Special Coverage

Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water
Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit
Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

‘Solar Paint’ Produces Energy from Sunlight

A team from Australia’s RMIT University created a “solar paint” that generates its own energy. The sunlight-absorbing substance absorbs and splits water atoms, resulting in hydrogen that could someday be used to power fuel cells and conventional combustion engines.

Posted in: News, Energy Harvesting, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Coatings & Adhesives
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Super-Strong 'Glassy Carbon' is Elastic and Electric

A new compressed form of glassy carbon opens up possibilities for applications requiring low weight and high strength — from aerospace parts to football helmets.

Posted in: News, News, Ceramics
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Mechanical Actuators Bend as They “Breathe”

The equipment used for testing the new materials. (Credit: MIT)

Extreme temperatures can severely strain a mechanical component because its material may have trouble enduring the heat without degrading. To address the problem, researchers at MIT developed a new material that expands and contracts as it lets oxygen in and out. The result is a new way to make actuators that could be used in extremely hot environments.

Posted in: News, Materials, Mechanical Components, Motion Control
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3D-Printed Soft Robot ‘Walks’ on Any Terrain

Traditional robots often feature isolated mechanical joints. These discrete components limit a rover’s ability to traverse sand, stone, and other challenging environments.

A team at the University of California San Diego has demonstrated a more flexible option: a soft robot that lifts its legs over obstacles and operates on a variety of terrains. The 3D-printed quadrupedal technology may someday support search-and-rescue missions requiring intelligent navigation capabilities.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Materials, Automation, Robotics
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A New Material for Mars Habitats? Mars Itself

Researchers from the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a compaction technique that may someday be used to turn Mars soil into building blocks for the Red Planet. The scientists' new method of applying pressure offers construction possibilities as NASA plans manned Mars missions in the upcoming decades.

Posted in: News, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Materials
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Non-Toxic Material Generates Electricity Through Heat, Cold Air

Imagine a body sensor powered by one's jewelry, or a cooking pan that charges a cell phone in a few hours.

Using a combination of the chemical elements calcium, cobalt, and terbium, University of Utah researchers created an efficient, inexpensive and bio-friendly material that generates electricity through a thermoelectric process involving heat and cold air.

Posted in: News, Materials, Sensors
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Researchers Craft New Material That Could Improve LED Screens

Researchers working at the Ultrafast Laser Lab at the University of Kansas successfully created a new bilayer material, with each layer measuring less than one nanometer in thickness. The new material, that someday could lead to more efficient and versatile light emission, was made by combining atomically thin layers of molybdenum disulfide and rhenium disulfide.

Posted in: News, ptb catchall, LEDs, Powering & Controlling LEDs, Materials, Optical Components, Optics, Photonics
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Researchers Find 'Golden' Idea for New Wearables

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology have developed a way to “grow” thin layers of gold on single crystal wafers of silicon, remove the gold foils, and use them as substrates on which to grow other electronic materials. The discovery could lead to new wearable developments, including a smartphone that conforms entirely to one's wrist.

Posted in: News, Materials
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'Tougher-than-Metal' Hydrogels Support New Biomaterials

Scientists from Japan's Hokkaido University have created tough hydrogels combined with woven fiber fabric. The "fiber-reinforced soft composite" fabrics are highly flexible, stronger than metals, and can support a number of potential applications, including artificial ligaments and tendons subjected to load-bearing tension.

Posted in: News, Materials
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Mechanical Metamaterials Can Block Symmetry of Motion

An artist’s rendering of mechanical metamaterials. (Credit: Cockrell School of Engineering)

Engineers and scientists at the University of Texas at Austin and the AMOLF institute in the Netherlands have invented mechanical metamaterials that transfer motion in one direction while blocking it in the other. The material can be thought of as a mechanical one-way shield that blocks energy from coming in but easily transmits it going out the other side. The researchers developed the mechanical materials using metamaterials, which are synthetic materials with properties that cannot be found in nature.

Posted in: News, Materials, Motion Control
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