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Archive for the ‘engineering’ category

Aug 13, 2018

Biomimetic micro/nanoscale fiber reinforced composites

Posted by in categories: biological, engineering, evolution, nanotechnology

Over hundreds of millions of years of evolution, nature has produced a myriad of biological materials that serve either as skeletons or as defensive or offensive weapons. Although these natural structural materials are derived from relatively sterile natural components, such as fragile minerals and ductile biopolymers, they often exhibit extraordinary mechanical properties due to their highly ordered hierarchical structures and sophisticated interfacial design. Therefore, they are always a research subject for scientists aiming to create advanced artificial structural materials.

Through microstructural observation, researchers have determined that many biological materials, including fish scales, crab claws and bone, all have a characteristic “twisted plywood” structure that consists of a highly ordered arrangement of micro/nanoscale fiber lamellas. They are structurally sophisticated natural fiber-reinforced composites and often exhibit excellent damage tolerance that is desirable for engineering structural materials, but difficult to obtain. Therefore, researchers are seeking to mimic this kind of natural hierarchical structure and interfacial design by using artificial synthetic and abundant one-dimensional micro/nanoscale fibers as building blocks. In this way, they hope to produce high-performance artificial structural materials superior to existing materials.

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Aug 12, 2018

UCLan unveils world’s first graphene skinned plane

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, business, engineering, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, transportation

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) has unveiled the world’s first graphene skinned plane at an internationally renowned air show. Juno, a three-and-a-half-metre wide graphene skinned aircraft, was revealed on the North West Aerospace Alliance (NWAA) stand as part of the ‘Futures Day’ at Farnborough Air Show 2018.

The University’s aerospace engineering team has worked in partnership with the Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute (NGI), Haydale Graphene Industries (Haydale) and a range of other businesses to develop the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which also includes graphene batteries and 3D printed parts.

Billy Beggs, UCLan’s Engineering Innovation Manager, said: The industry reaction to Juno at Farnborough was superb with many positive comments about the work we’re doing. Having Juno at one the world’s biggest air shows demonstrates the great strides we’re making in leading a programme to accelerate the uptake of graphene and other nano-materials into industry.

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Aug 11, 2018

High thermal conductivity in cubic boron arsenide crystals

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering

Thermal management becomes increasingly important as we decrease device size and increase computing power. Engineering materials with high thermal conductivity, such as boron arsenide (BAs), is hard because it is essential to avoid defects and impurities during synthesis, which would stop heat flow. Three different research groups have synthesized BAs with a thermal conductivity around 1000 watts per meter-kelvin: Kang et al., Li et al., and Tian et al. succeeded in synthesizing high-purity BAs with conductivities half that of diamond but more than double that of conventional metals (see the Perspective by Dames). The advance validates the search for high-thermal-conductivity materials and provides a new material that may be more easily integrated into semiconducting devices.

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Aug 8, 2018

New laser based on unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecommunications, computing

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, physics

Researchers at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated the world’s first laser based on an unconventional wave physics phenomenon called bound states in the continuum. The technology could revolutionize the development of surface lasers, making them more compact and energy-efficient for communications and computing applications. The new BIC lasers could also be developed as high-power lasers for industrial and defense applications.

“Lasers are ubiquitous in the present day world, from simple everyday laser pointers to complex laser interferometers used to detect gravitational waves. Our current research will impact many areas of laser applications,” said Ashok Kodigala, an electrical engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and first author of the study.

“Because they are unconventional, BIC lasers offer unique and unprecedented properties that haven’t yet been realized with existing laser technologies,” said Boubacar Kanté, electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering who led the research.

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Aug 7, 2018

Engineers teach a drone to herd birds away from airports autonomously

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering, information science, robotics/AI

Engineers at Caltech have developed a new control algorithm that enables a single drone to herd an entire flock of birds away from the airspace of an airport. The algorithm is presented in a study in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.

The project was inspired by the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff and pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles were forced to land in the Hudson River off Manhattan.

“The passengers on Flight 1549 were only saved because the pilots were so skilled,” says Soon-Jo Chung, an associate professor of aerospace and Bren Scholar in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science as well as a JPL research scientist, and the principal investigator on the drone herding project. “It made me think that next time might not have such a happy ending. So I started looking into ways to protect from birds by leveraging my research areas in autonomy and robotics.”

