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Lacerant Plainer

• Engineering  - 
While the engineering of these bots is quite something, the swarm intelligence is what first caught my eye.

The related paper on swarm behavior is linked here - and
BionicANTs : They are not really bionic, and they are not really ants. The newest robots from Festo are ant-like creatures that are workers with some interesting skills. These are programmable supersized robotic ants which cooperate to complete tasks. Interestingly, they are 3D printable. So if you get a file, you could ostensibly print them at home. Would you want to? That's another question...

Cooperative behavior : BionicANTs are intended to demonstrate cooperative behavior based on a natural model. Like real ants, the BionicANTs follow sets of simple rules and can operate autonomously, while at the same time working together to complete large scale, complex tasks. The ants communicate between themselves to coordinate their actions and movements, and small groups of them can manipulate objects much larger than themselves by pushing and pulling together.

3D Printed : Even their production method is unique. The laser-sintered components are embellished with visible conductor structures in the 3D MID process. They thereby take on design and electrical functions at the same time.

Navigation : An optical sensor (like you have in your computer mouse) underneath the ants allows them to navigate using infrared markings on the floor, and their cameras can also localize based on landmarks. Each ant is 13.5-centimeter long and weighs 105 grams.


#science #scienceeveryday #robotics  

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Ciro Villa

• Engineering  - 
Welcome to the future: Researchers manage to embed quantum information on Silicon using electric pulses for the first time!  This has broad implications for the construction of Quantum Computers.

"A UNSW-led research team has encoded quantum information in silicon using simple electrical pulses for the first time, bringing the construction of affordable large-scale quantum computers one step closer to reality.

Lead researcher, UNSW Associate Professor Andrea Morello from the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications, said his team had successfully realised a new control method for future quantum computers.

The findings were published today in the open-access journal Science Advances.

Unlike conventional computers that store data on transistors and hard drives, quantum computers encode data in the quantum states of microscopic objects called qubits.

The UNSW team, which is affiliated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation & Communication Technology, was first in the world to demonstrate single-atom spin qubits in silicon, reported in Nature in 2012 and 2013.

The team has already improved the control of these qubits to an accuracy of above 99% and established the world record for how long quantum information can be stored in the solid state, as published in Nature Nanotechnology in 2014."

Read more at:

The study: Electrically controlling single-spin qubits in a continuous microwave field,

Image: Electron wavefunction of a donor under an electrostatic gate. A positive voltage applied to the gate attracts the electron towards the Si-SiO2 interface. This modifies the hyperfine coupling, shifts the resonance frequencies of electron and nucleus, and allows addressing of individual donor qubits in a global microwave field. Credit: A. Laucht, UNSW Australia
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Maxime Morali's profile photoLaura Colclough's profile photoJim Hensinger's profile photoGrant Robertson's profile photo
Reading the complex scientific informations on the qubits based on resonance and fine coupling of the magnetic moment inversion of single electron spin (only two energetic quantic states allowed) with the magnetic moment inversion of the relevant atomic nucleus (also only two quantic states allowed) under the action of an external microwave magnetic filed, it appears now that new experimental tests are being carried using an additional electric field to control the spin of the nucleus (not only the magnetic moment of the nucleus itself).
But the spin of the nucleus, that generate the magnetic moment of the nucleus itself, has the energy quantized in varius energetic levels more than two, because the simmetry of the spin of the nucleus is not spherical but elissoidal (as a football) with the maximum of stability for the mayor axis of the elissoid horizontal ( as a football in the water that stays horizontal, not in vertical). The orientation of the spin of the nucleus can be varied by the applied electric field, tuned  with the relevant magnetic spin of the nucleus by a magnetic field and together tuned with the magnetic spin of the single electron, to get a specific resonance of all for a spcific value of the energy in the common quantized energetic level.
If I have well understood, this probability, or possibility, to get the orientation of all the counterparts together seems very difficlt to obtain technically, and get the transition from an energetic level to the other for the allowed magnetic moments of spin inversion.
What is not clear is  how this combination of electric and magnetic field applied to electron and nucleus can work and can be exactly controllerd,  without any reciprocal interactions or interference.
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Vitaliy Kaurov

• Engineering  - 
New revolutionary 3D printing technology inspired by Terminator 2 " continuous 3D printer would do away with the layers entirely. Instead, a platform draws the object continuously out of a bath of liquid resin."


