Posts belonging to Category electronics



Robots Surpass Humans to Perform Cataract Surgery

Axsis is a new robotic surgeondexterous but delicate enough to perform cataract surgery. Just 1.8 millimetres in diameter, its two tiny robotic arms would eventually be tipped with surgical instruments. The surgeon teleoperates it using two haptic joysticks, giving instant feedback to the user. Sensing algorithms minimise the risk of human error.

robots-better-than-humans-to-achieve-cataract-surgery

You can see where the robot is, see where the lens is, see where the relevant anatomy is. And by having a computer in the loop between when the surgeon’s moving their hands and the robot moving, that computer can recognise when the surgeon’s about to make a motion that can go outside and actually puncture the lens, for example, and stop that motion“, says Chris Wagner, Head of Advanced Surgical Systems at Cambridge Consultants.

Traditional surgical robots, such as Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci system, are large. But Axsis has all components built into a small external body. Inside, tendon-like cables control precise movements; each cable just 110 microns in diameter.

“...the same size as a human hair. And yet this material is gel-spun polyethylene which is stronger than kevlar, stronger than steel by volume and it’s what Nasa uses in some of their solar sails. So it’s an extremely efficient material, extremely strong for making this high performance actuator“, adds Wagner. Routine cataract surgery can already be performed quickly and with a relatively low complication rate. Some ophthalmologists have questioned whether this device offers much improvement. But the makers say Axsis demonstrates how miniaturised robotics could help surgeons with numerous precision procedures, without the barrier of large equipment.

“I think the fact that it’s a 1.8 millimetre diameter robot that’s operating on the size scale of the eye, it’s exciting. This just opens the door to a number of different types of procedures that you can do that previously weren’t possible.” The team says it will still take significant investment and several years to turn this prototype into a viable tool. But, they say, Axsis demonstrates how scaled-down surgical robots could be a cut above the rest.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

The Biggest Solar Plant Ever Built produces electricity at $0.10/kWh

The massive, 648-megawatt array was officially linked to the grid after being hooked up to a 400kV substation, the operator Adani Green Energy Ltd announced. The plant is spread across 2,500 acres in the town of Kamuthi in the Ramanathapuram district (India)  and will supply enough clean, green energy for 300,000 homes. The Deccan Chronicle reported that the $679 million solar park consists of 380,000 foundations, 2.5 million solar modules, 576 inverters, 154 transformers and 6,000-kilometers of cables. The plant was built with parts and machinery from around the world. Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani formally dedicated the structure to the nation.

solar-plant-in-india

“This is a momentous occasion for the state of Tamil Nadu as well as the entire country“, he said. “We are extremely happy to dedicate this plant to the nation; a plant of this magnitude reinstates the country’s ambitions of becoming one of the leading green energy producers in the world.”

India has an ambitious solar energy goal. In 2014, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to increase solar power capacity to 100 gigawatts by 2022, five times higher than the previous target.

The plant was commissioned by Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. Indian Express reported in July 2015 that the state government would buy the entire 648 megawatts produced by Adani at a fixed price of $0.10/kWh (Rs 7.01/kWh) for 25 years.

Source: http://www.ecowatch.com/

Electronics: How To Dissipate Heat in A Nanocomputer

Controlling the flow of heat through semiconductor materials is an important challenge in developing smaller and faster computer chips, high-performance solar panels, and better lasers and biomedical devices. For the first time, an international team of scientists led by a researcher at the University of California, Riverside has modified the energy spectrum of acoustic phononselemental excitations, also referred to as quasi-particles, that spread heat through crystalline materials like a wave—by confining them to nanometer-scale semiconductor structures. The results have important implications in the thermal management of electronic devices. Led by Alexander Balandin, Professor of Electrical and Computing Engineering and UC Presidential Chair Professor in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, the research is described in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

computer-in-fire

The team used semiconductor nanowires from Gallium Arsenide (GaAs), synthesized by researchers in Finland, and an imaging technique called Brillouin-Mandelstam light scattering spectroscopy (BMS) to study the movement of phonons through the crystalline nanostructures. By changing the size and the shape of the GaAs nanostructures, the researchers were able to alter the energy spectrum, or dispersion, of acoustic phonons. The BMS instrument used for this study was built at UCR’s Phonon Optimized Engineered Materials (POEM) Center, which is directed by Balandin.

