. Scientific Frontline: Technology
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

New transparent augmented reality display opens possibilities to see digital content in real-time

The flexible, transparent polymer-based material will advance how AR is used across a range of industries.
Photo Credit: Cesar Nicolas

The world's first flexible, transparent augmented reality (AR) display screen using 3D printing and low-cost materials has been created by researchers at the University of Melbourne, KDH Design Corporation and the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication (MCN). The development of the new display screen is set to advance how AR is used across a wide range of industries and applications.

AR technology overlays digital content onto the real world, enhancing the user's real-time perception and interaction with their environment. Until now, creating flexible AR technology that can adjust to different angles of light sources has been a challenge, as current mainstream AR manufacturing uses glass substrates, which must undergo photomasking, lamination, cutting, or etching microstructure patterns. These time-consuming processes are expensive, have a poor yield rate and are difficult to seamlessly integrate with product appearance designs.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Cost-effective and Non-toxic Substance Helps in the Extraction of Noble Metals

The new technology will help extract valuable components from complex raw materials.
Photo Credit: Rodion Narudinov

Scientists of the Ural Federal University have found a "solvent" (surfactant), lignosulfonate, which facilitates the transfer of noble metals into solution. Lignosulfonate is a waste product of pulp and paper industry, which is cheap and non-toxic. The scientists have effectively solved two serious problems at once: using a waste product along with processing ores and concentrates. The researchers published a description of the solvent's mechanism of action in the scientific journal Langmuir.

"We investigated the mechanism of action of a very complex surfactant that is at the same time a humectant, dispersant and stabilizer in terms of the surface of the ore concentrate. Lignosulfonate has been used in autoclave metal extraction technologies since the 1970s. However, its efficiency has not been sufficiently studied and the mechanism of action has not been subjectively investigated. Taking into account the fact that today different types of ores are processed, the use of lignosulfonate for processing becomes even more important," says Tatyana Lugovitskaya, co-author of the research, Assistant Professor Researcher of the UrFU Department of Non-Ferrous Metallurgy.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

More research is needed to spread the benefits of electric vehicles equitably

Researchers should focus on equity issues surrounding the spread of electrical vehicles, according to a study by Penn State researchers
Photo Credit: Michael Fousert

Electric vehicles, or EVs, promise to reduce carbon emissions and serve as a tool to help mitigate climate change, but a team of Penn State researchers report there has been little research to determine how equitable the benefits of EVs are and, in fact, whether the technology may unfairly harm some areas and populations.

In a study, the researchers only found 48 papers out of a pool of 9,838 studies that explicitly addressed equity issues of EVs, said Wei Peng, assistant professor of international affairs and civil and environmental engineering, Peng added that the small percentage of papers that addressed equity was telling in itself.

“During that screening process, we began to learn what is over-studied and what is understudied,” said Peng, who is also an associate of the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences. “We highlighted in our paper what we saw as the most understudied: making equity more explicit as research and, second, we saw a need to focus on those emerging markets and parts of the developing world where EVs are going to be more important.”

Unlike vehicles powered by gasoline or diesel fuel, which produce carbon and other chemicals during the combustion process, the electric motors that drive the wheels of an EV do not produce tailpipe emissions. EV owners charge the batteries that are stored on board the EV, rather than add fuel.

New Sensors with the HOTS for Extreme Missions

High Operational Temperature Sensors (HOTS)
Graphic Credit: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Modern technologies are laden with sensors – a now-customary fact of life in much of the world. On smart watches and phones, and in cars and homes, sensors help monitor health, adjust various settings for comfort, and warn of potential dangers. More widely, sensors are deployed across countless commercial and defense systems, including in the oil and gas sector, the automotive industry, alternative energy sources, geothermal applications, and aviation and aerospace.

In these broader industrial contexts, the capabilities of sensors can be inhibited by thermal limitations. A sensor may theoretically be able to process inputs such as speed, pressure, or the integrity of a mechanical component, but inside a turbine engine, temperatures far exceed what any existing sensor can withstand.