Science - original paper:

Continuous liquid interface production of 3D objects

Abstract: "Additive manufacturing processes such as 3D printing use time-consuming, stepwise layer-by-layer approaches to object fabrication. We demonstrate the continuous generation of monolithic polymeric parts up to tens of centimeters in size with feature resolution below 100 micrometers. Continuous liquid interface production is achieved with an oxygen-permeable window below the ultraviolet image projection plane, which creates a “dead zone” (persistent liquid interface) where photopolymerization is inhibited between the window and the polymerizing part. We delineate critical control parameters and show that complex solid parts can be drawn out of the resin at rates of hundreds of millimeters per hour. These print speeds allow parts to be produced in minutes instead of hours."


"A 3D printing technology developed by Silicon Valley startup, Carbon3D Inc., enables objects to rise from a liquid media continuously rather than being built layer by layer as they have been for the past 25 years, representing a fundamentally new approach to 3D printing. The technology, to appear as the cover article in the March 20 print issue of Science, allows ready-to-use products to be made 25 to 100 times faster than other methods and creates previously unachievable geometries that open opportunities for innovation not only in health care and medicine, but also in other major industries such as automotive and aviation.

Joseph M. DeSimone, professor of chemistry at UNC-Chapel Hill and of chemical engineering at N.C. State, is currently CEO of Carbon3D where he co-invented the method with colleagues Alex Ermoshkin, chief technology officer at Carbon 3D and Edward T. Samulski, also professor of chemistry at UNC. Currently on sabbatical from the University, DeSimone has focused on bringing the technology to market, while also creating new opportunities for graduate students to use the technique for research in materials science and drug delivery at UNC and NCSU.

The technology, called CLIP - for Continuous Liquid Interface Production - manipulates light and oxygen to fuse objects in liquid media, creating the first 3D printing process that uses tunable photochemistry instead of the layer-by-layer approach that has defined the technology for decades. It works by projecting beams of light through an oxygen-permeable window into a liquid resin. Working in tandem, light and oxygen control the solidification of the resin, creating commercially viable objects that can have feature sizes below 20 microns, or less than one-quarter of the width of a piece of paper.

"By rethinking the whole approach to 3D printing, and the chemistry and physics behind the process, we have developed a new technology that can create parts radically faster than traditional technologies by essentially 'growing' them in a pool of liquid," said DeSimone, who revealed the technology at a TED talk on March 16 in the opening session of the conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Through a sponsored research agreement between UNC-Chapel Hill and Carbon 3D, the team is currently pursuing advances to the technology, as well as new materials that are compatible with it. CLIP enables a very wide range of material to be used to make 3D parts with novel properties, including elastomers, silicones, nylon-like materials, ceramics and biodegradable materials. The technique itself provides a blueprint for synthesizing novel materials that can further research in materials science.
Rima Janusziewicz and Ashley R. Johnson, graduate students in DeSimone's academic lab, are co-authors on the paper and are working on novel applications in drug delivery and other areas.

"In addition to using new materials, CLIP can allow us to make stronger objects with unique geometries that other techniques cannot achieve, such as cardiac stents personally tailored to meet the needs of a specific patient," said DeSimone. "Since CLIP facilitates 3D polymeric object fabrication in a matter of minutes instead of hours or days, it would not be impossible within coming years to enable personalized coronary stents, dental implants or prosthetics to be 3D printed on-demand in a medical setting."

CLIP's debut coincides with the United Nation designating 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, which recognizes important anniversaries of scientific advances enabled with light."

 #3D #3Dprinting
It looks like science fiction. But it's completely real.
Leyla Sati's profile photo王俊磊's profile photoRobert Pearce's profile photoMatthew Gordon's profile photo
Tech dev is sort of like this. Many people are working in similar things. Our LLNL colleagues are doing a miniature version of this for nano architecture. Prof Fang has his own version too. 
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I know that remotely operated robots are not as interesting as completely autonomous ones but this guy has caught my attention.

This 3D printed humanoid is powered by an i7 processor, uses ROS,  it's capable of riding a segway to move around and sends the video back to an Oculus Rift.
What's next?

#Telepresence #humanoid #oculusrift
I have said it once, and I'll say it again. 3D printing and robots will continue their inevitable convergence, leading to completely custom robots which can
Science on G+'s profile photoAlejandro Camacho's profile photoMikael Ruud's profile photo
Do you have any links to references that better discuss the engineering/science of this robot?  Did not find that much on the Robosavvy web page.
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Gary Ray R

• Engineering  - 
A Rather Unique New Design for a Power Generating Building

I have posted about some cutting edge power generating and energy storage devices before, but this one caught my eye because of its architecture  and different types of power generating capabilities.  

