Electronics

'Sensing Skin' Detects Damage in Concrete Structures

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of Eastern Finland have developed new “sensing skin” technology designed to serve as an early warning system for concrete structures, allowing authorities to respond quickly to damage in everything from nuclear facilities to bridges.“The sensing skin could be used for a wide range of structures, but the impetus for the work was to help ensure the integrity of critical infrastructure such as nuclear waste storage facilities,” says Dr. Mohammad Pour-Ghaz, an assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the work.The skin is an electrically conductive coat of paint that can be applied to new or existing structures. The paint can incorporate any number of conductive materials, such as copper, making it relatively inexpensive.Electrodes are applied around the perimeter of a structure. The sensing skin is then painted onto the structure, over the electrodes. A computer program then runs a small current between two of the electrodes at a time, cycling through a number of possible electrode combinations.Every time the current runs between two electrodes, a computer monitors and records the electrical potential at all of the electrodes on the structure. This data is then used to calculate the sensing skin’s spatially distributed electrical conductivity. If the skin’s conductivity decreases, that means the structure has cracked or been otherwise damaged.The researchers have developed a suite of algorithms that allow them to both register damage and to determine where the damage has taken place.SourceAlso: Learn about Designing Composite Repairs and Retrofits for Infrastructure.

Posted in: News, Communications, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Materials, Semiconductors & ICs, Detectors, Sensors, Test & Measurement

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Transient Electronics Dissolve When Triggered

An Iowa State research team led by Reza Montazami is developing "transient materials" and "transient electronics" that can quickly and completely melt away when a trigger is activated. The development could mean that one day you might be able to send out a signal to destroy a lost credit card.To demonstrate that potential, Montazami played a video showing a blue light-emitting diode mounted on a clear polymer composite base with the electrical leads embedded inside. After a drop of water, the base and wiring began to melt away. As the technology develops, Montazami sees more and more potential for the commercial application of transient materials. A medical device, once its job is done, could harmlessly melt away inside a person’s body. A military device could collect and send its data and then disappear, leaving no trace of an intelligence mission. An environmental sensor could collect climate information, then wash away in the rain. SourceAlso: Read other Electronics & Computers tech briefs.

Posted in: News, Defense, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, LEDs, Lighting, Composites, Materials, Plastics, Medical, Semiconductors & ICs

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Wireless Device Senses Chemical Vapors

A research team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has developed a small electronic sensing device that can alert users wirelessly to the presence of chemical vapors in the atmosphere. The technology, which could be manufactured using familiar aerosol-jet printing techniques, is aimed at myriad applications in military, commercial, environmental, and healthcare areas.The current design integrates nanotechnology and radio-frequency identification (RFID) capabilities into a small working prototype. An array of sensors uses carbon nanotubes and other nanomaterials to detect specific chemicals, while an RFID integrated circuit informs users about the presence and concentrations of those vapors at a safe distance wirelessly.Because it is based on programmable digital technology, the RFID component can provide greater security, reliability and range – and much smaller size – than earlier sensor designs based on non-programmable analog technology. The present GTRI prototype is 10 centimeters square, but further designs are expected to squeeze a multiple-sensor array and an RFID chip into a one-millimeter-square device printable on paper or on flexible, durable substrates such as liquid crystal polymer.SourceAlso: Learn about Extended-Range Passive RFID and Sensor Tags.

Posted in: News, Communications, Wireless, Defense, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical, Nanotechnology, RF & Microwave Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs, Detectors, Sensors

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Electron Beam Writer Enables Microfabrication

Integrated electronics could activate prosthetics. The new electron beam writer housed in the cleanroom facility at the Qualcomm Institute, previously the UCSD division of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, is important for two major areas of research by Shadi Dayeh, PhD, an electrical and computer engineering professor. He is developing next-generation, nanoscale transistors for integrated electronics. At the same time, he is working to develop neural probes that can extract electrical signals from brain cells and transmit the information to a prosthetic device or computer. To achieve this level of signal extraction or manipulation requires tiny sensors spaced very closely together for the highest resolution and signal acquisition. Enter the new electron beam writer. (See Figure 1)

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Optics, Photonics, Semiconductors & ICs, Sensors

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Heart Pump with Behind-the-Ear Power Connector

One-third of patients with heart pumps develop infection at abdominal connection. Cardiac surgeons and cardiologists at the University of Maryland Heart Center are part of a multi-center clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of powering heart pumps through a skull-based connector behind the ear. The pumps, called left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), support the heart’s main pumping chamber, the left ventricle. LVADs are implanted in the chest and powered with external batteries. Typically, these devices, which are used for patients with severe heart failure, are powered through an electrical cord connected at the abdomen, where potentially deadly infections can develop.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Power Supplies, Drug Delivery & Fluid Handling, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Patient Monitoring, Fluid Handling, Power Transmission

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Robotic Exoskeleton Vastly Improves Quality of Life

Worldwide an estimated 185 million people use a wheelchair daily. A company based in Auckland, New Zealand, has developed an innovative robotic technology that helps people with mobility impairment get back on their feet— the Rex Bionics robotic exoskeleton. Its integrated maxon motors help to ensure smooth limb movement.

Posted in: Features, MDB, Articles, Electronics, Power Management, Power Supplies, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Mechanical Components, Implants & Prosthetics, Medical, Orthopedics, Rehabilitation & Physical Therapy, Motion Control, Motors & Drives, Positioning Equipment, Power Transmission, Sensors

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Wireless Body Area Networks for Health Monitoring

A wireless personal health monitoring system using smartphones to upload data could revolutionize US healthcare. Faculty in the departments of electrical and computer engineering are leading research in mHealth at The University of Alabama in Huntsville. mHealth capitalizes on what Dr. Emil Jovanov, associate dean for graduate education and research in the College of Engineering, calls “major revolutions” in computer informatics, smartphones, and energy-efficient and miniaturized electronics and sensors. It can provide health information to the patient directly, to the physician via the Internet, and to researchers as aggregated databases.

Posted in: Briefs, MDB, Briefs, Electronics, Diagnostics, FDA Compliance/Regulatory Affairs, Imaging, Medical, Software

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