Week in Review: 5/10/15 – 5/16/15

May 15, 2015

Smithsonian Magazine Features Senior Design Team’s Project
ChemSense was the senior design project for Travis Brannen, John Elson, Steven Prickett, Kaarthik Rajendran, Aaron Treptow and Parker Wray who were advised by Prof. Ray Chen and involved creating a handheld laser spectrometer that can seek out airborne chemicals and pollutants in the mid-infrared spectrum, the wavelength region where those gases are best detected.

May 13, 2015

New Nano Materials Inspired by Bird Feathers Play with Light to Create Color
“We synthesized and assembled nanoparticles of a synthetic version of melanin to mimic the natural structures found in bird feathers,” said Nathan Gianneschi, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego. “We want to understand how nature uses materials like this, then to develop function that goes beyond what is possible in nature.”

Researchers build new fermion microscope
Now a team of MIT physicists has built a microscope that is able to see up to 1,000 individual fermionic atoms. The researchers devised a laser-based technique to trap and freeze fermions in place, and image the particles simultaneously.

Researchers Discover “Swing-Dancing” Pairs of Electrons
A research team led by the University of Pittsburgh’s Jeremy Levy has discovered electrons that can “swing dance.” This unique electronic behavior can potentially lead to new families of quantum devices.

May 12, 2015

Controlling swarms of robots with a finger
Using a smart tablet and a red beam of light, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a system that allows people to control a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area. When the person swipes the tablet to drag the light across the floor, the robots follow. If the operator puts two fingers in different locations on the tablet, the machines will split into teams and repeat the process.