Tag Archives: Science News

Light Disorder: Laws of Reflection, Refraction and the Surface Pattern Loophole…

Scientists at Harvard have discovered new ways of making light dance, along the way changing the laws of reflection and refraction of light. The wonderful world of Nano particles, along with their effects on light’s behavior were explored in order to make these discoveries. Under normal circumstances light is nice and predictable, Mr Consistent, the team from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences – SEAS – found a loop-hole though, precise patterns of metallic nano-structures.

Just as in a Carnivals Magic Mirror amusement the nano-structures were able to warp and bend light, unlike the carnival though they did not require bendy mirrors or clever lighting. Instead using Nano structures embedded in precise patterns on the surface of silicon they were able to alter lights behavior. Their findings were published in the scientific journal Science, September 2 and have since led to the reformation of the mathematical laws of reflection and refraction, the predicted path of a ray of light bouncing of a surface or passing from medium to medium, bouncing or bending.

“Using designer surfaces, we’ve created the effects of a fun-house mirror on a flat plane,” said co-principal investigator Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS. “Our discovery carries optics into new territory and opens the door to exciting developments in photonics technology.”

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South Atlantic Anomaly, The Home of the Negatron…

Anti-matter, the ultimate outsider in a universe of matte. Using the anti-matter hunting satellite PAMELA – Payload for Antimatter Matter Exploration and Light-nuclei Astrophysics – scientist were able to locate a pool of anti-matter trapped within the Earth magnetic fields. Anti-matter is a mysterious type of matter, not made for this world, when it rarely does appear its only very briefly, usually leaving with a bang. While PAMELA has found a constantly replenishing source of anti-matter it’s too soon to start building the USS Enterprise just yet. The study of the fundamentals of our universe becomes a lot easier when you have actual examples to study.

Anti-matter and many other particles are created in the upper atmosphere by high energy cosmic radiation interacting with the upper atmosphere. The radiation tares the atoms in the upper atmosphere to pieces reducing them to smaller sub atomic particles, also referred to as daughter particles. The outcome of these reactions is very similar to what is being done at the Large Hadron Collider – LHC -, or any particle accelerator for that matter. The subject particle is accelerated to near the speed of light and slammed into a wall to see what its made of, a similar thing is happening in the upper atmosphere except the particles are standing still and the wall, in this case cosmic radiation, is slamming into the particles at near the speed of light. The anti-protons that the scientist where looking for are the results of these reactions of the nuclear kind. Most of the anti-protons created are annihilated instantly upon contact with matter but a few are contained within the magnet layers of the Earths magnet field.

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Solar Dynamics Observatory, Rubber Chickens Staring at the Sun…

The satellites and space craft that we launch to observe our world are our eyes and ears in space. Advances in satellites pointed at the Sun have been enormous over the last decade. The latest satellite gathering solar information is NASA’s SDO. Chances are you have seen footage produced by this high-tech observer, all of the solar flare footage used by media channels lately have been thanks to NASA’s SDO satellite. The quality of the footage is incredible, only matched by the sheer amount of information this satellite is sending back to earth, over a terabyte of data a day. The data that this satellite collects will help us understand what drives our most important neighbour, the Sun.

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NASA’s Planet Hunter Kepler Discovers Planet Darkness…

NASA’s Kepler satellite, also known as the planet hunter has found a planet that is particularly unusual, TrES-2b holds claim to being the darkest planet ever found. Darker than coal, blacker than black acrylic paint and with a constant temperature of over 1,800 degrees Celsius, she’s as hot as she is dark. Discovered 750 lights years away in the direction of the constellation Draco.

Kepler is our eyes and ears in deep space and with it they are being taken to unimagined new world, now instead of just wondering what’s out there we’re finding its even stranger than we imagined.

“It’s not clear what is responsible for making this planet so extraordinarily dark,” stated co-author David Spiegel of Princeton University. “However, it’s not completely pitch black. It’s so hot that it emits a faint red glow, much like a burning ember or the coils on an electric stove.”

