Solar hydropanel pulls 10 liters of clean drinking water out of the air per day

Solar-powered water extractor

By Derek Markham

By harvesting water vapor from the air and condensing it into liquid, atmospheric water generators can essentially pull water from the air, and these devices hold a lot of promise for providing an independent source of drinking water. And although drought-stricken regions and locations without safe or stable water sources are prime candidates for water production and purification devices such as those, residences and commercial buildings in the developed world could also benefit from their use, and they make a great fit for off-grid homes and emergency preparedness kits.

The statistics speak for themselves:

  • 40 percent of America’s 50,000 community water systems have had water quality violations, according to the EPA.
  • 15 percent of Americans still rely on wells as their main source of water. A full 50 percent of that water wouldn’t pass a quality test.
  • Over 450,000 California residents who are served by a Community Water System are subjected to water that is failing to meet the Safe Drinking Water Act.
  • Evidence shows that American households facing water insecurity and poor water quality are likely to have lower incomes and live in areas where infrastructure has been systemically underfunded.
  • 100 percent of California’s failing systems serve less than 100,000 people; 96.4 percent serve less than 10,000 people. Tulare County, where Allensworth is located, has largest number of systems without safe water. (Community Water Center’s Drinking Water Tool identifies exactly where communities have the environmental burden of no clean water and are also disadvantaged.)
  • The most common contaminants found in these water systems are arsenic, nitrate, lead, copper, Uranium, and E.Coli.
Continue reading… “Solar hydropanel pulls 10 liters of clean drinking water out of the air per day”

Ion Engines Could Work on Earth too, to Make Silent, Solid-State Aircraft

Ion engines are the best technology for sending spacecraft on long missions. They’re not suitable for launching spacecraft against powerful gravity, but they require minimal propellant compared to rockets, and they drive spacecraft to higher velocities over extended time periods. Ion thrusters are also quiet, and their silence has some scientists wondering if they could use them on Earth in applications where noise is undesirable.

Powered flight is noisy. Helicopters make a horrible racket, and screaming jet engines can make life near an airport almost unbearable. Even small propeller-driven aircraft are noisy. But what if ion engines could be used instead of these louder propulsion systems, at least in some applications where noise is an issue?

Steven Barrett from MIT thinks the idea has merit. Barrett is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s also the Director of the MIT Laboratory for Aviation and the Environment. “The aim of Steven’s research is to help aviation achieve zero environmental impacts,” the MIT website says. “This includes developing low emissions and noise propulsion technologies for aircraft…” This is where Barrett’s work on ion propulsion comes in.

Barrett’s been interested in an ion propulsion system for many years. In 2018 Barrett and colleagues published an article in the journal Nature titled “Flight of an aeroplane with solid-state propulsion.” Solid-state propulsion systems have no moving parts, so they’re very quiet. The power for flight comes from electroaerodynamics, where electricity moves ions and provides propulsion. Barrett and colleagues call the flow of ions the “ionic wind.” They’ve used it to propel a small test aircraft on steady, stable flights. 

Continue reading… “Ion Engines Could Work on Earth too, to Make Silent, Solid-State Aircraft”

First Molecular Electronics Chip Developed – Realizes 50-Year-Old Goal

The Roswell Molecular Electronics Chip uses single molecules as universal sensor elements in a circuit to create a programmable biosensor with real-time, single-molecule sensitivity and unlimited scalability in sensor pixel density.

A platform for single-molecule measurement of binding kinetics & enzyme activity.

The first molecular electronics chip has been developed, realizing a 50-year-old goal of integrating single molecules into circuits to achieve the ultimate scaling limits of Moore’s Law. Developed by Roswell Biotechnologies and a multi-disciplinary team of leading academic scientists, the chip uses single molecules as universal sensor elements in a circuit to create a programmable biosensor with real-time, single-molecule sensitivity and unlimited scalability in sensor pixel density. This innovation, appearing this week in a peer-reviewed article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), will power advances in diverse fields that are fundamentally based on observing molecular interactions, including drug discovery, diagnostics, DNA sequencing, and proteomics.