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Aug 6, 2018

Soft, multi-functional robots get really small

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, robotics/AI

Roboticists are envisioning a future in which soft, animal-inspired robots can be safely deployed in difficult-to-access environments, such as inside the human body or in spaces that are too dangerous for humans to work, in which rigid robots cannot currently be used. Centimeter-sized soft robots have been created, but thus far it has not been possible to fabricate multifunctional flexible robots that can move and operate at smaller size scales.

A team of researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), and Boston University now has overcome this challenge by developing an integrated fabrication process that enables the design of on the millimeter scale with micrometer-scale features. To demonstrate the capabilities of their new technology, they created a robotic soft spider – inspired by the millimeter-sized colorful Australian peacock spider – from a single elastic material with body-shaping, motion, and color features. The study is published in Advanced Materials.

“The smallest soft robotic systems still tend to be very simple, with usually only one degree of freedom, which means that they can only actuate one particular change in shape or type of movement,” said Sheila Russo, Ph.D., co-author of the study. Russo helped initiate the project as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Robert Wood’s group at the Wyss Institute and SEAS and now is Assistant Professor at Boston University. “By developing a new hybrid technology that merges three different fabrication techniques, we created a soft robotic spider made only of silicone rubber with 18 degrees of freedom, encompassing changes in structure, motion, and color, and with tiny features in the micrometer range.”

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Aug 6, 2018

New system allows rapid response to heart attacks, limits cardiac damage

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, health

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a drug-delivery system that allows rapid response to heart attacks without surgical intervention. In laboratory and animal testing, the system proved to be effective at dissolving clots, limiting long-term scarring to heart tissue and preserving more of the heart’s normal function.

“Our approach would allow health-care providers to begin treating heart attacks before a patient reaches a surgical suite, hopefully improving patient outcomes,” says Ashley Brown, corresponding author of a paper on the work and an assistant professor in the Joint Biomedical Engineering Program (BME) at NC State and UNC. “And because we are able to target the blockage, we are able to use powerful drugs that may pose threats to other parts of the body; the targeting reduces the risk of unintended harms.”

Heart attacks, or myocardial infarctions, occur when a thrombus – or clot – blocks a blood vessel in the heart. In order to treat heart attacks, doctors often perform surgery to introduce a catheter to the blood vessel, allowing them to physically break up or remove the thrombus. But not all patients have quick access to surgical care.

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Aug 6, 2018

Digital builds: The technology taking construction to the next level

Posted by in categories: drones, engineering, robotics/AI

In July 2018, The Engineer examined how modular fabrication techniques are reshaping the construction industry, enabling clean builds that are cost-effective and time efficient. But while off-site assembly brings many advantages, it can also be restrictive. This has prompted a new wave of engineers to bring the latest technology on-site, elevating the pre-fab to the fabulous.

According to Andrew Watts, CEO of engineering technology firm Newtecnic, this trend is part of a new era of digital construction where robots and drones will become commonplace on site. Digitalisation has penetrated virtually every aspect of design and engineering, but in many ways physical construction itself has remained a stubbornly analogue process, centuries of accumulated human expertise resisting the allure of ones and zeroes, and human hands still doing much of the heavy lifting. Newtecnic’s Construction Labs concept is aiming to change that, merging modular building with on-site construction to deliver perfect finishes on major public buildings.

“We’re using Construction Labs to realise complex projects,” Watts told The Engineer. “Its specific use is in the construction of facades and applications and connections for primary structures.”

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Aug 5, 2018

Can #CRISPR help us slow down aging in the near future?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, life extension

Check out Synthego’s blog post to explore the possibility of CRISPR aided anti-aging solutions. #aging #genomics #GenomeEngineering https://buff.ly/2Ohmj2F

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Aug 5, 2018

Sorry Elon Musk, But It’s Now Clear That Colonizing Mars Is Unlikely — And A Bad Idea

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, engineering, environmental, government, space travel, sustainability

This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Space.com’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Space X and Tesla founder Elon Musk has a vision for colonising Mars, based on a big rocket, nuclear explosions and an infrastructure to transport millions of people there. This was seen as highly ambitious but technically challenging in several ways. Planetary protection rules and the difficulties of terraforming (making the planet hospitable by, for example, warming it up) and dealing with the harsh radiation were quoted as severe obstacles.

Undeterred, Musk took a first step towards his aim in February this year with the launch of a Tesla roadster car into an orbit travelling beyond Mars on the first Falcon Heavy rocket. This dramatically illustrated the increasing launch capability for future missions made available by partnerships between commercial and government agencies.

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