DARPA’s new High Operational Temperature Sensors (HOTS) program will work toward developing microelectronic sensor technologies capable of high-bandwidth, high-dynamic-range sensing at extreme temperatures.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

NUS scientists develop a novel light-field sensor for 3D scene construction with unprecedented angular resolution

Prof Liu Xiaogang (right) and Dr Yi Luying from the NUS Department of Chemistry capturing a 3D image of a model using the light-field sensor.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of National University of Singapore

Color-encoding technique for light-field imaging has potential applications in fields such as autonomous driving, virtual reality and biological imaging

A research team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Science, led by Professor Liu Xiaogang from the Department of Chemistry, has developed a 3D imaging sensor that has an extremely high angular resolution, which is the capacity of an optical instrument to distinguish points of an object separated by a small angular distance, of 0.0018o. This innovative sensor operates on a unique angle-to-color conversion principle, allowing it to detect 3D light fields across the X-ray to visible light spectrum.  

A light field encompasses the combined intensity and direction of light rays, which the human eyes can process to precisely detect the spatial relationship between objects. Traditional light sensing technologies, however, are less effective. Most cameras, for instance, can only produce two-dimensional images, which is adequate for regular photography but insufficient for more advanced applications, including virtual reality, self-driving cars, and biological imaging. These applications require precise 3D scene construction of a particular space.

Monday, May 8, 2023

A new at­las il­lus­trates how the hu­man ret­ina is de­vel­op­ing.

De­tail of a cross-​section of a ret­inal or­ganoid. Dif­fer­ent tis­sue struc­tures are made vis­ible with dif­fer­ent colors.
Pho­to­ Credit: Wahle et al. Nature Bi­o­tech­no­logy 2023

What cell types are found in which hu­man tis­sue, and where? Which genes are act­ive in the in­di­vidual cells, and which pro­teins are found there? An­swers to these ques­tions and more are to be provided by a specialized at­las – in par­tic­u­lar how the dif­fer­ent tis­sues form dur­ing em­bryonic de­vel­op­ment and what causes dis­eases. In cre­at­ing this at­las, re­search­ers aim to map not only tis­sue dir­ectly isol­ated from hu­mans, but also struc­tures called or­ganoids. These are three-​dimensional clumps of tis­sue that are cul­tiv­ated in the labor­at­ory and de­velop in a way sim­ilar to hu­man or­gans, but on a small scale.

“The ad­vant­age of or­ganoids is that we can in­ter­vene in their de­vel­op­ment and test act­ive sub­stances on them, which al­lows us to learn more about healthy tis­sue as well as dis­eases,” ex­plains Bar­bara Treut­lein, Pro­fessor of Quant­it­at­ive De­vel­op­mental Bio­logy at the De­part­ment of Biosys­tems Sci­ence and En­gin­eer­ing at ETH Zurich in Basel.

To help pro­duce such an at­las, Treut­lein, to­gether with re­search­ers from the Uni­ver­sit­ies of Zurich and Basel, has now de­veloped an ap­proach to gather and com­pile a great deal of in­form­a­tion about or­ganoids and their de­vel­op­ment. The re­search team ap­plied this ap­proach to the or­ganoids of the hu­man ret­ina, which they de­rived from stem cells.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

The world’s first wood transistor

Isak Engquist, senior associate professor and Van Chinh Tran, PhD student at the Laboratory for Organic Electronics at Linköping University.
Photo Credit: Thor Balkhed

Researchers at Linköping University and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed the world’s first transistor made of wood. Their study, published in the journal PNAS, paves the way for further development of wood-based electronics and control of electronic plants.

Transistors, invented almost one hundred years ago, are considered by some to be an invention just as important to humanity as the telephone, the light bulb or the bicycle. Today, they are a crucial component in modern electronic devices, and are manufactured at nanoscale. A transistor regulates the current that passes through it and can also function as a power switch.

Researchers at Linköping University, together with colleagues from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, have now developed the world’s first electrical transistor made of wood.

“We’ve come up with an unprecedented principle. Yes, the wood transistor is slow and bulky, but it does work, and has huge development potential,” says Isak Engquist, senior associate professor at the Laboratory for Organic Electronics at Linköping University.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Perovskite solar cells' instability must be addressed for global adoption

Photo Credit: Chelsea

Mass adoption of perovskite solar cells will never be commercially viable unless the technology overcomes several key challenges, according to researchers from the University of Surrey. 

Perovskite-based cells are widely believed to be the next evolution of solar energy and meet the growing demand for clean energy. However, they are not as stable as traditional solar-based cells.  

