Features

Researchers Turn Solar Energy into Electrical Power Using Photo-Bioelectrochemical Cells

A new paradigm for the development of photo-bioelectrochemical cells has been reported by researchers from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Israel, and the University of Bochum, in Germany. The design of photo-bioelectrochemical cells based on native photosynthetic reaction is attracting substantial recent interest as a means for the conversion of solar light energy into electrical power.  

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NASA Engineers Tapped to Build First Integrated-Photonics Modem

A NASA team has been tapped to build a new type of communications modem that will employ an emerging, potentially revolutionary technology that could transform everything from telecommunications, medical imaging, and advanced manufacturing to national defense. The space agency’s first-ever integrated-photonics modem will be tested aboard the International Space Station beginning in 2020 as part of NASA’s multi-year Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, or LCRD. The cell phone-sized device incorporates optics-based functions, such as lasers, switches, and wires, onto a microchip — much like an integrated circuit found in all electronics hardware. Once aboard the space station, the so-called Integrated LCRD LEO (Low-Earth Orbit) User Modem and Amplifier (ILLUMA) will serve as a low-Earth orbit terminal for NASA’s LCRD, demonstrating yet another capability for high-speed, laser-based communications.

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Drone Control: Flying the Crowded Skies

Long before stories of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or “drones,” appeared frequently in the news, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recognized the need to safely manage UAS flying at low altitudes in airspace not currently managed by the FAA. For more than 25 years, NASA has conducted air traffic management system research in partnership with the FAA, providing a variety of computer-based tools that help maintain safety in increasingly crowded skies.

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FAA and Drone Control

Since the early 1990s, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have operated on a limited basis in the National Airspace System (NAS). Until recently, UAS mainly supported public operations, such as military and border security operations. The list of potential uses is now expanding rapidly to encompass a broad range of other activities, including aerial photography, surveying land and crops, communications and broadcasting, monitoring forest fires and environmental conditions, and protecting critical infrastructures.

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CO2 Recovery System Puts Bubbles into Beer

Technology used to capture carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere can save brewers money. Building on work he and his companies did with Johnson Space Center’s In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) team, Robert Zubrin has developed and commercialized technologies that could prove revolutionary in their Earth applications, such as a system that could extract millions of barrels of oil from defunct oil wells around the world, and another that can harness all the natural gas currently burned off as waste at many oil drilling rigs.

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Editor's Choice: February 2016

A new wire bonding technique has been developed that provides the ability to mount and wire-bond electronic chips on tilted surfaces. This technique will allow designers to create smaller and lighter instruments for space missions, and similar procedures can be applied to the general assembly of electronic components. This approach to interconnecting sub-assemblies would allow novel configurations and space-saving solutions in industries where devices need to be smaller and lighter, such as medical, aerospace, automotive, and the military. Click HERE to find out more.

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Get Ready for Integrated Industry

Initially posed by the German government to that country’s manufacturing industry leaders, one question has evolved into a global movement known as Industry 4.0: What’s the next stage of evolution for manufacturing? The goal of posing that question was to make production more efficient, cost-effective, and flexible.

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