“Biology works by single molecules talking to each other, but our existing measurement methods cannot detect this,” said co-author Jim Tour, PhD, a Rice University chemistry professor and a pioneer in the field of molecular electronics. “The sensors demonstrated in this paper for the first time let us listen in on these molecular communications, enabling a new and powerful view of biological information.”

Continue reading… “First Molecular Electronics Chip Developed – Realizes 50-Year-Old Goal”

Scientists Create Mind-Blowing Tool to ‘See’ Millions of Brain Cell Connections in Mice

Every green glowing area is one synapse in a living mouse’s brain. The image shows dense constellations of millions of synapses throughout the mouse cortex. Credit: Austin Graves, Johns Hopkins Medicine

To solve the mysteries of how learning and memory occur, Johns Hopkins Medicine scientists have created a system to track millions of connections among brain cells in mice — all at the same time — when the animals’ whiskers are tweaked, an indicator for learning.

Researchers say the new tool gives an unprecedented view of brain cell activity in a synapse — a tiny space between two brain cells, where molecules and chemicals are passed back and forth.

“It was science fiction to be able to image nearly every synapse in the brain and watch a change in behavior,” says Richard Huganir, Ph.D., Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Neuroscience and Psychological and Brain Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University and director of the Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

A summary of the research was published online first Oct. 18 and in its final form Nov. 25 in the journal eLife.

Continue reading… “Scientists Create Mind-Blowing Tool to ‘See’ Millions of Brain Cell Connections in Mice”

Top 10 future technologies you’ve definitely never heard of

And how they will change the world

By Adrien Book

CRISPR, Quantum, Graphene, Smart Dust, Digital Twins, the Metaverse… You’ve heard about it all. Seen it all. Read it all. These technologies no longer hold any secrets for you. Hell, you even regularly mention them over dinner and at work, and have become the go-to person for questions about future innovations.

Yet, technology is ever-changing, and this precious knowledge must be both managed and updated regularly. With this in mind, I’ve put together a list of 10 technologies that are likely to make big waves in the future, but are not on the public’s radar as of today.

Continue reading… “Top 10 future technologies you’ve definitely never heard of”

Researchers Use Quantum Entanglement to Achieve “Ultrabroadband”

By Alex McFarland

Researchers at the University of Rochester have harnessed quantum entanglement to achieve incredibly large bandwidth. They did this by using a thin-film nanophotonic device. 

This new approach could lead to enhanced sensitivity and resolution for experiments in metrology and sensing, as well as higher dimensional encoding of information in quantum networks for information processing and communications. 

The research was published in Physical Review Letters. 

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These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2021

  • The 10th anniversary edition of the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years.
  • Experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American highlight technological advances that could revolutionize agriculture, health and space.
  • Self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologies on the list.

At COP26, countries committed to new, ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions this decade. Delivering on these promises will rely on the development and scale up of green technologies. 

Two such technologies – the production of “green” ammonia and engineered crops that make their own fertilizer – both aiming to make agriculture more sustainable, made it onto this year’s list of emerging tech.

Continue reading… “These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2021”

Stanford engineers team up with Michelin-star chef to build modular restaurants

By Christine Hall

While studying engineering at Stanford, Alex Kolchinski, Alex Gruebele and Max Perham met and bonded around the lack of food options on campus and the cost of the options that were there.

“Even on a subsidized meal plan, it would cost $10 for lunch and more for dinner,” Kolchinski told TechCrunch. “I would sit and do my work in the dining hall just to be able to eat two lunches. Alex (Gruebele) would just go to Chipotle and spend his stipend there.”

While thinking about how to provide good food at a lower cost, both Kolchinski and Gruebele, who were doing PhD work involving robotics, got to thinking about how robots could help people with meal prepping and other tasks.

“It turns out that a $10 burrito bowl really costs $3 in food costs, and the rest of the money goes to places like labor, overhead and real estate,” Kolchinski added. “If we built a self-contained restaurant, we would bring down the price of really good food, and it would be close by.”