The Surrey team found that stabilizing the perovskite "photoactive phases" – the specific part of the material that is responsible for converting light energy into electrical energy – is the key step to extending the lifespan of perovskite solar cells.  

The stability of the photoactive phase is important because if it degrades or breaks down over time, the solar cell will not be able to generate electricity efficiently. Therefore, stabilizing the photoactive phase is a critical step in improving the longevity and effectiveness of perovskite solar cells. 

Discovering Hidden Order in Disordered Crystals New Material Analysis Method Combining Resonant X-Ray Diffraction and Solid-State NMR

Researchers at Tokyo Tech have discovered hidden chemical order of the Mo and Nb atoms in disordered Ba7Nb4MoO20, by combining state-of-the-art techniques, including resonant X-ray diffraction and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance. This study provides valuable insights into how a material's properties, such as ionic conduction, can be heavily influenced by its hidden chemical order. These results would stimulate significant advances in materials science and engineering.

Determining the precise structure of a crystalline solid is a challenging endeavor. Materials properties such as ion conduction and chemical stability, are heavily influenced by the chemical (occupational) order and disorder. However, the techniques that scientists typically use to elucidate unknown crystal structures suffer from serious limitations.

For instance, X-ray and neutron diffraction methods are powerful techniques to reveal the atomic positions and arrangement in the crystal lattice. However, they may not be adequate for distinguishing different atomic species with similar X-ray scattering factors and similar neutron scattering lengths.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Chest E-Tattoo Boasts Major Improvements in Heart Monitoring

A new flexible, wearable medical device could provide a major boost in the fight against heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
Photo Credit: University of Texas at Austin / Cockrell School of Engineering

A team led by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin has developed an ultrathin, lightweight electronic tattoo, or e-tattoo, that attaches to the chest for continuous, mobile heart monitoring outside of a clinical setting. It includes two sensors that together provide a clear picture of heart health, giving clinicians a better chance to catch red flags for heart disease early.

“Most heart conditions are not very obvious. The damage is being done in the background and we don’t even know it,” said Nanshu Lu, a professor in the Department of Aerospace and Engineering Mechanics and a lead author of the study. “If we can have continuous, mobile monitoring at home, then we can do early diagnosis and treatment, and if that can be done, 80% of heart disease can be prevented.”

The study is published in Advanced Electronic Materials.

Versatile, High-Speed, and Efficient Crystal Actuation with Photothermally Resonated Natural Vibrations

Mechanically responsive molecular crystals are extremely useful in soft robotics, which requires a versatile actuation technology. Crystals driven by the photothermal effect are particularly promising for achieving high-speed actuation. However, the response (bending) observed in these crystals is usually small. Now, scientists from Japan address this issue by inducing large resonated natural vibrations in anisole crystals with UV light illumination at the natural vibration frequency of the crystal.

Every material possesses a unique natural vibration frequency such that when an external periodic force is applied to this material close to this frequency, the vibrations are greatly amplified. In the parlance of physics, this phenomenon is known as "resonance." Resonance is ubiquitous in our daily life, and, depending on the context, could be deemed desirable or undesirable. For instance, musical instruments like the guitar relies on resonance for sound amplification. On the other hand, buildings and bridges are more likely to collapse under an earthquake if the ground vibration frequency matches their natural frequency.

Interestingly, natural vibration has not received much attention in material actuation, which relies on the action of mechanically responsive crystals. Versatile actuation technologies are highly desirable in the field of soft robotics. Although crystal actuation based on processes like photoisomerization and phase transitions have been widely studied, these processes lack versatility since they require specific crystals to work. One way to improve versatility is by employing photothermal crystals, which show bending due to light-induced heating. While promising for achieving high-speed actuation, the bending angle is usually small (<0.5°), making the actuation inefficient.

Material found in smartphone screens can be harnessed to map magnetic fields

Existing magnetic field imaging equipment tends to be large and expensive, but this research marks the next step in the development of quantum sensing.
Photo Credit: Rodion Kutsaiev

Hand-held magnetic field imaging equipment could be used in construction safety and medical diagnostics.

Smartphones could one day become portable quantum sensors thanks to a new chip-scale approach that uses organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) to image magnetic fields, with significant implications for use in healthcare and industry settings.  

UNSW researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science have demonstrated that OLEDs, a type of semiconductor material commonly found in flat-screen televisions, smartphone screens and other digital displays, can be harnessed to map magnetic fields. 

