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June 10, 2007, 8:00 PM CT

New tool for spectroscopy

New tool for spectroscopy
Image courtesy of
Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed two new calibration tools to help correct and validate the performance of analytic instruments that identify substances based on fluorescence.

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the development and use of fluorescence-based analytic techniques. Scientists can detect, measure and identify unknown substancespotentially including chemical and biological weaponsusing spectroscopic techniques. In fluorescence spectroscopy, researchers send a beam of light at a certain wavelength into a sample, exciting electrons in particular analytes or fluorescent labels, which then emit light at longer wavelengths with measurable energy levels. This resulting spectral signature, recorded by a fluorescence spectrometer, is distinct for different fluorescent compounds. A number of of these assays are being used in areasincluding clinical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and drug developmentwhere regulatory requirements are strict and may require standards for instrument qualification and method validation.

To meet these needs, NIST has developed two ready-to-use, fluorescent glass Standard Reference Materials (SRMs), about the size of a pack of a gum, whose certified values can be used to correct fluorescence emission spectra for relative intensity. SRM 2940 (Orange emission) has certified values for emission wavelengths from 500 to 800 nanometers when excited with light at 412 nm; SRM 2941 (Green emission) has certified values for emission wavelengths from 450 to 650 nm when excited with light at 427 nm.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

June 6, 2007, 9:38 PM CT

Helping carbon nanotubes get into shape

Helping carbon nanotubes get into shape
Caption: A carbon nanotube bundle before (left) and after (right) densification.
Credit: Rensselaer/Liu
Troy, N.Y. -- Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method of compacting carbon nanotubes into dense bundles. These tightly packed bundles are efficient conductors and could one day replace copper as the primary interconnects used on computer chips and even hasten the transition to next-generation 3-D stacked chips.

Theoretical studies show that carbon nanotubes, if packed closely enough together, should be able to outperform copper as an electrical conductor. But because of the way carbon nanotubes are grown in sparse nanoscale forests where carbon molecules compete for growth-inducing catalysts researchers have been unable to successfully grow tightly packed bundles.

James Jiam-Qiang Lu, associate professor of physics and electrical engineering at Rensselaer, together with his research associate Zhengchun Liu, decided to investigate how to densify carbon nanotube bundles after they are already grown. He detailed the results of the post-growth densification project on June 6 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Interconnect Technology Conference (IITC) in Burlingame, Calif.

Lus team discovered that by immersing vertically grown carbon nanotube bundles into a liquid organic solvent and allowing them to dry, the nanotubes pull close together into a dense bundle. Lu attributes the densification process to capillary coalescence, which is the same physical principle that allows moisture to move up a piece of tissue paper that is dipped into water.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

June 1, 2007, 9:41 PM CT

How to Rip and Tear a Fluid

How to Rip and Tear a Fluid
Credit: J. Gladden, A. Belmonte (Penn State)
In a simple experiment on a mixture of water, surfactant (soap), and an organic salt, two scientists working in the Pritchard Fluid Mechanics Laboratory at Penn State have shown that a rigid object like a knife passes through the mixture at slow speeds as if it were a liquid, but rips it up as if it were a rubbery solid when the knife moves rapidly. The mixture they study shares properties of a number of everyday materials -- like toothpaste, saliva, blood, and cell cytoplasm -- which do not fall into the standard textbook cases of solid, liquid, or gas. Instead, these "viscoelastic" materials can have the viscous behavior of a fluid or the elastic behavior of a solid, depending on the situation. The results of these experiments, which are reported in the current issue of the journal Physical Review Letters and are featured on its cover, provide new insights into how such materials switch over from being solid-like to being liquid-like.

"As a child will swish its finger through an unknown liquid to find out what it is, we built an experiment to pull a cylinder through this viscoelastic material, to learn how it responds," explains Andrew Belmonte, associate professor of mathematics at Penn State and a member of the research team. Their study revealed experimentally, for the first time, the response of a viscoelastic material to increasingly extreme conditions of flow. "We observed that flow happens at slow speeds, cutting happens at intermediate speeds, and tearing happens at the highest speeds," says Joseph R. Gladden, a co-author of the research paper, who collaborated on the study while he was a postdoctoral scholar at Penn State. The scientists also observed that the viscoelastic material heals in the wake of the tear, as a torn solid would not, and recovers completely after several hours. "Surprisingly, the strength of the material when it acts like a solid is essentially the same as its surface tension as a liquid. This fact reconnects our understanding of these materials between the extremes of flow and fracture," said Belmonte.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

