Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of October 18, 2019

01. Nanoscale manipulation of light leads to exciting new advancement 02. Solving the mystery of quantum light in thin layers 03. Weaving quantum processors out of laser light 04. Vibration in one direction only 05. Unique sticky particles formed by harnessing chaos 06. New electrolyte stops rapid performance decline of next-generation lithium battery 07. ‘Electroadhesive’ stamp picks up and puts down microscopic structures 08. Creating 2D heterostructures for future electronics 09. Controlling robots across oceans and space 10. Refrigerator works by twisting and untwisting fibres And others… How a new class of startups are working to solve the grid storage […]

Controlling robots across oceans and space  October 8, 2019 The first experiment took place in 2012 when NASA astronaut Sunita Williams controlled a LEGO rover in Germany to test a newly-developed ‘space internet’ – proving it is possible to control a rover from orbit. Human-robotic partnerships are at the heart of ESA’s exploration strategy. The ESA’s Meteron project was formed to develop the technology and know-how needed to operate rovers in harsh conditions. It covers all aspects of operations, from communications and the user interface to surface operations and even connecting the robots to the astronauts by sense of touch. The experiment, dubbed Analog-1, will […]

Creating 2D heterostructures for future electronics

Science Daily  October 11, 2019 Integration of dissimilar 2D materials is essential for nanoelectronic applications. Compared to vertical stacking, covalent lateral stitching requires bottom-up synthesis, resulting in rare realizations of 2D lateral heterostructures. Because of its polymorphism and diverse bonding geometries, borophene is a promising candidate for 2D heterostructures, although suitable synthesis conditions have not yet been demonstrated. Researchers at Northwestern University report lateral and vertical integration of borophene with graphene. Topographic and spatially resolved spectroscopic measurements reveal nearly atomically sharp lateral interfaces despite imperfect crystallographic lattice and symmetry matching. Boron intercalation under graphene results in rotationally commensurate vertical heterostructures. […]

‘Electroadhesive’ stamp picks up and puts down microscopic structures

Nanowerk  October 11, 2019 Mechanical pick-and-place technologies cannot manipulate smaller objects whose surface forces dominate over gravity, and emerging microtransfer printing methods require multidirectional motion, heating, and/or chemical bonding to switch adhesion. A team of researchers in the US (MIT, University of Pennsylvania) has developed soft nanocomposite electroadhesives (SNEs), comprising sparse forests of dielectric-coated carbon nanotubes (CNTs), which have electrostatically switchable dry adhesion. SNEs exhibit 40-fold lower nominal dry adhesion than typical solids, yet their adhesion is increased >100-fold by applying 30 V to the CNTs. They characterized the scaling of adhesion with surface morphology, dielectric thickness, and applied voltage […]

How a new class of startups are working to solve the grid storage puzzle

MIT Technology Review  October 10, 2019 To be as cheap, reliable, and flexible as natural gas, such a battery system would have to cost less than $10 per kilowatt-hour. Today’s best grid batteries, large lithium-ion systems, cost hundreds of dollars per kilowatt-hour (precise estimates vary). A US based company is working to hit that target by what seems to be using a sulfur-based solution as the anolyte. Sulfur is extremely cheap and can store a lot of energy. They are exploring the possibility of bidirectional power plants. Long duration storage is another approach taken by some companies. Thermal methods are […]

A look at Japan’s evolving intelligence efforts

MIT News  October 8, 2019 According to the book, “Special Duty: A History of the Japanese Intelligence Community” Japan didn’t have a comprehensive intelligence capability, but they’re heading in that direction. Over the last 75 years as international spying and espionage has proliferated, Japan has mostly been on the sidelines of this global game. Defeat in World War II, and demilitarization afterward, meant that Japanese intelligence services were virtually nonexistent for decades. Japan’s interest in spycraft has returned. In addition to a notable military expansion Japan is also ramping up its formal intelligence apparatus. Examining the status of Japan’s intelligence […]

A mathematical model reveals long-distance cell communication mechanism

Science Daily  October 15, 2019 Cells often communicate using signaling molecules, which can travel only a short distance. Nevertheless, the cells can also communicate over large distances to spur collective action. An international team of researchers (USA – UT Houston, South Korea) used an engineered transcriptional circuit of combined positive and negative feedback loops in E. coli, which can periodically release two types of signaling molecules: activator and repressor. As the signaling molecules travel over a short distance, cells can only talk to their nearest neighbors. However, cell communities synchronize oscillatory gene expression in spatially extended systems if the transcriptional […]

Nanoscale manipulation of light leads to exciting new advancement

Eurekalert  October 11, 2019 Researchers at the University of New Mexico studied arrays composed of silver nanoparticles placed in a repeating pattern. When the arrays are illuminated with light, each of the particles produces a strong response, which, in turn, results in enormous collective behaviors if all the particles can interact with one another. This happens at certain wavelengths of incident light, which are determined by the interparticle spacing of the array, and can result in electric fields that are thousands, or even tens of thousands, of times that of the light shined on the array. The strength of this […]

New electrolyte stops rapid performance decline of next-generation lithium battery

Science Daily  October 10, 2019 Lithium-ion battery electrolytes currently contain a solvent mixture, with a dissolved lithium salt and often more than three organic additives. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a unique electrolyte with a small amount of a second salt containing any one of several doubly or triply charged metal cations (Mg2+, Ca2+, Zn2+, or Al3+) they call MESA (mixed-salt electrolytes for silicon anodes). MESA gives silicon anodes increased surface and bulk stabilities, improving long-term cycling and calendar life. During charging, the metal cation additions in electrolyte solution migrate into the silicon-based anode along with the lithium […]

Refrigerator works by twisting and untwisting fibres

Physics World  October 14, 2019 An international team of researchers (China, USA – UT Dallas, Georgia Southern University, industry, Brazil) studied the cooling effects of twist and stretch changes in twisted, coiled and supercoiled fibres of natural rubber, nickel-titanium and polyethylene fishing line. In each material, they observed a surface cooling as high as 16.4 °C, 20.8 °C, and 5.1 °C respectively. Analysis revealed changes in molecular structures associated with the transition from low to high entropy phases. They built a device from a three-ply nickel-titanium wire cable, which cooled a stream of running water by as much as 7.7 […]