A Self-Powered Nano Device with Wireless Data Transmission

A Self-Powering Nano-Transmitter via ACS

Scientists working with DARPA and Department of Energy backing have cracked the code on a kind of technological milestone, for the first time developing a nano-device capable of powering itself by harvesting energy from vibrations while at the same time transmitting data wirelessly over long distances. That kind of technology could have huge implications for devices ranging from surveillance implements to airborne sensors to implantable medical devices.

First self-powered device with wireless data transmission

Zhong Lin Wang and colleagues explain that advances in electronics have opened the door to developing tiny devices that operate battery-free on minute amounts of electricity that can be harvested from the pulse of a blood vessel, a gentle breeze, or the motions of a person walking. “It is entirely possible to drive the devices by scavenging energy from sources in the environment such as gentle airflow, vibration, sonic wave, solar, chemical, and/or thermal energy,” the scientists explain.

The device consists of a nanogenerator that produces electricity from mechanical vibration/triggering, a capacitor to store the energy, and electronics that include a sensor and a radio transmitter similar to those in Bluetooth mobile phone headsets. Their device transmitted wireless signals that could be detected by an ordinary commercial radio at distances of more than 30 feet.

Nanogenerator - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nanogenerator is an energy harvesting device converting the external kinetic energy into an electrical energy based on the energy conversion by nano-structured piezoelectric material. Although its definition may include any types of energy harvesting devices with nano-structure converting the various types of the ambient energy (e.g. solar power and thermal energy), it is used in most of times to specifically indicate the kinetic energy harvesting devices utilizing nano-scaled piezoelectric material after its first introduction in 2006.[1]
Although still in the early stage of the development, it has been regarded as a potential breakthrough toward the further miniaturization of the conventional energy harvester, possibly leading the facile integration with the other types of energy harvester converting the different types of energy and the independent operation of mobile electronic devices with the reduced concerns for the energy source, consequently.


China's Tianmen Mountain

glass walkway at china's tianmen mountain park

a new trail path in china's tianmen mountain national park offers visitors an unusual experience: the floor and rails of the pathway are composed of glass, offering walkers a vertigo-inducing look at the sheer drops and wilderness below. the walkway spans three feet wide, composed of glass 2.5-inches thick.


Cyborg Insects Draw Energy From Wing Motion

BBC News - Cyborg search-and-rescue insects' power source unveiled

Efforts to create an army of cyborg insects are being pursued by a team of US-based engineers.
The group is investigating ways to harvest energy from the creatures to power sensors and other equipment fastened to their bodies.

The team has created an energy scavenging device that is attached close to the insects' wings.

It suggested the creatures might one day be used to aid search-and-rescue operations and surveillance.

The University of Michigan team of engineers published their study in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.

Michigan Engineering | Insect cyborgs may become first responders, search and monitor hazardous environs

Professor Khalil Najafi, the chair of electrical and computer engineering, and doctoral student Erkan Aktakka are finding ways to harvest energy from insects, and take the utility of the miniature cyborgs to the next level.

"Through energy scavenging, we could potentially power cameras, microphones and other sensors and communications equipment that an insect could carry aboard a tiny backpack," Najafi said. "We could then send these 'bugged' bugs into dangerous or enclosed environments where we would not want humans to go."

The principal idea is to harvest the insect's biological energy from either its body heat or movements. The device converts the kinetic energy from wing movements of the insect into electricity, thus prolonging the battery life. The battery can be used to power small sensors implanted on the insect (such as a small camera, a microphone or a gas sensor) in order to gather vital information from hazardous environments.

Three energy-scavenging prototypes: (Top) A piezoelectric cantilever beam attached lengthwise along the beetle’s body generates 11.5 µW. (Middle) Piezoelectric cantilever beams attached across the beetle’s body each generate 7.5 µW. (Bottom) Piezoelectric spiral beams attached on the beetle’s thorax each generate 22.5 µW. Image credit: Aktakka, et al.

The U-M team examined several techniques to scavenge energy from wing motion with their results were published in a paper titled "Energy scavenging from insect flight," which was recently published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering. The university is now pursuing a patent for the technology and is seeking commercialization partners to bring it to market.

