News

Underground Radar Sheds Light on Post-Katrina Damage

An innovative underground radar technology developed at Louisiana Tech University is helping the City of Slidell in south Louisiana to identify and document underground infrastructure damage that had gone undetected in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina.

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Wave-Propelled, Slithering Robot Uses a Single Small Motor

Engineers at Ben-Gurion University have developed the first wave-like robot powered by a single actuator with no internal straight spine. The Single Actuator Wave-Like Robot (SAW) mimics the movement of living biological systems like snakes and worms. Moving at 22 inches per second, the SAW robot is five times faster than similar robots, can move across shifting terrain like rocks or sand, and can even swim through water.

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Researchers Say Wood Windows Outshine Glass

In a University of Maryland study, researchers at the A. James Clark School of Engineering have demonstrated that windows made of transparent wood provide more consistent natural lighting and better energy efficiency than glass.    

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Lattice Structure Absorbs Propeller Vibrations

Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed a lattice structure capable of absorbing a wide range of vibrations while also being useful as a load-bearing component in propellers, rotors, and rockets. The three-dimensional lattice structure has a lattice spacing of around 3.5 mm, and was fabricated out of plastic using a 3D printer. Inside the lattice are steel cubes somewhat smaller than dice that act as resonators.

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NASA’s Pressure-Sensitive Paint Tests Aircraft Designs

NASA’s bright pink Pressure-Sensitive Paint (PSP) is helping to test new aircraft designs. A thin coat of PSP is sprayed onto the model that will be tested in the wind tunnel and allowed to dry. The model is then installed in the wind tunnel, which also is equipped with a series of blue LED lights and specially equipped black and white cameras to record the test. With the wind tunnel active, air flows over the model, resulting in varying surface pressures.

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Carbon Nanotube “Stitches” Strengthen Aircraft Composites

The newest passenger jets are made primarily from advanced composite materials such as carbon fiber reinforced plastic — extremely light, durable materials. But composite materials are also surprisingly vulnerable: the many layers in composites can break apart due to relatively small impacts. MIT aerospace engineers have found a way to bond composite layers in such a way that the resulting material is substantially stronger and more resistant to damage than other advanced composites.

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New MRI Technology Eliminates Longtime Limits

A new technology harnesses imperfections that typically compromise MRI exams to create images resolved enough to enable consistent diagnoses across populations for the first time. Traditional MRI radio waves “light up” some parts of a sample better than others, with imperfections blacking out areas of images. Despite decades of massive investment, traditional MRI still yields only qualitative images that are not resolved enough to guide database-driven diagnoses and research in the age of “big data.”

“Plug-and-Play MR Fingerprinting" (PnP-MRF) matches its measurements to a simulated database of every possible magnetic field interaction or distortion as it builds images, and so requires zero calibration. Along with capturing spin characteristics, the new method was shown to effectively map the distortions that occur as MR radio waves interact with tissue, which radiologists had previously sought to erase via calibration.

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“Second Skin” Uniform Protects Soldiers from Biological and Chemical Agents

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Lab have created a material that is highly breathable, yet protective from biological agents. This material is the first key component of futuristic smart uniforms that also will respond to, and protect soldiers from, environmental chemical hazards. Flexible polymeric membranes feature aligned carbon nanotube (CNT) channels as moisture conductive pores.

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Microscope Imaging System Integrates Virtual Reality

A neurosurgeon at Mount Sinai Health System is the first to use CaptiView – a microscope image injection system from Leica Microsystems that overlays critical virtual reality imaging directly onto the brain when viewed through the eyepiece, known as the ocular, during surgery. This new microscope technology allows images of chosen objects, including original CT, MRI, and angiogram datasets, to be superimposed, or ‘injected,’ directly into the neurosurgeon’s eyepiece during microscopic surgery.

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Microfluidic Chip Replicates Muscle-Nerve Connection

MIT engineers developed a microfluidic device that replicates the neuromuscular junction — the vital connection where nerve meets muscle. The device, about the size of a U.S. quarter, contains a single muscle strip and a small set of motor neurons.

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