Controlling phonon dispersion is crucial for improving heat removal from nanoscale electronic devices, which has become the major roadblock in allowing engineers to continue to reduce their size. It can also be used to improve the efficiency of thermoelectric energy generation, Balandin said. In that case, decreasing thermal conductivity by phonons is beneficial for thermoelectric devices that generate energy by applying a temperature gradient to semiconductors.

For years, the only envisioned method of changing the thermal conductivity of nanostructures was via acoustic phonon scattering with nanostructure boundaries and interfaces. We demonstrated experimentally that by spatially confining acoustic phonons in nanowires one can change their velocity, and the way they interact with electrons, magnons, and how they carry heat. Our work creates new opportunities for tuning thermal and electronic properties of semiconductor materials,” Balandin said.

Source: https://ucrtoday.ucr.edu

Supersonic spray delivers high-quality graphene layer

A simple, inexpensive spray method that deposits a graphene film can heal manufacturing defects and produce a high-quality graphene layer on a range of substrates, report researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC and Korea UniversityGraphene, a two-dimensional wonder-material composed of a single layer of carbon atoms, is strong, transparent, and an excellent conductor of electricity. It has potential in a wide range of applications, such as reinforcing and lending electrical properties to plastics; creating denser and faster integrated circuits; and building better touch screens.

Although the potential uses for graphene seem limitless, there has been no easy way to scale up from microscopic to large-scale applications without introducing defects, says Alexander Yarin, UIC professor of mechanical and industrial engineering and co-principal investigator on the study.

graphene-spray

Normally, graphene is produced in small flakes, and even these small flakes have defects,” Yarin said. Worse, when you try to deposit them onto a large-scale area, defects increase, and graphene’s useful properties — its “magic” — are lost, he said.

Yarin first turned to solving how to deposit graphene flakes to form a consistent layer without any clumps or spaces. He went to Sam S. Yoon, professor of mechanical engineering at Korea University and co-principal investigator on the study. Yoon had been working with a unique kinetic spray deposition system that exploits the supersonic acceleration of droplets through a Laval nozzle. Although Yoon was working with different materials, Yarin believed his method might be used to deposit graphene flakes into a smooth layer.

Their supersonic spray system produces very small droplets of graphene suspension, which disperse evenly, evaporate rapidly, and reduce the tendency of the graphene flakes to aggregate. But to the researchers’ surprise, defects inherent in the flakes themselves disappeared, as a by-product of the spray method. The result was a higher quality graphene layer. The energy of the impact stretches the graphene and restructures the arrangement of its carbon atoms into the perfect hexagons of flawless graphene.

Imagine something like Silly Putty hitting a wall — it stretches out and spreads smoothly,” said Yarin. “That’s what we believe happens with these graphene flakes. They hit with enormous kinetic energy, and stretch in all directions. “We’re tapping into graphene’s plasticity — it’s actually restructuring.”

Their study is available online in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Source: https://news.uic.edu/

Charging Phones, Electric Cars Very Fast

Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF)  has developed a new process for creating flexible supercapacitors that can store more energy and be recharged more than 30,000 times without degrading.

The novel method from the UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center could eventually revolutionize technology as varied as mobile phones and electric vehicles.

bendable mobile phone

If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary, a postdoctoral associate who conducted much of the research published recently in the academic journal ACS Nano.

Anyone with a smartphone knows the problem: After 18 months or so, it holds a charge for less and less time as the battery begins to degrade.

Scientists have been studying the use of nanomaterials to improve supercapacitors that could enhance or even replace batteries in electronic devices. It’s a stubborn problem, because a supercapacitor that held as much energy as a lithium-ion battery would have to be much, much larger.

The team at UCF has experimented with applying newly discovered two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick to supercapacitors. Other researchers have also tried formulations with graphene and other two-dimensional materials, but with limited success.

There have been problems in the way people incorporate these two-dimensional materials into the existing systems – that’s been a bottleneck in the field. We developed a simple chemical synthesis approach so we can very nicely integrate the existing materials with the two-dimensional materials,” said principal investigator Yeonwoong “Eric” Jung, an assistant professor with joint appointments to the NanoScience Technology Center and the Materials Science & Engineering Department.

Jung’s team has developed supercapacitors composed of millions of nanometer-thick wires coated with shells of two-dimensional materials. A highly conductive core facilitates fast electron transfer for fast charging and discharging. And uniformly coated shells of two-dimensional materials yield high energy and power densities.

