Thin and ultra-fast photodetector sees the full spectrum

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Artist’s impression of the photodetector device created by RMIT University researchers.

 Researchers have developed the world’s first photodetector that can see all shades of light, in a prototype device that radically shrinks one of the most fundamental elements of modern technology.

Photodetectors work by converting information carried by light into an electrical signal and are used in a wide range of technologies, from gaming consoles to fibre optic communication, medical imaging and motion detectors. Currently photodetectors are unable to sense more than one color in the one device.

This means they have remained bigger and slower than other technologies, like the silicon chip, that they integrate with.

The new hyper-efficient broadband photodetector developed by researchers at RMIT University is at least 1,000 times thinner than the smallest commercially available photodetector device.

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Harvard scientists invented a material that ‘remembers’ its shape

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Still trying to wrap my head around this one, to be honest.

Scientists at Harvard are claiming they’ve invented a new “wool-like” fabric that changes shape and, if I’m being completely honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. First off, how the hell can a fabric have a memory and, secondly, what does that even mean?

A post on Harvard’s website uses hair as a metaphor in an attempt to clarify. If you straighten your hair — and your hair gets wet in the rain — it eventually goes back to its original shape, whether that’s curly or wavy or whatever.

Apparently that’s because hair has “shape memory”.

Researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have created a fibrous material that does much the same thing. The hope? This new material could be used in clothes to help reduce waste in the fashion industry. The example the Harvard article uses: a one-size all fits t-shirt that could automatically shrink or expand to fit to a person’s specific measurements. Or how about self-fitting bras or underwear?

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New silicone 3D printing opens up applications for robotics, medicine, wearables

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The fabrication of soft devices is evolving further, with the completion of recent research performed by US scientists. With the results published in “3D printable tough silicone double networks,” the authors explain how soft materials can be fabricated with micron resolution for complex systems like robotics, as well as new types of wearables.

Soft materials are produced industrially for many applications, with soft matter deployed for shock absorption, conformal requirements, energy recapture and robotics, where devices must be able to deform. Cross-linked materials like silicone rubbers (more formally known as poly(dimethylsiloxanes)) are popular for use due to strong mechanical properties, and temperature and chemical resistance. Most methods for using such materials with traditional techniques like injection molding are extremely limited though, and only suitable for creating basic geometries.

Previous research has shown success with liquid silicone rubber material for 3D printing ink, yielding more complex shapes. Challenges have been noted, however, in terms of structures being printed with overhangs, as well as those with a “high aspect ratio structure,” due to lack of stability like “slumping” before curing. Other experimental techniques have resulted in a lack of resolution, inferior mechanical properties, or slower printing speed.

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This tiny robot tank could one day help doctors explore your intestine

With a bulky, armored appearance, heavy duty treads for gripping, and a claw arm on the front, the Endoculus robot vehicle looks like it belongs on the battlefield. In fact, it’s just 3 cm wide, 2.3 cm tall, and designed for an entirely different kind of inhospitable environment: Your intestine.

“[This] robotic capsule endoscope, Endoculus, is a tethered robot designed for colonoscopy applications,” Mark Rentschler, a mechanical engineering professor in the Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory at the University of Colorado, told Digital Trends. “The goals are twofold: design a platform for a robot endoscope in the gastrointestinal tract, and enable autonomous capabilities to assist physicians with disease diagnosis and treatment during these procedures.”

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Army of a million microscopic robots created to explore on tiny scale

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Artist’s rendition of an array of microscopic robots

 A troop of a million walking robots could enable scientific exploration at a microscopic level.

Researchers have developed microscopic robots before, but they weren’t able to move by themselves, says Marc Miskin at the University of Pennsylvania. That is partly because of a lack of micrometre-scale actuators – components required for movement, such as the bending of a robot’s legs.

Miskin and his colleagues overcame this by developing a new type of actuator made of an extremely thin layer of platinum. Each robot uses four of these tiny actuators as legs, connected to solar cells on its back that enable the legs to bend in response to laser light and propel their square metallic bodies forwards.

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RoBeetle is a tiny robot that uses methanol for fuel

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RoBeetle is a tiny robot that uses methanol for fuel

One of the biggest challenges facing researchers who are working on small robots is how to power them. The problem is that most batteries add significantly to the weight and take up lots of space inside small robots, making them impractical. Scientists have come up with a robot called the RoBeetle that doesn’t use a battery, instead relying on liquid methanol for power.

