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February 5, 2007, 7:22 PM CT

Nanoengineered Concrete To Cut Emissions

Nanoengineered Concrete To Cut Emissions MIT Professor Franz-Josef Ulm and post-doc Georgios Constantinides
Photo: Donna Covene
While government leaders argue about the practicality of reducing world emissions of carbon dioxide, researchers and engineers are seeking ways to make it happen.

One group of engineers at MIT decided to focus its work on the nanostructure of concrete, the world's most widely used material. The production of cement, the primary component of concrete, accounts for 5 to 10 percent of the world's total carbon dioxide emissions; the process is an important contributor to global warming.

In the recent issue of the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, the team reports that the source of concrete's strength and durability lies in the organization of its nanoparticles. The discovery could one day lead to a major reduction in carbon dioxide emissions during manufacturing.

"If everything depends on the organizational structure of the nanoparticles that make up concrete, rather than on the material itself, we can conceivably replace it with a material that has concrete's other characteristics--strength, durability, mass availability and low cost--but does not release so much CO2 into the atmosphere during manufacture," said Professor Franz-Josef Ulm of civil and environmental engineering.

The work also shows that the study of very common materials at the nano scale has great potential for improving materials in ways we might not have conceived. Ulm refers to this work as the "identification of the geogenomic code of materials, the blueprint of a material's nanomechanical behavior".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

February 2, 2007, 4:53 AM CT

Miniaturized Device for Lab-on-a-Chip Separations

Miniaturized Device for Lab-on-a-Chip Separations Core of the new NIST miniature GEMBE chemical separation device
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed an elegantly simple, miniaturized technique for rapidly separating minute samples of proteins, amino acids and other chemical mixtures. A low-cost prototype device described in a recent paper* can run up to eight separations simultaneously in a space about the size of a quarter, highlighting the technique's potential for use in microfluidic "lab-on-a-chip" systems.

Conventional electrophoresis instruments separate mixtures of electrically charged species-DNA fragments, for example-by injecting a discrete sample of the mixture at one end of a chemical race track, such as a capillary tube filled with a buffer solution, and applying a high voltage between the sample and the other end of the track. Depending on their size, charge and chemical "mobility," the individual components of the mixture move down the track at different rates, gradually separating into individual bands. If two of the components move at very similar rates, it will require a relatively long channel-up to 50 centimeters or longer-to separate them effectively.

The new NIST technique, "gradient elution moving boundary electrophoresis" (GEMBE), works instead by opposing the movement of the mixture's components with a stream of buffering solution flowing at a variable rate. Like salmon swimming upstream, only the most mobile components can move up the channel against the highest buffer flow rates, but as that flow is reduced gradually, lesser mobility components begin to move. A sensor placed over the channel detects each new component as it arrives,.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

February 2, 2007, 4:32 AM CT

Rapid Method for Judging Nanotube Purity

Rapid Method for Judging Nanotube Purity
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a sensitive new method for rapidly assessing the quality of carbon nanotubes. Initial feasibility tests show that the method not only is faster than the standard analytic technique but also effectively screens much smaller samples for purity and consistency and better detects sample variability.

Carbon nanotubes have unique properties, and thermal and electrical conductance, that could be useful in fields such as aerospace, microelectronics and biotechnology. However, these properties may vary widely depending on nanotube dimensions, uniformity and chemical purity. Nanotube samples typically contain a significant percentage of more ordinary forms of carbon as well as metal particles left over from catalysts used in manufacturing. The new NIST method, described at a conference last week,* involves spraying nanotube coatings onto a quartz crystal, gradually heating the coated crystal, and measuring the change in its resonant frequency as different forms of carbon vaporize. The frequency changes in proportion to the mass of the coating, and researchers use this as a measure of stability at different temperatures to gauge consistency among samples. The quartz crystal technique, which can reveal mass changes of just a few nanograms, already is used in other contexts to detect toxic gases and measure molecular interactions.........

