Posts belonging to Category electronics



Full-Color, Flexible, Skin-like Display

Imagine a soldier who can change the color and pattern of his camouflage uniform from woodland green to desert tan at will. Or an office worker who could do the same with his necktie. Is someone at the wedding reception wearing the same dress as you? No problem – switch yours to a different color in the blink of an eye.

A breakthrough in a University of Central Florida (UCF) lab has brought those scenarios closer to reality. A team led by Professor Debashis Chanda of UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center and the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) has developed a technique for creating the world’s first full-color, flexible thin-film reflective display.

Chanda’s research was inspired by nature. Traditional displays like those FLEXIon a mobile phone require a light source, filters and a glass plates. But animals like chameleons, octopuses and squids are born with thin, flexible, color-changing displays that don’t need a light source – their skin.

Switch-color-world-first-full-color-flexible-skin-like-display

All manmade displays – LCD, LED, CRT – are rigid, brittle and bulky. But you look at an octopus, they can create color on the skin itself covering a complex body contour, and it’s stretchable and flexible,” Chanda said. “That was the motivation: Can we take some inspiration from biology and create a skin-like display?”

As detailed in the cover article of the June issue of the journal Nature Communications, Chanda is able to change the color on an ultrathin nanostructured surface by applying voltage. The new method doesn’t need its own light source. Rather, it reflects the ambient light around it.

Source: http://today.ucf.edu/

Wood Added With Carbon Nanotubes Printed In 3D

Paul Gatenholm, professor in Polymer TA group of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden)  have managed to print and dry three-dimensional objects made entirely by cellulose for the first time with the help of a 3D-bioprinter. They also added carbon nanotubes to create electrically conductive material. The effect is that cellulose and other raw material based on wood will be able to compete with fossil-based plastics and metals in the on-going additive manufacturing revolution, which started with the introduction of the 3D-printer.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that is predicted to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. The precision of the technology makes it possible to manufacture a whole new range of objects and it presents several advantages compared to older production techniques. The freedom of design is great, the lead time is short, and no material goes to wastePlastics and metals dominate additive manufacturing. However, a research group at Chalmers University of Technology have now managed to use cellulose from wood in a 3D printer.

wood computer chipCombing the use of cellulose to the fast technological development of 3D printing offers great environmental advantages,” says Paul Gatenholm, professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers and the leader of the research group. “Cellulose is an unlimited renewable commodity that is completely biodegradable, and manufacture using raw material from wood, in essence, means to bind carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.”

The breakthrough was accomplished at Wallenberg Wood Science Center, a research center aimed at developing new materials from wood, at Chalmers University of Technology.

 

Source: http://www.chalmers.se/

Graphene Boosts By 30 Percent Chips Speeds

A typical computer chip includes millions of transistors connected with an extensive network of copper wires. Although chip wires are unimaginably short and thin compared with household wires, both have one thing in common: in each case the copper is wrapped within a protective sheath. For years a material called tantalum nitride has formed a protective layer around chip wires.

Now Stanford-led experiments demonstrate that a different sheathing material, graphene, can help electrons scoot through tiny copper wires in chips more quickly.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a strong yet thin lattice. Stanford electrical engineer H.-S. Philip Wong says this modest fix, using graphene to wrap wires, could allow transistors to exchange data faster than is currently possible.  And the advantages of using graphene could become greater in the future as transistors continue to shrink.

graphene Stanford

“Researchers have made tremendous advances on all of the other components in chips, but recently there hasn’t been much progress on improving the performance of the wires,” he said.

Wong, the Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor in the School of Engineering, led a team of six researchers, including two from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will present their findings at the Symposia of VLSI Technology and Circuits in Kyoto, Japan, a leading venue for the electronics industry. Ling Li, a graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford and first author of the research paper, will explain why changing the exterior wrapper on connecting wires can have such a big impact on chip performance.

Source: http://engineering.stanford.edu/

Hydrogen Batteries Power Airliners Galley

Fuel cells hidden inside trolleys used to serve passengers their in-flight drinks could generate enough additional energy to power an airliner’s entire galley, according to German researchers. Passengers on airliners are used to their in-flight snacks coming from the flight attendant’s trolley. In the future, that trolley could provide enough power to cook a plane-load of meals. German researchers have been showcasing their portable fuel cell at the Paris Air show.

air attendantCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

What you see here is an energy generation system with a tank, a reformer, a fuel cell and a battery. The fuel cell hybrid system produces enough power for one galley and if I put it in, you can see the galley is now powered by the trolley,” said  Ronny Knepple, head of energy systems at developer Diehl Aerospace. Diehl‘s humble-looking trolley houses a tank filled with liquid propylene glycol which provides the hydrogen – the fuel source for the battery.

