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Popcorn-Ball

Dye-sensitized solar cells are more flexible, easier to manufacture, and cheaper than existing solar technologies. Current lab prototypes are about half as efficient as the silicon-based cells used in rooftop panels and calculators. By using a popcorn-ball design - tiny kernels clumped into much larger porous spheres - researchers...

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3-D Camera

Stanford University researchers, led by electrical engineering Professor Abbas El Gamal, are developing a camera built around a multi-aperture image sensor whose pixels measure 0.7 microns, several times smaller than pixels in standard digital cameras. The pixels are arranged in arrays of 256 pixels each, with a tiny lens atop each...

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Sensing Hurricanes

The traditional method to detect a hurricane's strength has been to fly airplanes through the most intense winds into the eye of the storm, carrying out wind-speed measurements as they go. But that approach requires specialized planes priced at $100 million each, with a single flight costing $50,000. Nicholas Makris, associate...

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Water Pipes

With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Science Foundation, Virginia Tech researchers are working to create the prototype of a national internet-based geospatial database of underground water pipes. The objective of the water infrastructure research is to improve the decision-making process as it...

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Green Decontamination

Research by two Queen's University scientists, Stan Brown and Alexei Neverov, has resulted in a new method for rapidly and safely destroying toxic agents such as chemical weapons and pesticides. Testing by an independent European defense corporation has shown the researchers' method to be over 99 percent effective when used...

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Current Attractions

Although global warming has become a hotbed issue in recent years, the problem has been under investigation for at least 20 to 30 years, according to Dr. Steve Hipskind, Chief of NASA's Earth Science Division, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA. Hipskind's group has focused on atmospheric and biospheric science research,...

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Nanowire-Based Display

Engineers at Purdue, Northwestern University, and the University of Southern California have created an active-matrix display using a new class of thin, transparent transistors and circuits. The transistors incorporate nanowires, tiny cylindrical structures assembled on glass or films of flexible plastic that are as thin...

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Comsol News - 2008

COMSOL Multiphysics

Ten Years of Unlimited Simulation Capabilities!

In 1998 COMSOL Multiphysics® made its debut as the first commercial environment to enable scientists, engineers, and researchers to solve any system of coupled physics phenomena in the same simulation. Ever since, users have leveraged the...
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Cyclic Jitters

Electronic commands passed from machine to machine over data networks increasingly drive today's precisely timed and sequenced manufacturing production lines. However, timing irregularities in the signals from even one machine can result in havoc for manufacturing processes on the plant floor. The timing glitches, called cyclic...

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Algae Alternative

Scientists at U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory are working to chemically manipulate algae for production of the next generation of renewable fuels - hydrogen gas. Some varieties of algae contain an enzyme called hydrogenase that can create small amounts of hydrogen gas. Many believe this is used by nature...

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Dental Fillings and Mercury

Mercury within dental fillings is not by itself harmful, but when exposed to sulfate- reducing bacteria, the element undergoes a chemical change that turns it into a potent, ingestible neurotoxin. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and at Urbana-Champaign have found that mercury particles entering...

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Biomass Becomes Ethanol

Iowa State University researchers are integrating thermo-chemical and catalytic technologies to efficiently produce ethanol from plant biomass, overcoming problems with previous conversion techniques. The process would use high-temperature, fast pyrolysis to convert plant biomass into a bio-oil, which in turn would be...

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NASA Briefs

"Generic Spacecraft" is a library of software developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that provides for simulation of a generic spacecraft that can orbit the Earth and land on the Moon (and, eventually, on Mars). The generic-spacecraft simulation serves as a test bed for modeling spacecraft dynamics, propulsion, control...

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Genome Software

Genomics analysis software developed by computer scientists at Stanford can go back 20 generations and identify what continent or broad global region an individual's ancestors were from. The HAPAA software compares an individual to all those in the International HapMap database – a genetic record of 270 individuals of...

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Alzheimer's Risks

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have estimated that one in six women are at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease in their lifetime, while the risk for men is one in ten. According to the researchers, the greater lifetime expectancy for women translates into a greater lifetime risk of...

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Sensing Homemade Bombs

Scientists at the University of California at San Diego have developed a tiny, inexpensive sensor chip able to detect trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide, a chemical used in the most common form of homemade explosives. The scientists believe the sensor could have widespread applications in improving industrial...

Application Briefs: Photonics/Optics
Smoothing the Wave for High-Power Lasers

For years, laser manufacturers have promised the ability to produce very high-power, cost-effective lasers that are stable outside of a laboratory environment. Recent requirements in aerospace and...

Efforts are underway to develop inexpensive, low-power electronic sensors, based on single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), for measuring part-per-million and part-per-billion of...

An innovative method has been developed for acquiring fluid-level measurements. This method eliminates the need for the fluid-level sensor to have a physical...

Briefs: Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Tactile Robotic Topographical Mapping Without Force or Contact Sensors

A method of topographical mapping of a local solid surface within the range of motion of a robot arm is based on detection of contact between the surface and the end effector (the fixture or tool at the tip of the robot arm). The method was conceived to enable mapping of...

Briefs: Software
Simulating Operation of a Complex Sensor Network

Simulation Tool for ASCTA Microsensor Network Architecture (STAMiNA) ["ASCTA" denotes the Advanced Sensors Collaborative Technology Alliance.] is a computer program for evaluating conceptual sensor networks deployed over terrain to provide military situational awareness. This or a similar program...

Further improvements have recently been made in the development of the devices described in “Improved Ion-Channel Biosensors” (NPO-30710), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 28, No. 10...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Using Transponders on the Moon to Increase Accuracy of GPS

It has been proposed to place laser or radio transponders at suitably chosen locations on the Moon to increase the accuracy achievable using the Global Positioning System (GPS) or other satellite-based positioning system. The accuracy of GPS position measurements depends on the accuracy...

A digital control system based partly on an extremum-seeking control algorithm tracks the changing resonance frequency of a piezoelectric actuator or an electrically similar...

Briefs: Electronics & Computers
Coaxial Electric Heaters

Coaxial electric heaters have been conceived for use in highly sensitive instruments in which there are requirements for compact heaters but stray magnetic fields associated with heater electric currents would...

A proposed holographic memory system would be capable of storing data at unprecedentedly high density, and its data-transfer performance in both reading and writing would be...

A regio-regular poly (3-hexylthiophene) (RRP3HT) thin-film transistor having a split-gate architecture has been fabricated on a doped silicon/silicon nitride substrate and characterized....

A continuing effort to develop carbon- nanotube-based field emitters (cold cathodes) as high-current-density electron sources has yielded an optimized device...

An alternative to the conventional approach to synthesis of polyimides involves the use of single monomers that are amenable to photopolymerization. Heretofore, the synthesis of polyimides has involved...

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