Getting the insects to go where their handlers want them to is another part of the puzzle that needs to be solved before insect cyborgs can be deployed. But DARPA has been working on this, having put out a call some years back for research proposals for Hybrid-Insect-Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (HI-MEMS) interfaces to control the movement of living insects. Combining the two technologies could be just the thing to take insect cyborgs to the next level and see them used to monitor hazardous situations in the not to distant future.


Bionic Contact Lens Prototype

Bionic contact lens - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bionic contact lenses are being developed to provide a virtual display that could have a variety of uses from assisting the visually impaired to the video game industry.[1] The device will have the form of a conventional contact lens with added bionics technology.[2] The lens will eventually have functional electronic circuits and infrared lights to create a virtual display.[citation needed]
Babak Parviz, a University of Washington assistant professor of electrical engineering is quoted as saying "Looking through a completed lens, you would see what the display is generating superimposed on the world outside.”[3]

Successful test for electronic contact lens | ZDNet

Researchers at the University of Washington and Aalto University, Finland, have built a prototype electronic contact lens and demonstrated its safety by testing it on live rabbit eyes.

The researchers report no signs of adverse side effects in a study published today in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering,

“We have demonstrated the operation of a contact lens display powered by a remote radiofrequency transmitter in free space and on a live rabbit,” said lead researcher, Babak Parviz.

One Per Cent: Electronic contact lens displays pixels on the eyes

The test lens was powered remotely using a 5-millimetre-long antenna printed on the lens to receive gigahertz-range radio-frequency energy from a transmitter placed ten centimetres from the rabbit's eye. To focus the light on the rabbit's retina, the contact lens itself was fabricated as a Fresnel lens - in which a series of concentric annular sections is used to generate the ultrashort focal length needed.

They found their lens LED glowed brightly up to a metre away from the radio source in free space, but needed to be 2 centimetres away when the lens was placed in a rabbit's eye and the wireless reception was affected by body fluids. All the 40-minute-long tests on live rabbits were performed under general anaesthetic and showed that the display worked well - and fluroescence tests showed no damage or abrasions to the rabbit's eyes after the lenses were removed.


A Single-Molecule Nanocar

Four-wheel nanocar takes to the road - nanotechweb.org

A "four-wheel drive car" less than one billionth the length of an average SUV has been built and operated by researchers in the Netherlands and Switzerland. The molecular machine is about 1 nm long and uses electrons as fuel as it navigates across a copper surface. The tiny device could find use in nanometre-sized robotics or as tiny transporters that shift molecules around.

It's the world's smallest electric car – by a BIG margin

Constructed from a single molecule, the nano car sports four-wheel drive, with each "wheel" acting as a separate motor. It is able to travel in an almost straight line, across a copper surface. Instead of carrying its own battery, the car receives electricity from the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope, positioned above it. People who dismiss EVs because of their limited range, however, aren't likely to be impressed - the nano car requires a 500-millivolt charge once every half-revolution of its wheels.

The car doesn't carry its own fuel supply, but it's relatively easy to provide one. Provided that the temperature is kept at is 7K, there's enough energy in the system to provide the vibrational boost. That leaves the matter of the electrons. The authors fed these to the molecule using an scanning tunneling microscope tip. Placing it on a metal surface (in this case, copper) provided the electrons with some place to go afterwards.

Remarkably, it all worked. The authors gave one of the molecules 10 pulses of electrons, and watched it relocate after each one, moving a total of six nanometers by the time the last was delivered. It didn't move in a straight line, however, as it appears that there are some instances where one or more of the wheels doesn't actually turn. That can cause the molecule to move a shorter distance or even veer off to the side.


Fast 3-D Current Disruptions in Magnetic Reconnection Experiments

A 3-D way to release magnetic energy... fast!

Experiments discover a 3-D process by which magnetic reconnection can release energyfaster than expected by classical theories.
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have discovered a new process at work in a mysterious magnetic phenomenon that occurs both in the earth's atmosphere and in space, playing a role in events such as the aurora borealis and .

