Small power generators that can harvest energy from ambient sources like heat, vibrations, and light hold a lot of promise across a range of applications, particularly in things like remote monitoring. They can harvest the vibrations imparted by vehicles passing over a bridge to power sensors that monitor the bridge's structural integrity, for instance, or keep a network of wildfire-detecting sensors working in the remote wilderness, no batteries necessary.
Mashing together optical fiber technology and piezoelectrics, MIT scientists have developed a new kind of multifunctional material that can not only carry and modulate light, but can sense or create pressure changes in the material, layering additional sophistication onto already complex materials. The fibers could be used to create smart textiles that monitor the body, structural sensors that detect even the smallest stresses on a structure, or biomedical devices that could be tucked into the tightest corners of the human body.
The ability to quickly detect and identify viruses and bacteria is key in fields ranging from antiterrorism to medical diagnosis to pharmaceutical safety. A novel three-inch device created at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory should make doing so a lot easier. The new detector can identify any of 3,000 different viruses or bacteria in just 24 hours.
If something doesn't smell right, the Army wants to know about it. But while the Pentagon has been angling for a biosensors that can smell fear or nervousness in a person's bodily emanations for some years now, the Army wants something more: The ability to "uniquely identify an individual based on scent" from a distance or even days after the person has left the scene.
Finally, something to wear with your smart bio-watch: bio-sensing briefs with a strip of thick-film amperometric sensors printed right into the waistband. Why sensors in your skivvies? Aside from finally getting a clear measurement of the peak foot-pound force created by a Level 5 Atomic Wedgie, a small strip of biosensors pressed directly against your skin could monitor the body for a variety of biomarkers and other indicators, alerting the wearer that something is amiss.
Got a great idea for an antibody biosensor but unsure what to do with it? Darpa wants you. The Department of Defense's future-tech wing is seeking proposals for its newly inaugurated Antibody Technology Program, the latest bid for technologies that can pinpoint specific biological agents ranging from bioterror threats to swine flu.