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Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Technology of June, 2009- touchable holograms and solar roads

Hi all! Today I have some amazing technology stories. I was fascinated while writing this post, so I hope you enjoy it too. But first, the video of the day:

It's about a new type of ink relying on magnetic nanoparticles to create ANY color when magnetic field is applied to them. Read the article for more info, I personally find it awesome.

Today:

  1. Touchable Hologram Becomes Reality
  2. Atom Pinhole Camera Acts as a Shrinking Copy Machine
  3. These batteries are made for walkin’
  4. Solar Panels Built Into Roads Could Be the Future of Energy
Short stories:
  1. Hybrid remotely operated vehicle 'Nereus' reaches deepest part of the ocean
  2. Researchers study salt's potential to store energy
  3. Mitsubishi rolls out zero-emission electric minicar

Touchable Hologram Becomes Reality (w/ Video)

August 6th, 2009 by Lisa Zyga
(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers from the University of Tokyo have developed 3D holograms that can be touched with bare hands. Generally, holograms can't be felt because they're made only of light. But the new technology adds tactile feedback to holograms hovering in 3D space.

Called the Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display, the projector uses an ultrasound phenomenon called acoustic radiation pressure to create a pressure sensation on a user's hands, which are tracked with two Nintendo Wiimotes. As the researchers explain, the method doesn't use any direct contact and so doesn't dilute the quality of the hologram.

"A retroreflective marker is attached on the tip of user's middle finger," the researchers explain on their website. "IR LEDs illuminate the marker and two Wiimotes sense the 3D position of the finger. Owing to this hand-tracking system, the users can handle the floating virtual image with their hands."

In the video, the researchers demonstrate how a user can dribble a virtual bouncing ball, feel virtual raindrops bouncing off their hand, and feel a small virtual creature crawling on their palm. The researchers hope that the technology will have applications in video games, 3D CADs, and other uses source
My comment: Nooo, this is absolutely amazing! I urge you to go to the source site and see the video there, because it's great. I won't even discuss the opportunities this method has to offer, you can think of them alone. I just can't wait to see a commercial version of 3d with such sensor. Yay!

Atom Pinhole Camera Acts as a Shrinking Copy Machine

June 1st, 2009 By Lisa Zyga

(PhysOrg.com) --

In pursuit of this goal (machine that can produce nanometer-sized copies of micrometer-sized objects), scientists from the Institute of Spectroscopy, Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a method of using an atom pinhole camera. For the first time, the researchers, along with coauthors from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, have experimentally demonstrated how to use the camera to manufacture an array of identical atomic nanostructures of controlled shapes and sizes. The technique could produce individual nanostructures down to 30 nm, a size reduction of 10,000 times compared with the original object.

As the scientists explain, the atom pinhole camera they designed is based on the idea of an optical pinhole camera, which is often used in optics when creation of a focusing lens is difficult. Instead of light traveling through a lens, light travels through a pinhole on a mask, and creates an inverted image on a substrate on the other side. Optical pinhole cameras can produce high-quality images with high resolution that depends on the diameter of the pinhole.

In an atom pinhole camera, atoms act like photons in an optical pinhole camera, and so the main principles are the same in both versions. In their experimental setup, the scientists used ion beam milling to poke a pinhole in a mask. After the atoms passed through the pinhole, they created an atomic nanostructure on a . As the atom pinhole camera provides a way to replicate micro-sized objects as nano-sized ones, the camera is an example of Feynman’s scalable manufacturing system.

The scientists also created another mask with a large array of pinholes. In this “atom multiple pinhole camera,” each pinhole could generate its own image, which does not intersect with neighboring images. As the scientists noted, a camera with up to 10 million pinholes could open up opportunities for simultaneous generation of large numbers of identical (or diverse) nanostructures.

Using an atom pinhole camera to fabricate nanostructures offers several advantages compared to other nanofabrication techniques, which include optical photolithography (in which a photosensitive material is molded by light), nanolithography (in which focused particle beams mold objects), and atom optics methods that use lenses, which are limited by diffraction.

source

My comment: Ok, that is quite cool for many reasons. But mainly, it really allows you to produce multiple nano-scale structures in the same time. Yeah, maybe you won't be able to produce a complete nano-submarine trough this, but you'll be able to produce basic elements and then to construct whatever you like with them. And that is really exciting. Not to mention what such discoveries mean philosophically. I mean, if you can use ions to make copy of some structures, what if you could use something else to copy yourself?! It's crazy, but you never know where you could go from a discovery, nor how far you could get.

