News

Sugar Battery

Researchers at Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO) have developed a biodegradable fuel cell battery that runs on virtually any sugar source, from soft drinks to tree sap, and has the potential to operate three to four times longer on a single charge than conventional lithium ion batteries. If the battery continues to show promise during further testing and refinement, it could be ready for commercialization in three to five years. “This study shows that renewable fuels can be directly employed in batteries at room temperature to lead to more energy-efficient battery technology than metal-based approaches,” said study leader Shelley Minteer, PhD, an electrochemist at St. Louis University. “It demonstrates that by bridging biology and chemistry, we can build a better battery that's also cleaner for the environment.” For more information, click here.

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Technologies of the Week

A low-cost fingerprint detector, using off-the-shelf components integrated into a compact, portable unit, is available. The fingertip is moved relative to a skin-resistance-sensing array to produce a “reference trajectory signal” that is stored in memory. The fingertip is moved again to produce a “sample trajectory signal.” View this technology here. New design criteria have been disclosed that enhance existing security technologies of public key infrastructure and smart cards with the aim to satisfy security needs, such as e-banking and e-health. View this technology here. The Technologies of the Week describe inventions offered for license through the yet2.com marketplace. Search over $2.5 billion of licensable technologies here.

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Air Car

Engineers at Moteur Developpment International (MDI, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg) have designed a prototype car that is powered by compressed air. The vehicle has a tubular chassis that is glued together, a fiberglass body, and uses wireless communication between its components. The engine weighs less than half that of a standard car. Ninety cubic meters of air is stored in carbon fiber tanks at high pressure. The expansion of the air stored in the tanks pushes against pistons to create movement. The car is built to integrate with external electronic systems such as voice recognition, Internet connectivity, telephone connectivity, or a GPS. A hybrid model is also under development -- gasoline would be used to run a generator to supply compressed air. It is estimated that one tank of fuel would be enough for a cross-country trip. For more information, click here.

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Saturn Movies

Astronomers have woven NASA Hubble Space Telescope images of Saturn, its rings, and several of its moons into three movies. Each movie highlights unique times in the planet's 30-year waltz around the Sun. Hubble snapped only about a dozen images during each of these three events, so astronomers created software to extend the photos into the hundreds of images needed for a movie. To view the movies, and for additional Saturn images and information, click here.

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Nano 50â„¢ Awards

Nanotech Briefs® magazine is accepting nominations for its third annual Nano 50 awards competition. The Nano 50 recognizes the top 50 technologies, innovators, and products with the greatest potential to advance the commercialization of nanotechnology. There is no cost to submit a nomination. All nominations must be submitted by April 2, 2007. Entries will be judged by an independent, expert panel, and awards will be presented at a special Nano 50 awards dinner, to be held in November 2007 at NASA Tech Briefs National Nano Engineering Conference in Boston. For complete rules and to submit a nomination, visit the official Web site.

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Chemical Weapons Sensor

Using lasers and tuning forks, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a chemical weapon agent sensing technique called Quartz Laser Photo-Acoustic Sensing (QPAS) that promises to meet or exceed current and emerging defense and homeland security chemical detection requirements. The instrument is based on Laser Photo-Acoustic Sensing (LPAS) and infrared Quantum Cascade Lasers (QCLs). LPAS is a very sensitive form of optical absorption spectroscopy, where a pulsed laser beam creates a brief absorption in a sample gas, which in turn creates a very small acoustic signal. A miniature quartz tuning fork acts as a "microphone" to record the resulting sound wave. A conceptual design for a battery-operated, prototype QPAS sensor, which includes 10 pairs of QCLs and tuning forks, would fit into a briefcase that is 12 x 12 x 6". The entire device would weigh less than 15 pounds. Click here for the full story.

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Tech Needs of the Week

A coating that is hard and has a high modulus of elasticity is needed for application to polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) optical films. Excellent coating adhesion and optical transparency are mandatory. The coating must withstand a force greater than 13,000 MpA, and offer a pencil hardness of B or over.To respond to this Tech Need click here. Wet coating technologies are needed that show excellent weathering and durability performance. The coatings need to be applied successfully to mainly glass substrates and need to be suitable for application in a solution. They also need to be able to be used as a binder or cross-linking component of coatings comprising fillers such as colloidal nano-particles. To respond to this Tech Need click here. The Technology Needs of the Week are anonymous requests for technology, distributed through the yet2.com marketplace, that you and your organizationmay be able to fulfill. Responding to a Tech Need is the first step to gaining an introduction with a prospective "buyer" for your technology solution.

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