News

Self-Repairing Plastic Regenerates After Damage

Illinois researchers have developed materials that not only heal, but regenerate. The restorative material is delivered through two, isolated fluid streams (dyed red and blue). The liquid immediately gels and later hardens, resulting in recovery of the entire damaged region. For regenerating materials, two adjoining, parallel capillaries are filled with regenerative chemicals that flow out when damage occurs. The two liquids mix to form a gel, which spans the gap caused by damage, filling in cracks and holes. Then the gel hardens into a strong polymer, restoring the plastic’s mechanical strength.Such self-repair capabilities would be a boon not only for commercial goods – imagine a mangled car bumper that repairs itself within minutes of an accident – but also for parts and products that are difficult to replace or repair, such as those used in aerospace applications.SourceAlso: Learn about new Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Materials, Plastics, Aerospace, News

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Cyberlearning Platforms Improve Design Collaboration

Two new "cyberlearning" platforms allow non-artists to create illustrations rivaling the work of expert designers. The platforms sidestep a key creative barrier by eliminating the need for drawing skills in developing new designs. "Non-experts are becoming more empowered and interested in means of creative self-expression," said Karthik Ramani, Purdue University's Donald W. Feddersen Professor of Mechanical Engineering. "More importantly, I think this is the beginning of a new field of computer-supported creativity where you are extending the human mind." The new platforms — called skWiki (pronounced squeaky) and Juxtapoze — may usher in a new era of digital-scribbling and creative collaboration. The platforms operate on servers and do not require users to install any software. The skWiki platform allows collaboration with multimedia, including text, sketches, photos and "vector images" important for computer-aided design and other applications. Source Also: Learn about a Workflow-Based Software Development Environment.

Posted in: Software, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), News

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Will 'Lab Food' Change The Way We Eat?

In an effort to alleviate food shortages and leave a lighter footprint, some biotechnology startups have begun developing alternative food products. Hampton Creek Foods, for example, has received $30 million in funding to create a plant-based substitute for eggs. Beyond Meat, another biotech food producer, heats, cools, and pressures plant protein from soy and peas so that it resembles meat tissue. In 2013, similarly, a hamburger was made from cow muscle grown in a lab — at a cost of $325,000.

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Earth-Sized Exoplanet Discovered via Observatory Data

The National Science Foundation-funded Gemini observatory helped confirm the first potentially habitable Earth-sized exoplanet. Researchers say this discovery is unique because the planet, called Kepler-186f, resides in a temperate region around its host star where water could exist and could possibly sustain life. Earth-sized planets are very difficult to detect because of contrast with their host stars.

Posted in: Imaging, Aerospace, News

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Wind Tunnel Tests Support Improved Design of B61-12 Bomb

Sandia National Laboratories has finished testing a full-scale mock unit representing the aerodynamic characteristics of the B61-12 gravity bomb in a wind tunnel. The tests on the mock-up were done to establish the configuration that will deliver the necessary spin motion of the bomb during freefall and are an important milestone in the Life Extension Program to deliver a new version of the aging system.

Posted in: Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Test & Measurement, Aerospace, Defense, News

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Testing Composite Structures for Stronger Bridges

The J. Lohr Structures Laboratory at South Dakota State University helps companies develop new materials and products — self-consolidating concrete columns and pre-stress concrete bridge girders — that bridge a physical gap. Over the past decade, researchers have conducted structural testing on large- and full-scale test specimens for private companies and government entities.

Posted in: Materials, Composites, Test & Measurement, Transportation, News

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With New Sensors, NASA's Morpheus Preps to Land on its Own

A test flight will challenge a set of sensors to map out a 65-yard square of boulder-sized hazards and pick out a safe place to land. Mounted to an uncrewed prototype lander called Morpheus that flies autonomously several hundred feet above the ground, the sensor system will have 10 seconds to do its work. The sensor system is a 400-pound set of computers and three instruments called ALHAT (Autonomous Landing and Hazard Avoidance Technology).

Posted in: Sensors, Aerospace, Aviation, Machinery & Automation, News

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