Billy's Blog

On Billy's Blog, Billy Hurley, Digital Editorial Manager, writes stories about new and innovative achievements in design engineering, from industrial robots and autonomous vehicles to 3D printers and see-through solar cells. Along with other Tech Briefs writers and editors, Billy shares his opinions, poses questions to readers, and finds the fun, interesting, and unexpected stories behind today's leading-edge inventions.

Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Professor Jaana Vapaavuori spoke with Tech Briefs about the manufacturing methods that could someday decrease the cost and increase the lifetime of flexible solar cells.
Will Flexible Solar Cells Soon Power Our Devices?
Blog : Materials
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
How does a spider's glue maintain its stickiness, even in high humidity? Researchers in Akron investigated the question.
Studying the Secrets Behind Spider Glue
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material
FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material

Researchers from Singapore University of Technology and Design have demonstrated 3D printing with one of the Earth’s most abundant organic compounds: cellulose.

FLAM! Researchers Test Cellulose as Sustainable 3D-Printing Material
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
A reader asks: Will it be the OEMs or the Tier-1 and Tier-2 suppliers who will be purchasing 3D metal printing machines?
Answering Your Questions: Who Will Integrate 3D Metal Printing — Tiers or OEMs?
Blog : Materials
How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices
How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices

There is plenty of moisture in the air — Professor Swee Ching Tan wants to harvest the humidity and put it to good use.

How to Harness Humidity: Hydrogel Keeps Rooms Cool, Powers Small Devices
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
If digital transformation is a boardroom priority, why are companies so slow to transform product development? A reader asks our experts.
Answering Your Questions: Why Are Companies Holding Back on 'Digital' Product Development?
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
A researcher tells Tech Briefs how his team's "symmetrical" sensor approach will support the growing "Internet of Things."
A ‘Symmetrical’ Approach Improves Wireless Microsensors
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Can metal 3D printing help automakers with more than just prototyping? It can, and it has, says our engineering expert.
Answering Your Questions: Beyond Prototyping, How is 3D Metal Printing Being Used in the Automotive Industry?
Blog : Materials
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Professor Paul Steen helped to create a beetle-inspired adhesive. Now it's about finding applications for it.
Wanted: Uses for a Beetle-Inspired 'Spider-Man' Adhesive
Blog : Energy
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
Researchers from Purdue University demonstrated that thermoacoustics properties could theoretically occur in solids as well as liquids.
A 'Solid' Idea for Powering Spacecraft: Thermoacoustics
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly
‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly

A new system from the Georgia Institute of Technology has a sound approach to recognizing tiny gestures of the hand.

‘FingerPing’ Recognizes Micro Motions, Soundly
Blog : Materials
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
A stretchy material, modeled after squid skin, achieves thermal invisibility by reflecting heat.
‘Invisibility’ Material Offers Thermal Camouflage
Blog : Semiconductors & ICs
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
A new microchip allows sensor nodes to run uninterruptedly, even when the battery runs out.
When the Battery Runs Out, the ‘BATLESS’ Microchip Keeps Going
Blog : Automotive
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
A “MapLite” framework from MIT allows self-driving cars to navigate roads – with just GPS and sensors as a guide.
No Map Needed: ‘MapLite’ Sends Self-Driving Cars Off the Beaten Path
Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
Researchers at the University of Buffalo have found a counter-intuitive way of improving the water-purification process: keeping things cool.
A New Approach to Solar-Powered Water Purification: Stay Cool
Blog : Transportation
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Does less nitrogen oxide mean more particulate emissions? A reader asks our expert.
Answering Your Questions: Will Reducing Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) Lead to Increased Particulate?
Blog : Medical
Will 3D Printing Get Past the Plastic?
Will 3D Printing Get Past the Plastic?
If you think there’s too much hype surrounding 3D printing, perhaps that’s because you’re only thinking about plastic parts.
Will 3D Printing Get Past the Plastic?
News : Defense
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
A reader asked our expert: What technology will spell the beginning of the end for the VME embedded computing platform?
Answering Your Questions: Is This the End of VME?
Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills
Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills

A reusable sponge from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory cleans up spills – not in the kitchen, but on the coast.

Reusable ‘Oleo’ Sponge Soaks Up Oil Spills
News : Medical
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Robotics are increasingly find a role in patient rehabilitation. But are the technologies safe?
Answering Your Questions: Are Assistive Robotics Safe for Patients?
Blog : Materials
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
With a syringe-like applicator, the XSTAT hemostatic tool injects small, rapidly-expanding sponges into a wound cavity.
Sponge-Inspired XSTAT Device Quickly Seals Gunshot Wounds
Blog : Green Design & Manufacturing
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
What's the best platform for controlling vehicle emissions? "It depends!" says one engine expert.
How to Control Vehicle Emissions: Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) or Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR)?
Blog : Electronics & Computers
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Larry Curtiss answers reader questions about a new kind of lithium-air battery.
Answering Your Questions: Lithium-Air Battery vs. Lithium-Ion
Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
A “RemoveDEBRIS” satellite set to launch today will demonstrate new ideas for clearing out space junk near the International Space Station.
Aboard SpaceX Cargo Capsule, New Ideas for Getting Rid of Space Junk
Blog : Manufacturing & Prototyping
Metal Additive Manufacturing on the Rise, Says 3D Printing Study
Metal Additive Manufacturing on the Rise, Says 3D Printing Study

A report released this week revealed a spike in the adoption of metal additive-manufacturing systems – an increase due largely to a growing number of new companies.

Metal Additive Manufacturing on the Rise, Says 3D Printing Study
Blog : Sensors/Data Acquisition
Truck Platooning Technology: How Will Road Conditions Impact V2V Communications?
Truck Platooning Technology: How Will Road Conditions Impact V2V Communications?
A reader asks our expert: "How do road conditions impact vehicle-to-vehicle responses?"
Truck Platooning Technology: How Will Road Conditions Impact V2V Communications?
Blog : Semiconductors & ICs
Wobbly ‘HOIP’ Semiconductor Has Researchers in Excited State
Wobbly ‘HOIP’ Semiconductor Has Researchers in Excited State
Physical chemists at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered an emerging class of semiconductors with some unexpected moves.
Wobbly ‘HOIP’ Semiconductor Has Researchers in Excited State
Blog : Aerospace
HAMMER Time: A New Spacecraft Idea Aims to Ram an Asteroid Off-Course
HAMMER Time: A New Spacecraft Idea Aims to Ram an Asteroid Off-Course
Scientists have an idea to deflect Earth-bound asteroids: a 9-meter-tall, 8.8-ton spacecraft dubbed the HAMMER.
HAMMER Time: A New Spacecraft Idea Aims to Ram an Asteroid Off-Course
Blog : Mechanical & Fluid Systems
How to Understand Humanity Through Humanoids
How to Understand Humanity Through Humanoids
Today's humanoid robots are being asked to have more brains than brawn.
How to Understand Humanity Through Humanoids
Blog : Electronics & Computers
A Look Back at the Trailblazing "Manny" Robot – A Firefighter's Friend
A Look Back at the Trailblazing
In 1988, a team at Pacific Northwest Laboratories built a mannequin robot. One of the original engineers talked with Tech Briefs about his time making "Manny."
A Look Back at the Trailblazing