It is called The Dutch Windwheel and is proposed to be built in the city of Rotterdam.  As described in Gizmag:

The Dutch Windwheel is a huge circular wind energy converter that houses apartments, a hotel and a giant coaster ride.  ⓐ

The concept is designed to be part energy icon, part tourist attraction and part residential building. It is a 174-m (571-ft) structure comprising two huge rings that appear to lean against each other. "We wanted to combine a big attraction for Rotterdam with a state-of-the-art sustainable concept," explains Lennart Graaff of the Dutch Windwheel Corporation, to Gizmag.  ⓐ

The larger outer ring houses 40 pods on rails that move around the ring and provide those who visit with views of Rotterdam and its port. The smaller inner ring, meanwhile, houses 72 apartments, a 160-room hotel across seven floors and a panoramic restaurant and viewing gallery. Perhaps most remarkable feature of of all, however, is a huge "bladeless turbine" that spans the center smaller ring.  ⓐ

The question that stands out for me is, “What is a bladeless wind turbine?”  It is what is called an electrostatic wind energy convertor (EWICON) and it was developed at Delft Technical University.  

Where most wind turbines generate electricity through mechanical energy, the EWICON (short for Electrostatic WInd energy CONvertor) creates potential energy with charged particles – in this case, water droplets. The current design consists of a steel frame holding a series of insulated tubes arranged horizontally. Each tube contains several electrodes and nozzles, which continually release positively-charged water particles into the air. As the particles are blown away, the voltage of the device changes and creates an electric field, which can be transferred to the grid for everyday use.  ⓑ

Some big issues I see are that it is not as efficient as a regular bladed wind turbine, uses a lot of water, and needs ethanol in the water for efficient spraying.  From a research paper from Delft:

The experiments show that the EWICON system in the current configuration is capable of generating electrical energy from wind energy with an efficiency of at least 7%.  The efficiency of conventional wind turbines, like e.g. a Siemens 1.3 MW wind turbine, is roughly 45% which still is six to seven times higher compared to the efficiency of the current EWICON. The flow rate per nozzle needs to be above 5.0 ml/hr, preferably 10 ml/hr, before EHDA can be used as an effective method for producing charged particles, which puts a lower limit on the water consumption. Also, concerning EHDA, it was found that the concentration of ethanol in water should at least be 25% or higher for controlled spraying to occur.  ⓒ

The Dutch Windwheel has a number of innovative features:

The Dutch Windwheel concept has other sustainable aspects, too. Photovoltaic thermal hybrid panels would be used to contribute to the generation of electricity, and rainwater would be collected for use in the building. The Dutch Windwheel Corporation says the building itself is designed to be built with locally-sourced materials, and in such a way as it could ultimately be disassembled and re-used elsewhere.  ⓐ

Among the other features of the design are space for commercial functions in the structure's plinth, and foundations that are underwater, making it it look as though the structure is floating. We're told that the amount of power the Dutch Windwheel will require to run – and be able to generate – is not yet clear. Likewise, the final technologies and additional sustainability features that would be present in the building have yet to be finalized.  ⓐ

I must say it is a striking building and I wish them luck with this far out design. 

For a complete description of the project here is the link to The Dutch Windwheel project:

ⓐ Gizmag
Windwheel concept combines tourist attraction with "silent turbine”

ⓑ Gizmag
EWICON bladeless wind turbine generates electricity using charged water droplets

ⓒ Delft Research paper
The development of an Electrostatic Wind Energy Converter (EWICON)

Image:  Dutch Windwheel Corporation
Colin Bayford's profile photoMohammad Elshantaf's profile photosteve schaff's profile photomd zahurul's profile photo
It is a rather odd design.  It also needs big pumps to pump that water and the rate required for efficient use. 
But still, interesting, I hope they can get it to work. 
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Gary Ray R

• Engineering  - 
How to Use Thermal Integrity Profiling to Assess Soil Nail Integrity

I am finally at a point where I can write a science/engineering post again.  If you are like me when you saw that headline, you probably wonder what the heck is he posting about?  Let me give you a little background on how I stumbled upon this subject.  As a long time member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, I get a lot of offers for free trade magazines from a variety of different industries.  I recently signed up to receive a trade magazine from National Driller, the trade magazine for oil, gas, and water well drilling engineers, the group that knows the engineering about soils. I wanted to learn something about a field of engineering that I am not familiar with: the strength of soil.

The article in this issue that first caught my interest is the one with the title How to Use Thermal Integrity Profiling to Assess Soil Nail Integrity.  I had no idea what any of that meant and thought it would be an interesting post, and I might learn something new.  

First I looked up [what is soil nailing] and Wiki filled me in; soil nailing is a method of anchoring a pipe or a long piece of rebar into soil so it stabilizes the soil or, in the case of drilling, so it stabilizes the drill casing. For this study they were trying to learn how well the soil nails would stabilize steep slopes alongside roads and highways.

