News

Self-Charging Battery Could Make Chargers Obsolete

New technology developed by Hydro-Québec and McGill University is capable of harvesting and storing energy using light – a self-charging battery. To create the light-charged batteries, a standard cathode from a lithium-ion battery can be “sensitized” to light by incorporating photo-harvesting dye molecules.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage

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New Device Harnesses Heat to Power Computers

The thermal diode may allow computers to use heat as an alternate energy source. (Karl Vogel/Engineering) One of the biggest problems with computers is keeping them cool so they don’t overheat. University of Nebraska–Lincoln engineers developed an alternative energy source that would allow computing at ultra-high temperatures. The nano-thermal-mechanical device, or thermal diode, could be used in space exploration, for exploring the core of the earth, for oil drilling, or in applications requiring calculations and data processing in real time in places where computers have not been able to function.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Thermoelectrics

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Creating the Future: A Better Way to Map Terrain

Mark Skoog, an aerospace engineer at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center, led the development of new software that stores terrain data in a more efficient and accurate way. The achievement, Skoog says, opens the prospect of anyone – yes, anyone – being able to fly.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Imaging, Sensors

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A New Material for Mars Habitats? Mars Itself

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a compaction technique that may someday be used to turn Mars soil into building blocks for the Red Planet. The scientists' new method of applying pressure offers construction possibilities as NASA plans manned Mars missions in the upcoming decades.

Posted in: News, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials

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What’s New on TechBriefs.com: Asteroid Detection, Blood-Pressure Monitoring, and Breaking the ‘Bandwidth Bottleneck’

Did you know that a 1-kilometer-wide asteroid flew past the Earth this month? Or that a chip-scale device provides broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users? Or that a new "Bold Band" offers a wearable way to monitor blood pressure? Make sure you've seen the latest stories on TechBriefs.com.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Imaging, Patient Monitoring, Photonics

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Interface Simplifies Remote Robot Operation

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers created a new interface to remotely control robots that is much simpler and more efficient than current techniques. The user simply points and clicks on an item, then chooses a grasp. The robot does the rest of the work. The traditional interface for remotely operating robots employs a computer screen and mouse to independently control six degrees of freedom, turning three virtual rings and adjusting arrows to get the robot into position to grab items or perform a specific task. But for someone who isn’t an expert, the ring-and-arrow system is cumbersome and error-prone. It’s not ideal, for example, for older people trying to control assistive robots at home.

Posted in: News, Motion Control, Robotics, Software

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How NASA Tracks the Asteroids Flying by Earth

On Wednesday, April 19, an asteroid missed Earth by 1.1 million miles – a distance closer than you might think. This week, Tech Briefs spoke with NASA’s Planetary Defense Officer about the efforts behind tracking this type of flyby.

Posted in: News, News, Aeronautics, Imaging

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Creating the Future: Wearable Bands Offer Continuous Blood-Pressure Measurement

The pneumatic cuff, a device traditionally used to measure blood pressure, has had a prominent place in doctors' offices for more than a century. As part of a year-long fellowship at Northwestern University, two clinicians and two engineers teamed up to develop a new way of measuring blood pressure: cuffless, wearable wristbands.

Posted in: News, News, Medical, Patient Monitoring

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Q&A: Photonics Breakthrough 'Tunes' Wireless Communications

A chip-scale optical device, developed by a team from the University of Sydney’s Australian Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, achieves radio frequency signal control at sub-nanosecond time scales. The photonics breakthrough has the potential to provide broader bandwidth instantaneously to more users.

Posted in: News, Communications, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics

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Report from SPIE 2017: Drones Spot Gas Leaks from the Sky

ANAHEIM, CA. During last week’s SPIE Defense + Commercial Sensing 2017 conference, panelists from industry, academia, and government demonstrated how miniaturized sensing platforms, and the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hosting them, can improve the detection of hazardous gas leakage.

Posted in: News, News, Aerospace, Aviation, Detectors, Sensors

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