Posts belonging to Category electronics



300 Colors Rainbow Polymer May Detect Disease

University at Buffalo (UB) engineers have developed a one-step, low-cost method to fabricate a polymer with extraordinary properties: When viewed from a single perspective, the polymer is rainbow-colored, reflecting many different wavelengths of light.
Used as a filter for light, this material could form the basis of handheld multispectral imaging devices that identify the “true color” of objects examined.
Such portable technology could have applications in a wide range of fields, from home improvement, like matching paint colors, to biomedical imaging, including analyzing colors in medical images to detect disease,” said UB Vice President for Research and Economic Development Alexander N. Cartwright, one of the UB researchers who led the study.
The ease of producing the polymer could make it feasible to develop small devices that connect with cell phones to conduct multispectral imaging, said Qiaoqiang Gan, a UB assistant professor of electrical engineering and another member of the research team.
rainbowA rainbow-colored grating, about 25 millimeters wide, under sunlight. Enlarged microscope images show the graded surface, with the black bars indicating a length of 10 micron

Our method is pretty low-cost, and because of this and the potential cell phone applications, we feel there is a huge market for improving clinical imaging in developing countries,” Gan said.
Because the colors of the rainbow filter are produced as a result of the filter’s surface geometry, and not by some kind of pigment, the colors won’t fade over time. (It’s the same principle that gives color to the wings of butterflies and feather of peacocks.)
Cartwright and Gan’s team reported on their polymer fabrication technique online in Advanced Materials.
Source: http://www.buffalo.edu/

Super Smart Keyboard Replaces Passwords

By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered non-mechanical intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users. Designed by the Professor Zhong Lin Wang and his team from Georgia Tech, the self-powered device generates electricity when a user’s fingertips contact the multi-layer plastic materials that make up the device.

keyboard
By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered non-mechanical intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users
“This intelligent keyboard changes the traditional way in which a keyboard is used for information input,” said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Every punch of the keys produces a complex electrical signal that can be recorded and analyzed.

Conventional keyboards record when a keystroke makes a mechanical contact, indicating the press of a specific key. The intelligent keyboard records each letter touched, but also captures information about the amount of force applied to the key and the length of time between one keystroke and the next. Such typing style is unique to individuals, and so could provide a new biometric for securing computers from unauthorized use.

Source: http://www.news.gatech.edu/
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http://www.acs.org/

How To Beat Winter Blues, Jet Lag

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, around one third of Americans aren’t getting enough shuteye. Jet lag, night shifts and seasonal mood disorder can disrupt sleep patterns. But psychologist Leon Lack at Australia’s Flinders University believes he has the answer. It’s called Re-Timer and uses light therapy to regulate our circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to sleep and when to wake. And though light therapy is not new, Lack says the Re-Timer‘s innovation is its portability. The breakthrough in the research was the small, light-emitting diode.
Re-Timer
It just occurred to us that light-emitting diodes (LED), that are very small devices, very efficiently convert electricity into light and if they were mounted closer to the eyes, they would get enough light into the eyes and serve the purpose of the light therapy device.” , says Leon Lack, Co-developer of the RE-TIMER, from Flinders University.
Worn like a regular pair of spectacles, Re-Timer is adjustable and mimics the effects of sunlight using a UV-free, green light. Lack says the color choice was based on decade-long research.
That’s shown that the blue and blue/green and green area of the spectrum, those colors, are the most effective at changing the body clock timing.” Re-Timer has been a life changer for Michael Sakuma, a professor from Long Island in New York. For years Sakuma typically didn’t fall asleep until around 3 a.m. and would wake around 11 a.m. He says this late-to-bed and late-to-rise cycle severely impacted his choices. “It affected the professions I chose, because I could not choose a profession that would require me to get up at seven, 6 o’clock, the way the rest of the world seems to work. My life has been trying to move around this sleep problem and I think that the Re-Timer has really helped me in that“, he reports. Sakuma has been using his Re-Timer for about two years and says it has become part of his life: “I would like to see a day when I didn’t have to use the Re-Timer. I guess it’s because I’ve had this problem now for about 30 years, that it feels like it’s part of me and so I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t use it.The Re-Timer retails for around 300 U.S. dollars and with regular use of his pair, Sakuma gets to bed at a more conventional hour and catches some much-needed slumber.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/
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http://blogs.flinders.edu.au/

How To Harvest More of the Sun’s Energy

As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped.

