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

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs


1. Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion, July 24, 2017, innovations report – A new device developed at Vanderbilt University's Nanomaterials and Energy Devices Laboratory can charge your batteries while you walk, run or even while drinking your morning cup of coffee. It’s an ultrathin energy harvesting system that is based on battery technology and made from layers of black phosphorus only a few atoms thick. When the device is bent or pressed even in the slightest, it generates electricity. Researchers say the new material has advantages over other approaches designed to harvest electricity from human motion: One, it’s sheer size is so atomically thin you can wear it without seeing or feeling it, and two, it can extract energy from the smallest amount of movement – just 10 Hertz, or 10 cycles per second, which has proven to be extremely difficult. For more information visit innovations report.


2. Pinpointing sources of water pollution with a robotic eel, July 25, 2017, – Researchers have created a robot that can move through water and detect sources of pollution. At 1.5 meters long, the robot moves through water like an eel without disturbances to aquatic life. The eel-like shape allows researchers to easily take it apart and change the composition as needed for each project.  Equipped with chemical, physical and biological sensors, it can take measurements throughout a body of water and sends them back to the lab in real-time. Studies on conductivity and temperature have proven successful so far, and testing on its biological sensors to find toxic compounds are planned for later this summer.  To learn more, go to


3. Smart surface enables advanced manipulation of droplets, July 25, 2017, EurekAlert! – Engineers at the University of British Columbia have developed a smart surface that can easily be controlled to switch wetting properties, from water-repellant to water-attractive. Powered by everyday electric battery, the copper-based surface quickly changes wetting properties as electricity is applied. Contrary to other methods of controlling wetting properties like heat and UV radiation, where the temperatures must be very high, the UBC researchers found a way to simply change the oxidation of the copper to control water attraction. As a result, the technology could have a wide variety of applications, from water filtration to liquid optical lenses and lab-on-a-chip systems. The findings could open up new research in smart surfaces. For more information, go to EurekAlert!


4. New approach could someday yield invisibility cloaks, July 25, 2017, R&D Magazine – By adding metallic nanoparticles to semiconductors, researchers may have found a way to increase efficiency of LED lighting by 50%, and may even lead to invisibility cloaking devices. It works by inducing a phenomenon called reverse refraction that enables the cloaking where light waves bend backwards, potentially around an object. To make the semiconductors, multiple layers of metallic elements were sprayed onto a wafer and then an ion beam was placed between the layers. Researchers found they could find a “sweet spot” to enhance light emissions by tailoring the size and spacing of the nanoparticles. These findings may also lead to precisely inducing and controlling the reverse refraction of light, which could make invisibility cloaking work. For more information, visit R&D Magazine.


5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Be Sure to Capture the Complete Picture. If an oscilloscope's sample rate isn't fast enough, transient signal details are lost, resulting in errors. Digital real-time oscilloscopes acquire signals in real time, capturing enough samples of the signal needed to faithfully reconstruct a waveform in a single acquisition cycle.


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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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