These batteries are made for walkin’

Soldiers on the battlefield and aid workers in remote outposts may soon be able to recharge their mobile phones simply by walking, thanks to a device being developed by Canadian researchers.

The Bionic Energy Harvester attaches to a knee brace, capturing energy with each step. One minute of walking can generate 10 minutes of talk time on a cellphone.

The mechanism works much like the regenerative braking found in some hybrid cars, which capture kinetic energy that would otherwise dissipate as heat to drive a generator.

“Walking is a lot like stop-and-go driving,” says Dr. Donelan. In walking, the knee extends at the end of the stride and the hamstrings flex. The Bionic Energy Harvester helps the muscles slow the knee during the swing phase while capturing the energy. Gear trains drive the generator, altogether producing about 5 watts of electricity with each stride.

The 3-1/2-pound energy harvester only engages for brief moments at the end of the swing phase. “In that way it can produce a substantial amount of energy without adding any additional effort to walking,” says Donelan.

When the researchers tested the device, subjects on a treadmill didn’t notice using any extra exertion when it was turned on. Donelan was surprised to discover, however, that when he turned off the mechanism, the subjects did notice and in fact missed the assistance. “For three or four strides they swung their legs a little faster [than normal].”

Donelan and his team at Bionic Power, a company he set up to develop and sell the device, expect to double the output to 10 watts per step.

Bionic Power plans to deliver a slimmed-down two-pound version of the energy harvester to the Canadian military in June for field testing.

Donelan knows his device provides just a small fraction of the energy humans consume. Global consumption works out to about 10 kilowatts a second per person, he estimates. source

My comment: That is absolutely cool and I'm deeply sorry that first the army would get it. I mean, it's not just people that go in the mountain for weeks that need such stuff. Imagine how useful add-on to your car this could be. Yeah, you can always use your battery to charge your phone, but imagine what happens when your battery is dead, you car is broken and you have to call for help. You only have to walk for few minutes and the phone would be ready. Or imagine how fun this could be-you make your daily routine of walking for 30minutes and you recharge your laptop battery. Or what if you happen to walk a lot during your day (yes, this happen to some people, like me) - the main problem of most modern devices is that their batteries are either too heavy or too weak. What if you could charge all of your devices while you're out doing your business. I also don't think that human electricity could replace other sources-yes, we produce and waste a lot, but not that much. But with new efficiency, maybe we could get pretty close to getting off the grid, at least for electronic devices. And that's SO cool!

Solar Panels Built Into Roads Could Be the Future of Energy

By Adrian Covert Posted 08.27.2009 at 5:45 pm
The Department of Energy just gave $100,000 to upstart company Solar Roadways, to develop 12-by-12-foot solar panels, dubbed "Solar Roads," that can be embedded into roads, pumping power into the grid. The panels may also feature LED road warnings and built-in heating elements that could prevent roads from freezing.

Each Solar Road panel can develop around 7.6 kwh of power each day, and each costs around $7,000. If widely adopted, they could realistically wean the US off fossil fuels: a mile-long stretch of four-lane highway could take 500 homes off the grid. If the entire US Interstate system made use of the panels, energy would no longer be a concern for the country.

In addition, every Solar Road panel has its own microprocessor and energy management system, so if one gives out, the rest are not borked. Materials-wise, the top layer is described as translucent and high-strength. Inhabitat says it's glass, which seems odd, especially since Solar Roadways claims the surface provides excellent traction. The base layer under the solar panel routes the power, as well as data utilities (TV, phone, Internet) to homes and power companies.

Still, this is a ways away from actual implementation, seeing as a prototype has yet to be built. source
My comment: Another absolutely cool thing, although I also want to see one built-I mean if it really is glass, how could it provide the friction needed for the road? This really should be very carefully tested, but if we assume it will work as proposed, then it's very cool. Because on the roads, there is a lot of heat dissipated, also the sun heats them to unbelievable temperatures, so why wasting this? I love the way people started thinking of gathering every piece of energy we produce. This is the right attitude. It's not so much how to stop using energy, as to how to stop wasting it!

