April 2020

Special Reports: Electronics & Computers
RF & Microwave Electronics - April 2020

In this compendium of recent articles from the editors of Aerospace & Defense Technology and Tech Briefs, read about how advances in RF electronics are enabling new applications in space and ground...

Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Algorithm Helps Swarming Robots Avoid Collisions
This technology could help control driverless cars and automated warehouses.
Square trusses replace round for enhanced strength and robotics compatibility.
This technology cancels out the vibrations of a satellite by vibrating the solar panels in the opposite direction.
Rugged tablets from Teguar Corp. can be used to monitor manufacturing operations.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
Mechanical Controller for Robot-Assisted Surgery

Robot-assisted surgery has advanced dramatically over the past decade in almost every surgical sub-specialty. Robot-assisted surgery is usually performed using surgical robot systems that...

Here's what you'll need to know when you’re choosing an encoder for a motion control system.
Briefs: Motion Control
Optical Gyroscope-on-a-Chip
The gyroscope is smaller than a grain of rice — about 500 times smaller than the current state-of-the-art device.
As advancements in technology continue to define how pneumatic or electromechanical linear devices lift, move, or place a load, the requirements of excellent closed-loop positioning and accuracy greatly increase
The domino effect is used to design deployable systems that expand quickly with a small push and are stable and locked into place after deployment.
Articles: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Reimagining Robotics in a Connected World
Manufacturers are beginning to realize the same benefits by cloud-connecting their equipment and processes on the shop floor.
Products: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
New Products: April 2020 Motion Design
Motor drivers, position sensors, offset couplings, and more.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Machine Learning Software for 3D Printing
Manufacturers, medical device companies, and others can use this 3D printing software driven by artificial intelligence (AI).
See some of the world-changing tools and technologies launched by Caltech scientists, from earthquake monitoring to helping the blind see.
Apps could take up less space on a smartphone and apps could download instantly.
Special light sources and sensors see around corners or through gauzy filters, enabling reconstruction of the shapes of unseen objects.

Even though ultrasound has been studied by scientists for many years, its capabilities in practical applications are yet to be fully harnessed.

Applications include powering portable electronic devices and sensors, and harvesting waste mechanical energy for aircraft, automobile, and other transportation equipment.
Briefs: Nanotechnology
Additive Manufacturing Method for Sub-Microscale Three-Dimensional Structures
Applications include MEMS, microlattice fabrication, and other sub-microscale 3D structures with a broad range of materials.
Products: Test & Measurement
New on the Market: April 2020
Vision-based 3D printing, network analyzers, particulate sensors, and more.
Briefs: Communications
Laser Radio Transmitter
This device transmits data via a semiconductor laser, opening the door to ultra-high-speed WiFi.
Q&A: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Q&A: Simple Solar-Powered Desalination
Lenan Zhang and his team at MIT developed a small, economical, highly efficient device to provide fresh drinking water using only the Sun for its energy input.
Briefs: RF & Microwave Electronics
RFID-Based System Enables Internet of Things
The technology could help in elder care with sensors throughout a home.
A wildfire-preventing gel; NASA's 3D tissue models, and more.
The coating could make lightweight lithium metal batteries safe and long-lasting for the next generation of electric vehicles.
A wearable energy harvesting device could generate energy from the swing of an arm while walking or jogging.
Hardware and software tweak microwave patterns to discover the most efficient way to identify objects.
Surface treatments have limitations that demand attention early in the design process.
The new body armor can safeguard against even more powerful firearms during combat.
Briefs: Manufacturing & Prototyping
High-Area Rapid 3D Printing
This new 3D printer can print an object the size of an adult human in just a couple of hours.
The coating protects parking decks, bridges, concrete piers, offshore platforms, buildings, and cooling towers.
The adhesive that binds wet surfaces within seconds could be used to heal wounds or implant medical devices.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Soft, Flexible Materials with Enhanced Properties
These materials can be used in soft robotics, self-healing electronics, and medical devices.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Method for Electrospinning Customizable Nanofibers
The electrospun nanofibers are used for wound healing and 3D matrices for biological tissues.
Briefs: Robotics, Automation & Control
PLCs Directly Access Internet Information
The newest PLCs can directly access Internet resources, much like a mobile device, to obtain information for improving operations.
A new method provides a more efficient, safer, and cost-effective way to produce cadmium telluride material for solar cells or other applications.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Maximizing Safety in Advanced Battery Systems
Fuse devices enable circuit safety in high-power applications, such as motion control and alternative energy generation, in addition to electric vehicles.
These carbon-based fillers can be used in thermally conductive clothing such as liquid-cooled garments.
This imaging technique could impact optical communications and signal processing.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Model Predicts Breaking Point of Conducting Material
This work could accelerate the development of flexible electronics.
The lasers are small and efficient enough to fit on a microchip.
Technology used to search for extraterrestrial life can characterize radioactive material.
Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
High-Reliability Radio Frequency MEMS Switch
Applications include homeland security, vehicle anti-collision systems, telecommunications systems, and industrial instrumentation.
Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Using Sound and Light for Ultrafast Data Transfer
This method could lead to the transmission of data at the rate of 100 gigabits per second.
5 Ws: Manufacturing & Prototyping
5 Ws of the 3D Skin Printer
The handheld 3D skin printer can deposit sheets of skin to cover large burn wounds
Housed in a chip, it lets IoT devices communicate with existing WiFi networks.
The basis for the technology is a special resin that can be cured with UV light.

