News

Nanomaterial Could Speed Up Electric Vehicle Charging

A new nanomaterial acts as both battery and supercapacitor. A conductive polymer (green) formed inside the small holes of a hexagonal framework (red and blue) works with the framework to store electrical energy. (William Dichtel, Northwestern University) A new material could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their driving range. Researchers have combined a covalent organic framework (COF) – a strong, stiff polymer with an abundance of tiny pores suitable for storing energy – with a very conductive material to create the first modified redox-active COF that closes the gap with other older, porous, carbon-based electrodes.

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New Radio Technology Extends Mobile Device Battery Life

UMass Amherst professor Deepak Ganesan. University of Massachusetts Amherst professors introduced a new radio technology that allows small mobile devices to take advantage of battery power in larger devices nearby for communication. The Braidio, or braid of radios, can offload energy to larger devices nearby and, in effect, make both device size and battery consumption proportional to the size of battery.

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Flywheel Technology Could Save Power for Light Rail Transit

UAlberta mechanical engineering professors Marc Secanell (left) and Pierre Mertiny demonstrated that the use of flywheels on light rail transit can produce big savings in power and cost. University of Alberta mechanical engineering professors are making an old technology new again by using flywheel technology to assist light rail transit (LRT) in Edmonton. They examined the possibility of using flywheel technology to store energy generated when the city’s LRT trains decelerate and stop. Trains such as the LRT are designed with so-called dynamic braking, using traction motors on the train’s wheels for smooth stops. But the deceleration generates energy, which needs to go somewhere.

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Can AI be used to make a good movie?

This week's Question: In early September, Concourse Media and Productivity Media, Inc. (PMI) announced the acquisition of Impossible Things, a feature-length film with a screenplay written via artificial intelligence. Greenlight Essentials, a company founded by Jack Zhang, uses AI software to create plot frameworks for target markets within the entertainment sector. What do you think?

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Laser Treatment Supports New Paper Electronics

By using lasers to treat graphene, Iowa State University researchers have found new ways to enable flexible, wearable, and low-cost electronics. Fabricating inkjet-printed, multi-layer graphene electric circuits and electrodes with a pulsed-laser process improves electrical conductivity without damaging paper, polymers, or other fragile printing surfaces.

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Standing Still May Improve Antennas That Scan in All Directions

Amin Momeni illuminates the antenna-testing chamber while Nader Behdad installs a phased-array antenna. The flat surface consists of multiple precisely-positioned elements that convert spherical radio signals into single-column beams. (Photo: Stephanie Precourt) Antennas often need to trace circles in the sky. For example, radar arrays atop air-traffic control towers rotate to sweep signals in all directions. But spinning large objects nonstop takes a lot of time and mechanical energy. So scanning from a stationary position could speed up long-range detection and communications. Now, with support from a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison electrical engineers are working out a new strategy to create antennas that spin their beams in circles while the devices stand still. 

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Alternative Found for Nuclear Weapon Detection

Hongxing Jiang One of the most critical issues the United States faces today is preventing terrorists from smuggling nuclear weapons into its ports. To this end, the U.S. Security and Accountability for Every Port Act mandates all overseas cargo containers be scanned for possible nuclear materials or weapons. Detecting neutron signals is an effective method to identify nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials. Helium-3 gas is used within detectors deployed in ports for this purpose.

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