‘Smart’ Ice Skate Developed to Help Prevent Injury

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

This hybrid skate has strain gauges and wires leading from gauges to Wheatstone bridge boards.
Credit: Institute of Physics Publishing

Although there may not be nearly as much physical contact as football or hockey, ice skating has been known to yield very serious injuries to its participants. During jumps, skaters can exert forces of more than six times their body weight. With training sessions consisting of 50 to 100 jumps each, it is easy to see how skating can take a toll on the body.

Now, researchers from Brigham Young University and Ithaca College are using sensor technology in existing blades to help discover how to prevent injury, as well as inform the design of a new and improved skating boot.

This from the Institute of Physics:

The strain gauges are attached directly to the stanchions where the blade connects to the boot, and when the stanchions deform due to the force induced by the ice skater, it causes the strain gauges to deform as well. Once deformed, the electrical resistance of the strain gauge changes—this change is measured by a device called a Wheatstone bridge, and a central control system is used to calculate the overall force that was imparted. The entire measuring device, including a battery, weighs 142 g and fits under the boot space of the blade so that none of the components makes contact with the ice.

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New Development in Higher-Energy Lithium Batteries

Researcher used microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO that could help enable higher-energy battery designs.Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Researcher used microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO that could help enable higher-energy battery designs.
Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The quest for better batteries is an ongoing trend, and now the researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have yet another development to add.

During their research, the scientists found exceptional properties in a garnet material. They now believe that this could lead to the development of higher-energy battery designs.

This from ORNL:

The ORNL-led team used scanning transmission electron microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO. The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations.

Read the full article here.

While most researcher tend to use a pure lithium anode to improve a battery’s energy density, the ORNL scientists believe the LLZO would be an ideal separator material.

“Many novel batteries adopt these two features [lithium anode and aqueous electrolyte], but if you integrate both into a single battery, a problem arises because the water is very reactive when in direct contact with lithium metal,” said ORNL postdoctoral associate Cheng Ma, first author on the team’s study published in Angewandte Chemie. “The reaction is very violent, which is why you need a protective layer around the lithium.”

With developments such as these, which lead to higher-energy batteries – we begin to improve electrified transportation and electric grid energy storage applications. Due to the importance of higher-energy batteries, researchers tend to explore battery designs beyond the limits of lithium-ion technologies.

Read the full study here.

To find out more about battery and how it will revolutionize the future, check out what the ECS Battery Division is doing. Also, head over to the Digital Library to read the latest research (some is even open access!). While you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for e-Alerts so you can keep up-to-date with the fast-paced world of electrochemical and solid-state science.

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Space, Weight, and Cost Solution in Electric Cars

Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery's direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.Credit: Siemns

Until now, the motor and the inverter, which converts the battery’s direct current into alternating current for the motor, were two separate components.
Credit: Siemens

A team of engineers at Siemens’ has developed a way to save space, reduce weight, and cut the cost of electric car production. The team’s solution revolves around integrating an electric car’s motor and inverter, which have always been two separate components prior to this development.

This from Siemens:

The solution’s key feature is the use of a common cooling system for both components. This ensures that the inverter’s power electronics don’t get too hot despite their proximity to the electric motor, and so prevents any reduction in output or service life.

Read the full article here.

Accordingly, the weight of the vehicle is reduced due the integration of the inverter into the motor, which will now only need a single housing. Additionally, the development produces added installation space that can be used for a charging unit.

For more information on current and future developments in the electric car industry, check out some of our past coverage or head over to the Digital Library to see what our scientists are working on.

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IBM Contracts Company to Take Chip Unit

IBM reported a four percent drop in revenue on Monday due to its weak sales in software and services businesses.
Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

IBM reported that they will be getting out of the chip making business in order to give more attention to cloud computing and big data analytics.

The company will pay Globalfoundries $1.5 million over the next three years to take control of chip operations.

“They need to narrow their focus, get their A-game on, and any distractions from a core business perspective, such as this deal, need to be put in the rear-view mirror,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives told Reuters.

This is not the first notion of IBM reducing its presence in the hardware industry. Earlier this month, the company sold its x86 server business to Lenovo Group Ltd. For $2.1 billion.

This from Reuters:

Globalfoundries Chief Executive Sanjay Jha said the company would invest $10 billion between 2014 and 2015 to develop 10 nanometer, 14 nanometer and radio-frequency technologies.

Read the full article here.

What does the future hold for IBM? Connect with us to join us in the discussion.

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New Window into the Brain via See-through Sensors

See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity.Credit: Justin Williams' Research Group

See-through sensors, which have been developed by a team of UW-Madison engineers, should help neural researchers better view brain activity.
Credit: Justin Williams’ Research Group

A team of engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed invisible implantable medical sensor array, which will help neural researchers better view and understand brain activity.

This from the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Neural researchers study, monitor or stimulate the brain using imaging techniques in conjunction with implantable sensors that allow them to continuously capture and associate fleeting brain signals with the brain activity they can see. However, it’s difficult to see brain activity when there are sensors blocking the view.

