Researchers combine lasers and terahertz waves in camera that sees ‘unseen’ detail

 

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The time-resolved nonlinear ghost imaging camera uses a nonlinear crystal to convert standard laser light to terahertz patterns, allowing the reconstruction of complex samples using a single terahertz pixel.

A team of physicists at the University of Sussex has successfully developed the first nonlinear camera capable of capturing high-resolution images of the interior of solid objects using terahertz (THz) radiation.

Led by Professor Marco Peccianti of the Emergent Photonics (EPic) Lab, Luana Olivieri, Dr. Juan S. Totero Gongora and a team of research students built a new type of THz camera capable of detecting THz electromagnetic waves with unprecedented accuracy.

Images produced using THz radiation are called ‘hyperspectral’ because the image consists of pixels, each one containing the electromagnetic signature of the object in that point.

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12 futuristic things that actually already exist

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The future is now

 As this list of items will reveal, the space-age electric future that we once only dreamed about is here. (Yes, right now!)

The speed at which technology is evolving and changing every aspect of our lives is astounding. Think about it. As Futurist Thomas Frey has pointed out, before 2007, our phones were…phones! They did not have the ability to stream every song in the known universe or tell us how to beat traffic on the way to the mall. And now? Your phone does everything. You use it to monitor and control your finances. It keeps you entertained in myriad ways. It checks your heart rate, how many steps you took today, and so much more.

In fact, many things that were once solely the dreams of science-fiction writers or only existed in episodes of The Jetsons are now basic parts of our everyday lives. Take a look at some of the crazy futuristic things that actually exist right now. And while you’re at it, check out these other products that will become “smart” in 2020.

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Finland makes protein out of thin air; the future is weird

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Okay, so this is just cotton candy. But you get it.

Were you blown away by the invention of a burger patty made of soy protein? Please. As usual, the Scandinavians are here to make us look like absolute dummies. A Finnish company has out-impossible’d the Impossible Burger with the invention of a protein made from thin air. Yeah. Sit with that one for a second.

Solar Foods, a company based outside Helsinki, has successfully created a protein called Solein. Solein is made by a series of processes I learned about at age 15 then promptly discarded: water molecules are split in a process called electrolysis. Then, the hydrogen atom and carbon dioxide from the air feed soil bacteria, which produces Solein. So, the biggest power supply they need to make it is electricity. But if they can get it from solar and wind power, researchers say Solein can be grown with almost zero greenhouse gas emissions.

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The making of Mojo, AR contact lenses that give your eyes superpowers

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Using a display the size of a grain of sand to project images onto the retina, this startup could help everyone from firefighters to people with poor vision.

When I looked into the user interface of Mojo Vision’s augmented reality contact lenses, I didn’t see anything at first except the real world in front of me. Only when I peeked over toward the periphery did a small yellow weather icon appear. When I examined it more closely, I could see the local temperature, the current weather, and some forecast information. I looked over to the 9 o’clock position and saw a traffic icon that gave way to a frontal graphic showing potential driving routes on a simple map. At 12 o’clock, I found my calendar and to-do information. At the bottom of my view was a simple music controller.

Rather than wearing Mojo’s contact lenses—which aren’t yet ready to demo—I was looking at a mock-up of a future, consumer version of their interface through a VR headset. But the point was made. Instead of offering the pretty holograms of the Magic Leap and HoloLens headsets, Mojo aims to place useful data and imagery over your world—and boost your natural vision—using tech that can barely be seen. The startup named the lenses “Mojo” because it wants to build something that’s like getting superpowers for your eyes.

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Quantum computing : Solving problems beyond the power of classical computing

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Quantum computers will lead to vast improvements in drug discovery, weather forecasting and supply chain optimisation.

Weather forecasting today is good. Can it get better? Sure, it can, if computers can be better. This is where quantum computers come into the picture. They possess computing capacity beyond anything that today’s classical computers can ever achieve. This is because quantum computers can run calculations exponentially faster than today’s conventional binary computers. That makes them powerful enough to bridge gaps which exist in today’s weather forecasting, drug discovery, financial modelling and many other complex areas.

Classical computing has been the backbone of modern society. It gave us satellite TV, the internet and digital commerce. It put robots on Mars and smartphones in our pockets.

“But many of the world’s biggest mysteries and potentially greatest opportunities remain beyond the grasp of classical computers,” says Stefan Filipp, quantum scientist at IBM Research. “To continue the pace of progress, we need to augment the classical approach with a new platform, one that follows its own set of rules. That is quantum computing.”

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Gates, Bezos bet on flow battery technology, a potential rival to big bets on lithium-ion

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H/O ESS containers

The U.S. energy storage market is expected to grow by a factor of 12 in the next five years, from 430MW deployed in 2019 to more than 5GW and a value of more than $5 billion by 2024, says Wood Mackenzie Energy Storage Service.

Tesla and GM are making big bets on lithium-ion batteries for energy storage systems and electric vehicles, but billionaire investors and venture capital firms are investing in competing battery technology, such as flow batteries.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the group of private investors led by Bill Gates and fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Jack Ma, invested in iron-flow battery maker ESS in November.

