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.

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Tech Briefs

An electronics architecture has been developed to enable the rapid construction and testing of prototypes of robotic systems. A system employing this architecture can easily be reconfigured to satisfy various needs with respect to input, output, processing of data, sensing, actuation, and power.

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Soils and Landmine Detection

Metal detectors are the most common technique used to search for landmines, many of which reside in the tropics where intensively weathered soils have properties that can limit the performance of metal detectors. To examine the problem, geoscientists at the Leibniz Institute for Applied Geosciences and the Federal...

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Techs of the Week

The use of outdoor wireless access points for services such as Internet access is gaining popularity. At the same time, there is an opportunity for municipalities to improve city lighting operational costs by using lamp management systems. A technology enables the design of a system that achieves advanced lamp management, and...

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Portable Electronics Chip Design

Researchers at MIT and Texas Instruments have unveiled a new chip design for portable electronics that is reportedly up to ten times more energy- efficient than present technology. The design could lead to cell phones, implantable medical devices, and sensors that last far longer on a battery charge.

The...

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Whale Hearing

Researchers from San Diego State University and the University of California used computer models to mimic the effects of underwater noise on an unusual whale species, and discovered a new pathway for sound. Advances in Finite Element Modeling (FEM), computed tomography (CT) scanning, and computer processing have made it possible...

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Current Attractions

Communications and telecommunications are needs that are deeply engrained in human history. These needs have significantly evolved over time, enabling today's content-rich (text, music, images and video), real-time, and multi-location exchanges through electrical, optical, or electromagnetic signals conveyed by different...

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Technology Business Briefs

Seeking Large Diverse Patent Portfolios

500+ patents and ideally addressing different markets. Networking area: DSL, Cable modem, power over ethernet, broadband, audio/video, bandwidth expansion software. Mobile: Mobile infrastructure, applications (imaging, security, commerce). Memory: Flash/solid state....

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Mucosal "Boosters"

Two novel proteins have the potential to enhance the production of antibodies against a multitude of infectious agents. Terry D. Connell, professor of microbiology and immunology at the University at Buffalo New York, developed and patented the LT-IIa and LT-IIb enterotoxins and their respective mutant proteins as new mucosal...

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Tech Needs of the Week

A company wishes to buy US patents in the following general areas:

-Digital cameras and imaging, including CCD, low-light imaging, high-speed imaging, non-visible wavelengths, motion/lighting compensation, and automatic focusing.

-Display technology, including LCD, DLP, OLED, electronic ink, flexible...

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Techs of the Week

A method to join and seal the flow field plate to the gas diffusion layer or the coolant plate of a fuel cell structure eliminates seals and gaskets in the fuel cell assembly. This design potentially achieves considerable cost reduction and simplifies assembly. Eliminating the seal reduces the chance of stack failure due to...

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Intermediate-Mass Black Holes

A violent fate awaits a white dwarf star that wanders too close to a moderately massive black hole. According to a new study from the University of California at Santa Cruz, the black hole's gravitational pull on the white dwarf would cause tidal forces sufficient to disrupt the stellar remnant and reignite nuclear...

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Tech Needs of the Week

A company is seeking enhancement to an existing consumer package that saves weight, money, shipping costs, and also preserves the product. Current packaging is cylindrical. The new consumer packaging should convey the qualities of freshness, taste, novelty, and differentiation from other products. It should be able to be...

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Pill Predictions

Researchers at the University of Washington developed a tiny camera designed to take high-quality, color pictures in confined spaces. Such a device could find warning signs of esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States. The scanning endoscope developed at UW consists of just a single optical fiber for...

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Simulating Heat Pump Performance

Air-source heat pumps typically deliver 1 1/2 to three times more heating energy to a home than the electric energy they consume. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers are working to improve the performance of air-source heat pumps even further by providing engineers with...

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Techs of the Week

A toolkit facilitates quick development of Honeywell Communications Interface (HCI) and OPC-compliant servers. The kit includes a time-out indicator (TOI) feature to overcome situations wherein real-time process control systems become suspended indefinitely or for long time periods. An intermediary object between the client and...

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Computers and Cell Division

Computational biologists at Virginia Tech have mathematically modeled the process that regulates cell division in a common bacterium. The model was developed to confirm hypotheses, provide new insights, and identify gaps in the scientists' understanding of the molecular machinery that governs replication of DNA and...

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Mighty Mouse

Using embryonic stem cells from mice, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center researchers have prompted the growth of healthy, functioning muscle cells in mice afflicted with a human model of muscular dystrophy. This is the first time transplanted embryonic stem cells have been shown to restore function to defective muscles...

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NASA Briefs

The John H. Glenn Research Center has developed a process and benchtop-scale apparatus to detect proteins associated with specific microbes in water. Possible applications include testing of blood and other bodily fluids in medical laboratories, and testing for microbial contamination of liquids. A sample can be prepared and analyzed...

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Tech Needs of the Week

An organization seeks to replace a portion of the starch currently used in its snack foods with protein. While proteins provide the same caloric load as carbohydrates, they are metabolized much more slowly. One potential difficulty is the protein's reaction to heat, which is used to bake or fry many foods. Heat can cause...

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Taming Ebola

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and during outbreaks kills 50 - 90 percent of its human victims. Due to its virulent nature, and lack of vaccines or treatments, scientists studying the agent have had to work under stringent biocontainment protocols, limiting research to a few highly specialized labs and hampering the...

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Optical Fiber

Scientists from the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials in the Department of Physics at the University of Bath in England have discovered a method to cut the production cycle for hollow-core optical fibers from a week to a single day. Initial tests also show that the new optical fiber outperforms other fibers, making it a...

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Carbon Nanopipettes

Engineers and physicians at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a carbon nanopipette thousands of times thinner than a human hair that measures electric current and delivers fluids into cells. The tiny carbon-based tool can probe cells with minimal intrusion and injects fluids without damaging or inhibiting cell...

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Techs of the Week

A modular direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) cartridge and stack design offers flexible assembly, efficiency improvements, and higher performance in methanol fuel cell assemblies. Conductive polymer micro DMFC plates with different flow field designs were evaluated to determine their performance efficiencies. Higher power...

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Silicon Nanowires

Energy lost as heat during the production of electricity could be harnessed through silicon nanowires synthesized via a technique developed at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley. Scientists believe the technology could produce massive savings on...

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Mapping Tool

Tracking the location of resources such as hospitals, fire stations, transportation equipment, and water during an emergency situation can be life-saving. The Geographic Tool for Visualization and Collaboration (GTVC) was initially developed for military applications, and has recently been modified by the Georgia Tech Research...

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Current Attractions

Each month, NTB highlights tech briefs related to a particular area of technology in a special section known as Technology Focus. Here's an Insider look at the January focus on Sensors.

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Tech Needs of the Week

An organization seeks a rapid, inexpensive, and reliable test that can detect even small levels of acrylamide in foods. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen that appears naturally all through nature. It is also found in larger concentrations when any food is cooked and carbonized. The solution should be cost-effective to use...

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Touching the Cosmos

NASA introduced a new book, "Touch the Invisible Sky," at a ceremony at the National Federation of the Blind. Images of nebulae, stars, and galaxies from the Hubble Space Telescope, Chandra X-ray Observatory, Spitzer Space Telescope, and ground-based telescopes are brought to the fingertips of the blind. Each image is...

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Current Attractions

Scientists remain in an ongoing quest to validate the Big Bang theory tracing the early history of the universe. The NASA Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite was designed to study radiation patterns from the first few moments after the universe was formed, in an effort to unravel the mystery of the Big Bang.

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