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

Integrated microbatteries have been proposed to satisfy an anticipated need for long-life, low-rate primary batteries, having volumes less than 1 cubic millimeter, to power electronic circuitry in implantable medical devices. In one contemplated application, such a battery would be incorporated into a tubular hearing-aid device to be...

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Cell Phones and Driving

If there was any doubt that cell phones distract drivers, one needs to look no further than a study by Carnegie Mellon University scientists that concludes that drivers engaged in cell phone use commit some of the same driving errors that can occur under the influence of alcohol.

The study examined 29 volunteers...

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Current Attractions

According to Edward Austin, Science and Mission Operation Project Manager for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), there are a lot of things that are obscured in the galaxy that we would want to see. We can use infrared technology, but a lot of the infrared spectrum is actually blocked by water vapor...

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"Two-Faced" Particles

Researchers at North Carolina State University have demonstrated that Janus particles - microscopic "two-faced" spheres whose halves are physically or chemically different - will move like little submarines when an alternating electrical field is applied to the liquid surrounding them. The micrometer-sized particles convert...

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Earthquake

Three-hundred years ago, the Juan de Fuca plate under the ocean in America's Pacific Northwest suddenly slipped beneath the North American plate and forced its way about 60 feet eastward, triggering a massive earthquake that scientists estimate was roughly magnitude 9.0. The quake was so large that the tsunamis it created traveled all...

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Student LED Innovation

Martin Schubert - a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute doctoral student in electrical, computer, and systems engineering - has developed the first polarized light emitting diode (LED), an innovation that could vastly improve LCD screens, conserve energy, and usher in the next generation of ultra-efficient LEDs. Schubert's...

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NASA Briefs

An optical filter consisting of a multilayer spectral coating on a flexible membrane has been designed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to be placed in front of the 200-inch Hale telescope on Mt. Palomar. The filter is intended to protect the telescope against solar radiant flux and limit solar heating of the interior of the...

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SIDECAR Miniaturization

The detector controls and data conversion electronics components on the James Webb Space Telescope - collectively called a "SIDECAR" - have been miniaturized from a volume of about one cubic meter to a small integrated circuit. SIDECAR ASIC (System for Image Digitization, Enhancement, Control, And Retrieval Application...

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Live Cancer Gene

Researchers at Stony Brook University Medical Center have identified a family of genes linked to the development of liver cancer. Led by Wadie F. Bahou, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Genetics, the team discovered in a mouse model that the loss of one specific gene (Iqgap2) in this family causes Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC),...

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Overtaking Assistant

Overtaking on two-lane roads is easier if drivers use what is known as an overtaking assistant, a system which indicates when it is safe to overtake. This system prevents reckless drivers overtaking when it is not safe, and can also aid cautious drivers in overtaking slower vehicles.

Researcher Geertje Hegeman from...

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Helpful Hair

"You are what you eat and drink - and that is recorded in your hair," says geochemist Thure Cerling, who led University of Utah research with ecologist Jim Ehleringer. The scientists developed a new crime-fighting tool by showing that human hair reveals the general location where a person drank water, helping police track past...

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Producing Organic Transistors

A simple surface treatment technique developed by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Penn State, and the University of Kentucky promises a low-cost method to produce arrays of organic electronic transistors on polymer sheets, paving the way for flexible displays and large...

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Oxidative Stress Genetic Pathway

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison have discovered a genetic pathway that may hold the key to understanding oxidative stress, the process that contributes to diseases such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, stroke, cancer, as well as aging. The finding could one day enable the manipulation of genes...

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Coming Attractions

One of the newest trends in machine vision systems is the implementation of so-called "smart cameras." A smart camera combines the usual image sensor with a built-in processor, which allows inspections to be run directly on the camera, thereby eliminating a step in the process. Instead of simply capturing images, like a...

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Laser Beam

A research scientist at the University of Michigan has created what may be the world's most powerful laser beam. The record-setting beam measures 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter and contains 300 terrawatts of power. That's roughly 300-times the capacity of the US electrical grid. The laser beam's power is concentrated...

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3-D Imaging

A new technology called FINCH (Fresnel INcoherent Correlation Holography), invented by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, could make three-dimensional imaging quicker, easier and less costly than current methods. According to Gary Brooker, director of Johns Hopkins University's Microscopy...

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Combing for Diseases

A team led by Jun Ye, a physicist at JILA - a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Colorado at Boulder - demonstrated an optical technique for simultaneously identifying tiny amounts of a broad range of molecules in the breath, potentially enabling a fast, low-cost...

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NASA Briefs

A robotic arm tool for rapidly acquiring permafrost (RATRAP) is being developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPO). The RATRAP is for acquiring samples of permafrost on Mars or another remote planet and immediately delivering the samples to adjacent instruments for analysis.

Read more here.

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Tech Needs of the Week

Polished aluminum begins to re-oxidize and pit almost immediately, especially when exposed to climates along the sea or in hot, humid areas. A company is looking for a coating or surface-protection process to protect polished aluminum used outdoors and keep it free of scratches. The solution should be clear and have a...

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Gecko Gauze

MIT researchers created a waterproof adhesive bandage inspired by gecko lizards that may soon join sutures and staples as a basic operating room tool for patching up surgical wounds or internal injuries. The MIT researchers built the adhesive with a biorubber and, using micropatterning technology, shaped the biorubber into different...

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Current Attractions

Each month, NTB highlights tech briefs related to a particular area of technology in a special section called Technology Focus. Here are some of the technologies featured in the February issue focus on Test and Measurement.

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Detecting Toxic Metals

The Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has developed a portable detection system that identifies personal exposure to toxic lead and other dangerous heavy metals. The device accurately detects lead and other toxic metals in blood as well as in urine and saliva. It can provide an accurate blood...

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Techs of the Week

A far-field optical appearance meter captures hemispherical light distributions. Appearance is recognized as a property that determines an important part of the human interface. The usual way to assess the overall appearance is by a trained person examining the surface visually under standard illumination. It is literally in...

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High-Frequency CMOS Circuit

Researchers from the University of Florida and Texas Instruments have developed a high-frequency circuit made with a common CMOS transistor. The circuit is expected to find its way into environmental monitoring equipment to detect pollution, noxious gases or bioterrorism agents. It can also be used in medical...

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Carbon Recycling

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a strategy to capture, store and eventually recycle carbon from vehicles. Their goal is to create a sustainable transportation system that uses a liquid fuel and traps the carbon emission in the vehicle for later processing at a fueling station. The carbon would...

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Technology Business Briefs

Inkjet Printing Patents

The company is an inkjet printer manufacturer looking to acquire patents to support consumer oriented printing operations. Patents related to next generation photo printing and other mass market consumer printing technologies would be considered. Click here for more info.

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Current Attractions

While working on designing an X-ray navigation system for NASA's next- generation Black Hole Imager, Dr. Keith Gendreau, a physicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, developed the world's first X-ray communication system.

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Tech Needs of the Week

A company is looking for a seasoning, in any form, that delivers the flavor and aroma of potato. This may be accomplished in a powder or a liquid, or in an encapsulation that releases when the right sensor is encountered. The delivery mechanism is open to discussion. The solution should be cost-effective and backed up by...

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Knee Brace

Scientists at the University of Michigan have created a new energy-capturing knee brace that can generate enough electricity from walking to operate a portable GPS locator, cell phone, motorized prosthetic joint, or implanted neurotransmitter. The wearable mechanism works similarly to how regenerative braking charges a battery in...

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