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Sep 29, 2023

Researchers create novel robots that run on light and radio waves

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

The robot can drive on various surfaces such as concrete or packed soil and carry up to three times its own weight in equipment such as a camera or sensors.

Imagine a tiny robot that can move on its own, powered by light and radio waves. It can carry a camera, a sensor, or a Bluetooth device and transmit data over long distances. It can navigate through different terrains and environments and follow light sources to keep going. It sounds like science fiction, right?


Source: Mark Stone/University of Washington.

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Sep 29, 2023

Living on the edge: Supernova bubble expands in new Hubble time-lapse movie

Posted by in categories: cosmology, materials

Though a doomed star exploded some 20,000 years ago, its tattered remnants continue racing into space at breakneck speeds—and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has caught the action.

The nebula, called the Cygnus Loop, forms a bubble-like shape that is about 120 light-years in diameter. The distance to its center is approximately 2,600 light-years. The entire nebula has a width of six full moons as seen on the sky.

Astronomers used Hubble to zoom into a very small slice of the leading edge of this expanding supernova bubble, where the supernova blast wave plows into surrounding material in space. Hubble images taken from 2001 to 2020 clearly demonstrate how the remnant’s shock front has expanded over time, and they used the crisp images to clock its speed.

Sep 28, 2023

A Fine Probe of Layer Stacking

Posted by in categories: materials, quantum physics

The combination of nuclear magnetic resonance with first-principles calculations uncovers the stacking patterns of layers of a quantum material—information that could enable a deeper understanding of the material’s behavior.

Sep 26, 2023

Stacking order and strain boosts second-harmonic generation with 2D Janus hetero-bilayers

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, materials

A group of researchers from Tohoku University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Rice University, Hanoi University of Science and Technology, Zhejiang University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have proposed a new mechanism to enhance short-wavelength light (100–300 nm) by second harmonic generation (SHG) in a two-dimensional (2D), thin material composed entirely of commonplace elements.

Since UV with SHG plays an important role in semiconductor lithography equipment and medical applications that do not use fluorescent materials, this discovery has important implications for existing industries and all optical applications.

Details of the research were published in the journal ACS Nano on August 29, 2023. The study was selected to be featured on the cover.

Sep 26, 2023

Robots may soon have compound eye vision, thanks to MoCA

Posted by in categories: materials, robotics/AI

A color-changing system inspired by the wings of butterflies can also help scientists provide compound eye vision to robots, but why do scientists want robots to see like insects?

Would you like to try a T-shirt whose color changes with the weather? How about a bandage that alerts you by changing its color when an infection occurs at the site of an injury?

Continue reading “Robots may soon have compound eye vision, thanks to MoCA” »

Sep 26, 2023

Tungsten oxide hydrate: the future of smart windows

Posted by in categories: energy, materials

Researchers unveil a revolutionary material, tungsten oxide hydrate, enabling dynamic windows that adapt to light and temperature, boosting energy efficiency.

Dynamic windows have long been the dream of architects and engineers, promising buildings that adapt to varying light and temperature conditions.

Now, researchers from NC State University have taken a giant leap forward in this field by unveiling a revolutionary material known as tungsten oxide hydrate. This innovation could pave the way for the next generation of dynamic windows, offering building occupants the ability to switch their windows between three distinct modes: transparency, infrared light blocking, and glare control, according to a university release.

Sep 26, 2023

YouTuber builds VR gloves for just $22

Posted by in categories: materials, virtual reality

YouTuber Lucas VRTech has designed and built a pair of finger-tracking VR gloves using just $22 in materials — and he’s released all the details on the build so others can make their own.

The challenge: We use our hands to manipulate objects in the real world, but in VR, users typically have to use controllers with buttons and joysticks.

That breaks some of the immersion, limiting the use of VR for not only gaming, but also applications like therapy and job training.

Sep 25, 2023

NASA collected a sample from an asteroid for the first time — here’s why it matters

Posted by in categories: materials, space

The material can help scientists understand the origins of the Earth.

Sep 23, 2023

Metallic Gratings Produce a Strong Surprise

Posted by in category: materials

Using a metallic grating and infrared light, researchers have uncovered a light–matter coupling regime where the local coupling strength can be 3.5 times higher than the global average for the material.

Sep 23, 2023

Crystal Defects Interact to Form Intricate Structures

Posted by in category: materials

Two or more linear defects can twist around one another to form an entity that may affect the properties of a material.

Systems made from ordered components, such as crystals, are often laced with defects, such as dislocations, where the ordering is disrupted. Researchers have now identified a new class of such flaws where two or more dislocations come together and become locked into complex geometrical arrangements, such as coils or knots, that can’t be smoothed away [1]. Using microscopy experiments backed up by theoretical arguments, they have identified such coiled “metadefects” in thin films of liquid crystals. The researchers believe that in crystalline materials, metadefects might influence mechanical properties such as plasticity. And since defects may feature in systems ranging from the structure of spacetime to magnets and bacterial colonies, the research team suspects that this new class may show up in other places.

Many liquid crystals are composed of rod-shaped molecules that can become oriented relative to one another while remaining free to move around. One of the phases that some of these materials can adopt is called cholesteric, a periodic pattern in which the orientation of the molecules twists like the steps in a spiral staircase. At each “step” of the staircase, all of the molecules are aligned. Defects in this organized structure typically show up as dark lines when thin films of cholesteric liquid crystals are examined under a microscope.

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