In a series of experiments on a device known as the Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX), which replicates magnetic reconnection in the laboratory, a team of researchers found that many important plasma quantities are found to have strong variations in very early in the process. This variation may aid in the formation of regions of high with characteristics similar to what have been called "flux ropes."

Experiments show that when the reconnection rate spikes in this 3-D configuration, the high current ropes are ejected out of the reconnection region, leading to a sudden decrease in the current density. The researchers have termed this process a "current layer disruption."

NASA Magnetic Reconnection - YouTube

This science visualization shows a magnetospheric substorm, during which, magnetic reconnection causes energy to be rapidly released along the field lines in the magnetotail, that part of the magnetosphere that stretches out behind Earth. This released energy is focused down at the poles and the resulting flood of solar particles into the atmosphere, causes the auroras at the North and South Poles. 

Princeton University - PPPL scientists bring mysterious magnetic process down to earth

Scientists believe that magnetic reconnection is behind the extraordinary bursts of radiation that have emerged from the center of the Crab nebula, the remains of an exploded star. The device allows PPPL researchers to recreate the magnetic reconnection process in a controlled setting. (Photo by Elle Starkman)

William Slavin (center), head of PPPL's safety division, gives graduate students a tour of the MRX device, which resembles a large steel barrel attached to arrays of tubes and wires. The device allows PPPL researchers to recreate the magnetic reconnection process in a controlled setting. (Photo by Elle Starkman)


Cotton Candy: FXI's USB Stick-Sized Portable Computer

Cotton Candy takes the guts of an Android phone and crunches them down into a USB stick, essentially acting as a computer you can plug into anything with an HDMI or USB input.
Source: Cotton Candy

FXI Demonstrates Any Screen Connected Computing « FXITech

New York, NY and Trondheim, Norway – November 17, 2011 - FXI Technologies, a hardware and software startup based in Trondheim Norway, demonstrated today the world’s first any screen, connected computing USB device.  Codenamed “Cotton Candy”, this sweet little device serves as a technology bridge between any display, the Cloud, and any input peripheral.

The vision for Cotton Candy is to allow users a single, secure point of access to all personal Cloud services and apps through their favorite operating system, while delivering a consistent experience on any screen.  The device will serve as a companion to smartphones, tablets, notebook PC and Macs, as well add smart capabilities to existing displays, TVs, set top boxes and game consoles.

USB Stick Contains Dual-Core Computer, Turns Any Screen Into an Android Station

The Cotton Candy has a USB 2.0 connector on one end and an HDMI jack on the other. When connected to an HDTV, it uses the HDMI port for video, the USB for power, and Bluetooth to connect to a keyboard, mouse, or tablet for controlling the operating system. The device can output up to 1080p so even a full HD screen can display the Candy’s preloaded Android 2.3 operating system at its native resolution. The dual core CPU is powerful enough to play local 1080p video or stream HD clips from the Web.
HDTVs, monitors, and computers are just the tip of the iceberg for the Cotton Candy. Borgar told us the device will be able to connect to tablets, smartphones, and even set top boxes via USB or Bluetooth. He says that he expects the device to be able to turn even an iPhone or an iPad into a terminal for its environment. Imagine an iPhone running Android!


World's Lightest Material

BBC News - World's 'lightest material' unveiled by US engineers

A team of engineers claims to have created the world's lightest material.
The substance is made out of tiny hollow metallic tubes arranged into a micro-lattice - a criss-crossing diagonal pattern with small open spaces between the tubes.

The researchers say the material is 100 times lighter than Styrofoam and has "extraordinarily high energy absorption" properties.

HRL Laboratories, LLC.

Using an innovative fabrication process developed at HRL, researchers created a “micro-lattice” structure of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of
100 nanometers, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair.
Photo credit: Photo by Dan Little © HRL Laboratories, LLC.
This new material redefines the limits of lightweight materials because of its unique “micro-lattice” cellular architecture. Using an innovative fabrication process developed by HRL senior scientist Dr. Alan Jacobsen, the team was able to make a material that consists of 99.99% open volume by designing the 0.01% solid at the nanometer, micron and millimeter scales. “The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair,” said lead author Dr. Tobias Schaedler.