Short stories:

Hybrid remotely operated vehicle 'Nereus' reaches deepest part of the ocean

June 2nd, 2009

A new type of deep-sea robotic vehicle called Nereus has successfully reached the deepest part of the world's ocean, reports a team of U.S. engineers and scientists aboard the research vessel Kilo Moana. The dive to 10,902 meters (6.8 miles) occurred on May 31, 2009, at the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

The dive makes Nereus the world's deepest-diving vehicle and the first vehicle to explore the Mariana Trench since 1998.

Nereus's unique hybrid-vehicle design makes it ideally suited to explore the ocean's last frontiers. The unmanned vehicle is remotely operated by pilots aboard a surface ship via a lightweight, micro-thin, fiber-optic tether that allows Nereus to dive deep and be highly maneuverable. Nereus can also be switched into a free-swimming, autonomous vehicle.

On its dive to the Challenger Deep, Nereus spent over 10 hours on the bottom, sending live video back to the ship through its fiber-optic tether and collecting geological and biological samples with its manipulator arm, and placed a marker on the seafloor signed by those onboard the surface ship.

source


Researchers study salt's potential to store energy

June 2nd, 2009 by Renee Meiller

(PhysOrg.com) --

At UW-Madison, researchers see potential for storing heat in a mineral found on kitchen counters and restaurant tables worldwide. They're studying salt.

Heated to temperatures sometimes far exceeding 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, salt liquefies. Despite this red-hot temperature, molten salt can act as both a coolant and as an agent for storing heat.

As a result, salts could gain a foothold in applications ranging from concentrating solar towers and nuclear reactors to oil recovery and biomass breakdown.

Anderson, Sridharan and Todd Allen, a UW-Madison engineering physics assistant professor, have been studying molten salt for about five years.

Similar to table salt, molten salt starts as pea-sized granules. The researchers are working with a salt that melts at around 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and one goal is to find salts that melt at low temperatures, but are still stable up to very high temperatures.

Applied to solar-energy towers, molten salt in the collector heats up as sunlight focuses on it. An exchanger converts heat in the salt into steam or a high-temperature gas, which spins a turbine for generating electricity. In nuclear energy, liquid salts are more versatile, acting as a coolant to strip heat from the fuel and generate electricity or serve as an environmentally friendly form of high-temperature process heat for chemical and industrial products. In addition, molten salt is useful in an electrochemical process for separating nuclear waste, enabling nuclear power plants to recycle fuel components.

For oil extraction, some companies are studying the feasibility of more environmentally friendly in-ground refineries, where they could use the heat in molten salt from a power plant to super-heat the earth around oil shale. "They can actually heat up the oil shale and try to remove the valuable petroleum products deep in the ground, without having to disrupt the surface by digging down and processing the oil shale above ground," says Anderson.

The researchers also are studying how high-temperature sodium chloride can break down biomass to form syngas, a synthetic natural gas that forms the basis for bio-petroleum products. source

Mitsubishi rolls out zero-emission electric minicar

  • Posted on - Fri Jun 5, 2009 12:05PM EDT
TOKYO (AFP) -The new "i-MiEV" -- short for Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle -- can seat four adults, emits no carbon dioxide and has a range of up to 160 kilometers (100 miles) on a fully-charged battery.

The distance should be enough for day-to-day city driving in Japan, said company president Osamu Masuko, who added that the automaker was initially targeting corporate and government clients.

Mistubishi says the car, priced at 4.6 million yen (47,500 dollars), runs quietly but accelerates quickly, and the running cost is one third of that of a petrol-powered car -- or less if it is charged during off-peak hours.

Because of its efficiency -- including converting braking energy into battery power -- the vehicle emits only one third of the CO2 of a petrol car when the electricity generated to recharge it at a power plant is factored in.

The battery can be charged overnight on a domestic power source, or it can be powered up through quick-chargers now being developed by power companies, Mitsubishi said.

source

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