News

Technique Could Lower Costs of Making Bioplastics and Biofuel

Ulrica Edlund, professor of polymer technology. While abundant in nature, cellulose is difficult and expensive to find in pure or high-quality form. A Swedish research team has developed an efficient, accurate, and non-destructive way to detect the occurrence and purity of cellulose. The technique can be applied in mixtures of biopolymers as well.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Biofuels, Biomaterials, Plastics

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Prototype Capture System Simulates Asteroid Mission

A prototype of the robotic capture module system is tested with a mock asteroid boulder in its clutches at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. A robotic capture module system prototype was built to help NASA engineers understand the operations required to collect a multi-ton boulder from an asteroid’s surface. The hardware includes three space frame legs with foot pads, and two seven-degrees-of-freedom arms with microspine gripper “hands” to grasp onto the boulder.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics

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Dike Inspection Robot is Energy-Autonomous

The robot's drive train, including the dual-hemisphere system. (Image: University of Twente) Inspecting the condition of dikes and other sea defense structures is typically a task for robots, working in a team and in a highly autonomous way. But if they move around across the dikes, perform tests, and communicate the results for six hours a day, they use a lot of energy.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Power Transmission

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System Harvests Energy from Automotive Shock Absorbers

The energy harvesting device focuses on the car’s suspension – specifically, the shock absorbers. Boosting the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles by “harvesting” the energy generated by their shock absorbers and feeding it back into batteries or electrical systems such as air conditioning has become a major goal in automotive engineering. A University of Huddersfield (UK) researcher has designed a new system and built a prototype that is ready for real-world testing.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Motion Control

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Silicon Nanoantennas Turn Light Around

An artist’s rendering of nonlinear light scattering by a dimer of two silicon particles with a variable radiation pattern. A team of physicists from ITMO University, MIPT, and The University of Texas at Austin have developed an unconventional nanoantenna that scatters light in a particular direction depending on the intensity of incident radiation. The research findings will help with the development of flexible optical information processing in telecommunication systems.

Posted in: News, Lasers & Laser Systems, Optics, Photonics

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Researchers Create First “Water-Wave” Laser

Artist’s impression of a water wave laser. Technion researchers have demonstrated, for the first time, that laser emissions can be created through the interaction of light and water waves. This “water-wave laser” could someday be used in tiny sensors that combine light waves, sound and water waves, or as a feature on microfluidic “lab-on-a-chip” devices used to study cell biology and to test new drug therapies. For now, the water-wave laser offers a “playground” for scientists studying the interaction of light and fluid at a scale smaller than the width of a human hair.

Posted in: News, Fiber Optics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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Scientists Find New Way to Image Solar Cells in 3-D

The Molecular Foundry’s Edward Barnard is part of a team of scientists that developed a new way to see inside solar cells. (Credit: Marilyn Chung) Next-generation solar cells made of super-thin films of semiconducting material hold promise because they’re relatively inexpensive and flexible enough to be applied just about anywhere. Researchers are working to dramatically increase the efficiency at which thin-film solar cells convert sunlight to electricity. But it’s a tough challenge, partly because a solar cell’s subsurface realm—where much of the energy-conversion action happens—is inaccessible to real-time, nondestructive imaging. It’s difficult to improve processes you can’t see.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics

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