A Week in Review: 10/19/14 – 10/25/14

October 20, 2014

Folding Origami Solar Panels Could Be Headed to Space (Video)
Brian Trease, a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, studied origami during a high school study abroad trip in Japan, and now he’s applying the same techniques to space-bound solar arrays. Trease, researchers from Brigham Young University and origami expert Robert Lang have created working prototypes of the origami solar panels.

‘Starfish’ crystals could lead to 3D-printed pills
Engineers have figured out how to make rounded crystals with no facets, a design that mimics the hard-to-duplicate texture of starfish shells. The discovery could one day lead to 3D-printed medications that absorb better into the body. http://www.futurity.org/starfish-crystals-3d-printed-pills-786612/

Engineering Professor to Receive UA’s Blackmon-Moody Award
Dr. Gregory B. Thompson, professor of metallurgical and materials engineering at The University of Alabama, will receive the 2014 Blackmon-Moody Outstanding Professor Award.

A Week in Review: 7/20/14 – 7/26/14

July 24, 2014

Metal particles in solids aren’t as fixed as they seem, new memristor study shows In work that unmasks some of the magic behind memristors and “resistive random access memory,” or RRAM—cutting-edge computer components that combine logic and memory functions—researchers have shown that the metal particles in memristors don’t stay put as previously thought.

July 22, 2014

Creating Optical Cables Out of Thin Air
Imagine being able to instantaneously run an optical cable or fiber to any point on earth, or even into space.  That’s what Howard Milchberg, professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland, wants to do. In a paper published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Optica, Milchberg and his lab report using an “air waveguide” to enhance light signals collected from distant sources.  These air waveguides could have many applications, including long-range laser communications, detecting pollution in the atmosphere, making high-resolution topographic maps and laser weapons.

Birthday bash to celebrate laser inventor Charles Townes’ 99th
Only now nearing retirement – he plans to shutter his physics department office this summer, but will continue to make daily visits to his office at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory – Townes’ career highlights include a 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the laser, ground-breaking astronomical research, wide-ranging admiration for his efforts to reconcile science and religion, 31 honorary degrees and 38 awards.

July 21, 2014

Carbyne Morphs when Stretched
Stretching the material known as carbyne — a hard-to-make, one-dimensional chain of carbon atoms — by just 3 percent can begin to change its properties in ways that engineers might find useful for mechanically activated nanoscale electronics and optics. The finding by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues appears in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

Royal recognition for UQ researcher
Studies involving some of the world’s smallest creatures have resulted in one of the world’s biggest honours for University of Queensland researcher Professor Mandyam Srinivasan.

July 20, 2014

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity
A team of researchers led by Xiang Zhang, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering, has found a way to dramatically increase the sensitivity of a light-based plasmon sensor to detect incredibly minute concentrations of explosives. The researchers noted that the sensor could potentially be used to sniff out a hard-to-detect explosive popular among terrorists.

A Week in Review: 7/13/14 – 7/19/14

Prof. David Spencer’s Prox-1 project is getting ready to launch
Research conducted by AE professor David Spencer is getting ready to blast off.
As the principal investigator for the Prox-1 mission, Spencer anticipates the launch of a Georgia Tech-designed spacecraft (and an attached CubeSat) sometime within the next 18 months. Both components will be part of the multi-satellite payload launched by SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

A Week in Review: 6/29/14 – 7/5/14

July 2, 2014

Researchers Invent ‘Meta Mirror’ to Help Advance Nonlinear Optical Systems Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have created a new nonlinear metasurface, or meta mirror, that could one day enable the miniaturization of laser systems. The invention, called a “nonlinear mirror” by the researchers, could help advance nonlinear laser systems that are used for chemical sensing, explosives detection, biomedical research and potentially many other applications.

Video: Origami Artists Don’t Fold Under Pressure
The four-day OrigamiUSA convention, held at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, drew 650 people from a dozen countries across the Americas, Europe and Asia. The largest contingent was from the U.S., followed by Japan. And the convention is serious business — each attendee received a “survival kit,” which included a packet of origami paper and a giant schedule of the 215 classes offered.

FSU engineer uses light to change makeup of plastics
A FAMU-FSU College of Engineering professor is using rays of light to control the shape of a special type of plastic, a project that could have long-term implications for manufacturing, solar energy harvesting, aerospace flow control and robotic actuators. Mechanical engineering Associate Professor William Oates is in the midst of a four-year project supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to test the possibilities of how light can change the shape of plastics and how those changes could help robots perform different tasks, like grip materials through adhesion. It is a collaborative project with a colleague in chemical engineering, Associate Professor Anant Paravastu. http://news.fsu.edu/More-FSU-News/FSU-engineer-uses-light-to-change-makeup-of-plastics

July 1, 2014

Air Force engineer developed unique method to track space debris
Richard Rast, a senior engineer at the Air Force Research Laboratory, created an innovative way to track this space debris to help reduce the risk of potential collisions—a system that could become a cost-effective supplement to the current processes used by the Air Force and NASA that rely on expensive telescopes, radar systems and considerable manpower for analysis.

Behind a Marine Creature’s Bright Green Fluorescent Glow In a study published in Scientific Reports, an open-access journal of the Nature Publishing Group, Dimitri Deheyn and his colleagues at Scripps Oceanography, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have conducted the most detailed examination of green fluorescent proteins (GFPs) in lancelets, marine invertebrates also known as “amphioxus.” The fish-shaped animals, which spend much of their time in shallow coastal regions burrowed in sand except for their heads, offer unique insights on natural fluorescence since individual specimens can emit both very bright and much dimmer versions of the light, a rare capability in the animal kingdom. https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/behind-marine-creatures-bright-green-fluorescent-glow

A Week in Review: 4/21/13 – 4/27/13

April 22, 2013

Physicists Find Right (and Left) Solution for On-Chip Optics: Nanoscale Router Converts and Directs Optical Signals Efficiently
A Harvard-led team of researchers has created a new type of nanoscale device that converts an optical signal into waves that travel along a metal surface. Significantly, the device can recognize specific kinds of polarized light and accordingly send the signal in one direction or another.

April 24, 2013

Supertough, Strong Nanofibers Developed
University of Nebraska-Lincoln materials engineers have developed a structural nanofiber that is both strong and tough, a discovery that could transform everything from airplanes and bridges to body armor and bicycles. Their findings are featured on the cover of this week’s April issue of the American Chemical Society’s journal, ACS Nano. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and a U.S. Army Research Office Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grant.

April 24, 2013

U.S.-Australia agreement promotes space situational awareness
A new agreement made between the United States and Australia represents the first in what U.S. Strategic Command’s commander hopes will be many that promote transparency in the space domain.