A new technology created by researchers from Caltech, and described in a paper published online in Science Express, represents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.

Sunlight is composed of many wavelengths of light. In a traditional solar panel, silicon atoms are struck by sunlight and the atoms’ outermost electrons absorb energy from some of these wavelengths of sunlight, causing the electrons to get excited. Once the excited electrons absorb enough energy to jump free from the silicon atoms, they can flow independently through the material to produce electricity. This is called the photovoltaic effect—a phenomenon that takes place in a solar panel‘s photovoltaic cells.

Although silicon-based photovoltaic cells can absorb light wavelengths that fall in the visible spectrum—light that is visible to the human eye—longer wavelengths such as infrared light pass through the silicon. These wavelengths of light pass right through the silicon and never get converted to electricity — and in the case of infrared, they are normally lost as unwanted heat.

nanospheres
An ultra-sensitive needle measures the voltage that is generated while the nanospheres are illuminated

The silicon absorbs only a certain fraction of the spectrum, and it’s transparent to the rest. If I put a photovoltaic module on my roof, the silicon absorbs that portion of the spectrum, and some of that light gets converted into power. But the rest of it ends up just heating up my roof,” says Harry A. Atwater, Professor of Applied Physics at the Resnick Sustainability Institute, who led the study. Now, Atwater and his colleagues have found a way to absorb and make use of these infrared waves with a structure composed not of silicon, but entirely of metal.

The new technique they’ve developed is based on a phenomenon observed in metallic structures known as plasmon resonance. Plasmons are coordinated waves, or ripples, of electrons that exist on the surfaces of metals at the point where the metal meets the air. While the plasmon resonances of metals are predetermined in nature, Atwater and his colleagues found that those resonances are capable of being tuned to other wavelengths when the metals are made into tiny nanostructures in the lab.

Normally in a metal like silver or copper or gold, the density of electrons in that metal is fixed; it’s just a property of the material,” Atwater says. “But in the lab, I can add electrons to the atoms of metal nanostructures and charge them up. And when I do that, the resonance frequency will change.”

We’ve demonstrated that these resonantly excited metal surfaces can produce a potential“—an effect very similar to rubbing a glass rod with a piece of fur: you deposit electrons on the glass rod. “You charge it up, or build up an electrostatic charge that can be discharged as a mild shock,” he says. “So similarly, exciting these metal nanostructures near their resonance charges up those metal structures, producing an electrostatic potential that you can measure.” This electrostatic potential is a first step in the creation of electricity, Atwater says. “If we can develop a way to produce a steady-state current, this could potentially be a power source.” He envisions a solar cell using the plasmoelectric effect someday being used in tandem with photovoltaic cells to harness both visible and infrared light for the creation of electricity.

Source: http://www.caltech.edu/

Control Google Glass Directly By Your Mind

The british company This Place wants to change the future of usability for everyone. As a digital design agency, they are acutely aware of the importance of accessibility and potential for digital technologies to enhance the lives of millions of people who live with disabilities. In order to make a difference, the company focus on cutting out the need for a high level of dexterity to operate computers, and instead focus on utilising the power of the mind. Basically the device called MindRDR read brain waves in your mind.

google-glass-2--620x413

Do you want to take a pic and to send it to your friends through Twitter? MindRDR will read the waves of your mind and operates the internet commands for you using your Google Glass.

mindRDR

Next step: control a computer remotely just with your mind, or just as you use an imaginary keyboard to control your computer

The mindRDR and the NeuroSky MindWave system could be great news for all humans stuck paralyzed in wheel chairs.

Source: http://www.thisplace.com/

S Hawking: highly intelligent machines, the “worst mistake in history”

Dismissing the implications of highly intelligent machines could be humankind’s “worst mistake in history“, write astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, computer scientist Stuart Russell, and physicists Max Tegmark and Frank Wilczek in the Independent. “Self-awaremachines have received the Hollywood treatment in the Johnny Depp film Transcendence, but the subject should receive serious consideration, they say.

