Students Learn On-the-Fly Engineering in Solar Car Competition

Nine teams of solar powered model cars competed during the inaugural Junior Solar Sprint (JSS) competition held at the STEM Education and Outreach Center at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD. The JSS is a nationwide competition funded by the Army Educational Outreach Program, which challenges teams of students from elementary and middle school to design, construct, and race small model cars powered entirely by solar energy.

Posted in: Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Energy, News, Automotive


Cassini Spacecraft Reveals Geysers and More on Saturn Moon

Scientists using mission data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft have identified 101 distinct geysers erupting on Saturn’s icy moon Enceladus. Their analysis suggests it is possible for liquid water to reach from the moon’s underground sea all the way to its surface.

Posted in: Imaging, Aerospace, News


Acoustic Bottle Bends Paths of Sound Waves

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a technique for generating acoustic bottles in open air that can bend the paths of sound waves along prescribed convex trajectories.The acoustic “bottle” features a three-dimensional curved shell, in which a wall of high acoustic pressure surrounds a null pressure region in the middle. Sound waves forming the bottle are concentrated into a beam that travels through the high pressure wall of its curved shell. The sound waves are generated by an array of loud speakers, 1.5 centimeters in diameter and spaces 2.5 centimeters apart, operating at a frequency of 10 kilo Hertz (kHz) and can be launched along a designated trajectory by precisely adjusting the phase profile of the speaker array.Because the high pressure wall of the acoustic bottle exerts a pulling force, there are no sound waves passing through the null pressure interior of the bottle and the bottle can be used for acoustic trapping."Our acoustic bottle beams open new avenues to applications in which there is a need to access hard-to-reach objects hidden behind obstacles, such as acoustic imaging and therapeutic ultrasound through inhomogeneous media,” said team member Tongcang Li. “We can also use an acoustic bottle as a cloaking device, re-routing sound waves around an object and then recovering them in their original form, making the object invisible to sonar detection.”Acoustic bottle beams might also serve another application: acoustic levitation, in which sound waves are used to lift and manipulate millimeter-sized objects, including particles, microorganisms and droplets of water.SourceAlso: Learn about a High-Temperature Surface-Acoustic-Wave Transducer.

Posted in: Imaging, News


'Active' Surfaces Control How Particles Move

Researchers at MIT and in Saudi Arabia have developed a new way of making surfaces that can actively control how fluids or particles move across them. The work might enable new kinds of biomedical or microfluidic devices, or solar panels that could automatically clean themselves of dust and grit.The system makes use of a microtextured surface, with bumps or ridges just a few micrometers across, that is then impregnated with a fluid that can be manipulated — for example, an oil infused with tiny magnetic particles, or ferrofluid, which can be pushed and pulled by applying a magnetic field to the surface. When droplets of water or tiny particles are placed on the surface, a thin coating of the fluid covers them, forming a magnetic cloak.The thin magnetized cloak can then actually pull the droplet or particle along as the layer itself is drawn magnetically across the surface. Tiny ferromagnetic particles, approximately 10 nanometers in diameter, in the ferrofluid could allow precision control when it’s needed — such as in a microfluidic device used to test biological or chemical samples by mixing them with a variety of reagents. Unlike the fixed channels of conventional microfluidics, such surfaces could have “virtual” channels that could be reconfigured at will.The new approach could be useful for a range of applications: For example, solar panels and the mirrors used in solar-concentrating systems can quickly lose a significant percentage of their efficiency when dust, moisture, or other materials accumulate on their surfaces. But if coated with such an active surface material, a brief magnetic pulse could be used to sweep the material away.Source Also: Read more Materials tech briefs.

Posted in: Motion Control, Fluid Handling, Medical, Drug Delivery & Fluid Handling, Solar Power, Renewable Energy, Energy, News


Will Apps Like Timeful Improve Your Time Management Skills?

Timeful, a new iPhone app, syncs traditional time management tools, such as calendars and to-do lists. The app also reveals progress on tasks and illuminates how users are spending their hours at work and at home. The technology calculates how much time one needs to perform specific tasks and can recommend the best times to do them, based on its determination of when the Timeful customer is most productive.

Posted in: Question of the Week


Army to Get New IED Detector Technology

Detecting improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan requires constant, intensive monitoring using rugged equipment. When Sandia researchers first demonstrated a modified miniature synthetic aperture radar (MiniSAR) system to do just that, some experts didn't believe it. But those early doubts are long gone. Sandia's Copperhead — a highly modified MiniSAR system mounted on unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — has been uncovering IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2009. Now, according to senior manager Jim Hudgens, Sandia is transferring the technology to the U.S. Army to support combat military personnel.

Posted in: Electronics & Computers, Imaging, Sensors, Detectors, RF & Microwave Electronics, Antennas, Data Acquisition, Defense, News


Tiny Laser Sensor Heightens Bomb Detection Sensitivity

A team of researchers led by Xiang Zhang, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering, has found a way to dramatically increase the sensitivity of a light-based plasmon sensor to detect incredibly minute concentrations of explosives. The researchers noted that the sensor could potentially be used to sniff out a hard-to-detect explosive popular among terrorists. The engineers put the sensor to the test with various explosives — 2,4- dinitrotoluene (DNT), ammonium nitrate and nitrobenzene — and found that the device successfully detected the airborne chemicals at concentrations of 0.67 parts per billion, 0.4 parts per billion and 7.2 parts per million, respectively. One part per billion would be akin to a blade of grass on a football field. They noted that these results are much more sensitive than those published to date for other optical sensors.

Posted in: News