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February 1, 2007, 8:00 PM CT

UFO Pendant Lamp

Neues Licht uses glass fiber instead of LEDs to make this UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) pendant lamp, which is seen floating on the ceiling with its glass fiber focusing at the center of the disk like an energy beam.

The UFO measures diameter of 59cm and height around 20cm. If you are bored of same light color then u can easily change the color of the light.

"The light radiates from the glass spaghettis, propagates through the transparent disk, illuminating the whole system with a bright but eye-harmful light." (Cocolico).

The lamp produces same light as LEDs do, which can be harmful for our eyes. This makes the lamp not a good deal for the consumers.

But there are a number of goodies about the lamp and is different from electrical lamp. Above shown is the UFO lamp under water at Munich's Sealife aquarium.

After UFO, you will find all-optical Anemone and Scintilla chandelier in queue.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

January 30, 2007, 6:43 PM CT

Hydrogen-Powered Lawnmowers?

Hydrogen-Powered Lawnmowers? Princeton student Claire Woo, a recipient of the NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates award, at work in the laboratory of Jay Benziger.
Credit: Princeton University
In a breakthrough that could make fuel cells practical for such small machines as lawnmowers and chainsaws, scientists have developed a new mechanism to efficiently control hydrogen fuel cell power.

A number of standard fuel cell designs use electronics to control power output, but such designs require complex systems to manage humidity and fuel recovery and recycling systems to achieve acceptable efficiency.

The new process controls the hydrogen feed to match the mandatory power output, just as one controls the feed of gasoline into an internal combustion engine. The system functions as a closed system that uses the waste water to regulate the size of the reaction chamber, the site where the gasses combine to form water, heat and electricity.

National Science Foundation (NSF) awardee Jay Benziger of Princeton University developed the new technique with his student Claire Woo, a recipient of an NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates award and now a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Berkeley. Woo and Benziger published their findings in the February 2007 Chemical Engineering Science, now available online.

The scientists believe the first applications for their technology will be in smaller engines. Fuel cells are currently inefficient on such scales due to the need for fuel recycling and excess hydrogen in standard designs. The researchers' new design is closed, so 100 percent of the fuel is used and there is no need for a costly fuel recycling system.........

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January 30, 2007, 6:28 PM CT

Developing Ultrathin Digital Camera

Developing Ultrathin Digital Camera
Engineers at UC San Diego have built a powerful yet ultrathin digital camera by folding up the telephoto lens. This technology may yield lightweight, ultrathin, high resolution miniature cameras for unmanned surveillance aircraft, cell phones and infrared night vision applications.

"Our imager is about seven times more powerful than a conventional lens of the same depth," said Eric Tremblay, the first author on an Applied Optics paper published February 1, 2007, and an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate at UCSD's Jacobs School of Engineering. Eric is working with Joseph Ford, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the Jacobs School who leads the camera project within UCSD's Photonic Systems Integration Lab. Ford is also affiliated with the UCSD division of the California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Calit2.

"This type of miniature camera is very promising for applications where you want high resolution images and a short exposure time. This describes what cell phone cameras want to be when they grow up," said Ford. "Today's cell phone cameras are pretty good for wide angle shots, but because space constraints require short focal length lenses, when you zoom them in, they're terrible. They're blurry, dark, and low contrast".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

January 24, 2007, 6:24 PM CT

Novel Computed Imaging Technique

Novel Computed Imaging Technique Photo courtesy of Beckman Institute
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a novel computational image-forming technique for optical microscopy that can produce crisp, three-dimensional images from blurry, out-of-focus data.

Called Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Microscopy, ISAM can do for optical microscopy what magnetic resonance imaging did for nuclear magnetic resonance, and what computed tomography did for X-ray imaging, the scientists say.

"ISAM can perform high-speed, micron-scale, cross-sectional imaging without the need for time-consuming processing, sectioning and staining of resected tissue," said Stephen Boppart, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, of bioengineering, and of medicine at the U. of I., and corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nature Physics, and posted on its Web site.

