The Tek Pulse: The latest and greatest engineering and science posts

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

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1. The 3D printing of glass takes a step forward, Ben Coxworth, April 21, 2017, New Atlas – A new process produces 3D complex glass objects of a higher quality than has ever been possible. The process starts with a solution made of a light-sensitive liquid polymer and nanoparticles of high-purity quartz glass. Then, using a technique called stereolithography, an ultraviolet laser is focused on the solution at various points, causing it to cure and harden. The object is essentially built up from the solution one layer at a time. Next, a solvent bath is used to wash away any uncured solution, leaving a rough version of the intended structure. That structure is then heated, causing the glass nanoparticles to fuse together. The end result is a perfectly solid, 3D object. This technology could be used in the fields of optics, data transmission and biotechnology. For more information visit New Atlas.

 

2. New Quantum Liquid Crystals May Play Role in Future of Computers, California Institute of Technology, April 24, 2017, Scientific Computing – Physicists have discovered a 3D liquid crystal that could be used in the creation of quantum computers. Liquid crystals are somewhere between a liquid and a solid, comprised of molecules that flow freely like a liquid, but are all oriented in the same direction, like a solid. Liquid crystals are found in nature, but they can also be made artificially, such as those found in smartphones and TV display screens. The first ever “quantum” liquid crystal was discovered in 1999. However, it was two-dimensional, meaning that it was confined to a single plane inside a material. Now, a research team has discovered the first 3D quantum liquid crystal, which has different magnetic properties. Running an electrical current through the crystals transforms them from nonmagnets to magnets – an effect that is very unusual. The 3-D quantum liquid crystals could play a crucial role in the field of spintronics and assist in the challenges associated with building a quantum computer. For the full story check out Scientific Computing.

 

3. New Camera System Inspired by Animal Vision, April 24, 2017, ECN – Scientists have taken inspiration from animal vision to develop a new method for creating video using single-pixel cameras. The team found a way to instruct cameras to prioritize objects in the field of view, in the same way that human and animal eyes work to prioritize specific areas in their field of vision. For example, the vision of certain hunting animals is focused primarily on its prey, whereas humans may focus on a person speaking. This new sensor uses just one light-sensitive pixel to build up moving images of objects placed in front of it. These types of sensors are much cheaper than megapixel sensors found in digital cameras. Essentially, the system works by paying less attention to other areas of the frame and instead zeros in on its target. By prioritizing information from the sensor, the team was able to produce images at an improved frame rate. This research is the latest in a string of single-pixel imaging breakthroughs. For more information check out ECN.

 

4. Bright future for self-charging batteries, McGill University, April 24, 2017, EurekAlert – A new novel concept paves the way to self-charging batteries for smartphones. The concept focuses on a device capable of harvesting and storing energy using light. The research team was able to simulate a charging process using light as a source of energy. Now, scientists need to build the storage component or anode, which will close the device’s circuit, allowing energy produced by the cathode to be transferred and stored. If the team succeeds, they will have built the world’s first 100 percent self-charging lithium-ion battery. It may take a few years to complete phase two of this project, but they believe it could play an important role in portable devices of the future. For the full article check out EurekAlert.

 

5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Performing Safe Operating Area Analysis on MOSFETs and Other Switching Devices with an Oscilloscope. Our application note explains how to use an oscilloscope to compare the in-circuit operation of a MOSFET to its specified safe operating area (SOA), to determine if it’s going outside the specified range. This is especially important for those designing switch mode power supplies or to measure switch performance under multiple operating conditions.

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Do you have a great article, blog or idea that you’d like to see featured in our series? Please be sure to share in the comments below. Stay tuned next week for another installment of The Tek Pulse, featuring more trending articles from the engineering, technology and science worlds.

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