Robots are in high demand as medical professionals seek hands-free ways to disinfect environments and contain the spread of coronavirus and COVID-19.

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
From Drudgery to the Effective Use of Design and Process FMEAs

In many industries, FMEAs are considered drudgery, contributing little – if anything – to valuable technical knowledge of the product design and development process, as well as to process design and continual improvement, while chewing up resources and time in...

White Papers: Automotive
Automated Solutions for Head-Up Display Measurement

Head-up display (HUD) technology is one of the largest growth areas in the automotive market, and standard measurement criteria are rapidly being defined to ensure HUD visual performance...

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Heavy-Duty Engine Design for a Transitioning Market

An uncertain regulatory climate. Augmenting with electrification. The potential for automated and partially automated vehicle operation. All these trends are affecting the way engine developers are approaching near-term engine design and development cycles. What are the most significant...

INSIDER: Robotics, Automation & Control
Foldable Robots for Future Moon Mission

The newest edition of NASA's small, foldable robots successfully traversed rugged terrain in the Mars Yard at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

INSIDER: Electronics & Computers
Ultra-Low Power Chip for IoT Wi-Fi

More portable, fully wireless smart home setups; lower power wearables; batteryless smart devices, could all be made possible with this new ultra-low power Wi-Fi radio. It is housed in a chip smaller...

Microelectronics like semiconductor devices are at the heart of the technologies we use each day. As we move into an era where we are stretching the limits of Moore’s Law, it is...

Wearable tech and electronic cloth may be the way of the future, but to get there the wiring needs to be strong, flexible, and efficient.

A new manufacturing process could produce flexible electronics for things like virtual reality-enabled contact lenses, solar-powered skins that mold to the contours of your car, and...

Question of the Week: Sensors/Data Acquisition
Is Anonymization the Best Way to Protect Personal Data?

A Tech Briefs reader recently asked our industry expert:

In just three weeks, the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) at UC Berkeley built a robotic COVID-19 laboratory.

White Papers: Electronics & Computers
How to Define a ‘Medical-Grade’ Material

Every plastic has a unique combination of chemical properties, surface structure, biocompatibility, color, and mechanics. Learn which plastics are "medical-grade,” and see what characteristics...

Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Have You Cloud-Connected Your Equipment and Processes on the Shop Floor?

Our April Motion Design feature article highlights how manufacturers are reimagining robotics in a connected world, employing processes like real-time analytics, predictive maintenance, online support and diagnostics, and cloud backups.

On-Demand Webinars: Photonics/Optics
High-Powered Directed Energy Laser Projects: Destroy the Target, Not Everything Else

Applying the stable and repeatable characteristics of lasers to high-powered directed energy applications has ushered in a new era of efficient weapons for the military. The development of these weapons comes with challenges that users of high-powered...

