and communications technologies. But there’s a problem – quantum dots often blink.

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Blue LEDs Could Provide Chemical-Free Food Preservation Technology

A team of scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has found that blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) have strong antibacterial effects on major foodborne pathogens, and are most effective when in cold temperatures (between 4°C and 15°C) and mildly acidic conditions of around pH 4.5. This opens up novel possibilities of using blue LEDs as a chemical-free food preservation method. Acidic foods such as fresh-cut fruits and ready-to- eat meat can be preserved under blue LEDs in combination with chilling temperatures without requiring further chemical treatments that are commonly needed for food preservation.

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Self-Healing Spacecraft Material Plugs Holes in Seconds

Although shields and sophisticated maneuvers could help protect space structures, scientists have to prepare for the possibility that debris could pierce a vessel. NASA and a team from the University of Michigan developed a new material that heals itself within seconds and could prevent structural penetration from being catastrophic.

Posted in: News, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials

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'Snap' Design Mimics Venus Flytrap

A team led by physicist Christian Santangelo at the University of Massachusetts Amherst uses curved creases to give thin shells a fast, programmable snapping motion. The technique – inspired by the natural "snapping systems" like Venus flytrap leaves and hummingbird beaks – avoids the need for complicated materials and fabrication methods when creating structures with fast dynamics.

Posted in: News, Materials, Joining & Assembly, Mechanical Components

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Depth-Sensing Camera Works in Bright Light and Darkness

A new imaging technology from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Toronto operates in both bright sunlight and darkness. A mathematical model programs the device so that the camera and its light source work together efficiently, eliminating extraneous light, or “noise,” that would otherwise wash out the signals needed to detect a scene’s contours.

Posted in: News, Detectors, Sensors

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Crash Test Helps Improve Emergency Response

NASA’s Langley Research Center hoisted a Cessna 172 aircraft 100 feet into the air by cables and released it. The plane plummeted onto a slab of dirt in a violent but controlled experiment that will help NASA improve aviation emergency response times. The test is part of a push to bolster the reliability of emergency locator transmitters. The systems automatically alert rescue personnel in the event of an airplane crash.

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Database Could Make Airport Ground Movements Quicker and Greener

Growth in air traffic and passenger numbers has led to warnings that airports could become bottlenecks in the global air transportation system. Ensuring efficient movement of aircraft on the ground is a key way for airport stakeholders to save time, reduce costs, and improve carbon emissions. Aviation engineering specialists have created an innovative system for airport ground movement to generate the most efficient routes and optimal speed instructions – or speed profiles – for pilots to follow during taxiing.

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