The latest research, led by Dr Rugang Geng and Professor Dane McCamey from the UNSW School of Physics, has been detailed in Nature Communications

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

SwRI tests automated vehicles in virtual off-road environments

A virtual unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) in a simulated 3D scene rendered from a real location based on geographical data.
Image Credit: Courtesy of SwRI

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has created a 3D simulation tool to test automated vehicles in virtual off-road environments modeled after real-world conditions. The research expands SwRI’s investment into software-in-the-loop solutions to test connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) in scenarios ranging from congested roadways to off-road terrain. A simulated environment, or a 3D “software loop,” supports evaluations of an infinite number of scenarios that would be cost-prohibitive to test in the real world.

The technology meets U.S. Department of Defense demands for modeling and simulation tools to help advance the development of unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), the military term for automated or autonomous vehicles.

SwRI used internal funding to develop a “pipeline” of technology with custom algorithms, off-the-shelf software, open-source tools and public map data. The project developed a “Simulation Scene Adjustment Tool” with a 3D video game-style interface to test virtual ground vehicles on off-road terrain. The simulator also creates a digital twin, a virtual representation of an automated vehicle that looks and behaves like its counterpart in the real world.

Highly sensitive Raman probe detects enzyme expression in heterogeneous tissues

Raman imaging offers a greater potential for detecting multiple enzyme activities than fluorescence imaging, demonstrate Tokyo Tech researchers by developing 9CN-rhodol-based activatable Raman probes using a novel mechanism for Raman signal activation. The strategy allows a synthesis of highly activatable Raman probes with high aggregation and multiplexing ability, making it a promising tool for extending the range of Raman probes for the detection of multiple enzyme activities in heterogeneous biological tissues.

The involvement of enzymes in a wide range of biological activities makes them ideal biomarkers for the detection of diseases. In fact, cancer-specific diagnostic technologies use fluorescence imaging for detecting upregulated cancer-associated enzymes in the affected cells. Moreover, since tumor tissues are heterogenous, detecting multiple enzyme activities simultaneously could allow precise cancer visualization and diagnosis. However, the inability to detect multiple enzyme activities can potentially limit the application of fluorescence imaging in heterogeneous tumor tissues and other complex biological phenomena.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Vaccine printer could help vaccines reach more people

MIT researchers have designed a mobile vaccine printer that could be scaled up to produce hundreds of vaccine doses in a day. This kind of printer, which can fit on a tabletop, could be deployed anywhere vaccines are needed. Pictured is an artist’s interpretation of the printer.
Illustration Credit: Ryan Allen from Second Bay Studios
(CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Getting vaccines to people who need them isn’t always easy. Many vaccines require cold storage, making it difficult to ship them to remote areas that don’t have the necessary infrastructure.

MIT researchers have come up with a possible solution to this problem: a mobile vaccine printer that could be scaled up to produce hundreds of vaccine doses in a day. This kind of printer, which can fit on a tabletop, could be deployed anywhere vaccines are needed, the researchers say.

“We could someday have on-demand vaccine production,” says Ana Jaklenec, a research scientist at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. “If, for example, there was an Ebola outbreak in a particular region, one could ship a few of these printers there and vaccinate the people in that location.”

The printer produces patches with hundreds of microneedles containing vaccine. The patch can be attached to the skin, allowing the vaccine to dissolve without the need for a traditional injection. Once printed, the vaccine patches can be stored for months at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Groundbreaking Parkinson’s Research

Roxana Burciu’s Motor Neuroscience and Neuroimaging Lab is using custom-made MRI equipment that allows her to study the brain activity in people with lower limb symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Photo Credit: Ashley Barnas

Parkinson’s disease is a common neurodegenerative disorder that affects the way people move. Often beginning with small tremors in the hand, the disease progresses to affect a person’s gait and balance.

But the majority of what’s known about the brain changes underlying these symptoms stems from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies focusing on the upper extremity.

“Gait and balance disturbance are common in Parkinson's disease and are a major contributor to increased disability and decreased quality of life,” said Roxana Burciu, an assistant professor of kinesiology and applied physiology in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences. “To design efficient interventions that improve gait and balance, we need to gain a better understanding of how the brain controls the lower extremities.”

