Electrical/Electronics

Robots Restore Electricity After Power Outages

A team led by Nina Mahmoudian of Michigan Technological University has developed a tabletop model of a robot team that can bring power to places that need it the most.“If we can regain power in communication towers, then we can find the people we need to rescue,” says Mahmoudian, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering–engineering mechanics. “And the human rescuers can communicate with each other.”Unfortunately, cell towers are often located in hard-to-reach places, she says. “If we could deploy robots there, that would be the first step toward recovery.”The team has programmed robots to restore power in small electrical networks, linking up power cords and batteries to light a little lamp or set a flag to waving with a small electrical motor. The robots operate independently, choosing the shortest path and avoiding obstacles, just as you would want them to if they were hooking up an emergency power source to a cell tower.“Our robots can carry batteries, or possibly a photovoltaic system or a generator,” Mahmoudian said. The team is also working with Wayne Weaver, the Dave House Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering, to incorporate a power converter, since different systems and countries have different electrical requirements. SourceAlso: Learn about Locomotion of Amorphous Surface Robots.

Posted in: News, Wireless, Batteries, Power Management, Energy Storage, Solar Power, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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'Solar Battery' Runs on Light and Air

Ohio State University researchers report that they have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons.When the battery discharges, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide. An iodide additive in the electrolyte acts as a “shuttle” that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel. The use of the additive represents a distinct approach on improving the battery performance and efficiency, the team said. The invention eliminates the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery.SourceAlso: Learn about Full-Cell Evaluation for New Battery Chemistries.

Posted in: News, Batteries, Electronic Components, Power Management, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power

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Army Researchers Enable Night Lethality

In science fiction, technology problems are solved with the stroke of a writer's pen. In reality, science and technology research takes time, and a lot of effort.

Posted in: News, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Sensors

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New DARPA Technologies Could Make Cyber Warfare a Reality

Three years after the Defense Department named cyberspace a new domain of warfare, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is unveiling technologies that could soon make it possible for military leaders and warriors to plan and execute real-time cyber missions in a territory charted so far only by machines.

Posted in: News, Displays/Monitors/HMIs

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Tiny Wireless Sensing Device Alerts Users to Telltale Vapors Remotely

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 a variety of applications in military, commercial, environmental, healthcare and other areas.

Posted in: News, Wireless, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics, Detectors, Sensors

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Hypersensitive Graphene Sensor Could Detect Single Gas Molecule

University of Illinois at Chicago researchers have discovered a way to create a highly sensitive chemical sensor based on the crystalline flaws in graphene sheets. The imperfections have unique electronic properties that the researchers were able to exploit to increase sensitivity to absorbed gas molecules by 300 times.

Posted in: News, Electronics, Sensors

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Wireless Sensing Lets Users “Train” Smartphones for Gesture Control

University of Washington researchers have developed a new form of low-power wireless sensing technology that could soon let users “train” their smartphones to recognize and respond to specific hand gestures near the phone. The “SideSwipe” technology uses the phone’s wireless transmissions to sense nearby gestures, so it works when a device is out of sight in a pocket or bag and could easily be built into future smartphones and tablets.

Posted in: News, Wireless, PCs/Portable Computers, Antennas, Detectors, Sensors

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