In addition to its ultra-low density, the material’s cellular architecture gives rise to unprecedented mechanical behavior for a metal, including complete recovery from compression exceeding 50% strain and extraordinarily high energy absorption. Developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the novel material could be used for battery electrodes, catalyst supports, and acoustic, vibration or shock energy damping.

Super-light lattice packs heavy-duty potential | Deep Tech - CNET News

"The trick is to fabricate a lattice of interconnected hollow tubes with a wall thickness of 100 nanometers, 1,000 times thinner than a human hair," said Tobias Schaedler, the HRL researcher who's lead author of the paper. Another HRL author, Bill Carter, likened the design to a small-scale version of the Eiffel Tower: strong, but mostly air.
This sequence of photos shows the nickel lattice being compressed for the first time, then rebounding. After a 50 percent compression, it rebounds to 98 percent its original height.
(Credit: HRL)


Ultrafast Nanoscale LED Data Transmission Developed at Stanford

New lightning-fast, efficient nanoscale data transmission developed at Stanford | Stanford Engineering

A team at Stanford's School of Engineering has demonstrated an ultrafast nanoscale light-emitting diode (LED) that is orders of magnitude lower in power consumption than today's laser-based systems and is able to transmit data at the very rapid rate of 10 billion bits per second. The researchers say it is a major step forward in providing a practical ultrafast, low-power light source for on-chip data transmission.

Stanford's Jelena Vuckovic, an associate professor of electrical engineering, and Gary Shambat, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, announced their device in a research paper set to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Tests show that the device, technically called "nanoscale single-mode LED," can transmit information in computers from chip to chip at least 10 times the speed of any current computer while consuming more than a 1,000 times less energy, the developers say.

The tiny device is a highly advanced version of the LED lamps that are increasingly used in everything from pocket flashlights and home lighting to the "grow-lights" that force-feed everything from house plants to marijuana farms.

Engineers use nanophotonics to reshape on-chip computer data transmission

This illustration shows how a single nanophotonic single-mode LED is constructed. (Image: Gary Shambat, Stanford School of Engineering)

The LED in question is a "single-mode LED," a special type of diode that emits light more or less at a single wavelength, very similar to a laser. 
"Traditionally, engineers have thought only lasers can communicate at high data rates and ultralow power," said Shambat. "Our nanophotonic, single-mode LED can perform all the same tasks as lasers, but at much lower power."


FastRunner DARPA's Ostrich-Inspired Robot

DARPA Apparently Wants an Ostrich Robot | Geekosystem

Ostriches are famous the world over for being fast runners, and also some of the most evil, foul-tempered creatures on the planet. That speed has got the people at MIT and the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition interested as they work to develop FastRunner, a bipedal ostrichbot capable of moving incredibly fast over land. As far as the ill-tempered nature of the robot’s natural analog, that might perk some interest at DARPA, who are apparently fostering the bot’s development.

Video: Darpa’s Robo-Ostrich Will Outrun Usain Bolt | Danger Room | Wired.com

Today’s robots move about as fast as your grandma’s morning mall-walking group. Tomorrow’s robots will move as fast as Usain Bolt — all thanks to limbs modeled on ostrich legs.

That’s exactly the point, according to the Darpa-funded researchers behind a collaborative effort underway at MIT and the Florida Institute of Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). Only one year into a four-year research contract, the team is showing off stunning results that are expected to produce the fastest, most agile ‘bot ever. He’s called FastRunner, and he’ll zip along at 10 times the speed of a standard mobile robot, which clocks a mere 3 miles per hour.

FastRunner: DARPA’s Metal Gear?

FastRunner concept (left), fictitious Metal Gear Mk.II (right)

Recently Dr. Russ Tedrake (MIT) gave a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University where he presented preliminary work on an exciting new robot project that, conceptually speaking, looks quite a bit like the robots from Konami’s hit video game franchise.  It’s being developed by Tedrake’s team at MIT alongside that of Dr. Jerry Pratt (IHMC) who cut his teeth on the Spring Flamingo at the MIT Leg Lab.