Because quality MRI scans depend on stillness of the patient, studying the brain changes in people with Parkinson’s disease who exhibit lower limb symptoms proves challenging. 

Lithium can be obtained from hot deep water

View of the laboratory: An adsorbent based on a lithium-manganese oxide with a special crystal structure serves as a lithium-ion sieve.
Photo Credit: Dr. Monika Bäuerle, IAM-ESS / KIT

Researchers at KIT and EnBW show lithium-ion sieve for geothermal soles - lithium extraction can complement electricity generation and heat supply

Geothermal energy not only enables a sustainable supply of electricity and heat, but also a regional lithium extraction. Researchers at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and EnBW have produced a lithium-ion sieve from a lithium-manganese oxide and used it to adsorb lithium from geothermal brines. The use of domestic lithium sources can help to meet the increasing demand for light metal, which is indispensable as energy storage material. The researchers reported in the journal Energy Advances, who now recognizes the work as one of the "Outstanding Paper 2022". 

A sustainable energy supply requires efficient energy storage. Lithium is indispensable - the light metal is in the batteries of many technical devices and vehicles, from smartphones to notebooks to electric cars. Demand has risen sharply worldwide in recent years. Europe is still dependent on imports. However, there are also European lithium deposits, namely thermal waters a few kilometers deep. They contain high concentrations of lithium ions. In this way, geothermal plants that extract hot water from the depths can not only be used for sustainable electricity and heat supply, but also for environmentally friendly regional lithium production.

Monday, April 17, 2023

A neuromorphic visual sensor can recognize moving objects and predict their path

Conventional sensors only capture a single moment in a frame, but the new sensor can read information about the past and use that to predict the future.
Illustration Credit: Hongwei Tan / Aalto University

A new bio-inspired sensor can recognize moving objects in a single frame from a video and successfully predict where they will move to. This smart sensor, described in a Nature Communications paper, will be a valuable tool in a range of fields, including dynamic vision sensing, automatic inspection, industrial process control, robotic guidance, and autonomous driving technology. 

Current motion detection systems need many components and complex algorithms doing frame-by-frame analyses, which makes them inefficient and energy-intensive. Inspired by the human visual system, researchers at Aalto University have developed a new neuromorphic vision technology that integrates sensing, memory, and processing in a single device that can detect motion and predict trajectories. 

Friday, March 31, 2023

Fast light pulse triggers the charge transfer into the water

The study was only made possible by the new laser laboratories in the ZEMOS research building, in which all external interference signals are minimized.
Photo Credit: © RUB, Marquard

With new technology, researchers were able to observe live what happens in the first picosecond when a proton detaches from a dye after light.

In certain molecules, the so-called photoc acids, a proton can be released locally by excitation with light. The solution suddenly changes the pH - a kind of fast switch that is important for many chemical and biological processes. So far, however, it is still unclear what actually happened at the moment of proton release. This is exactly what researchers in the Ruhr Explores Solvation Cluster of Excellence could do RESOLV the Ruhr University Bochum is now experimentally observing using new technology. They saw a tiny quake that only lasted three to five picoseconds before the proton came loose. They report on this in the journal Chemical Sciences.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Ultrasmall swirling magnetic vortices detected in iron-containing material

Simulation capturing the different swirling textures of skyrmions and merons observed in ferromagnet thin film.
Image Credit: University of Edinburgh/based on microscopy images collected by Argonne on samples prepared at MagLab

Microelectronics forms the foundation of much modern technology today, including smartphones, laptops and even supercomputers. It is based on the ability to allow and stop the flow of electrons through a material. Spin electronics, or spintronics, is a spinoff. It is based on the spin of electrons, and the fact that the electron spin along with the electric charge creates a magnetic field.

“This property could be exploited for building blocks in future computer memory storage, brain-like and other novel computing systems, and high-efficiency microelectronics,” said Charudatta Phatak, group leader in the Materials Science division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

A team including researchers at Argonne and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (MagLab) discovered surprising properties in a magnetic material of iron, germanium and tellurium. This material is in the form of a thin sheet that is only a few to 10 atoms in thickness. It is called a 2D ferromagnet.

The team discovered that two kinds of magnetic fields can coexist in this ultrathin material. Scientists call them merons and skyrmions. They are like miniature swirling storm systems dotting the flat landscape of the ferromagnet. But they differ in their size and swirling behavior.

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