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Archive for the ‘engineering’ category

Oct 30, 2020

Predictive model reveals function of promising energy harvester device

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering

A small energy harvesting device that can transform subtle mechanical vibrations into electrical energy could be used to power wireless sensors and actuators for use in anything from temperature and occupancy monitoring in smart environments, to biosensing within the human body.

In research recently published online in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, engineers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a for such a , which will allow researchers to better understand and optimize its functionalities.

“Sooner or later these harvesters will replace batteries, reducing associated environmentally and maintenance costs,” said Diana-Andra Borca-Tasciuc, a professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer, who led this research effort.

Oct 27, 2020

Can lab-grown brains become conscious?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, law, neuroscience

Researchers are now calling for a set of guidelines, similar to those used in animal research, to guide the humane use of brain organoids and other experiments that could achieve consciousness. In June, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine began a study with the aim of outlining the potential legal and ethical issues associated with brain organoids and human-animal chimaeras.


A handful of experiments are raising questions about whether clumps of cells and disembodied brains could be sentient, and how scientists would know if they were.

Oct 27, 2020

Bridges with limb-inspired architecture can withstand earthquakes, cut repair costs

Posted by in category: engineering

Structural damage to any of the nation’s ailing bridges can come with a hefty price of billions of dollars in repairs. New bridge designs promise more damage-resistant structures and, consequently, lower restoration costs. But if these designs haven’t been implemented in the real world, predicting how they can be damaged and what repair strategies should be implemented remain unresolved.

In a study published in the journal Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, Texas A&M University and the University of Colorado Boulder researchers have conducted a comprehensive damage and repair assessment of a still-to-be-implemented design using a panel of experts from academia and industry. The researchers said the expert feedback method offers a unique and robust technique for evaluating the feasibility of bridge designs that are still at an early research and development phase.

“Bridges, particularly those in high-seismic regions, are vulnerable to damage and will need repairs at some point. But now the question is what kind of repairs should be used for different types and levels of damage, what will be the cost of these repairs and how long will the repairs take—these are all unknowns for new bridge designs,” said Dr. Petros Sideris, assistant professor in the Zachry Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. “We have answered these questions for a novel bridge design using an approach that is seldomly used in structural engineering.”

Oct 25, 2020

Neural Dust: Millimeter-Sized Brain Stimulators

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, Elon Musk, engineering, neuroscience

“In a breakthrough study published on February 19th in Nature Biomedical Engineering, researchers connected neural dust implants reduced to 1.7 cubic millimeters to rat sciatic nerves. The implanted device, called the StimDust system, consisted of very few components, which will be scaled down for future applications. A piezoceramic ultrasonic transducer generated power allowing for wireless communication and stimulation. A capacitor stored any excess energy generated from ultrasonic beams. Bipolar stimulating electrodes directly interfaced with the nerve while a cuff attached to a small circuit-board allowed the device to adhere physically to the nerve. These components were sufficient to generate or record nerve-impulses. In anesthetized rodents, they elicited muscular contractions with the StimDust system.”


While Neuralink, Elon Musk’s startup-venture focused on creating a brain-computer interface, garners lots of coverage in the biotechnology space, other bioelectronics ventures continue innovating in this space.

iota Biosciences, a spin-off company from UC Berkley formed in 2017, made news two years ago by securing $15 million in Series A funding and again last year announcing a partnership with Astellas Pharma Inc. Bolstered by studies in rodents, iota Biosciences advances towards their vision. In a press release on their partnership, founders Jose Carmena and Michel Maharbiz commented:

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Oct 20, 2020

NASA Just Successfully Touched Down on an Asteroid

Posted by in categories: engineering, space

NASA just landed a spacecraft on an asteroid and, if everything went as planned, sucked up a sample of dust and rock from the surface.

From 200 million miles away, NASA and its engineering partner, Lockheed Martin, instructed the spacecraft to descend to the surface of a space rock called Bennu.

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Oct 15, 2020

Mass. university studying nanotechnology to help curb COVID-19 spread

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, engineering, nanotechnology

A group of scientists at Northeastern University are making progress using nanotechnology to prevent, diagnose and fight the coronavirus.

Thomas Webster, professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern University, has been working with nanotechnology for decades. Now, he and his team are finding new applications with the coronavirus.

Oct 15, 2020

Norwegian floating PV specialist Ocean Sun plans IPO

Posted by in category: engineering

The company aims to raise NOK100 million by going public. It will use the funds to expand its overseas operation and reinforce engineering resources in Norway.


Norwegian floating PV specialist Ocean Sun is seeking a listing on the Merkur Market, a multilateral trading facility which has offered small and medium-sized companies access to the Oslo Stock Exchange since 2016.

The company aims to raise NOK100 million ($10.9 million) through the initial public offering. “The funding round is necessary in order for Ocean Sun to expand its operation abroad but also to reinforce local engineering resources in Norway,” Ocean Sun CEO Børge Bjørneklett told pv magazine. “We are involved in several demonstration projects but since they are relatively small we don’t make sufficient revenue yet and we need external financing to progress faster and stronger.”

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Oct 15, 2020

What Would a Quantum Internet Look Like?

Posted by in categories: engineering, internet, quantum physics

In this episode, we’re tackling the question that’s on everyone’s minds: what will it take to have quantum internet in our home?
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A quantum internet is in the works.

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Oct 14, 2020

Solar-powered system extracts drinkable water from “dry” air

Posted by in categories: engineering, sustainability

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have significantly boosted the output from a system that can extract drinkable water directly from the air even in dry regions, using heat from the sun or another source.

The system, which builds on a design initially developed three years ago at MIT by members of the same team, brings the process closer to something that could become a practical water source for remote regions with limited access to water and electricity. The findings are described today in the journal Joule, in a paper by Professor Evelyn Wang, who is head of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering; graduate student Alina LaPotin; and six others at MIT and in Korea and Utah.

The earlier device demonstrated by Wang and her co-workers provided a proof of concept for the system, which harnesses a temperature difference within the device to allow an adsorbent material — which collects liquid on its surface — to draw in moisture from the air at night and release it the next day. When the material is heated by sunlight, the difference in temperature between the heated top and the shaded underside makes the water release back out of the adsorbent material. The water then gets condensed on a collection plate.

Oct 14, 2020

Ground-State Cooling of a Trapped Ion Using Long-Wavelength Radiation

Posted by in categories: engineering, quantum physics

Freeze laser.


We demonstrate ground-state cooling of a trapped ion using radio-frequency (rf) radiation. This is a powerful tool for the implementation of quantum operations, where rf or microwave radiation instead of lasers is used for motional quantum state engineering. We measure a mean phonon number of $\overline{n}=0.13$ after sideband cooling, corresponding to a ground-state occupation probability of 88%. After preparing in the vibrational ground state, we demonstrate motional state engineering by driving Rabi oscillations between the $|n=0⟩$ and $|n=1⟩$ Fock states. We also use the ability to ground-state cool to accurately measure the motional heating rate and report a reduction by almost 2 orders of magnitude compared with our previously measured result, which we attribute to carefully eliminating sources of electrical noise in the system.

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