The iFling Robot

iFling robot gets juiced for third design iteration

(PhysOrg.com) -- The team at the Coordinated Robotics Lab at the University of California San Diego (UCSD), which created the little iFling robot, says the iFling is now in the process of its third design iteration, and with added potential. This is a radio-controlled robot often described as a “self-righting little Segway-like vehicle.” Its activity is picking up and throwing ping pong balls. The robot was built using a 3-D printer, according to the video narration.


It is tempting to use personifications (``dynamic'', ``nimble'', ``madcap'', ...) to describe robotic systems; we have in fact given in to such temptations on these pages. These temptations are especially strong for a vehicle endowed with feedback, which often bestows the vehicle with a certain life-like responsiveness, and makes the vehicle particularly engaging as a toy. Thus, we have explored (through three major design iterations) the miniaturization and simplification of our original iHop concept to form a (non-hopping) self-righting Segway dubbed iFling that can pick up and throw ping-pong balls (or swack them around, using the leg as a hockey stick). Due to the very careful attention paid during its design, picking up a ball is in fact quite easy with this vehicle: simply roll over a ball and wedge it between the body and one of the rotating wheels. Throwing a ball is also quite effective, and is achieved in a precise and energetic lacrosse/jai-alai/TracBall fashion.
Source: iFling


ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Quad-Core Android Tablet

Asus unveils Eee Pad Transformer Prime | Mobile Devices | ZDNet UK

The next model in Asus's Eee Pad Transfomer line of docking tablets will come with a Tegra 3 quad-core chip, plus the promise of longer battery life, when it arrives in the UK

The device made its debut in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday. It will be priced around £499 when it goes on sale in the UK in January, the company said. It will go up against rivals such as Lenovo's ThinkPad tablet.

ASUS Transformer Prime

Extremely Slim Profile
  • Metallic spun finished design with ultra-slim features. Measurements: 8.3mm (0.33”) thin and 586g (1.29lbs) light
Superior Performance and Long Battery Life
  • NVIDIA® Tegra® 3 – The world’s first quad-core mobile processor – for fast apps, immersive gaming, HD video, and low power
Unrivaled Visual Acuity
  • Super IPS+ panel in 178° wide-view angle with 600 nits brilliant luminance
  • 8MP rear auto-focus camera with flash and 1.2MP front camera
Supreme Sound
  • SonicMaster technology and built-in subwoofer for a superior sound range
Unlimited Productivity
  • Up to 18 hours of battery life when docked and charged
  • Mobile Dock with full QWERTY keyboard and touchpad for productivity and mobile flexibility
  • Endless expansion with USB and SD card ports
Friendly and Convenient User Interface, Software, and Service
  • Upgradable Google Android OS and updated user interface and software

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Nov. launch a no-go - The Washington Post

Obviously, the biggest change comes on the inside. The tablet is the first to have Nvidia's quad-core Tegra 3 processor (formerly known as Kal El), and while we have tons of details on that right here, the most important thing you need to know is that it promises five times the performance of Tegra 2. But that extra power doesn't mean extra weight or a hit on battery life, in fact it means the opposite. The tablet has been significantly slimmed down to .33 inches (8.3mm) and it's said to last 12 hours on a charge. Not to mention, with the keyboard dock's 22Wh battery attached, Asus is claiming 18 hours.

NVIDIA Tegra 3: Tablet Chip With A Twist - Hardware - Processors - Informationweek

NVIDIA's truly unique twist in the Tegra 3 is the addition of a fifth CPU core that runs transparently to the OS. In NVIDIA's new architecture, the fifth core is identical to the four main cores--they're all ARM Cortex A9 CPUs. However, the added core is built to consume less power in standby mode and run at a lower clock speeds. The four main cores remain off while the device is in active standby mode (say sitting in your pocket or briefcase,) or while playing back music.


Honda's ASIMO Robot Updated

Honda Unveils Faster, Smarter ASIMO 'Humanoid' Robot | News  Opinion | PCMag.com

Auto maker Honda on Tuesday unveiled an updated version of its ASIMO robot, which the company said can run faster, recognize faces and voices, and navigate unsteady terrains, among other things.

