News

New Climate Measurement Instrument to Operate from Space Station

NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Transport System (CATS) team designed and built a new cloud and aerosol measurement instrument. The instrument will measure clouds, volcanic ash plumes, and other aerosols from aboard the International Space Station for up to three years. CATS will be the first to use three-wavelength laser technology to measure aerosols in order to improve the accuracy of climate change models.

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Forensic Tracers Identify Contamination in Water

Duke University scientists have developed new forensic tracers to identify coal ash contamination in water and distinguish it from contamination coming from other sources. The tools can be used by regulatory agencies to monitor the environmental effects of coal ash, and determine whether it has or hasn’t impacted the environment. Previous methods to identify coal ash contaminants in the environment were based solely on the contaminants’ chemical variations. The newly developed tracers provide additional forensic fingerprints that give regulators a more accurate and systematic tool. The tracers, which have been tested both in the laboratory and the field, are based on the distinctive isotopic and geochemical signatures of two elements, boron and strontium, found in coal ash effluent. The U.S. EPA has submitted a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget to restrict coal ash disposal into the environment and, for the first time, establish federal regulations to govern how the ash is stored and disposed. Source:

Posted in: News, Environmental Monitoring, Monitoring

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Technology Diagnoses Brain Damage from Concussions, Strokes, and Dementia

New optical diagnostic technology developed at Tufts University School of Engineering promises new ways to identify and monitor brain damage resulting from traumatic injury, stroke, or vascular dementia in real time and without invasive procedures.

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Diagnostics, Fiber Optics, Optics, Photonics, Measuring Instruments

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New Serenity Payload Detects Hostile Fire

Two government-developed sensors are working together to increase the security of deployed soldiers. The Firefly and Serenity sensors employ government developed algorithms, software, and hardware to locate hostile fire around a base. The technology, a joint effort between the Army Aviation Research, Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, and the Army Research Lab, referred to as ARL, has been under development for more than a decade.

Posted in: News, Cameras, Optics, Photonics, Detectors, Sensors

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Researchers Create New Test Station for Missile Warning System

The AN/AAR-57 Common Missile Warning System (CMWS) helps protect Army aircraft from attack by shoulder-launched missiles and other threats. To keep this defensive system operating at maximum effectiveness, the Army periodically updates the software on the more than 1,000 AN/AAR-57 units in use around the world.

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Studies Look at Long-Term Aging of Electronics in Nuclear Weapons

Sandia National Laboratories is studying how environments, including radiation that originates from a nuclear weapon itself, could affect the performance of electronics in the W76-1 warhead as they age. Sandia, which is responsible for most non-nuclear components in U.S. nuclear weapons, is helping replace W76 warheads in the nation’s stockpile with a refurbished version under the W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP). The ballistic missile warhead is carried on the Trident II D5 missile aboard Ohio-class Navy submarines.

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Researchers Craft Vivid Colors on Ultra-Thin Coatings

A new coating exploits interference effects in thin films, creating a range of vivid colors. The new technique coats a metallic object with an extremely thin layer of semiconductor, just a few nanometers thick. Although the semiconductor is a steely gray color, the object ends up shining in vibrant hues.The ultrathin coatings could be applied to essentially any rough or flexible material, from wearable fabrics to stretchable electronics.A machine called an electron-beam evaporator applies the gold and germanium coating. The paper sample is sealed inside the machine's chamber, and a pump sucks out the air until the pressure drops to a staggering 10-6 Torr (a billionth of an atmosphere). A stream of electrons strikes a piece of gold held in a carbon crucible, and the metal vaporizes, traveling upward through the vacuum until it hits the paper. Repeating the process, a second layer is added. A little more or a little less germanium makes the difference between indigo and crimson."This is a way of coloring something with a very thin layer of material, said Mikhail Kats, postdoctoral researcher at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, "so in principle, if it's a metal to begin with, you can just use 10 nanometers to color it, and if it's not, you can deposit a metal that's 30 nm thick and then another 10 nm. That's a lot thinner than a conventional paint coating that might be between a micron and 10 microns thick.” SourceAlso: Read about other Materials and Coatings.

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