ESS, which makes long-duration, iron flow batteries, secured $30 million in a Series C investment round from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), the group of private investors led by Bill Gates and fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Jack Ma, among others.

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Teenager solves car blind spots using a webcam and projector

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It’s a relatively cheap and remarkably effective fix.

As every cyclist knows, the blind spots caused by a car’s roof pillars can be extremely dangerous. Although companies are working on various high-tech solutions for this problem, a 14-year-old from Pennsylvania has taken a more low-tech approach to create an ingenious fix for the issue.

Alaina Gassler of West Grove came up with the idea for the project after seeing her mother struggle with blind spots while driving. Gassler decided to put a webcam on the outer roof pillar of a car which could record everything that was masked from the driver’s view. Then, she used a projector to display the live feed from the webcam onto the interior pillar, with 3D-printed parts aligning the image exactly between the window and the windshield.

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Porous polymer coatings dynamically control light and heat

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The porous polymer coatings, which switch from white to transparent when wetted, can be put into plastic enclosures to make panels that control light and temperatures of buildings. Credit: Jyotirmoy Mandal/Columbia Engineering

Buildings devote more than 30% of their energy use to heating, cooling, and lighting systems. Passive designs such as cool roof paints have gone a long way toward reducing this usage, and its impact on the environment and climate, but they have one key limitation—they are usually static, and thus not responsive to daily or seasonal changes.

Columbia Engineering researchers have developed porous polymer coatings (PPCs) that enable inexpensive and scalable ways to control light and heat in buildings. They took advantage of the optical switchability of PPCs in the solar wavelengths to regulate solar heating and daylighting, and extended the concept to thermal infrared wavelengths to modulate heat radiated by objects. Their work is published on October 21, 2019 by Joule.

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An Austin startup can 3D-print tiny homes in 24 hours for a fraction of the cost of traditional homebuilding — here’s how Icon could revolutionize affordable housing

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Icon will 3D-print six more tiny homes at a property in Austin housing the city’s homeless population. Katie Canales/Business Insider

Icon is an Austin startup that designs 3D-printing technology capable of building tiny homes in about a day for a fraction of the cost of traditional construction methods.

Icon cofounder Evan Loomis told Business Insider that pinpointing an exact cost estimate is tricky, but the company successfully printed a 350-square-foot proof-of-concept home for $10,000 in 24 hours in 2018.

The company isn’t the first to design 3D printing technology for home building, but its unique customization and on-site construction could be revolutionary feats amid a growing demand in the US for affordable housing.

Icon’s latest 3D printer, the Vulcan ll, is available for purchase and is already being put to use.

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Four revolutionary technologies that are now obsolete

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Japan’s last pager has emitted its final beep.

Tokyo Telemessage, the country’s only remaining pager provider, shut down its radio signals this week, following decades of dwindling subscribers.

Pagers first went on sale in Japan in the 1960s and were known as pokeberu, or “pocket bells”. They were a popular way of contacting someone on the go. Callers could send a short message by dialling a pager number from a landline.

The device was initially used to reach salespeople who were out on the road, but later became a status symbol, clipped to the belts of city workers to demonstrate industriousness.

By the end of the 1980s, there were 60 million pager users worldwide. But within a decade, its popularity was rapidly overtaken by the mobile phone. In the UK, 86% of kids over six-years-old in the UK are now unable to identify a pager.

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Make like a leaf: Researchers developing method to convert carbon dioxide

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Professor Jun Huang from the University of Sydney’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is developing a carbon capture method that aims to go one step beyond storage, instead converting and recycling carbon dioxide (CO2) into raw materials that can be used to create fuels and chemicals.

“Drawing inspiration from leaves and plants, we have developed an artificial photosynthesis method,” said Professor Huang.

“To simulate photosynthesis, we have built microplates of carbon layered with carbon quantum dots with tiny pores that absorb CO2 and water.

“Once carbon dioxide and water are absorbed, a chemical process occurs that combines both compounds and turns them into hydrocarbon, an organic compound that can be used for fuels, pharmaceuticals, agrichemicals, clothing, and construction.

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Photovoltaic-powered sensors for the ‘Internet of Things’

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MIT researchers have designed low-cost, photovoltaic-powered sensors on RFID tags that work in sunlight and dimmer indoor lighting, and can transmit data for years before needing replacement. Credit: MIT News

By 2025, experts estimate the number of Internet of Things devices—including sensors that gather real-time data about infrastructure and the environment—could rise to 75 billion worldwide. As it stands, however, those sensors require batteries that must be replaced frequently, which can be problematic for long-term monitoring.

MIT researchers have designed photovoltaic-powered sensors that could potentially transmit data for years before they need to be replaced. To do so, they mounted thin-film perovskite cells—known for their potential low cost, flexibility, and relative ease of fabrication—as energy-harvesters on inexpensive radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags.

The cells could power the sensors in both bright sunlight and dimmer indoor conditions. Moreover, the team found the solar power actually gives the sensors a major power boost that enables greater data-transmission distances and the ability to integrate multiple sensors onto a single RFID tag.

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