This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.
Owl Wing Design to Suppress Noise Pollution
Trailing-edge noise is the dominant source of sound from aeronautical and turbine engines like those in airplanes, drones, and wind turbines. Suppressing this noise pollution is a major environmental goal for some urban areas. Researchers from Xi'an Jiaotong University used the characteristics of owl wings to inform airfoil design and significantly reduce trailing-edge noise. The team used noise calculation and analysis software to conduct a series of detailed theoretical studies of simplified airfoils with characteristics reminiscent of owl wings. They applied their findings to suppress the noise of rotating machinery. Improving the flow conditions around the trailing edge and optimizing the shape of the edge suppressed the noise. This research has the potential to serve as an important guide for airfoil design and noise control.
Contact: Larry Frum
A “Cloaking System” for Drug Delivery
Columbia Engineering researchers have developed a “cloaking” system that temporarily hides therapeutic bacteria from immune systems, enabling them to more effectively deliver drugs to tumors and kill cancer cells in mice. By manipulating the microbes’ DNA, they programmed gene circuits that control the bacteria surface, building a molecular “cloak’' that encapsulates the bacteria. According to the team, they can regulate the time that bacteria survive in human blood and increase the maximum tolerable dose of bacteria. The ideal bacteria should be able to evade the immune system upon entry to the body, and efficiently get to the tumor. And once they are in the tumor, they need to be eliminated in other parts of the body to minimize toxicity.
Contact: Holly Evarts
Stabilizing Intelligent Networks
Inspired by psychology, NASA has developed algorithms that could be applied toward creating stable, predictable, and artificially intelligent networks. The Evolvable Neural Software System (ENSS), Formulation for Emotion Embedding in Logic Systems (FEELS), Stability Algorithm for Neural Entities (SANE), and the Logic Expansion for Autonomously Reconfigurable Neural Systems (LEARNS), collectively represent ways for intelligent systems to identify and correct unpredictable or unstable behaviors, creating stable emotional states that govern behaviors with given specific circumstances, and establishing an evolvable synthetic neural network that can eventually be scaled from low-level functions to higher level decision-making processes. These algorithms could be key to research in autonomous spacecraft, nanorobotic swarms, and sensor networks.