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Archive for the ‘engineering’ category

Jan 20, 2018

Nanoparticle gel could make mass-market low-cost Holography, LIDAR

Posted by in categories: engineering, holograms, nanotechnology

Why aren’t holograms or related optical devices part of our everyday lives yet? The technologies can be created by using magnetic fields to alter the path of light, but the materials that can do that are expensive, brittle and opaque. Some only work in temperatures as cold as the vacuum of space.

Minjeong Cha, MSE PhD Student, applies a gel made up of chiromagnetic nanoparticles that are a conduit for modulating light to a laser apparatus. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering

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Jan 19, 2018

China publishes more scientific articles than the U.S.

Posted by in categories: engineering, finance

A new analysis of global science and engineering competence shows that the United States is struggling to fight off an increasingly competitive China.

The numbers: According to the National Science Foundation, China published over 426,000 research papers in 2016. America pumped out almost 409,000. If you consider the number of citations for those papers, a measure of the influence they have in the scientific community, America does better—it placed third internationally, while China comes in fifth (Sweden and Switzerland took the top spots).

Strengths elsewhere: The report does, however, note that America invests the most in R&D, attracts the most venture capital, and awards the most advanced degrees compared with every other nation in the world.

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Jan 11, 2018

Uber Air Taxis for the Same Prices as an UberX

Posted by in categories: engineering, transportation

Mark Moore, Uber Engineering Director of Aviation, and Bell Helicopter’s EVP of Technology and Innovation, Michael Thacker, joined Cheddar to break down the new program.

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Jan 11, 2018

White graphene makes ceramics multifunctional

Posted by in categories: engineering, nuclear energy

A little hBN in ceramics could give them outstanding properties, according to a Rice University scientist.

Rouzbeh Shahsavari, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, suggested the incorporation of ultrathin hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) sheets between layers of calcium-silicates would make an interesting bilayer crystal with multifunctional properties. These could be suitable for construction and refractory and applications in the nuclear industry, oil and gas, aerospace and other areas that require high-performance composites.

Combining the materials would make a ceramic that’s not only tough and durable but resistant to heat and radiation. By Shahsavari’s calculations, calcium-silicates with inserted layers of two-dimensional hBN could be hardened enough to serve as shielding in nuclear applications like power plants.

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Jan 4, 2018

New class of soft, electrically activated devices mimics the expansion and contraction of natural muscles

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, engineering, robotics/AI

In the basement of the Engineering Center at the University of Colorado Boulder, a group of researchers is working to create the next generation of robots. Instead of the metallic droids you may be imagining, they are developing robots made from soft materials that are more similar to biological systems. Such soft robots contain tremendous potential for future applications as they adapt to dynamic environments and are well-suited to closely interact with humans.

A central challenge in this field known as “” is a lack of actuators or “” that can replicate the versatility and performance of the real thing. However, the Keplinger Research Group in the College of Engineering and Applied Science has now developed a new class of soft, electrically activated devices capable of mimicking the expansion and contraction of natural muscles. These devices, which can be constructed from a wide range of low-cost materials, are able to self-sense their movements and self-heal from electrical damage, representing a major advance in soft robotics.

The newly developed hydraulically amplified self-healing electrostatic (HASEL) actuators eschew the bulky, rigid pistons and motors of conventional robots for soft structures that react to applied voltage with a wide range of motions. The soft devices can perform a variety of tasks, including grasping delicate objects such as a raspberry and a raw egg, as well as lifting heavy objects. HASEL actuators exceed or match the strength, speed and efficiency of biological muscle and their versatility may enable artificial muscles for human-like robots and a next generation of prosthetic limbs.

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Dec 31, 2017

Gallium nitride processor: Next-generation technology for space exploration

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, space travel

A material known as gallium nitride (GaN), poised to become the next semiconductor for power electronics, could also be essential for various space applications. Yuji Zhao, an expert in electrical and computer engineering at Arizona State University (ASU), plans to develop the first ever processor from gallium nitride, which could revolutionize future space exploration missions.

Gallium nitride is a semiconductor compound commonly used in light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The material has the ability to conduct electrons more than 1,000 times more efficiently than silicon. It outstrips silicon in speed, temperature, power handling, and is expected to replace it when silicon-based devices will reach their limits.

Besides LEDs, GaN can be used in the production of semiconductor power devices as well as RF components. Now, Yuji Zhao aims to use this material to develop a high-temperature microprocessor for space applications. He received a three-year $750,000 grant from NASA’s Hot Operating Temperature Technology (HOTTech) program for his project.

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Dec 23, 2017

Robotic device improves balance and gait in Parkinson’s disease patients

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, life extension, robotics/AI

Some 50,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD) every year. The American Institute of Neurology estimates there are one million people affected with this neurodegenerative disorder, with 60 years as average age of onset. Falls and fall-related injuries are a major issue for people with Parkinson’s?up to 70 percent of advanced PD patients fall at least once a year and two-thirds suffer recurring falls. These fall rates are twice as high as those of adults of comparable age, so improving balance in patients with Parkinson’s would provide a major health advantage.

Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, along with Dario Martelli, a post-doctoral researcher in his group, have been working on this issue with Movement Disorders faculty from the department of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center?Stanley Fahn, a leading expert in Parkinson’s, and Un Jung Kang, division director, and Movement Disorder Fellow Lan Luo. In their latest study, published today in Scientific Reports, the team looked at whether or not Parkinson’s disease affects patients’ balance and diminishes their ability to react and adapt to walking with perturbations. The researchers found that the ability to adapt to multiple perturbations or to modify responses to changing amplitudes or directions was not affected by PD; both the Parkinson’s and the healthy subjects controlled their reactive strategies in the same way.

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Dec 20, 2017

Metal printing offers low-cost way to make flexible, stretchable electronics

Posted by in categories: electronics, engineering

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique for directly printing metal circuits, creating flexible, stretchable electronics. The technique can use multiple metals and substrates and is compatible with existing manufacturing systems that employ direct printing technologies.

“Flexible electronics hold promise for use in many fields, but there are significant manufacturing costs involved — which poses a challenge in making them practical for commercial use,” says Jingyan Dong, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an associate professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering.

“Our approach should reduce cost and offer an efficient means of producing with high resolution, making them viable for integrating into commercial devices,” Dong says.

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Dec 13, 2017

Engineers create plants that glow

Posted by in categories: engineering, nanotechnology

Imagine that instead of switching on a lamp when it gets dark, you could read by the light of a glowing plant on your desk.

MIT engineers have taken a critical first step toward making that vision a reality. By embedding specialized nanoparticles into the leaves of a watercress plant, they induced the plants to give off dim for nearly four hours. They believe that, with further optimization, such plants will one day be bright enough to illuminate a workspace.

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Dec 13, 2017

India’s grasp on IT jobs is loosening up. Is artificial intelligence to blame?

Posted by in categories: business, employment, engineering, information science, robotics/AI

When Kumar lost his job, he became part of a wave of layoffs washing through the Indian IT industry—a term that includes, in its vastness, call centers, engineering services, business process outsourcing firms, and infrastructure management and software companies. The recent layoffs are part of the industry’s most significant period of churn since it began to boom two decades ago. Companies don’t necessarily attribute these layoffs directly to automation, but at the same time, they constantly identify automation as the spark for huge changes in the industry. Bots, machine learning, and algorithms that robotically execute processes are rendering old skills redundant, recasting the idea of work and making a smaller labor force seem likely.


Technology outsourcing has been India’s only reliable job creator in the past 30 years. Now artificial intelligence threatens to wipe out those gains.

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