Soil nailing is a construction technique that can be used as a remedial measure to treat unstable natural soil slopes or as a construction technique that allows the safe over-steepening of new or existing soil slopes. The technique involves the insertion of relatively slender reinforcing elements into the slope – often general purpose reinforcing bars (rebar) although proprietary solid or hollow-system bars are also available. Solid bars are usually installed into pre-drilled holes and then grouted into place using a separate grout line, whereas hollow bars may be drilled and grouted simultaneously by the use of a sacrificial drill bit and by pumping grout down the hollow bar as drilling progresses.   ⓐ

One of the things that soil engineers worry about is how well that soil nail is going to hold. This is especially important for retaining walls, or steep embankments next to highways, or when drilling a tunnel into soil.  So the engineers study the integrity of the holding power of the soil nail. 

Four main points to be considered in determining if soil nailing would be an effective retention technique are as follows. First, the existing ground conditions should be examined. Next, the advantages and disadvantages for a soil nail wall should be assessed for the particular application being considered. Then other systems should be considered for the particular application. Finally, cost of the soil nail wall should be considered. Soil nail walls can be used for a variety of soil types and conditions. The most favorable conditions for soil nailing are as follows: The soil should be able to stand unsupported one to two meters high for a minimum of two days when cut vertical or nearly vertical. Also all soil nails within a cross section should be located above the groundwater table. If the soil nails are not located above the groundwater table, the groundwater should not negatively affect the face of the excavation, the bond between the ground and the soil nail itself. Based upon these favorable conditions for soil nailing stiff to hard fine-grained soils which include stiff to hard clays, clayey silts, silty clays, sandy clays, and sandy silts are preferred soils. Sand and gravels which are dense to very dense soils with some apparent cohesion also work well for soil nailing. Weathered rock is also acceptable as long as the rock is weathered evenly throughout(meaning no weakness planes). Finally, glacial soils work well for soil nailing.  ⓐ

So how do they tell how strong the soil nail that has been grouted into place will be, will it pull out?  One could do a destructive test where you just pull out the soil nail and see how much effort it took to pull it out.  But that is expensive and, in places, impossible.   That is where Thermal Integrity Profiling (TIP) comes in to play.  When grout hardens, it undergoes a exothermic reaction; that means that the grout gets hot as it hardens.  They measured the temperature of the grout as it hardened.

A demonstration project in Huntsville, Texas, evaluated the effectiveness of using Thermal Integrity Profiling (TIP) to assess the integrity of soil nails. The demonstration was performed by GRL Engineers Inc. and Pile Dynamics Inc. (PDI) in coordination with the Texas Department of Transportation.
Thermal Integrity Profiling is a relatively new nondestructive method that uses the temperature generated by curing cement (hydration energy) to access the integrity of the elements. Initially developed at the University of South Florida to evaluate the homogeneity and integrity of the concrete mass within drilled shafts, as well as the alignment of the reinforcement cage, the method was eventually incorporated in instrumentation developed for commercial use by PDI, from Cleveland, and FGE from Plant City, Florida.  ⓑ

Thermal Integrity Profiling is most frequently performed by affixing Thermal Wire cables to the longitudinal bars of the reinforcing cage of a shaft or, in the case of ACIP piles, to the reinforcing center bar (it may also be performed by lowering thermal probes in access tubes pre-installed in the foundation element). The soil nails tested during this demonstration were instrumented along the tensioned center bar, by attachment of a Thermal Wire cable with digital temperature sensors spaced every 6 inches. Once the instrumented tension bar was set and grout was injected, a Thermal Acquisition Port  was attached to each cable and data collection began. Every 15 minutes, the TAPs recorded and stored measured temperature at each sensor location, making it possible to generate profiles of temperature versus depth. After a sufficient amount of time had elapsed, each TAP was connected to the main unit of the Thermal Integrity Profiler, so data could be downloaded for further analysis.   ⓑ

Then by analyzing the Thermal Integrity Profile they could determine the integrity of the soil nail. 

The TIP results allowed for the evaluation of soil nail shape, integrity and grout quality, and of the location of the center bar. The overall average temperature for all Thermal Wire readings over the embedded depths can be directly related to the overall volume of grout installed. Soil nail integrity may be assessed by averaging the temperature measurements from each cable at each depth increment. If the measured average temperature versus depth is approximately constant, the soil nail is considered to be of uniform shape and quality. Bulges can be identified as localized increases in average temperature, while insufficient grout quality or section reductions can be identified as localized decreases in average temperature. Because soil and slurry pockets produce no heat, areas of soil intrusion or inclusion are indicated by lower local temperatures.  ⓑ

The demonstration project was successful in demonstrating the use of Thermal Integrity Profiling for assessing the integrity of soil nails.