Read the full article here.

The development of the see-through sensor will help overcome this major technological hurdle.

“One of the holy grails of neural implant technology is that we’d really like to have an implant device that doesn’t interfere with any of the traditional imagining diagnostics,” says Justin Williams, a professor of biomedical engineering and neurological surgery at UW-Madison. “A traditional implant looks like a square of dots, and you can’t see anything under it. We wanted to make a transparent electronic device.”

The research is published in the October 20 issue of the online journal Nature Communications.

The team developed the sensor using graphene due to its versatility and biocompatibility, thus making the device incredibly flexible and transparent because the electronic circuit elements are only four atoms thick.

Sensor science and technology is growing rapidly in response to an ever-increasing demand for faster, cheaper, smaller, and more sensitive means to monitor the chemical, biological, and physical world around us. Make sure you stay up-to-date with the latest research in this exciting field through our Digital Library.

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The Future of Energy Storage

The modified graphene aerogels are promising for high-power electrical energy storage applications due to their high surface area and excellent conductivity.Credit: Ryan Chen

The modified graphene aerogels are promising for high-power electrical energy storage applications due to their high surface area and excellent conductivity.
Credit: Ryan Chen

We all know the buzz around graphene, but now researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have found a way to improve upon this ultra-light material to boost the efficiency of your personal electronics.

The team at Lawrence Livermore have turned to graphene aerogel for enhanced electrical energy storage. This new generation of graphene has the potential to smooth power fluctuations in the energy grid, among other things.

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Long Term Polarization with Autolab PGSTAT

This was a question in our LinkedIn group from Elnaz Asghari, Assistant Professor at University of Tabriz.

I need to know that can we use the Autolab PGSTAT30 for long term (about 20 hours) cathodic polarization of samples? Can any one help me?

Reply here or join our LinkedIn group.

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Major Breakthrough on Fusion Energy Project

The magnetic coils inside the compact fusion (CF) experiment are critical to plasma containment, as pictured in this undated handout photo

The magnetic coils inside the compact fusion experiment pictured in an undated photo provided by Lockheed Martin.
Credit: Reuters/Lockheed Martin

A few days ago we talked about fusion reactors and the new development out of the University of Washington that hopes to makes fusion a reality. Now we’re talking fusion again – only on a much different scale.

Lockheed Martin is making headlines for their announcement that their compact fusion reactors could be functional within one decade.

The company has been working for some time to develop a source of infinite energy, and have been devoting much time to fusion due to its clean and safe properties.

Their work on compact fusion revolves around the idea of using a high fraction of the magnetic field pressure, or all of its potential, to make devices much smaller than previous concepts. If they can achieve this, a reactor small enough to fit on a truck could provide enough power for a small city of up to 100,000 people.

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New Device Lets Bicycles Trigger Traffic Light Sensors

The Veloloop mounts on the non-drive-side chain stay to trigger traffic sensors at intersections.

The Veloloop mounts on the non-drive-side chain stay to trigger traffic sensors at intersections.

If you’re a cycler, you know this problem all too well: you’re stopped at a traffic light, the only vehicle at a controlled intersection, and are waiting for the seemingly never-ending red light to change. Now, thanks to Nat Collins’ new development, you may not have to encounter this problem.

Collins has created a device called the Veloloop, which uses a patented circuit technology to trigger sensors in asphalt. In essence, the device is designed to make traffic light sensors think that your bike is a car.

This from Gizmag:

Embedded “inductive loop” traffic sensors work by creating an electromagnetic field in the surface layer of the road. When a sufficiently-large metal object – such as a car – stops above the sensor, it creates eddy currents within that field. This is detected by the system’s traffic signal controller, which causes the light to change.

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Dolphin ‘Breathalyzer’ Developed to Aid in Conservation

The dolphin 'breathalyzer' will analyze the for health problems and aid in wildlife conservation.Credit: American Chemical Society

The dolphin ‘breathalyzer’ will analyze the for health problems and aid in wildlife conservation.
Credit: American Chemical Society

While breath analysis is most commonly known for its ability to detect alcohol consumption, it has the potential to extend far beyond that use. Breath analysis has the ability to diagnose a wide range of human conditions, and is now being utilized to aid the bottlenose dolphin.

Engineers from the University of California, Davis have developed a device for collecting dolphin breath for analysis. Because invasive techniques such as skin biopsies and blood sampling are difficult to perform on wild dolphins, this device will make it easier to check the health of the marine animals, study their biology, and aid in wildlife conservation.

This from UC Davis:

The researchers designed an insulated tube that traps breath exhaled from a dolphin’s blowhole and freezes it. They analyzed samples to create profiles of the mix of metabolites in breath, established baseline profiles of healthy animals and were able to identify changes in the breath of animals affected by disease or other factors. The researchers concluded that breath analysis could be used to diagnose and monitor problems in marine mammals – and, by extension, in ocean health as well.

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