Successfully creating artificial intelligence would be “the biggest event in human history“, they write, and the possible benefits for everyday human life are enormous. There could come a time, however, when machines outpace human achievement. If and when that day arrives, they wonder, will the best interest of humans still factor into their calculations?
terminator
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” they write. “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

And what are we humans doing to address these concerns, they ask. Nothing.

All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks,” they conclude.

A while back, we wondered about the implications of machine journalists. But maybe we should just be thankful that at least something will be around to write long-form essays on the last days of humankind.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Graphene soaks up Carbon, Cause of Global Warming

Chemists and engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products.This innovation in nanotechnology won’t soak up enough carbon to solve global warming, researchers say. However, it will provide an environmentally friendly, low-cost way to make nanoporous graphene for use in “supercapacitors” – devices that can store energy and release it rapidly. Such devices are used in everything from heavy industry to consumer electronics.

greenhouse gas2
There are other ways to fabricate nanoporous graphene, but this approach is faster, has little environmental impact and costs less,” said Xiulei (David) Ji, an OSU assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science and lead author on the study. “The product exhibits high surface area, great conductivity and, most importantly, it has a fairly high density that is comparable to the commercial activated carbons. “And the carbon source is carbon dioxide, which is a sustainable resource, to say the least,” Ji said. “This methodology uses abundant carbon dioxide while making energy storage products of significant value.”

The findings were just published in Nano Energy by scientists from the OSU College of Science, OSU College of Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of South Florida and the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Albany, Ore. The work was supported by OSU.

Source: http://oregonstate.edu/

A Billion Holes Make a Postage Stamp Battery

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components.
nanopores
A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp
The structure is called a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, but the bitsy battery performs well. First author Chanyuan Liu, a Ph.D. student in materials science, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of time.

Many millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers think this unit is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped just like the others, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently.The space inside the holes is so small that the space they take up, all added together, would be no more than a grain of sand.
Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have also identified improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step to commercialization: the inventors have conceived strategies for manufacturing the battery in large batches.

A team of UMD chemists and materials scientists collaborated on the project: Gary Rubloff, director of the Maryland NanoCenter, Sang Bok Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and seven of their Ph.D. students.
Source: http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/

Electric Car Batteries Charged In A Few Minutes For 500 km Range

A car powered by its own body panels could soon be driving on our roads after a breakthrough in nanotechnology research by a team from the Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT) in Australia. Researchers have developed lightweight and cheap “supercapacitors” that can be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost the power of an electric car.
The discovery was made by Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni, from QUT, and fellows from Rice University in Houston, in the United States.
The supercapacitors – a “sandwich” of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes – were made into a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density.
The film could be embedded in a car’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floorstoring enough energy to turbocharge an electric car’s battery in just a few minutes.
ElectricCARSAfter one full charge this car should be able to run up to 500km (310 miles) – similar to a petrol-powered car and more than double the current limit of an electric car
Supercapacitors offer a high power output in a short time, meaning a faster acceleration rate of the car and a charging time of just a few minutes, compared to several hours for a standard electric car battery.”
In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster – meaning the car could be entirely powered by the supercapacitors in its body panels, Mr Notarianni said.

The findings, published in the Journal of Power Sources and the Nanotechnology journal, mean a car partly powered by its own body panels could be a reality within five years, Mr Notarianni said.
Source; https://www.qut.edu.au/

Fuel Cells For Hydrogen-powered Car

University of Utah engineers developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors.

Fuel cells convert energy into electricity through a chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxygen-rich source such as air. If a continuous flow of fuel is provided, a fuel cell can generate electricity cleanly and cheaply. While batteries are used commonly to power electric cars and generators, fuel cells also now serve as power generators in some buildings, or to power fuel-cell vehicles such as prototype hydrogen-powered cars (See: http://nanocomputer.com/).

Tucson fuel cell
The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8) directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature,” says the study’s senior author, Shelley Minteer, a University of Utah professor of materials science and engineering, and also chemistry. “This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts.” Catalysts are chemicals that speed reactions between other chemicals.
A study of the new cells appears online today in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis.

Source: http://unews.utah.edu/