News

New Heat-Resistant Materials Could Improve Solar Cell Efficiency

Scientists have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter, an element used in specialized solar cells, that could significantly improve the efficiency of the cells. The novel component is designed to convert heat from the sun into infrared light, which can then be absorbed by solar cells to make electricity. It’s a technology known as thermophotovoltaics. Unlike earlier prototypes that fell apart before temperatures reached 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1,200 degrees Celsius), the new thermal emitter remains stable at temperatures as high as 2,500°F (1,400°C).

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Plasmonic Crystal Alters To Match Light-Frequency Source

Gems are known for the beauty of the light that passes through them. But it is the fixed atomic arrangements of these crystals that determine which light frequencies are permitted passage. Now a Sandia-led team has created a plasmonic, or plasma-containing, crystal that is tunable. The effect is achieved by adjusting a voltage applied to the plasma, making the crystal agile in transmitting terahertz light at varying frequencies. This could increase the bandwidth of high-speed communication networks and generally enhance high-speed electronics.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Electrical Current Sensors Harvest Wasted Electromagnetic Energy

New smart sensors produce large and clear output voltage signals, which are 2,000 times higher than the traditional current sensors.Measuring about 1 mm in thickness, the chip can be placed on any sensing point of interest such as electrical cables, conductors, junctions, and bus bars to detect electrical currents. Made from rare earth multiferroics with giant magnetoelectric properties, the chip enables a direct detection of magnetic fields generated by electricity and a linear conversion of these magnetic fields into electrical voltage signals. The smart wireless sensors, which do not have power cords and electronic active components, can now reach hard-to-access locations such as rails where conventional sensors are either impossible or not cost effective.SourceAlso: Learn about a Miniature Fine Sun Sensor for Nanosatellites.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

NASA Laser Technology Tracks Earth's Ice Sheets

A photon-counting technique will allow NASA researchers to track the melt or growth of Earth’s frozen regions. CESat-2 is tasked with measuring elevation across Earth's entire surface, including vegetation and oceans, but with a focus on change in the frozen areas of the planet, where scientists have observed dramatic impacts from climate change. There, two types of ice – ice sheets and sea ice – reflect light photons in different patterns. Ice sheets and glaciers are found on land, like Greenland and Antarctica, and are formed as frozen snow and rain accumulates. Sea ice, on the other hand, is frozen seawater, found floating in the Arctic Ocean and offshore of Antarctica."Using the individual photons to measure surface elevation is a really new thing," said Ron Kwok, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "It's never been done from orbiting satellites, and it hasn't really been done much with airborne instruments, either."SourceAlso: Read a "Who's Who" Q&A with glaciologist Lora Koenig.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Film Industry Technology Enables Motion Analysis of Stroke Patients

Researchers have been using 3D technology from the film industry to analyze the everyday movements of stroke patients. The results indicate that computerized motion analysis increases knowledge of how stroke patients can improve their ability to move through rehabilitation.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Micro-Sized Motor is 1,000 Times More Powerful Than Human Muscle

A team of researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has demonstrated a micro-sized robotic torsional muscle/motor made from vanadium dioxide that for its size is a thousand times more powerful than a human muscle, able to catapult objects 50 times heavier than itself over a distance five times its length within 60 milliseconds – faster than the blink of an eye.

Posted in: News

Read More >>

Handheld Device Hoists Soldiers in Seconds

Since MIT spinout Atlas Devices’ flagship product, the Atlas Powered Rope Ascender (APA), first hit the market in 2007, it’s been touted as a real-world version of Batman’s famed utility-belt grappling gun: At the pull of a trigger, the handheld device can hoist two people about 30 stories up a rope in 30 seconds. Now the device is becoming a practical tool for motorized scaling (or “power ascension”) in the military and other fields.

Posted in: News

Read More >>