Source: https://today.ucf.edu/

Solar Nanotech-Powered Clothing

Marty McFly’s self-lacing Nikes in Back to the Future Part II inspired a University of Central Florida’s (UCF) scientist who has developed filaments that harvest and store the sun’s energy — and can be woven into textile.

The breakthrough would essentially turn jackets and other clothing into wearable, solar-powered batteries that never need to be plugged in. It could one day revolutionize wearable technology, helping everyone from soldiers who now carry heavy loads of batteries to a texting-addicted teen who could charge his smartphone by simply slipping it in a pocket.

back-to-the-future

That movie was the motivation,” Associate Professor Jayan Thomas, a nanotechnology scientist at the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center, said of the film released in 1989. “If you can develop self-charging clothes or textiles, you can realize those cinematic fantasies – that’s the cool thing.

Thomas already has been lauded for earlier ground-breaking research. Last year, he received an R&D 100 Award – given to the top inventions of the year worldwide – for his development of a cable that can not only transmit energy like a normal cable but also store energy like a battery. He’s also working on semi-transparent solar cells that can be applied to windows, allowing some light to pass through while also harvesting solar power.

His new work builds on that research. “The idea came to me: We make energy-storage devices and we make solar cells in the labs. Why not combine these two devices together?” Thomas said.

Thomas, who holds joint appointments in the College of Optics & Photonics and the Department of Materials Science & Engineering, set out to do just that.

Taking it further, he envisioned technology that could enable wearable tech. His research team developed filaments in the form of copper ribbons that are thin, flexible and lightweight. The ribbons have a solar cell on one side and energy-storing layers on the other.

The research was published Nov. 11 in the academic journal Nature Communications.

Source: https://today.ucf.edu

How To Generate Wonderful Colors

Colors are produced in a variety of ways. The best known colors are pigments. However, the very bright colors of the blue tarantula or peacock feathers do not result from pigments, but from nanostructures that cause the reflected light waves to overlap. This produces extraordinarily dynamic color effects.

blue-tarantulaScientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, in cooperation with international colleagues, have now succeeded in replicating nanostructures that generate the same color irrespective of the viewing angle.

In contrast to pigments, structural colors are non-toxic, more vibrant and durable. In industrial production, however, pigments have the drawback of being strongly iridescent, which means that the color perceived depends on the viewing angle. An example is the rear side of a CD. Hence, such colors cannot be used for all applications. Bright colors of animals, by contrast, are often independent of the angle of view. Feathers of the kingfisher always appear blue, no matter from which angle we look. The reason lies in the nanostructures: While regular structures are iridescent, amorphous or irregular structures always produce the same color. Yet, industry can only produce regular nanostructures in an economically efficient way. Radwanul Hasan Siddique, researcher at KIT in collaboration with scientists from USA and Belgium has now discovered that the blue tarantula does not exhibit iridescence in spite of periodic structures on its hairs. First, their study revealed that the hairs are multi-layered, flower-like structure. Then, the researchers analyzed its reflection behavior with the help of computer simulations. In parallel, they built models of these structures using nano-3D printers and optimized the models with the help of the simulations. In the end, they produced a flower-like structure that generates the same color over a viewing angle of 160 degrees. This is the largest viewing angle of any synthetic structural color reached so far.

Apart from the multi-layered structure and rotational symmetry, it is the hierarchical structure from micro to nano that ensures homogeneous reflection intensity and prevents color changes. Via the size of the “flower,” the resulting color can be adjusted, which makes this coloring method interesting for industry. “This could be a key first step towards a future where structural colorants replace the toxic pigments currently used in textile, packaging, and cosmetic industries,” says Radwanul Hasan Siddique of KIT’s Institute of Microstructure Technology, who now works at the California Institute of Technology. He considers short-term application in textile industry feasible. Dr. Hendrik Hölscher thinks that the scalability of nano-3D printing is the biggest challenge on the way towards industrial use. Only few companies in the world are able to produce such prints.