Developed by postdoctoral research associate and lead author Tyler Ralston, research scientist Daniel Marks, electrical and computer engineering professor P. Scott Carney, and Boppart, the imaging technique utilizes a broad-spectrum light source and a spectral interferometer to obtain high-resolution, reconstructed images from the optical signals based on an understanding of the physics of light-scattering within the sample.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

January 10, 2007, 9:04 PM CT

Automated System Installs Pavement Markers

Automated System Installs Pavement Markers GTRI researcher Colin Usher uses a touch-screen monitor mounted in the cab of the truck.
Credit: Photo by Gary Mee
On rainy nights in Georgia and across the nation, drivers greatly benefit from small, reflective markers that make roadway lanes more visible. A new automated system for installing the markers is expected to improve safety for workers and drivers.

There are more than three million of these safety devices, called raised pavement markers (RPMs), in service on Georgia highways. They are installed and then need to be replaced about every two years by road crews who consider the task one of the riskiest they face. Workers typically ride on a seat cantilevered off the side of a trailer just inches from highway traffic.

Manual RPM placement is not only risky for personnel, but it is also expensive and time-consuming. A typical RPM placement operation includes four vehicles and a six-person crew. All the vehicles must stop at each marker location, so there is tremendous wear on the equipment and increased fuel use.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) believed there was a better way to do it and funded the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) to develop a first-of-its-kind system capable of automatically placing RPMs along the lane stripes while in motion. After almost three years of research and development, GTRI expects to deliver a prototype system early this year. Because of widespread interest in the system, researchers will present a report on their project on Jan. 23 at the National Research Council's Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

January 9, 2007, 8:51 PM CT

Light-emitting Decay of Neutrons

Light-emitting Decay of Neutrons Credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation
Neutrons -- the tiny particles that match with protons to form the innards of nearly every atom in the universe -- decay when left to fend for themselves outside an atomic nucleus. For decades, scientists have predicted but never proved that roughly 1 in 1,000 of those decays will produce light in the form of an energetic photon.

Now, for the first time, scientists have caught the photons from that "radiative decay" in action. Reporting in the Dec. 21, 2006, issue of Nature, a team of scientists from the United States and Britain show results that may confirm neutron radiative decay.

In addition to helping to prove a theory, the findings shed light on the intricacies of the so-called "weak force," which, along with gravity, the electromagnetic force and the strong force, form the four fundamental forces of nature.

"This is the first experiment to make a definitive detection of these rare photons," said Fred Wietfeldt, assistant professor of physics at Tulane University. "The next step is to make more precise measurements of their energy, direction and polarization. This opens the door to a new class of experiments to further elucidate the weak force and perhaps find hints of new physics".

While within an atom's nucleus, neutrons and protons are bound together, and only under certain conditions do the neutrons decay. When removed from the atom, neutrons decay rapidly with a half-life of only 10 minutes, each breaking down to produce a proton, an electron and an antineutrino, and rarely, a photon.........

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December 28, 2006, 9:49 PM CT

Challenges When Hawking Innovations

Challenges When Hawking Innovations
Hundreds of technology-transfer offices have popped up on campuses over the past 20 years to enable universities to facilitate the commercialization of innovations and discoveries pioneered by their professors. Licensing patents for the inventions is a commercial opportunity for universities, which hope to make money selling the intellectual property and to see faculty research make a tangible impact in the marketplace. While all the inventions might be equally genius, they aren't all equally valuable. The question for technology-transfer offices is: what will sell?

Daniel Elfenbein, assistant professor of organization and strategy at the Olin School of Business, found that the ease of selling intellectual property doesn't necessarily depend on whether the innovation has received patent protection.

Elfenbein examined the timing of licensing with respect to whether a patent for the invention had already been applied for or granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a process that typically takes multiple years.

"Getting intellectual property protection does increase the likelihood of finding a buyer - that's true on average," Elfenbein said. "However, if you are an established professor with a great reputation, receiving a patent grant isn't as necessary in order to sell the technology. But professors who are still relatively young, or who haven't attained high status yet, benefit from receiving this intellectual property protection from the patent office".........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

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