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John A Rogers Electronic Tattoo, Epidermal Electronics Systems…

Genius inventor John A Rogers and his research group have produced the first flexible stretchable adhesive electronic device that can be applied to the skin. Epidermal electronic systems – EES. Initially designed as a biological sensor the electric tattoo has potential to be much more than an expression of difference or rebellious body art. Biologic sensors built-into the device can detect brain waves, muscle activity, temperature and monitor for heart arrhythmia.
Looking like a crumpled spiderweb the device combines flexible electronics with clever flexible wiring, giving the electronic tattoo staying power. Using Radio Frequency Identification, ESS can be used to non-invasively track patients for progress , and possibly minimizing medication or surgical mistakes. The sensing functions allow basic body function to be measured wirelessly.
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The snake-like connectors link electronic components acting like extension leads, where as wires on a circuit board tend to be straight – limiting the amount of movement – Rogers clever snake-like wires allow movement and flexibility. Using bendy wires as part of the design is clever engineering, the work done to make the electronic component flexible now that is genius.

i2R E-Paper Power Free Display…

As display technologies evolve display panels are finding their way into many new places, this is about to accelerate. R&D scientists from Taiwan have demonstrated a new display technology that completely cuts the cord, the i2R e-paper has no plug. A display that doesn’t have a clue what electricity is. The flexible panel uses heat instead of electricity to erase and write images to the display.

Created in the R&D labs at Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute – ITRI – this may be the technology that allows displays to be everywhere. The i2R e-Paper is already winning awards for ITRI, having once again won a place on the R&D 100 Awards, the Oscars of invention.

“This year ITRI was again honored with the R&D 100 Awards for its rewritable electronic paper i2R e-Paper. This is a special green energy conserving display technology.” John Chen, general director of ITRI’s Display Technology Center.

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The Stretchy Flubber Like OLED Display…

Are we on the brink of a major technology shift, display and electronics technology is shifting from metallic wires to plastic -polymer electronics- with surprising results.

Research scientist at UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have demonstrated an amazing form of OLED display material that can be stretched up to 45%. Not quite ready to be rolled up into a ball and bounced around the room this hardy little stretchy display is a breakthrough on the road to fully plastic electronics built into everything clothing to coffee tins.

The OLED display demonstrated by the researches was able to be twisted and stretched then return to its original shape all while still operating unaffected. A number of breakthroughs were made in producing this stretchy little patch of plastic. The use of carbon nano-tubes in the polymer electronics gives the display flexibility and negates the need for metallic wiring. The polymer also acts as a framework for the carbon nano-tubes to form around, simplifying the manufacturing allowing roll to roll manufacturing.

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MIT’s Zippo Power Generator, TPV power for the Masses…

Power, electrical power is the life blood of our modern world, a constant heartbeat that drives every gadget on the planet. MIT scientist have demonstrated a huge breakthrough in power, a Zippo lighter sized power station that’s three times as powerful as lithium-ion batteries and runs off a tiny cap of methanol.

The technology behind the tiny device is able to convert any source of heat into electricity. Called a Thermo-Photovoltaic system – TPV -, the Zippo generator is able to convert heat into specific frequencies of light which is used by a tuned PV cell – solar cell – to generate electricity.

While it may sound complicated, there are no moving parts, nothing to wear out and it is made of cheap materials. The team of MIT researchers have managed to produce a cheap and efficient take on the technology previously only available to NASA. Will the Zippo make a come back as every iPhones best friend, maybe.

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The Light of the Future and the Amazing X-Ray Camera…

As science develops new devices for studying the world humanity as a collective gains a new way of looking at the world.

The European XFEL X-ray Free-Electron Laser – is one such facility, allowing scientists to photograph molecules, in real-time 3D of course. This allows scientists for the first time to capture chemical reactions taking place, reactions too fast for previous technologies. This is a very big window to the world of the hyper small, nano.

XFEL may never be as well-known as CERN and they’re headline grabbing antics, but it will make an important contribution to science none the less.

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Power From Thin Air, Harnessing Ambient Electromagnetic Energy…

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have demonstrated – at the IEEE conference July 6 – technology capable of harnessing ambient electromagnetic energy that pervades our modern world.

By taking advantage of the transmitters that are already covering modern cities power is extracted from thin air. In a sense turning mobile phone base stations, tv transmitters and radio station transmitters into micro power stations. While this technology only provides very small amounts of power it is enough to power simple sensors and devices, eventually as the technology develops more advanced electronics may be powered, we may eventually see self-powered bumper stickers telling us to back the f off.

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