News

New Algorithm Reveals Underground Water Levels

Researchers from Stanford University have used satellite data and a new computer algorithm to gauge groundwater levels in Colorado’s San Luis Valley agricultural basin. The technique "fills in" underground water levels in areas where quality data had been previously unavailable.

Posted in: News, Imaging, Visualization Software, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics

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Disposable 'Ninja-Star' Battery Supports Biosensors

A Binghamton University researcher's new disposable battery folds like an origami ninja star. The microbial fuel cell could power biosensors and other small devices in challenging field conditions.Engineer Seokheun “Sean” Choi's new design folds into a star with one inlet at its center and the electrical contacts at the points of each side. After a few drops of dirty water are placed into the inlet, the device can be opened into a Frisbee-like ring to allow each of the eight fuel cells to work. Each module is a sandwich of five functional layers with its own anode, proton exchange membrane, and air-cathode. The device uses filter paper, carbon cloth (for the anode), and copper tape. The team’s next goal is to produce a fully paper-based device that has the power density of the new design and a lower price tag. The current device, about 2.5-inches wide, costs about 70 cents to make. According to Choi, the device could support the use of more sophisticated fluorescent or electrochemical biosensors in developing countries.SourceAlso: Learn about NASA's Origami-Inspired Folding of Thick, Rigid Panels.

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'On the Fly' 3D Printer Adjusts to Design Changes

In conventional 3D printing, a nozzle scans across a stage: depositing drops of plastic, rising slightly after each pass, and building an object in a series of layers. A new "on-the-fly" prototyping system from Cornell University allows the designer to make refinements while printing is in progress.

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'Hourglass' Concept Improves Liquid Batteries

A flow battery can be recharged quickly by replacing its electrolyte liquid. Previous versions of liquid batteries, however, have relied on complex systems of tanks, valves, and pumps, adding to the cost and providing multiple opportunities for possible leaks and failures. A new liquid battery created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, substitutes a simple gravity feed for the pump system.

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How to predict thickness of bonbons, other shells

Since the 1600s, chocolatiers have been perfecting the art of the bonbon, passing down techniques for crafting a perfectly smooth, even chocolaty shell. Now a theory and a simple fabrication technique derived by MIT engineers may help chocolate artisans create uniformly smooth shells and precisely tailor their thickness. The research should also have uses far beyond the chocolate shop: By knowing just a few key variables, engineers could predict the mechanical response of many other types of shells, from small pharmaceutical capsules to large airplane and rocket bodies.

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Spray-on formula could ice-proof airplanes, power lines, windshields

On your car windshield, ice is a nuisance. But on an airplane, wind turbine, oil rig, or power line, it can be downright dangerous. And removing it with the methods that are available today (usually chemical melting agents or labor-intensive scrapers and hammers) is difficult and expensive.

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NASA and FAA Demonstrate Wireless Communication with Aircraft

For the first time ever, a team of engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center conveyed aviation data -- including route options and weather information -- to an airplane over a wireless communication system for aircraft on the ground. The demonstration, conducted with the Federal Aviation Administration demonstrated two technologies that could change airport operations worldwide.

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