May 25, 2007, 3:26 PM CT

Antenna Calibrations Extended to 60-110 GHz

Antenna Calibrations Extended to 60-110 GHz
NIST engineer Katherine MacReynolds prepares a new NIST "tabletop" range for characterizing high-performance antennas, such as horn antennas (small gold pyramids) operating at 94 Gigahertz. The surrounding blue foam cones absorb electromagnetic fields to reduce scattering from nearby objects, thereby improving measurement accuracy.
Credit: © 2006 Geoffrey Wheeler
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed a new "tabletop" sized facility to improve characterization of antennas operating in the 60 to 110 gigahertz (GHz) frequency range. This extended frequency capability serves needs for advanced civilian and military communication and radar systems.

A number of electronic systems are moving to higher frequencies to attain higher channel capacity, better spatial resolution and other advantages. The new measurement facility will help accelerate development of technologies such as automobile collision-prevention radars, which operate at 94 GHz and require antennas small enough to be integrated into car bumpers. Improved NIST antenna calibration capability also helps to assure the accuracy of a number of systems. "NIST is the start of the measurement traceability chain," says Perry Wilson, leader of the Radio Frequency Fields Group. "For instance, we calibrate the probes used by aerospace companies to calibrate instruments launched on satellites and other critical systems. Weather satellites are an example; improvements in antenna accuracy mean better data for weather models, resulting in better weather predictions".

The new facility continues NIST's history of innovation in antenna measurements, building on the "extrapolated gain" technique developed several decades ago. The original extrapolation range and techniques made it practical for scientists to accurately compute an antenna's far-field characteristics based on near-field measurements. By making the range compact, costs are significantly reduced. In addition, the extrapolation technique uses over-sampling and averaging techniques to minimize the effects of scattering and range imperfections.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

Wed, 23 May 2007 23:34:50 GMT

New technology slow to hit U.S. shores

New technology slow to hit U.S. shores
I an article from Variety below because some of you are interested in newer technologies.

A cell phone with an HD screen that tricks your brain into thinking it's watching a 48-inch letterbox plasma TV. Cell phones with rollout screens. A broadcast network devoted entirely to mobile programming.

These technologies and others have already hit the streets, or will soon, in Europe and Asia. But in America, they may as well be science fiction.... The U.S. continues to lag in implementing new cellular and digital technologies. And while there are signs that gap may be closing, it's done little to shed the impression that this is a nation of Luddites.

The reasons for this technological jet lag are both cultural and practical.

For one, emerging markets that have no ingrained infrastructure in place (and fewer compatibility issues between companies) ....

There is one glaring technological bright spot for the U.S.: hi-def. Voom HD Networks general manager Greg Moyer observes that U.S. prominence in hi-def is a direct result of national policy.

I include a picture of this gizmo that looks interesting. It belongs to Dutch company Polymer Vision who unveiled the Readius in 2005, but cell phones with rollout screens have eluded the U.S. market to date.

Posted by: martino      Read more     Source

Mon, 21 May 2007 14:54:56 GMT

Aluminum Alloy to Extract Fuel Cell-powering Hydrogen from Water

Aluminum Alloy to Extract Fuel Cell-powering Hydrogen from Water
The increasing need to curb global warming at the earliest is broadening the horizon of fuel cell usages each day, as an alternative to the carbon dioxide-emitting energy sources the key element lading to climate change.

Cuing with the need to replace gasoline and cap greenhouse gas emissions, an engineer has coa new method of extracting hydrogen from water for running fuel cells.

The Purdue University engineer has used an aluminum alloy to do the extraction job. This innovative technique can efficiently extract hydrogen from water to run not just fuel cells but also internal combustion engines.

Thus, it is an easy and effective alternative solution to gasoline use. With water added to the aluminum and a metal called gallium-based alloys pellets, hydrogen is generated spontaneously. Interestingly, this produced hydrogen can directly be fed to an engine.

Once successfully commercialized, the new technology can be a potential replacement of gasoline use. Ah! With it, you can go eco-friendly mowing your lawn using it in the mowerImage

Posted by: Irani      Read more     Source

May 17, 2007, 10:36 PM CT

An Alternative To Video Surveillance

An Alternative To Video Surveillance
Surveillance systems take on a new look with a technology developed by scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The Laser-Based Item Monitoring System balances the need for high-resolution monitoring and personal safety with respect for confidentiality and personal privacy. This is particularly important today with heightened emphasis on security and privacy and is possible because the system does not use video.

