Novel Solar Cells Arrive at International Space Station for Testing
Five different types of solar cells have arrived at the International Space Station to be tested for their power conversion rate and ability to operate in the harsh space environment as part of the MISSE-12 mission. One type of cell, made of low-cost organic materials, has not been extensively tested in space before.
3D printing technique accelerates nanoscale fabrication a thousandfold
Using a new time-based method to control light from an ultrafast laser, researchers have developed a nanoscale 3D printing technique that can fabricate tiny structures a thousand times faster than conventional two-photon lithography techniques, without sacrificing resolution.
Shape-shifting robots built from 'smarticles'
Building conventional robots typically requires carefully combining components like motors, batteries, actuators, body segments, legs and wheels. Now, researchers have taken a new approach, building a robot entirely from smaller robots known as "smarticles" to unlock the principles of a potentially new locomotion technique.
Wearable brain-machine interface could control a vehicle, computer
Combining new classes of nanomembrane electrodes with flexible electronics and a deep learning algorithm could help disabled people wirelessly control an electric wheelchair, interact with a computer or operate a small robotic vehicle without donning a bulky hair-electrode cap or contending with wires.
Stretchy plastic electrolytes for new lithium-ion battery design
The growing popularity of lithium-ion batteries in recent years has put a strain on the world's supply of cobalt and nickel - two metals integral to current battery designs - and sent prices surging. In a bid to develop alternative designs for lithium-based batteries with less reliance on those scarce metals, researchers have developed a promising new cathode and electrolyte system that replaces expensive metals and traditional liquid electrolyte with lower cost transition metal fluorides and a solid polymer electrolyte.
Stretchable wireless sensor could monitor healing of cerebral aneurysm
A wireless sensor small enough to be implanted in the blood vessels of the human brain could help clinicians evaluate the healing of aneurysms -- bulges that can cause death or serious injury if they burst. The stretchable sensor, which operates without batteries, would be wrapped around stents or diverters implanted to control blood flow in vessels affected by the aneurysms.
A robot that can build its own tools
Thanks to new technology that enables them to create simple tools, robots may be on the verge of their own version of the Stone Age.
Soft wearable health monitor uses stretchable electronics
A wireless, wearable monitor built with stretchable electronics could allow comfortable, long-term health monitoring of adults, babies and small children without concern for skin injury or allergic reactions caused by conventional adhesive sensors with conductive gels.
LightSail 2 successfully deploys solar sail
The Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft has successfully deployed the large, aluminized Mylar sail it will use to raise its orbit solely with sunlight.
Tiny vibration-powered robots are the size of the world's smallest ant
Researchers have created a new type of tiny 3D-printed robot that moves by harnessing vibration from piezoelectric actuators, ultrasound sources or even tiny speakers. Swarms of these "micro-bristle-bots" might work together to sense environmental changes, move materials - or perhaps one day repair injuries inside the human body.
Tiny supersonic jet injection for nanoscale additive manufacturing
By energizing precursor molecules using a tiny, high-energy supersonic jet of inert gas, researchers have dramatically accelerated the fabrication of nanometer scale structures. The rapid additive manufacturing technique also allows them to produce structures with high aspect ratios. Now, a theory developed to describe the technique could lead to new applications for additive nanomanufacturing and new nanoscale materials.
Slothbot takes a leisurely approach to environmental monitoring
For environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, infrastructure maintenance and certain security applications, slow and energy efficient can be better than fast and always needing a recharge. That's where "SlothBot" comes in.
Army discovery opens path to safer batteries
Soldiers carrying 15-25 pounds of batteries could carry batteries a fraction of the weight but with the same energy and improved safety, a new study shows.
Safer electrochromic inks
Anyone who has a rear-view mirror that automatically dims blue in reaction to annoying high-beam headlights glaring from behind has seen an electrochromic film in action. Chemists have developed a new method to more safely and, by extension, easily produce these shear films, which change their color with the help of a tiny electric current. This could make them available to many industries that have not been able to feasibly use them before.
Seeing through a robot's eyes helps those with motor impairments
An interface system that uses augmented reality technology could help individuals with profound motor impairments operate a humanoid robot to feed themselves and perform routine personal care tasks such as scratching an itch and applying skin lotion. The web-based interface displays a "robot's eye view" of surroundings to help users interact with the world through the machine.
Ultra-low power chips make small robots more capable
An ultra-low power hybrid chip inspired by the brain could help give palm-sized robots the ability to collaborate and learn from their experiences.
Charting a path to cheaper flexible solar cells
There's a lot to like about perovskite-based solar cells. They are simple and cheap to produce, offer flexibility that could unlock a wide new range of installation methods and places, and in recent years have reached energy efficiencies approaching those of traditional silicon-based cells. But figuring out how to produce perovskite-based energy devices that last longer than a couple of months has been a challenge.
Unleashing perovskites' potential for solar cells
Researchers have been able to decipher a key aspect of the behavior of perovskites made with different formulations: With certain additives there is a kind of "sweet spot" where greater amounts will enhance performance and beyond which further amounts begin to degrade it.