The body of the RoBeetle is a fuel tank filled with methanol. It has four legs with the rear legs fixed and the front legs attached to a transmission. The transmission is connected to a leaf spring-tensioned in a way that pulls the legs backwards. Its design allows the robot to stand upright when still.

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The big future of satellite internet just took a promising step forward

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As companies like SpaceX and Amazon scramble the satellites to build internet constellations, an old piece of tech gets an update.

Some of the biggest companies in the world, like Amazon and SpaceX, are looking towards space for the future of the Internet. Satellite-based Internet is a nascent enterprise, but analysts believe that broadband Internet beamed to Earth from orbit could be a massive business fewer than 20 years, earning hundreds of billions of dollars.

Attention has focused on the “space” part of “space Internet,” with news stories focused on the rocket launches getting SpaceX’s Starlink satellites into space, and how Amazon plans to catch up with satellites of its own. But all of these satellites will need transceivers on Earth to send and receive data. Scientists at the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Socionext Inc. have built a new one that is made to work with the next generation of Internet satellites.

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Long-range 4D imaging radar on a chip unveiled

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Developer of affordable imaging radars for the automotive industry, RFISee is unveiling the first Phased Array 4D imaging radar on a chip. RFISee’s all weather radar has proven its ability to detect cars from 500 meters and pedestrians from 200 meters, with an angular resolution greater than 1°.

The company’s engineers have adapted Phased Array antenna technology, used in military systems including the F-35 fighter jet and in air defence systems, while at the same time reducing the price to the current level of automotive sensors. Prototypes of RFISee’s radar are under evaluation by top automotive OEMs and Tier-1s.

Unlike many traditional and new types of radar, RFISee’s patented 4D imaging radar uses a powerful focused beam based on proprietary Phased Array radar technology. The focused beam created by dozens of transmitters rapidly scans the field of view. The receivers ensure a much-improved radar image, a better signal to noise ratio, and a detection range of obstacles such as cars and pedestrians that is six times broader when compared to existing radars. The competitive edge of RFISee’s radar prototype has already been proven in extensive testing.

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Cambridge researchers create a touchscreen you don’t have to touch

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We’d assume at this point that every smartphone user knows that their touchscreen is one of the nastiest devices they own. The surface of a touchscreen can be packed with viruses and bacteria that have the potential to make people sick. This is a particularly significant issue in the current world climate with the coronavirus pandemic leading to illnesses that could potentially kill people.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge have been working on a new type of touchscreen that doesn’t have to be touched. It’s called the “no-touch touchscreen” and was developed specifically for use in cars. Researchers believe that it could have widespread applications in the post-COVID-19 world thanks to its ability to reduce the risk pathogen transmission from the surface of devices. The patent behind the technology is known as “predictive touch” and was developed as part of research collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover.

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KFC is working with a Russian 3D bioprinting firm to try to make lab-produced chicken nuggets

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The restaurant chain says it’s the meat of the future

KFC is trying to create the world’s first laboratory-produced chicken nuggets, part of its “restaurant of the future” concept, the company announced. The chicken restaurant chain will work with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions to develop bioprinting technology that will “print” chicken meat, using chicken cells and plant material.

KFC plans to provide the bioprinting firm with ingredients like breading and spices “to achieve the signature KFC taste” and will seek to replicate the taste and texture of genuine chicken.

It’s worth noting that the bioprinting process KFC describes uses animal material, so any nuggets it produced wouldn’t be vegetarian. KFC does offer a vegetarian option at some of its restaurants; last year it became the first US fast-food chain to test out Beyond Meat’s plant-based chicken product, which it plans to roll out to more of its locations this summer.

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Bacteria that eats metal accidentally discovered by scientists

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Manganese oxide nodules generated by the bacteria discovered by the Caltech team.

(CNN)Scientists have discovered a type of bacteria that eats and gets its calories from metal, after suspecting they exist for more than a hundred years but never proving it.

Now microbiologists from the California Institute of Technology (or Caltech) accidentally discovered the bacteria after performing unrelated experiments using a chalk-like type of manganese, a commonly found chemical element.

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