News

Precision NASA Thruster Keeps Spacecraft Still

The European Space Agency’s LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is on its way to space with the Disturbance Reduction System (DRS), a thruster technology developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The DRS uses colloid micronewton thrusters, the first of their kind, to keep the spacecraft as still as possible and compensate for solar pressure. These thrusters electrically charge small liquid droplets and accelerate them through an electric field in order to generate thrust.

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Nano-Submarine Motors Powered by Light

Each of the single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles built at Rice University has a motor powered by ultraviolet light. With each full revolution, the motor’s tail-like propeller moves the sub forward 18 nanometers. And with the motors running at more than a million RPM, that translates into speed. Though the sub’s top speed amounts to less than 1 inch per second, that’s a breakneck pace on the molecular scale.

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Wearable Equipment Supports Human Motion

The Unplugged Powered Suit (UPS), a new model of pneumatic muscle and an active type of assistive equipment incorporating the muscle, is wearable equipment that supports human movement without requiring any electronic devices and tanks. It employs a newly developed pneumatic muscle named Pneumatic Gel Muscle (PGM) as an actuator.

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Will the growing number of drones cause too many headaches for aviation officials?

This week's Question: Hundreds of thousands of the unmanned aircraft are expected to be sold between Black Friday and the end of the year, providing both a boon for the emerging industry and a potential headache for aviation safety officials. Parrot's Bebop Drones, for example, were featured prominently in Target's Black Friday ads, and the drone maker generated $42 million in its third quarter this year, a 60% increase from the same period a year ago. Some aviation experts are concerned, however, that the new drone owners will take the skies without knowledge of airspace rules or best practices for staying safe. The FAA is currently racing to implement new rules that would require hobbyists to register their drones before taking to the skies.   What do you think? Will the growing number of drones cause too many headaches for aviation officials? 

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Making Conductors by Spreading Them Like Butter on Toast

Scientists from Stanford University and the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made flexible, transparent electrical conductors with record-high performance for use in solar cells, displays, and other devices by spreading polymers on a clear surface with a tiny blade, like a knife spreading butter on toast.

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New Technique Can Weld “Un-weldable” Metals

Engineers at The Ohio State University have developed a new welding technique that consumes 80 percent less energy than a common welding technique, yet creates bonds that are 50 percent stronger. The new technique could have a huge impact on the auto industry. Despite recent advances in materials design, alternative metals still pose a challenge to manufacturers. Many are considered un-weldable by traditional means, in part because high heat and re-solidification weaken them.

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Graphene-Based Inks Enable High-Speed Manufacturing of Printed Electronics

A low-cost, high-speed method for printing graphene inks using a conventional roll-to-roll printing process, like that used to print newspapers, could open up a wide range of practical applications, including inexpensive printed electronics, intelligent packaging, and disposable sensors. The method allows graphene and other electrically conducting materials to be added to conventional water-based inks and printed using typical commercial equipment, the first time that graphene has been used for printing on a large-scale commercial printing press at high speed.

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