Source: http://www.kit.edu

How An Implant Could Help Humans With Spinal Cord Injury To Walk Again

This rhesus monkey has a partial spinal cord lesion, which paralysed its right leg. But a neuroprosthetic implant has allowed the primate to walk again. The brain-to-spine interface decodes motor intention from brain signals, then relays this to the spinal cord, bypassing the injury. Small electrical pulses stimulate neural pathways to trigger specific muscles on the legs – restoring locomotion in real-time.

paralized-primate-walks-againCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We inserted one of the electrodes in the small region of the cortex that controls the leg. And send the information from all the neurone we recorded to a computer that decoded the motor intention of the primates based on this signal. This means the extension or flexion movement of the leg. And the computer then sends this information to the implantable stimulator that has the capacity to deliver stimulation at the correct location with the correct timing in order to reproduce the intended extension or flexion movement of the leg“, says Grégoire Courtine, a neuroscientist at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland.

The research was led by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, alongside international collaborators. Other neuroprosthetics have previously given amputees basic control over prosthetics. And in 2012 the team here were able to stimulate a paralysed rat’s muscles to help it walk. This development takes spinal cord stimulation to a new level.

To make the link between the decoding of the brain and the stimulation of the spinal cord, and to make this communication exist – this is completely new“, comments Jocelyne Bloch, neurosurgeon at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV).  A clinical study is now underway in Switzerland to access the feasibility of the implant in helping humans with spinal cord injury.

The research is published in the scientific journal Nature.

Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

Swiss SmartWatch For Doctors

Intensive care doctors may soon be able to wear a smartwatch connected to the system that keeps tabs on the vital parameters of patients in the intensive care unit. If the patients’ readings – which are monitored in real time and stored on a central server – reach a dangerous level, an alert is sent directly to the doctor’s wrist via WiFi. The patient’s name and readings appear on the watch, so the doctor can react quickly and precisely. This application is the second step in a comprehensive monitoring system developed by EPFL’s Integrated Systems Laboratory (LSI). The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is located in Switzerland.

It began with the creation of a miniaturized microfluidic device that allows medical staff to monitor patients’ critical blood levels. The researchers embedded biosensors in it along with an array of electronics to transmit the results in real time to a tablet via Bluetooth. Seven blood levels are closely monitored: glucose, lactate, bilirubin, sodium, calcium, temperature and pH. The ability to send these readings to a portable device could make it easier to effectively monitor high-risk patients. It means that doctors can get the information they need at any time and place, and they can be alerted in an instant.

smartwatch-for-doctors

We deliberately chose a standard smartwatch so that we could see what it was capable of,” said Francesca Stradolini from EPFL. “Since we can’t send a huge amount of data to it, we use a central server that can evaluate the information and send an urgent request for a medical response to whoever is in charge of the intensive care unit.

The main advantage of this new approach, which was developed in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Turin, is that it frees up doctors and other medical staff. They can move freely around the hospital and work on other things while keeping close tabs on their patients, thanks to the technology on their wrist.

Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

Apple Testing Augmented Reality ‘Smart Glasses’

As part of its effort to expand further into wearable devices, Apple is working on a set of smart glasses, reports Bloomberg. Citing sources familiar with Apple‘s plans, the site says the smart glasses would connect wirelessly to the iPhone, much like the Apple Watch, and would display “images and other information” to the wearer. Apple has contacted potential suppliers about its glasses project and has ordered “small quantities” of near-eye displays, suggesting the project is in the exploratory prototyping phase of development. If work on the glasses progresses, they could be released in 2018.

apple-iglass

AR can be really great,” says Tim Cook, CEO of Apple in July. “We have been and continue to invest a lot in this. We’re high on AR in the long run.

Apple‘s glasses sound similar to Google Glass, the head-mounted display that Google first introduced in 2013. Google Glass used augmented reality and voice commands to allow users to do things like check the weather, make phone calls, and capture photographs. Apple‘s product could be similar in functionality. The glasses may be Apple‘s first hardware product targeted directly at AR, one of the people said. Cook has beefed up AR capabilities through acquisitions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense, which developed motion-sensing technology in Microsoft Corp.’s Kinect gaming system. Purchases of software startups in the field, Metaio Inc. and Flyby Media Inc., followed in 2015 and 2016.

Google Glass was highly criticized because of privacy concerns, and as a result, it never really caught on with consumers. Google eventually stopped developing Google Glass in January of 2015. It is not clear how Apple would overcome the privacy and safety issues that Google faced, nor if the project will progress, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed Apple‘s deep interest in augmented reality multiple times over the last few months, suggesting something big is in the works.