“The propylene glycol from the tank is evaporated and here in the reformer at high temperature the hydrogen is extracted from the propylene glycol,” explains Professor Gunther Kolb from Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (Germany)  and one of the power unit’s designers.
A catalytic converter in the trolley transforms the toxic by-products of the reaction into carbon dioxide and water. And the compact unit is lighter and smaller than conventional energy systems.
We have used here our special plate heat exchanger technology, which allows us to reduce weight and especially the size of the system considerably. In some cases here, we could save 90 percent of the space required by conventional technology,” adds Prof. Kolb. Planes in service for decades are often refurbished with power-hungry new technology in their galleys. Diehl and its collaborators hope their system will provide an independent power source for increased energy demands. The prototype lighting up the galley in Paris could be seen on airliners within 2 years.

Source: http://www.diehl.com/

Wind Turbines Generate Electricity Without Rotating

A suspension bridge in the United States stretching – and collapsing – in high winds in 1940… …inspires a silent, swaying new-look wind turbine in Spain today. The bladeless turbine generates power from a single conewobbling‘ in the wind. It’s just like an opera singer hitting the high notes and shattering glass, says the developer.

wind turbineCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We have all seen how a soprano who sings at a glass, by matching the tone of the voice to the glass, can breaking it. This type of resonance is a great way to transmit energy. What we do is, instead of using sound waves, is use the swirls, the vortices that are generated by a structure with wind“, says David Yanez, who co-founded the Spanish start-up, Vortex Bladeless.
The six-metre windmill, made from fibreglass and carbon fibre, uses those wind vortices to create patterns of movement that can be converted into energy. The magnets at the base of the cone-shaped blade allow its movements to adjust according to the wind speed.

What we have is a mast, which is the top piece, and acts as a blade, it’s constructed from the same material as a conventional generator, and what it does is oscillate transmitting its oscillation to a conventional alternator which by its own oscillation converts the wind’s energy into electric energy.” Vortex says its turbine will cost around 40 percent less than conventional three-bladed windmills, with a smaller carbon footprint and much lower maintenance costs. And it’s much safer for passing birds. Encouraged by the results so far, Vortex is testing a smaller prototype for domestic use in developing countries.
What we are trying to do now is develop a very small energy distribution sample that is less than three metres high and can be set up on the rooftops of homes“, adds David Yanez.

Vortex‘s new turbine could prove a boost for renewable energy after Spain’s financial crisis hit the industry hard. With investment, the start-up hopes generating energy from wind will be a breeze.
Source: https://www.indiegogo.com/
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https://www.youtube.com/

Children Learn To Write By Teaching Robots

The CoWriter Project aims at exploring how a robot can help children with the acquisition of handwriting, with an original approach: the children are the teachers who help the robot to better write! This paradigm, known as learning by teaching, has several powerful effects: it boosts the children’ self-esteem (which is especially important for children with handwriting difficulties), it get them to practise hand-wrtiing without even noticing, and engage them into a particular interaction with the robot called the Protégé effect: because they unconsciously feel that they are somehow responsible if the robot does not succeed in improving its writing skills, they commit to the interaction, and make particular efforts to figure out what is difficult for the robot, thus developing their metacognitive skills and reflecting on their own errors. Séverin Lemaignan, one of the authors of the study, said the research was based on a recognized principle in pedagogy known as ‘the protégé effect‘. The prototype system, called CoWriter, was developed by researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  (EPFL) (Switzerland). A humanoid robot, designed to be likeable and interact with humans, is presented with a word that the child spells out in plastic letters. The robot recognizes the word and tries to write it, with its attempt appearing on a tablet. The child then identifies and corrects the robot’s errors by re-writing the word or specific letters.

Children teach a robot

The robot is facing difficulties to write. So the child as a teacher tends to commit itself to help the robot. And this is what we call in psychology ‘the protégé effect'; the child will try to protect this robot and help him to progress. And it’s a pretty well known fact that if the robot fails and keeps on failing and not improve its handwriting, the child will feel responsible for that. And by just relying on this effect we can really engage the children into a sustained interaction with the robot,” explained Lemaignan.
The team hopes their research will be the basis for an innovative use for robotics which addresses a widespread challenge in education.

Source: http://chili.epfl.ch/

Nanoelectronics Injected Directly Into The Brain

It’s a notion that might have come from the pages of a science-fiction novel — an electronic device that can be injected directly into the brain, or other body parts, and treat everything from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.

Led by Charles Lieber, Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University,  an international team of researchers has developed a method of fabricating nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be injected via syringe. The scaffolds can then be connected to devices and used to monitor neural activity, stimulate tissues, or even promote regeneration of neurons.

brain synaptic symphonyI do feel that this has the potential to be revolutionary,” Lieber said. “This opens up a completely new frontier where we can explore the interface between electronic structures and biology. For the past 30 years, people have made incremental improvements in micro-fabrication techniques that have allowed us to make rigid probes smaller and smaller, but no one has addressed this issue — the electronics/cellular interface — at the level at which biology works.”

In an earlier study, scientists in Lieber’s lab demonstrated that cardiac or nerve cells grown with embedded scaffolds could be used to create “cyborgtissue. Researchers were then able to record electrical signals generated by the tissue, and to measure changes in those signals as they administered cardio– or neuro-stimulating drugs.