ⓐ  Wiki Soil Nailing

ⓑ  National Driller 
How to Use Thermal Integrity Profiling to Assess Soil Nail Integrity

ⓒ  Deep Foundations Institute  Research paper, 2014
Using Thermal Integrity Profiling To Evaluate The Structural Integrity of Soil Nails

Texas Tech University
Other methods of Non-Destructive Evaluation of Installed Soil Nails

Image: Deep Excavation, Soil nail wall construction sequence
Gesie N's profile photoJorge Palma's profile photoMoosa Waheed's profile photoColin Andrews's profile photo
wait wait... hold the phone.  Here I was trying to learn something completely unrelated to any of my interest for funsies and tree root stability comes up?!  {pumps fist} yusss!
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A new process that can sprout microscopic spikes on nearly any type of particle may lead to more environmentally friendly paints and a variety of other innovations.

Made by a team of University of Michigan engineers, the “hedgehog particles” are named for their bushy appearance under the microscope. Their development is detailed in a paper published in the Jan. 29 issue of Nature.

The new process modifies oily, or “hydrophobic” particles, enabling them to disperse easily in water. It can also modify water-soluble, or “hydrophilic” particles, enabling them to dissolve in oil or other oily chemicals.

One of the first applications for the particles is likely to be in paints and coatings, where toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like toluene are now used to dissolve pigment. Pigments made from hedgehog particles could potentially be dissolved in non-toxic carriers like water, the researchers say.

This would result in fewer VOC emissions from paints and coatings, which the EPA estimates at over eight million tons per year in the United States alone. VOCs can cause a variety of respiratory and other ailments and also contribute to smog and climate change. Reducing their use has become a priority for the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory bodies worldwide.
Gary Ray R's profile photoKim L Johnson's profile photo
Paints, Coatings, Catalysts whose Particles are rather Spiky, Sticky and therefore  
Better-behaved should become a Big Boon for All of Mankind on the Planet +Gary Ray R !! 
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Vaporized metals as nanometer coatings 

Researchers from the +Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have recently demonstrated that vaporized metals can be used as color coatings. The manufactured item is placed in a high-vacuum chamber and an electron beam is aimed at a metal surface. The impact of the electrons vaporizes the metal which in turn settles down on the item. Depending on the used metals, like germanium, gold or aluminum, the color of the resulting coating can be changed. The resulting thickness of the coating is only in the range of nanometers whereas conventional coatings are 1000 times thicker. 
The colors result from the optical interference and can be tuned by changing the coating composition and thickness.
Such thin coatings can reduce weight of the manufactured item significantly. Within their publication, the scientists used paper as a surface to deposit the metals on. This led to very flexible items, which could be bent by hand. Together with their ability to absorb light, they might be applied in flexible optoelectronic devices .

Project page:


ebeam Technologies's profile photoBill Carter's profile photoAnn Rich's profile photoTim Murphy's profile photo
Thanks +ebeam Technologies​!
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Béla Lőrincz

• Engineering  - 
I am glad to be joining the community and I hope that is a lot of interesting and valuable new topic do I now.  
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Welcome +Béla Lőrincz, there is something of interest to almost everyone in this community.

I always ask new members to please read our guidelines and the 'How to' post, please.

I hope you enjoy it here.
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• Engineering  - 
Ultra fast rechargeable Aluminum ion technology

Engineers at Stanford University have developed ultrafast rechargeable aluminum batteries which can get charged within a min. Scientists have been struggling to get a working cathode for aluminum batteries. Stanford team accidently found graphite to be the suitable cathode to pair up with aluminum anode along with an ionic liquid electrolyte. Study further claims that these batteries have high durability as they retained their charging ability after 7,500 charging cycles and flexible make them perfect choice for flexible electronic devices.

Original Paper: Nature
Engineers at Stanford University have developed ultrafast rechargeable aluminum battery which can get charged within a min. Scientists have been struggling to get a working cathode for aluminum batteries.
ЕЛЕКТО УСЛУГИ ЕЛЕКТРОИНСТАЛАЦИИ ГРЪМООТВОДИ ЕЛЕКТРО ЛАБОРАТОРИЯ 0893475646's profile photoSravya Janjanam's profile photo
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Development of a three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system for low voltage distribution networks.

The recent significant uptake of solar PV has in some locations created issues in the LV network, including surplus power being pushed up the grid, unbalanced phases and poor power quality.

The development of a three-phase battery energy storage scheduling and operation system for low voltage distribution networks tackles these immediate issues while also setting the foundation for a future smart grid.

The two main advantages of intelligent BES in the LV network are the  mitigation of power quality issues attributed to fluctuations in generation from renewable energy sources such as PV, and the storage of surplus energy gathered during the middle of the day and distribute it when it is needed in the evening peak period.

