Researchers Control Surface Tension of Liquid Metals
Posted in News, Electronics, Power Management, Metals, Antennas on Friday, 19 September 2014
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages, opening the door to a new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies. The technique hinges on the fact that the oxide “skin” of the metal – which can be deposited or removed – acts as a surfactant, lowering the surface tension between the metal and the surrounding fluid.

The researchers used a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium. In base, the bare alloy has a remarkably high surface tension of about 500 millinewtons (mN)/meter, which causes the metal to bead up into a spherical blob. “But we discovered that applying a small, positive charge – less than 1 volt – causes an electrochemical reaction that creates an oxide layer on the surface of the metal, dramatically lowering the surface tension from 500 mN/meter to around 2 mN/meter,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. “This change allows the liquid metal to spread out like a pancake, due to gravity.”

The researchers also showed that the change in surface tension is reversible. If researchers flip the polarity of the charge from positive to negative, the oxide is eliminated and high surface tension is restored.  The surface tension can be tuned between these two extremes by varying the voltage in small steps.


Also: Learn about Gradient Metal Alloys Fabricated Using Additive Manufacturing.
Connecting the World with Tiny Radios
Posted in News, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Power Supplies, Diagnostics, Patient Monitoring on Wednesday, 17 September 2014
A Stanford University engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant that requires no batteries. The device gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. Designed to compute, execute, and relay commands, the tiny wireless chip costs pennies to manufacture, making it cheap enough, they say, to become the missing link between the Internet and the connected smart gadgets envisioned in the “Internet of Things.”
First Ultra-Flexible Graphene-Based Display Produced
Posted in News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Diagnostics, Patient Monitoring on Thursday, 11 September 2014
A team of scientists in a collaboration between the Cambridge Graphene Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Plastic Logic Ltd., also in Cambridge, have created a prototype of a flexible display incorporating graphene in its pixels’ electronics, marking the first time that graphene has been used in a transistor-based flexible device.
Nano-Measurements Using Optical Microscope Technique
Posted in News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Measuring Instruments on Tuesday, 02 September 2014
New research has confirmed that a technique developed previously at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Gaithersburg, MD, can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy. The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.
Electronic Noses Detect Chemical Warfare Gases
Posted in News, Electronics, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors on Thursday, 28 August 2014
Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia have developed a prototype electronic "nose" for the detection of chemical warfare gases, mainly nerve gas, such as Sarin, Soman, and Tabun.
Prosthetic Arm Controlled by Imagining a Motion
Posted in News, Electronics, Implants & Prosthetics, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy on Wednesday, 27 August 2014
Controlling a prosthetic arm by just imagining a motion may be possible through the work of Mexican scientists at the Centre for Research and Advanced Studies. First, it is necessary to know if there is a memory pattern in the amputee's brain in order to know how the arm moved. The pattern is then translated to instructions for the prosthesis.
New Laser Technology to Make 2020 Mission to Mars
Posted in News, Electronics, Lasers & Laser Systems, Photonics, Machinery & Automation, Detectors, Sensors, Measuring Instruments on Friday, 15 August 2014
NASA announced recently that laser technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been selected for its new Mars mission in 2020. SuperCam, which builds upon the successful capabilities demonstrated aboard the Curiosity Rover during NASA’s current Mars Mission, will allow researchers to sample rocks and other targets from a distance using a laser.