We were able to demonstrate that we could make this scaffold and culture cells within it, but we didn’t really have an idea how to insert that into pre-existing tissue,” Lieber said. “But if you want to study the brain or develop the tools to explore the brain-machine interface, you need to stick something into the body. When releasing the electronic scaffold completely from the fabrication substrate, we noticed that it was almost invisible and very flexible, like a polymer, and could literally be sucked into a glass needle or pipette. From there, we simply asked, ‘Would it be possible to deliver the mesh electronics by syringe needle injection?’

Though not the first attempt at implanting electronics into the braindeep brain stimulation has been used to treat a variety of disorders for decades — the nanofabricated scaffolds operate on a completely different scale.

Existing techniques are crude relative to the way the brain is wired,” Lieber said. “Whether it’s a silicon probe or flexible polymers … they cause inflammation in the tissue that requires periodically changing the position or the stimulation. But with our injectable electronics, it’s as if it’s not there at all. They are one million times more flexible than any state-of-the-art flexible electronics and have subcellular feature sizes. They’re what I call ‘neuro-philic’ — they actually like to interact with neurons.

The research is reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: http://news.harvard.edu/

Smart Clothes Maintain The Confortable Temperature

Imagine a fabric that will keep your body at a comfortable temperature—regardless of how hot or cold it actually is. That’s the goal of an engineering project at the University of California, San Diego, funded with a $2.6M grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). Wearing this smart fabric could potentially reduce heating and air conditioning bills for buildings and homes.

The project, named ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating), is led by Joseph Wang, distinguished professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.

By regulating the temperature around an individual person, rather than a large room, the smart fabric could potentially cut the energy use of buildings and homes by at least 15 percent, Wang noted.

T-shirt with printed electrodes

Garment-based printable electrodes developed in the lab of Joseph Wang, distinguished professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego, and lead principal investigator of ATTACH

In cases where there are only one or two people in a large room, it’s not cost-effective to heat or cool the entire room,” said Wang. “If you can do it locally, like you can in a car by heating just the car seat instead of the entire car, then you can save a lot of energy.”

93° F (33,9° Celsius) is the average comfortable skin temperature for most people,” added Renkun Chen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC San Diego, and one of the collaborators on this project.

Chen’s contribution to ATTACH is to develop supplemental heating and cooling devices, called thermoelectrics, that are printable and will be incorporated into specific spots of the smart fabric. The thermoelectrics will regulate the temperature on “hot spots”—such as areas on the back and underneath the feet—that tend to get hotter than other parts of the body when a person is active.

This is like a personalized air-conditioner and heater,” said Chen. “With the smart fabric, you won’t need to heat the room as much in the winter, and you won’t need to cool the room down as much in the summer. That means less energy is consumed. Plus, you will still feel comfortable within a wider temperature range,” he added.

The researchers are also designing the smart fabric to power itself.

Source: http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/

How To Boost Battery Performance

Stanford University scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies.
designer-carbon-300x200
A new ”designer carbon” invented by Stanford scientists significantly improved the power-delivery rate of this supercapacitor

We have developed a ‘designer carbon’ that is both versatile and controllable,” said Zhenan Bao, the senior author of the study and a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “Our study shows that this material has exceptional energy-storage capacity, enabling unprecedented performance in lithium-sulfur batteries and supercapacitors.”

According to Bao, the new designer carbon represents a dramatic improvement over conventional activated carbon, an inexpensive material widely used in products ranging from water filters and air deodorizers to energy-storage devices.

A lot of cheap activated carbon is made from coconut shells,” Bao said. “To activate the carbon, manufacturers burn the coconut at high temperatures and then chemically treat it.

The findings are featured on the cover of the journal ACS Central Science.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/

Continuous And Remote Pregnancy Monitoring

Pregnancy can be a worrying time for mothers-to-be. But Israeli medical experts say they have developed a revolutionary wearable monitoring device to allay their fears The PregSense monitor collects data on the health of the mother and foetus, transmitting it to a smartphone via bluetooth.

pregnancy beltCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
It connects me a lot more with the foetus, I’ll hear the foetus whenever I want and it will be easier for me. I also won’t have to be dependent on a doctor, at any given time I’ll be able to connect, to see and hear“, says a woman in week 32 of her pregnancy.

Tel Aviv-based Nuvo Group say their monitor will allow doctors to respond to complications in pregnancy far sooner.   “It’s the first time that you have a huge amount of data of women and babies together about heart rate, kickings, position for foetus etc and we will be able to analyze this data to predict about events of pregnancy, like preterm labour like pre-eclampsia and more and we will be able to intervene in the right time“, says Doctor Varda Shalev, medical informatics expert. Shalev advises the Nuvo Group board

Women experiencing difficulties in late pregnancy are usually monitored in hospital using ultrasonic doppler devices. But the PregSense developers say they will no longer be tied to one place. Oren Oz,  Nuvo‘s chief executive. explains: “The immediate impact, the immediate benefit to doctors is that we are replacing the bulky CTG machines which are heavy and connected to the wall with the light weight mobility and continuous monitoring.Nuvo says the sensors woven into the elastic harness are safer than ultrasound scans, which can cause tissue damage. The consumer version of the device costs $250 and is due for launch at the end of the year.
Source: http://www.nuvo-group.com/