Special Coverage

Self-Healing Wire Insulation
Thermomechanical Methodology for Stabilizing Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) Response
Space Optical Communications Using Laser Beams
High Field Superconducting Magnets
Active Response Gravity Offload and Method
Sonar Inspection Robot System

Improved Fuel Cells Could Replace Phone and Laptop Batteries

Fuel cells could replace batteries in mobile phones and laptop computers, and the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country is looking at ways of enhancing their efficiency. Researchers are designing new ways of obtaining energy in a cleaner, safer, and more affordable way. Fuel cells are totally appropriate systems for substituting the batteries of such devices. They turn the energy resulting from the combining of hydrogen and oxygen into electrical power, with water vapor being the only waste product.

Posted in: News, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage


Ultra-Thin 3D Display Promises Greater Energy Efficiency

An ultra-thin LCD screen, developed by a group of researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, holds three-dimensional images without a power source, making the display technology a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.In a traditional LCD, liquid crystal molecules are sandwiched between polarized glass plates. Electrodes pass current through the apparatus, influencing the orientation of the liquid crystals inside and manipulating the way they interact with the polarized light. The new displays ditch the electrodes, simultaneously making the screen thinner and decreasing its energy requirements. Once an image is uploaded to the screen via a flash of light, no power is required to keep it there. Because these so-called bi-stable displays draw power only when the image is changed, they are particularly advantageous in applications where a screen displays a static image for most of the time, such as e-book readers or battery status monitors for electronic devices. “Because the proposed LCD does not have any driving electronics, the fabrication is extremely simple. The bi-stable feature provides a low power consumption display that can store an image for several years,” said researcher Abhishek Srivastava.The researchers, however, went further than creating a simple LCD display; they engineered their screen to display images in 3D. SourceAlso: Learn about a Rapid Prototyping Lab (RPL) Generic Display Engine.

Posted in: News, Electronics & Computers, Energy, Energy Efficiency, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Imaging


Sensors Monitor Aircraft Structural Health for Safer Flights

Nine Delta Air Lines commercial aircraft flying regular routes are carrying sensors that monitor their structural health along with their routine maintenance. These flight tests are part of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process that will make the sensors widely available to U.S. airlines.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Sensors, Monitoring, Test & Measurement


New Computer Codes Enable Design of Greener, Leaner Aircraft

A computer model that accurately predicts how composite materials behave when damaged will make it easier to design lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Innovative computer codes form the basis of a computer model that shows in unprecedented detail how an aircraft's composite wing, for instance, would behave if it suffered small-scale damage, such as a bird strike. Any tiny cracks that spread through the composite material can be predicted using this model. 

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Electronics & Computers, Green Design & Manufacturing, Greenhouse Gases, Composites, Materials, Software


NASA Tool Helps Airlines Minimize Weather Delays

A NASA-developed tool, Dynamic Weather Routes (DWR), is designed to alleviate weather-induced air traffic interruptions. The computer software tool is programmed to constantly analyze air traffic throughout the National Airspace System, along with the ever-shifting movements of weather severe enough to require an airliner to make a course change.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Aviation, Communications, Electronics & Computers, Software


NASA to Launch Soil Moisture Mapper

A NASA spacecraft designed to track Earth's water in one of its most important, but least recognized forms — soil moisture — now is at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, to begin final preparations for launch in January.The Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) spacecraft arrived Wednesday at its launch site on California's central coast after traveling from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The spacecraft will undergo final tests and then be integrated on top of a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket in preparation for a planned Jan. 29 launch.SMAP will provide the most accurate, highest-resolution global measurements of soil moisture ever obtained from space and will detect whether the ground is frozen or thawed. The data will be used to enhance scientists' understanding of the processes that link Earth's water, energy and carbon cycles.Soil moisture is critical for plant growth and supplies aquifers, which are underground water supplies contained in layers of rock, sand or dirt. Through evaporation, water in the soil cools the land surface and lower atmosphere while seeding the upper atmosphere with moisture that forms clouds and rain. High-resolution global maps of soil moisture produced from SMAP will allow scientists to understand how regional water availability is changing and inform water resource management decisions.“Water is vital for all life on Earth, and the water present in soil is a small but critically important part of Earth’s water cycle," said Kent Kellogg, SMAP project manager at JPL. “The delivery of NASA’s SMAP spacecraft to Vandenberg Air Force Base marks a final step to bring these unique and valuable measurements to the global science community.”SourceAlso: Learn about a Carbon Dioxide Sensor with Low Detection Limit.

Posted in: News, Aerospace, Environmental Monitoring, Green Design & Manufacturing, Measuring Instruments, Monitoring, Test & Measurement


Biomimetic Photodetector “Sees” in Color

Rice University researchers have created a CMOS-compatible, biomimetic color photodetector that directly responds to red, green, and blue light in much the same way the human eye does. The new device uses an aluminum grating that can be added to silicon photodetectors with CMOS technology.

Posted in: News, Electronics & Computers, Photonics, Detectors, Sensors


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