White Papers: Test & Measurement
Engineer’s Guide to the Digitization of Analog Signals

Learn about the most common technologies for digitizing analog signals for digital logging and processing, and understand the variables that impact the quality and consistency of an...

A Berkeley Lab system provides a much more sensitive probe of the chemical state of battery electrodes, especially when the battery is operated under high capacity mode.
Question of the Week: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Can Solar-Powered Desalination Solve Water-Scarcity Challenges?

“Seawater is a very abundant resource for clean water, but the problem is how to desalinate it,” MIT researcher Lenan Zhang told Tech Briefs in our April issue.

A team at Northwestern University is developing a material so porous that if you were able to unfold a gram of it, you could go farther than a football field.
On-Demand Webinars: Photonics/Optics
Optical Coating Design

Most precision optics, whether used in scientific, medical, industrial, or military applications, incorporate some type of thin film coating to enhance their capabilities. This Webinar from the editors of Tech Briefs Media delves into some of the more popular types of coatings, what they do, and how they're...

To speed up the design process, researchers from the University of Texas are finding more efficient ways to predict, or "learn," a rocket's behavior.
Tech Talks: Materials
What to Know: Forming Thin Metal Parts

Metal parts are part of almost every electronic, rocket, and medical device. The parts need to be reliably precise in order for the application to work successfully. This Tech Talk examines the best practices of forming a photochemically etched metal component.

On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Rapid Decompression and Sealed Containers: Why Choose Magnet Valves?

When transporting sealed containers by air, protecting against rapid decompression is a constant concern. Traditionally, spring-actuated valves have been used to address this design challenge. Magnet-actuated valves are a relatively new technology that provide distinct...

ApolloBVM – an open-source emergency ventilator developed by Rice University students – could help COVID-19 patients who are less-critically ill while they await...

A team used to making pollutant-detection systems is adapting their technologies to spot coronavirus.
Question of the Week: Transportation
Will 'Metal-Air Scavengers' Power Vehicles and Robots?

Penn Engineering researchers have introduced a "metal-air scavenger" vehicle, which gets energy not from a battery, but from breaking chemical bonds in the aluminum surface it travels over. The technology, which works like both a battery and an energy harvester, has 13 times more energy...

On-Demand Webinars: Motion Control
Advantages of Smart Servo Steppers vs. Smart Brushless Servos

For years the difference between brushless servos and step motors was understood. That has all been blurred with servo vector control of step motors and the growing popularity of smart motors. Understanding these technologies is key to selecting the best product for specific...

By taking a closer look at the delta deposits on Mars, Stanford University researchers concluded that the Jezero Crater is still the best place to search for signs of life on Mars.
On-Demand Webinars: Manufacturing & Prototyping
Large Cable, Large Problems: Considerations for Innovation

Government emission standards have led to the rapid projected growth of EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs, which in turn is leading to the rapid increase in use of large gauge wires and cables. Harness manufacturers must take care to ensure quality connections in the harsh environments where...

On-Demand Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control
Collaborative Robots: Are They as Safe as They Sound?

Collaborative robots are the fastest growing segment in industrial robotics – for good reason. They’re flexible, easy to program, and when compared to their “older generation” industrial counterparts, far safer and less expensive, as well as faster to deploy. But those who use...

Question of the Week
Will Self-Erasing Chips Catch On?

Webcasts

Upcoming Webinars: Automotive

Metal Injection Molding’s Role in Automotive

Upcoming Webinars: Materials

Technical Ceramics: The Powerhouse of Advanced Materials

Upcoming Webinars: Software

PPAP Reviews Using AI and Machine Learning

Upcoming Webinars: Motion Control

Customizing Actuators Using COTS Drive Components for Martian...

Upcoming Webinars: Robotics, Automation & Control

2020 Create the Future Contest Awards

Upcoming Webinars: RF & Microwave Electronics

Advancement of Spectrum Analysis Techniques for Tracking,...

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Blog: Mechanical & Fluid Systems

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Videos