Articles

Tiny Lenses Capture Very Big View

Engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have created the first- ever flexible, Fresnel zone plate microlenses with a wide field of view — a development that could allow everything from surgical scopes to security cameras to capture a broader perspective. The advance centers on a method for creating tiny lenses, each the size of a grain of salt, embedded within a flexible plastic polymer. This approach allowed the researchers, led by Hongrui Jiang, the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Lynn H. Matthias Professor in electrical and computer engineering at UW-Madison, to bend an array of multiple lenses into a cylindrical structure. An array of these miniscule lenses, each no larger than a head of a pin, can capture an almost complete panorama, producing images from a 170-degree field of view.

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New Electron Microscopy Method Sculpts 3-D Structures at Atomic Level

Electron microscopy researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a unique way to build 3-D structures with finely controlled shapes as small as one to two billionths of a meter. The new technique demonstrates how scanning transmission electron microscopes, normally used as imaging tools, are also capable of precision sculpting of nanometer-sized 3-D features in complex oxide materials.

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Onion-Like Layers Help New Nanoparticle Glow

A new, onion-like nanoparticle could open new frontiers in bioimaging, solar energy harvesting and light-based security techniques.

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Products of Tomorrow: December 2015

The technologies NASA develops don’t just blast off into space. They also improve our lives here on Earth. Life-saving search-and-rescue tools, implantable medical devices, advances in commercial aircraft safety, increased accuracy in weather forecasting, and the miniature cameras in our cellphones are just some of the examples of NASA-developed technology used in products today.

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Multiphysics Software Models Mean Flow Augmented Acoustics in Rocket Systems

Combustion instability in solid rocket motors and liquid engines is a complication that continues to plague designers and engineers. Many rocket systems experience violent fluctuations in pressure, velocity, and temperature originating from the complex interactions between the combustion process and gas dynamics. During severe cases of combustion instability, fluctuation amplitudes can reach values equal to or greater than the average chamber pressure. Large amplitude oscillations lead to damaged injectors, loss of rocket performance, damaged payloads, and, in some cases, breach of case/loss of mission. Historic difficulties in modeling and predicting combustion instability haves reduced most instances of most rocket systems experiencing instability into a costly fix through testing or scrapping of the system entirely.

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Top Prizes Awarded in the Create the Future Design Contest

Top prizes in the 2015 Create the Future Design Contest were awarded on November 6 in New York City. The Grand Prize winner, and winners in seven categories, took home awards for their innovative design ideas.

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Supercritical Wing Design Cuts Billions in Fuel Costs

NASA-developed wing design is used worldwide by commercial airlines. Langley Research Center aeronautics engineer Richard T. Whitcomb was 34 when he did something no other single person could do. Whitcomb overcame the aviation challenge of the day — the so-called sound barrier. However, he was still working to improve flight efficiency at speeds approaching that barrier, now with a seemingly counterintuitive wing design, almost the inverse of what were then conventional wings. He called it the “supercritical” airfoil.

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