Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have turned an acoustic phenomenon familiar to those who have visited the Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol Building or St. Paul’s Cathedral in London into a high-resolution nanoparticle detector. Using a ring-shaped micro-laser, the sensor can detect and count individual viruses or synthetic and biological nanoparticles with single particle resolution.
Scientists working with DARPA and Department of Energy backing have cracked the code on a kind of technological milestone, for the first time developing a nano-device capable of powering itself by harvesting energy from vibrations while at the same time transmitting data wirelessly over long distances. That kind of technology could have huge implications for devices ranging from surveillance implements to airborne sensors to implantable medical devices.
It may deliver in snow, rain, heat, and gloom of night, but the U.S. Postal Service can’t seem to deliver a net-positive operating budget. Even after drastically cutting personnel last year, the USPS still went $8.5 billion into the red, a budget gap that could lead to insolvency this year.
Geologists would love to get a closer look at what's going on underneath active volcanoes, but the very thing that makes them so interesting -- their ability to unleash super-hot, super-violent geological destruction -- makes them hard to get too close to. But a new breed of wireless sensor that can withstand temperatures above 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit could change all that, allowing researchers to implement a wireless early-warning sensor network deep within a volcano's molten-hot bowels.
Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using frog eggs to enhance what might seem like an unlikely element of robotics: olfactory sensing. By injecting the eggs with the DNA from various insects known for expressing keen senses of smell, the team was able to create a robotic nose that can detect molecules at levels as low as a few parts per billion.
Micro electromechanical systems–or MEMS–hold a lot of promise for the future of high tech, but they also have their drawbacks, namely that they aren’t very precise. That’s because at such small scales there are no standards by which to measure very small forces or distances. But a team of Purdue researchers has developed a way for MEMS to self-calibrate, potentially opening the door to a variety of super-precise sensors and instruments used in everything from medicine to engineering to defense.
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have turned a sheet of nano-thin gold into what could be the next big advance in infrared technology. Taking advantage of the unique properties of gold at the nanoscale, scientists there have created a "microlens" system that could boost detectivity in quantum-dot-based IR detectors by 20 times.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.