Original paper in the journal Applied Energy -
The explosion in rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) in Australia is plain to see across many suburbs. Solar PV systems are now installed on over one million roofs up from a little over 900 homes in 2006. However the ...
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• Engineering  - 
Nanolasers - The Next Generation Electronics

In last two decades technology has revolutionized the way we live but amount of energy consumed and heat generated remains to be a challenge in taking the next quantum leap in field of electronics. Answer may lie in using photons (light) rather than electrons (electricity) to process information. Use of photons is not only more energy efficient but also faster problem is building nanoscale lasers compatible with silicon is not an easy task. Engineers at University of Washington have developed nanolaser 100,000 thinner than human hairs capable of integrating with silicon while using only 27nanowatts to kick start the photon beam. The large scale application of technology will significantly improve our ability to have faster and efficient processors.
"Nanolasers, uses a flat sheet that can be placed directly on top of a commonly used optical cavity, a tiny cave that confines and intensifies light. The ultrathin nature of the semiconductor — made from a single layer of a tungsten-based molecule — yields efficient coordination between the two key components of the laser."

Original Study: Nature…/journal/vaop/…/full/nature14290.html

‪#‎nanolasers‬ ‪#‎futuretechnology‬ ‪#‎electronics‬ ‪#‎semicondutors‬
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Gary Ray R

• Engineering  - 
Shape Shifting Liquid Metal

Scientists at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China have been working with gallium and now been able to get a drop of a gallium alloy to move, using aluminum as a fuel. 
Shape Shifting Liquid Metal Moves by Using Aluminum Fuel

While not quite Terminator T-1000, this is an fascinating advancement in the research of liquid metals.   Scientists at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China have been studying gallium.  

Gallium is a chemical element with symbol Ga and atomic number 31. Elemental gallium does not occur in free form in nature, but as the gallium(III) compounds that are in trace amounts in zinc ores and in bauxite. Gallium is a soft, silvery metal, and elemental gallium is a brittle solid at low temperatures, and melts at 29.76 °C (85.57 °F) (slightly above room temperature).   Wiki [Gallium]

As part of an effort to better understand the properties of liquid metals, the researchers were working with gallium—after adding a little bit of indium and tin they discovered that if a bit of aluminum was affixed to a single drop of the alloy (to serve as fuel) and the result was dropped into a container of sodium hydroxide (or even salt water) the drop would propel itself around the container for approximately one hour. In subsequent tests they found that if the container was shaped with channels, the drop could be made to follow a pre-designated path. What's more, they noted that if the drop encountered a part of the channel that was slimmer than it was, it could squeeze through.  ⓑ

"The soft machine looks rather intelligent and [can] deform itself according to the space it voyages in, just like [the] Terminator does from the science-fiction film," says Jing Liu from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.  ⓐ

The next step was to determine what enabled the drop to move. 
Surprised by the movement of the drop, the researchers took a closer look—analysis revealed that when the drop was placed in the solution, a charge imbalance occurred between the front and back of the drop, causing a pressure differential. They also found that as the aluminum reacted with the saltwater, tiny bubbles were formed which also served to push the drop forward (so long as the aluminum bit was on the back end.)  ⓑ

The experiments by the team build on prior work by them and others (as part of an effort to make "soft" robots) that showed that with some liquid metals, an electric charge can cause both an expansion and change of shape to a drop. The researchers note that if both techniques were used, the result could be drops that not only move themselves through liquids, but change shape according to predetermined needs. They suggest their findings could conceivably pave the way for drops that are used to deliver materials via pipes or even through blood vessels.  ⓑ

Other researchers have shown that a stationary gallium drop can act as a pump when in an electric field. Liu followed up this idea and showed that if their self-powered motor is held still, it too becomes a pump, shifting about 50 milliliters of water every second. "It's the first ever self-powered pump," he says. The team says that could have immediate applications for moving liquid through a cooling device without the need for an external power source.  ⓐ

Abstract from paper in Advanced Materials (paywall)
A liquid metal motor that can “eat” aluminum food and then move spontaneously and swiftly in various solution configurations and structured channels for more than 1 h is discovered. Such biomimetic mollusk is highly shape self-adaptive by closely conforming to the geometrical space it voyages in. The first ever self-fueled pump is illustrated as one of its typical practical utilizations.  ⓒ

Earlier research on a liquid metal pump are available open access.  ⓓ

ⓐ New Scientist
Liquid metal brings shape-shifting robot a step closer

Shape shifting liquid metal able to propel itself through liquids (w/ video)

ⓒ Advanced Materials (paywall)
Self-Fueled Biomimetic Liquid Metal Mollusk;jsessionid=950A508ED4E8DF50A9ACF89D1C65C63A.f03t02