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New method converts carbon into graphene or diamond in a flash

Researchers have developed a way to use “flashes” of electricity to convert carbon into different forms such as graphene or nanodiamonds

By Michael Irving

Researchers at Rice University have developed a way to turn carbon from a variety of sources straight into useful forms such as graphene or diamond. The technique uses a “flash” of electricity to heat the carbon, converting it into a final form that’s determined by the length of the flash.

The technique is known as flash joule heating (FJH), and the team first described it in January 2020. An electrical current is passed through carbon-containing materials, heating them to about 2,727 °C (4,940 °F), which converts the carbon into pristine, turbostratic graphene flakes.

Now the researchers have refined the process to create other materials. The original flashes lasted 10 milliseconds, but the team found that by changing the duration between 10 and 500 milliseconds they could also guide the carbon to convert into other forms, too. That includes nanodiamond, and “concentric carbon” where carbon atoms form a shell around a nanodiamond core.

Continue reading… “New method converts carbon into graphene or diamond in a flash”

Researchers create self-sustaining, intelligent, electronic microsystems from green material

This illustration captures the essence of the newly developed electronic microsystem. Credit: UMass Amherst

by Mary Dettloff , University of Massachusetts Amherst

A research team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst has created an electronic microsystem that can intelligently respond to information inputs without any external energy input, much like a self-autonomous living organism. The microsystem is constructed from a novel type of electronics that can process ultralow electronic signals and incorporates a device that can generate electricity “out of thin air” from the ambient environment.

The groundbreaking research was published June 7 in the journal Nature Communications.

Jun Yao, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering (ECE) and an adjunct professor in biomedical engineering, led the research with his longtime collaborator, Derek R. Lovley, a Distinguished Professor in microbiology.

Both of the key components of the microsystem are made from protein nanowires, a “green” electronic material that is renewably produced from microbes without producing “e-waste.” The research heralds the potential of future green electronics made from sustainable biomaterials that are more amenable to interacting with the human body and diverse environments.

This breakthrough project is producing a “self-sustained intelligent microsystem,” according to the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, which is funding the research.

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Ultra-high-density hard drives made with graphene store ten times more data

Graphene can be used for ultra-high density hard disk drives (HDD), with up to a tenfold jump compared to current technologies, researchers at the Cambridge Graphene Center have shown.

by University of Cambridge

The study, published in Nature Communications, was carried out in collaboration with teams at the University of Exeter, India, Switzerland, Singapore, and the US.

HDDs first appeared in the 1950s, but their use as storage devices in personal computers only took off from the mid-1980s. They have become ever smaller in size, and denser in terms of the number of stored bytes. While solid state drives are popular for mobile devices, HDDs continue to be used to store files in desktop computers, largely due to their favorable cost to produce and purchase.

HDDs contain two major components: platters and a head. Data are written on the platters using a magnetic head, which moves rapidly above them as they spin. The space between head and platter is continually decreasing to enable higher densities.

Currently, carbon-based overcoats (COCs) – layers used to protect platters from mechanical damages and corrosion—occupy a significant part of this spacing. The data density of HDDs has quadrupled since 1990, and the COC thickness has reduced from 12.5nm to around 3nm, which corresponds to one terabyte per square inch. Now, graphene has enabled researchers to multiply this by ten.

Continue reading… “Ultra-high-density hard drives made with graphene store ten times more data”

MIT Engineers Create a Programmable Digital Fiber – With Memory, Sensors, and AI

By Becky Ham, Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

MIT researchers have created the first fabric-fiber to have digital capabilities, ready to collect, store and analyze data using a neural network.

In a first, the digital fiber contains memory, temperature sensors, and a trained neural network program for inferring physical activity.

MIT researchers have created the first fiber with digital capabilities, able to sense, store, analyze, and infer activity after being sewn into a shirt.

Yoel Fink, who is a professor of material sciences and electrical engineering, a Research Laboratory of Electronics principal investigator, and the senior author on the study, says digital fibers expand the possibilities for fabrics to uncover the context of hidden patterns in the human body that could be used for physical performance monitoring, medical inference, and early disease detection.

Or, you might someday store your wedding music in the gown you wore on the big day — more on that later.

Continue reading… “MIT Engineers Create a Programmable Digital Fiber – With Memory, Sensors, and AI”