Past rumors have also indicated Apple is exploring a number of virtual and augmented reality projects, including a full VR headset. Apple has a full team dedicated to AR and VR research and how the technologies can be incorporated into future Apple products. Cook recently said that he believes augmented reality would be more useful and interesting to people than virtual reality.

Source: http://www.macrumors.com/

Light-Controlled NanoRobot Attacks Tumors

A team of researchers led by Dr Jinyao Tang of the Department of Chemistry, the University of Hong Kong, has developed the world’s first light-seeking synthetic Nano robot. With size comparable to a blood cell, those tiny robots have the potential to be injected into patients’ bodies, helping surgeons to remove tumors and enabling more precise engineering of targeted medications.

It has been a dream in science fiction for decades that tiny robots can fundamentally change our daily life. The famous science fiction movie “Fantastic Voyage” is a very good example, with a group of scientists driving their miniaturized Nano-submarine inside human body to repair a damaged brain. In the film “Terminator 2”, billions of Nanorobots were assembled into the amazing shapeshifting body: the T-1000.

light-seeking-nanorobot

“Light is a more effective option to communicate between microscopic world and macroscopic world. We can conceive that more complicated instructions can be sent to Nanorobots which provide scientists with a new tool to further develop more functions into Nanorobot and get us one step closer to daily life applications”

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2016 was awarded to three scientists for “the design and synthesis of molecular machines”. They developed a set of mechanical components at molecular scale which may be assembled into more complicated Nano machines to manipulate single molecule such as DNA or proteins in the future. The development of tiny nanoscale machines for biomedical applications has been a major trend of scientific research in recent years. Any breakthroughs will potentially open the door to new knowledge and treatments of diseases and development of new drugs.

One difficulty in Nanorobot design is to make these nanostructures sense and respond to the environment. Given each Nanorobot is only a few micrometer in size which is ~50 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, it is very difficult to squeeze normal electronic sensors and circuits into Nanorobots with reasonable price. Currently, the only method to remotely control Nanorobots is to incorporate tiny magnetic inside the Nanorobot and guide the motion via external magnetic field.

The Nanorobot developed by Dr Tang’s team use light as the propelling force, and is the first research team globally to explore the light-guided Nanorobot and demonstrate its feasibility and effectiveness. In their paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, Dr Tang’s team demonstrated the unprecedented ability of these light-controlled Nanorobots as they are “dancing” or even spell a word under light control. With a novel Nanotree structure, the Nanorobots can respond to the light shining on it like moths being drawn to flames. Dr Tang described the motions as if “they can “see” the light and drive itself towards it”.

The findings have been published in the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: http://www.hku.hk/

Diamond NanoThread, The New Wonder Material

Would you dress in diamond nanothreads? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. And you’ll have a Brisbane-based carbon chemist and engineer to thank for it. QUT’s Dr Haifei Zhan is leading a global effort to work out how many ways humanity can use a newly-invented material with enormous potential – diamond nanothread (DNT). First created by Pennsylvania State University last year, one-dimensional DNT is similar to carbon nanotubes, hollow cylindrical tubes 10,000 times smaller than human hair, stronger than steel – but brittle.

diamond-nanothread

DNT, by comparison, is even thinner, incorporating kinks of hydrogen in the carbon’s hollow structure, called Stone-Wale (SW) transformation defects, which I’ve discovered reduces brittleness and adds flexibility,” said Dr Zhan, from QUT’s School of Chemistry, Physics and Mechanical Engineering.

That structure makes DNT a great candidate for a range of uses. It’s possible DNT may become as ubiquitous a plastic in the future, used in everything from clothing to cars.

DNT does not look like a rock diamond. Rather, its name refers to the way the carbon atoms are packed together, similar to diamond, giving it its phenomenal strength. Dr Zhan has been modelling the properties of DNT since it was invented, using large-scale molecular dynamics simulations and high-performance computing. He was the first to realise the SW defects were the key to DNT’s versatility.

While both carbon nanotubes and DNT have great potential, the more I model DNT properties, the more it looks to be a superior material,” Dr Zhan said. “The SW defects give DNT a flexibility that rigid carbon nanotubes can’t replicate – think of it as the difference between sewing with uncooked spaghetti and cooked spaghetti. “My simulations have shown that the SW defects act like hinges, connecting straight sections of DNT. And by changing the spacing of those defects, we can a change – or tune – the flexibility of the DNT.

That research is published in the peer-reviewed publication Nanoscale.

Source: https://www.qut.edu.au/