In a video shown on BBC, ASIMO is shown pushing a drink cart, running across a stage, pouring liquid into a paper cup, and hopping on one leg.

For the latest version, a new system continuously evaluates the input from multiple sensors, predicts the situation and then determines the behaviour of the robot, meaning that Asimo is now capable of responding to the movement of people and the surrounding situations. This technology also enables it to recognise faces and voices.

It also has strengthened legs, an expanded range of leg movement and a newly developed control technology that enables Asimo to change landing positions mid-movement.

Its hands have tactile and force sensors imbedded in the palm and in each finger. Combined with the object recognition technology, Asimo now possesses greater dexterity, such as being able to pick up a container of liquid and twisting off the cap, or holding a soft paper cup without squashing it.


7AC's Energy Efficient Salt Driven Air Conditioner

Salt-driven air conditioner looks to slash energy | Green Tech - CNET News

BOSTON--Startup 7AC Technologies hopes saltwater and high-tech plastic will lead to a more efficient air conditioner.
7AC Technologies' air conditioner is designed around a series of flat, multi-layered plastic plates covered with a proprietary membrane licensed from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. With water flowing inside each plate, a solution of salt water is sprayed over the surface of the plate. As the salt solution rolls down the surface of the plates, it attracts water vapor from humid air.

The salt water is then collected and passed through another set of plates which heat the solution and exhaust hot, moist air. Then, the salt solution, minus some water, is recirculated back toward the dehumidification plates, explained Vandermeulen.


The 7AC technology consists of an all-plastic conditioner, responsible for treating the outside air, and a regenerator, for re-concentrating the desiccant. The liquid desiccant design allows for the utilization of waste heat sources, paving the way for true net-zero energy retrofits.
Source: Technology

Ultra High Efficiency HVAC Systems Ready for Prime Time?

Is this the future of HVAC?

It will be very interesting to keep an eye on 7AC in the coming years. Is this the technology that could drive the HVAC industry in the future? Much like the typical car today with its combustion engine, HVAC technology in its current form is quite old. 7AC’s website has a few golden stats right on the home page:
1. “Current HVAC solutions are inefficient.”
2. “Almost 100% of the market is based on 100 year old technology.”
3. “HVAC is typically 60% of building operating costs.”
Similar to the way battery powered cars will one day overtake the 100 year old combustion engine, maybe the dessicant air conditioner will bid farewell to the condenser-based AC units in use today.


The e-volo Multicopter

Photos of the Day: The e-volo Multicopter | Product Design and Development

The e-volo multicopter is an innovative, vertically starting, human carrying transportation device that is uncatagorisable to its current flight counterparts.

The e-volos sixteen propellers allow it to take off and land similar to a helicopter. Its massive plus points compared to a helicopter are the simplicity of its engineered construction without complicated mechanics and its redundant engines. Should anything go wrong, e-volo can still safely land even if up to four of its sixteen motors should fail. Flight time can last between ten to thirty minutes, depending on the payload and the capacity of the lithium batteries. With an empty weight at 80 kg (including batteries), e-volo fits into the class of ultralights.

e-volo - Home

World’s first manned flight with an electric multicopter

At the end of October 2011, Thomas Senkel of e-volo had completed a series of unmanned tests and was ready for the first manned flight on an airstrip in the southwest of Germany. The flight lasted one minute and 30 seconds, after which the constructor and test pilot stated:

Source: e-volo - Home


Possible applications
The main purpose for a single seat device would most likely be for air sports equipment and in the leisure sector. A professional application could be made in areas where helicopters are too big and expensive, for aerial photographs or field inspection of large facilities (wind turbines, pipelines), areas where its flight capabilities (vertical take off, landing, and hovering) are of crucial importance.

As a multi-seater it would also be conceivable to use for sightseeing flights, air ambulance, or air taxi.

There most certainly will be entirely new use areas that no one has yet imagined.

Vision for the future

A limiting factor is still the energy capacity of modern batteries. Longer flight times are achievable, with higher energy amounts. However during flight, less is more, as you carry the extra weight, successfully voiding the capability of extra batteries.