A team of California researchers has developed a robotic gripper that combines the adhesive properties of gecko toes and the adaptability of air-powered soft robots to grasp a much wider variety of objects than the state of the art.
Researchers will present their findings at the 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation May 21 to 25 in Brisbane, Australia.
The gripper that the team developed can lift up to 45 lbs. and could be used to grasp objects in a wide range of settings, from factory floors to the International Space Station.
Geckos are known as nature’s best climbers because of a sophisticated gripping mechanism on their toes. In previous work, researchers at Stanford University and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory led by Professor Aaron Parness recreated that mechanism with a synthetic material called a gecko-inspired adhesive. This material was used primarily on flat surfaces like walls. In... more
Metamaterial device controls transmission and reflection of acoustic waves
Metamaterials researchers at Duke University have demonstrated the design and construction of a thin material that can control the redirection and reflection of sound waves with almost perfect efficiency.
While many theoretical approaches to engineer such a device have been proposed, they have struggled to simultaneously control both the transmission and reflection of sound in exactly the desired manner, and none have been experimentally demonstrated.
The new design is the first to demonstrate complete, near-perfect control of sound waves and is quickly and easily fabricated using 3-D printers. The results appear online April 9 in Nature Communications.
“Controlling the transmission... more
David Baillot/UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a miniature, ultra-low power injectable biosensor that could be used for continuous, long-term alcohol monitoring.
The chip is small enough to be implanted in the body just beneath the surface of the skin and is powered wirelessly by a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or patch.
“The ultimate goal of this work is to develop a routine, unobtrusive alcohol and drug monitoring device for patients in substance abuse treatment programs,” said Drew Hall, an electrical engineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering who led the project. Hall is also affiliated with the Center for Wireless Communications and the Center for Wearable Sensors, both at UC San Diego. Hall’s team presented this work at the 2018 IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference (CICC) on Apr. 10 in San Diego... more
Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), Texas A&M (USA) and the Israeli Institute of Technology have developed new theories for the fragmentation of metallic porous materials that can be applied to structural design in the aerospace, civil security and transportation sectors.
The scientists have analyzed the mechanisms which reside behind the phenomenon of dynamic fragmentationof ductile metallic materials, that is, those that exhibit large permanent deformations when they are subjected to severe mechanical loading (steel, aluminum, tantalum…). Previously it was thought that dynamic fragmentation was basically triggeredby the inherent defects of the material (pores). What this research suggests is thatthe key mechanism which controls dynamic fragmentation may not be the porosity of the metallic material (defects), but the inertia effects.
One of the authors of the study, Komi Espoir N'Souglo, pointed out that “we have developed a simple analytical model... more
Novel method uses 50 times less solvent than conventional methods
A research team led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed an economical and industrially viable strategy to produce graphene. The new technique addresses the long-standing challenge of an efficient process for large-scale production of graphene, and paves the way for sustainable synthesis of the material.
Graphene is a two-dimensional material with a honeycomb structure of only one atom thick. Dubbed as the material of the future, graphene exhibits unique electronic properties that can potentially be employed for a wide range of applications such as touch screens, conductive inks and fast-charging batteries. The difficulty to produce high-quality graphene affordably... more
Courtesy of the Light to Energy Team/Los Alamos National Laboratory
Rice, Los Alamos discovery advances case for perovskite-based solar cells
Some materials are like people. Let them relax in the sun for a little while and they perform a lot better.
A collaboration led by Rice University and Los Alamos National Laboratory found that to be the case with a perovskite compound touted as an efficient material to collect sunlight and convert it into energy.
The researchers led by Aditya Mohite, a staff scientist at Los Alamos who will soon become a professor at Rice; Wanyi Nie, also a staff scientist at Los Alamos, and lead author and Rice graduate student Hsinhan (Dave) Tsai discovered that constant illumination relaxes strain in perovskite’s crystal lattice, allowing it to uniformly expand in all directions.
Expansion aligns... more
Researchers find an ultrathin layer of aluminum oxide, though solid, can flow like a liquid instead of cracking.
Researchers have found that a solid oxide protective coating for metals can, when applied in sufficiently thin layers, deform as if it were a liquid, filling any cracks and gaps as they form.
The thin coating layer should be especially useful to prevent leakage of tiny molecules that can penetrate through most materials, such as hydrogen gas that could be used to power fuel-cell cars, or the radioactive tritium (a heavy form of hydrogen) that forms inside the cores of nuclear power plants.
Most metals, with the notable exception of gold, tend to oxidize when exposed to air and water. This reaction, which produces rust on iron, tarnish on silver, and verdigris on copper or brass, can weaken... more
New research shows how paper-cutting can make ultra strong, stretchable electronics
Like a yoga novice, electronic components don’t stretch easily. But that’s changing thanks to a variation of origami that involves cutting folded pieces of paper.
In a study published April 2 in the journal Advanced Materials, a University at Buffalo-led research team describes how kirigami has inspired its efforts to build malleable electronic circuits.
Their innovation — creating tiny sheets of strong yet bendable electronic materials made of select polymers and nanowires — could lead to improvements in smart clothing, electronic skin and other applications that require pliable circuitry.
“Traditional electronics, like the printed circuit boards in tablets and other electronic... more
Technique could prevent overheating of laptops, mobile phones, and other electronics.
Plastics are excellent insulators, meaning they can efficiently trap heat — a quality that can be an advantage in something like a coffee cup sleeve. But this insulating property is less desirable in products such as plastic casings for laptops and mobile phones, which can overheat, in part because the coverings trap the heat that the devices produce.
Now a team of engineers at MIT has developed a polymer thermal conductor — a plastic material that, however counterintuitively, works as a heat conductor, dissipating heat rather than insulating it. The new polymers, which are lightweight and flexible, can conduct 10 times as much heat as most commercially used polymers.
Bacterial cellulose can be used in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications, such as implants and artificial organs.
Bacterial cellulose (BC) nanofibers are promising building blocks for the development of sustainable materials with the potential to outperform conventional synthetic materials. BC, one of the purest forms of nanocellulose, is produced at the interface between the culture medium and air, where the aerobic bacteria have access to oxygen. Biocompatibility, biodegradability, high thermal stability and mechanical strength are some of the unique properties that facilitate BC adoption in food, cosmetics and biomedical applications including tissue regeneration, implants, wound dressing, burn treatment and artificial blood vessels.
In the study published in Materials Horizons researchers at Aalto... more