ⓓ PNAS January 2014
Liquid metal enabled pump

Image: Tsinghua University
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Gary Ray R

• Engineering  - 
Largest Gas Turbine in The World Has Been Tested

My last engineering post was about slightly weird technology to produce electricity; this one is closer to reality, big gas turbines.  Disclosure: I was a Field Engineer for GE for years and got to work on gas turbines like this one, only smaller. I worked on the GE LM-2500 gas turbines.  They are used for ship propulsion and to generate electricity, a LM-2500 can produce about 33,600 shp (25,060 kW). ⓐ 

This new GE gas turbine is a monster, it is the GE 9HA Harriet gas turbine.  This gas turbine can produce over 500,000 bhp and has the ability to generate 600 megawatts of electricity when coupled with a steam generator. When used in a combined cycle the efficiency is over 61 percent.  It is designed to run on natural gas.  

The latest of GE’s H-class turbines, when partnered with a steam generator Harriet can run a 600 megawatt steam power plant capable of supplying 600,000 homes, burns a variety of natural gases from shale gas to liquid natural gas, and instead of generating electricity, blasts out hot air at speeds of a Category 5 hurricane that could fill a Goodyear blimp in about 10 seconds.  ⓑ

To achieve this, Harriet has superalloy monocrystal turbine blades with thermal barrier coatings capable of withstanding 2,900° F (1,600° C). It has variable stator vanes originally developed for supersonic jet engines that direct the airflow, and a modular design with blades that can be replaced individually. In addition, it's designed for automated operation, has a combined cycle efficiency of over 61 percent, and low emissions.  ⓑ

“This is industry leading technology,” says Mike Gradoia, product marketing manager for Harriet. “Fifteen years ago you would need twice as many units to deliver the same amount of power. But they would have been less efficient, burning more fuel and therefore generating more emissions.”  ⓒ 

Advanced materials allow the turbines to operate at temperatures as high as 2,900 degrees Fahrenheit, while also giving parts longer lifespans. “When you can fire the machines higher, you can extract more energy,” Gradoia says. “But it also means that some components are operating in an environment hotter than their melting temperature. We make it work, but there is a lot of science behind it.”  ⓒ

This particular turbine, the 9HA is manufactured in France for use in Europe at 50 Hz, a slightly different version, the 7HA will be sold in the US to generate at 60 Hz.

The problem with such a large gas turbine is how do you test it.  
One of the problems with building the world's largest and most powerful gas turbine is that you need to build a test bed to match. Having invested US$1 billion in its 500,000 bhp 9HA Harriet gas turbine, GE had to fork over another US$185 million to build a full-load test bed at GE Power & Water in Greenville, South Carolina that can handle the grid-busting output of Harriet.  ⓑ

In just 3 months, they ran the turbine through operations that would normally take years to encounter in the field. They tested it at the maximum power output and simulated extreme events like severe grid instability caused by the oversupply of power, and observed the turbine respond and bring the grid back to normal. “You can’t do his in the field without wrecking the grid,” King says. “This hasn’t been done before. More than 50 customers flew in to see the test, including representatives from France’s Électricité de France.”  ⓓ

How a Combined-Cycle Power Plant Produces Electricity

This is how a combined-cycle plant works to produce electricity and captures waste heat from the gas turbine to increase efficiency and electrical output.

Gas turbine burns fuel.
The gas turbine compresses air and mixes it with fuel that is heated to a very high temperature. The hot air-fuel mixture moves through the gas turbine blades, making them spin.
The fast-spinning turbine drives a generator that converts a portion of the spinning energy into electricity.

Heat recovery system captures exhaust.
A Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) captures exhaust heat from the gas turbine that would otherwise escape through the exhaust stack.

The HRSG creates steam from the gas turbine exhaust heat and delivers it to the steam turbine.
Steam turbine delivers additional electricity. 
The steam turbine sends its energy to the generator drive shaft, where it is converted into additional electricity.

- See more at:

ⓐ  GE LM-2500 Gas Turbine

ⓑ  Gizmag
Putting the world's largest and most powerful gas turbine to the test 

ⓒ  GE Reports

 ⓓ  GE Reports
This Gas Turbine Could Pump Up the Goodyear Blimp in About 10 Seconds. But How Do You Test It?

Image GE Power and Water
MOFIZURRAHAMAN MALLA's profile photoPramod Rathod's profile photoAviation Power & Marine Inc's profile photokevin mcgovern's profile photo
Thanks much Gary..
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Ciro Villa

• Engineering  - 
Japanese Researchers Create the Most Accurate Clock Ever!

