News

Researchers Create Evaporation-Powered Motor

Biological systems are known to convert energy generated from the evaporation of water confined within nanoscale compartments into muscle-like mechanical work in response to changes in environmental humidity. Recently, scientists designed shape-changing engineered composites of bacterial spores and a polymer that used an evaporation-driven process to power locomotion and generate electricity.

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Shape Optimization Improves Electric Motor Efficiency

The automotive and aeronautic industries often rely on shape optimization, an approach that uses modeling to create a framework for making devices as smooth and efficient as possible. Shape optimization techniques have now been used to enhance the performance of an electric motor.

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Will a brain modem become a reality?

This week's Question: The U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) unveiled plans last week to develop a "brain modem." The implantable neural interface allows wearers to transmit data from their brains to external digital devices. DARPA's goal is to achieve this communications link in a biocompatible device no larger than one cubic centimeter in size. Applications of the neural interface technology include boosting a soldier’s hearing or vision by providing additional digital auditory or visual information into the brain. What do you think? Will a brain modem become a reality? 

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Soft Robot Fingers Collect Delicate Coral

Most deep sea robotic manipulators are constructed from hard materials that are not geared to collect fragile coral. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Paulson School, and City University of New York have developed a soft robotic gripper that can safely handle delicate specimens, including biological specimens on deep reefs.

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Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

Just as hybrid or turboelectric power has improved fuel efficiency in cars, boats and trains, aeronautical engineers are exploring how planes can be redesigned and configured with electrical power. One of NASA’s goals is to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.

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Lightweight, Strong Metal Could Make Airplanes More Energy Efficient

Researchers have created a lightweight, but very strong, structural metal made of magnesium because it is a light metal with two-thirds the density of aluminum, is abundant on Earth, and is biocompatible. It was mixed with silicon carbide nanoparticles into a molten magnesium-zinc alloy that uniformly dispersed and stabilized the nanoparticles, making a super-strong and lightweight metal.

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NASA Flies Drones in Aircraft Noise Test

Microphones strung together on an unmanned aircraft system runway were used to record the sounds of remotely piloted aircraft flying overhead as part of a NASA project to measure full-scale aircraft noise. The work is part of research to reduce airplane noise and make the skies more environmentally friendly, especially around airports.

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