"Our system is specifically designed to address surveillance requirements in places where video would be unacceptable because of the presence of proprietary information or other privacy concerns," said Pete Chiaro, a member of the Engineering Science & Technology Division.

Using low-cost reflective tags placed on objects, LBIMS maps the precise location of high-value items. The laser can scan a number of points per second and can detect small changes - less than a centimeter - in the reflected signal, meaning tampering can be immediately detected.

The precision of the system is made possible by a high-resolution two-axis laser scanner capable of looking at a 60-degree field of view in 0.0005-degree increments, dividing the field of view into more than 10 billion individual pointing locations. A camera with comparable resolution over the same field of view would require a 10,000-megapixel detector.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

Wed, 16 May 2007 03:56:26 GMT

New Technology Stores Solar Energy

New Technology Stores Solar Energy
With the hunt for alternative energy sources coupled with technological innovations, wood no longer remains just a structural component, or a decorative trim or paneling. It can now be transformed into energy storage.

This is exactl2007 Modern Marvels Invent Now Challenge awathe Enertia Building System has done. Its technology has turned a piece of wood into a thermal battery!

The wood house becomes a solar energy storing device, and once properly configured and sited it can heat and cool itnew technology is especially applicable to solid wood homes, so, more wood means more effective heating and cooling system of the house.

The solid GluelaEnertia Building Systems maximize the energy-storing potential of the wood homes.

These energy efficient homes are environment-friendly as well, as they sequester carbon in their massive wood walls. To add to reducing carbon emissions the key source of greenhouse gas — these new automated, natural heating and cooling system reduces carbon pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

With the world up with arms to battle global warming, this breakthrough invention surely has a global potential.

To read more on the tvisit here....


Posted by: Irani      Read more     Source

May 6, 2007, 4:47 PM CT

Fuel from fiber

Fuel from fiber
"Put a tree in your tank." Fuel companies aren't touting that slogan. At least not yet.

But thanks to research done in part by Bruce Dale, Michigan State University professor of chemical engineering and materials science, making fuels from poplar trees and corn stalks is becoming more efficient and cost-effective.

Dale is internationally known for his 30 years of research on making ethanol from plant biomass the stems, leaves, stalks and trunks of plants and trees commonly discarded as waste after a crop is harvested. He's developed a patented pretreatment process for biomass, ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX), which makes the breakdown of cellulose the most difficult part of making ethanol from plant biomass more efficient.

Dale and other members of the Biomass Refining Consortium for Applied Fundamentals and Innovation will discuss AFEX and other biomass pretreatment technologies during a presentation today at BIO2007, the annual international convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. The consortium is a group of researchers studying biomass refining.

"In time, we can expect to completely replace gasoline and diesel with cellulose-derived biofuels that are cheaper, better for the environment and much better for national security than petroleum-derived fuels," Dale said.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

April 25, 2007, 9:33 PM CT

New Materials for Making "Spintronic" Devices

New Materials for Making L to R: Alexei Tsvelik, Dmitri Kharzeev, Igor Zaliznyak
An interdisciplinary group of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory has devised methods to make a new class of electronic devices based on a property of electrons known as "spin," rather than merely their electric charge. This approach, dubbed spintronics, could open the way to increasing dramatically the productivity of electronic devices operating at the nanoscale - on the order of billionths of a meter. The Brookhaven researchers have filed a U.S. provisional patent application for their invention, which is now available for licensing.

"This development can open the way for the use of spintronics in practical room temperature devices, an exciting prospect," said DOE Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach. "The interplay between outstanding facilities and laboratory scientists is a root cause for this achievement, and a direct consequence of the collaborative transformational research that takes place in our DOE laboratories."

In the field of electronics, devices based on manipulating electronic charges have been rapidly shrinking and, therefore, getting more efficient, ever since they were first developed in the middle of the last century. "But progress in miniaturization and increasing efficiency is approaching a fundamental technological limit imposed by the atomic structure of matter," said physicist Igor Zaliznyak, lead author on the Brookhaven Lab patent application. Once you've made circuits that approach the size of a few atoms or a single atom, you simply cannot make them any smaller.........

Posted by: John      Read more         Source

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