Introducing: the Cryogenic optical lattice clock.  The clock is so accurate that it loses a second every 16 billions years (more than the estimated age of the Universe since the Big Bang)

"Japanese researchers have built a pair of clocks which they say are so accurate they will lose a second only every 16 billion years—longer than the Earth has been around.

"Cryogenic optical lattice clocks" are not pretty—they look more like giant stripped-down desktop computers than ordinary wall clocks—but they are so precise that current technology cannot even measure them.

The research team led by Hidetoshi Katori, a professor at the University of Tokyo, believes it has taken the technology way beyond the atomic clocks that are currently used to define the "second".

The new clock uses special lasers to trap strontium atoms in tiny grid-like structures, according to the team, which published the study this month in the journal Nature Photonics."

Read more at:

Image: 'Cryogenic optical lattice clocks' are not pretty—they look more like giant stripped-down desktop computers than ordinary wall clocks—but they are so precise that current technology cannot even measure them.
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Alex Berezow

• Engineering  - 
A new bioelectrochemical device converts sunlight into alcohol using genetically engineered bacteria. The proof-of-principle device splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The genetically engineered bacteria use the hydrogen to reduce carbon dioxide to isopropanol. It's a neat idea, but terribly inefficient. 

Original paper:

Popular science article:
Solar power is billed as the energy of the future. However, today, solar power constitutes less than 1% of the global energy market. Though some cynics point their finger at a
Ragesh Kurman's profile photosamps okholm's profile photoTed Welles's profile photoPeter Carson's profile photo
The phrase "Converting Sunlight to Alcohol" is inaccurate as it implies energy-to-matter conversion; a better term would be "Creating Alcohol using Sunlight" as it more adequately reflects the anabolic process involved.
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The Engineering of the Playing Field of the Super Bowl

I had to find some science or engineering for the big game today. The entire grass field moves out into the sun to get nice and green.
Super Bowl Field Engineering

I am on the road and using my iPad so my normal format will be a little lax.

The Super Bowl will be played in the University of Phoenix Stadium. One of the unique features of this stadium is that it has a movable field. That's right, the entire field is rolled out so the special grass that they get from Alabama will be nice and fresh and green.

Built as the first retractable field in North America in 2006, the nearly 19 million pound tray holds 92,000 square feet of turf, drainage and even its own irrigation system. Due to the configuration of the stadium, which was designed to resemble a barrel cactus wrapped by a snake, a natural grass field wouldn’t have received enough sunshine to survive surrounded by the seating bowl, even with the stadium's retractable roof. Sports Illustrated

So architects Peter Eisenman and a team from Populous created a tray 40 inches deep that rests on 13 railroad-like tracks and moves through an opening four and a half feet tall beyond the end zone to the southeast. A total of 546 steel wheels -- 76 of those powered by a one-horsepower motor for a top speed of one-eighth of a mile per hour -- help expose the grass to the waiting desert sunshine. Sports Illustrated

Sports Illustrated on the moveable field.

Alabama sod grower that supplied the special grass

The stadium

Image Sports Illustrated

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Alana Simorellis Flores's profile photoRupa Mukherjee's profile photoKeith Lauby's profile photoJean-Philippe Langlois's profile photo
Zak Cat
Come in the spring and see our tarantulas all over that grass :)
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“Historically, outside of combat, most injuries and fatalities in the Army result from transportation,” said Reed, who heads the U-M Transportation Research Institute’s Biosciences Group. “And in recent combat operations, the No. 1 cause of death and disability is underbody blast caused by improvised explosive devices.”

His latest research focuses on the safety and comfort of seating aboard military vehicles.

Reed and his U-M colleagues collected data from more than 300 soldiers stationed at Army bases in Kentucky, Texas and Washington, measuring dozens of variables as the soldiers sat in vehicle mockups.

A powerful laser scanner used to measure posture captured more than 500,000 data points on soldiers’ bodies within 12 seconds, which provided researchers further insight on the their body dimensions.

“The soldiers who participate in these studies understand very well what we’re trying to achieve,” he said. “They’ve been in these vehicles, worn the body armor and understand how hard it is get in and out. They know that there’s room for improvement in these vehicles.”

That’s why the Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) agreed to fund the research project through the U-M Automotive Research Center.
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The study is available for download (open access)
“The Seated Soldier Study: Posture and Body Shape in Vehicle Seats”
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American Scientist

• Engineering  - 
A growing number of researchers believe empirical software engineering is now at a turning point comparable to the dawn of evidence-based medicine. It has begun to borrow and adapt research techniques from fields such as anthropology, psychology, industrial engineering and data mining. 

With software landing our planes, diagnosing our illnesses and keeping track of the wealth of nations, discovering how to make programs more reliable is hardly an academic question.

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#Engineering   #Technology   #Science   #Software  
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First line in that article is incorrect.
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