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

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs


1. Breakthrough Software Teaches Computer Characters to Walk, Run, Even Play Soccer, July 31, 2017, Science Daily – A milestone algorithm, called DeepLoco, could teach computer characters complex motor skills like walking and running. DeepLoco creates physically simulated humans that learn to move with skill and agility through their surroundings, without the need to hand-code the required strategies such as how to maintain balance or move through obstacles. Current methods make use of actors and motion capture cameras or animators. This new system offers an alternative way to animate human movement in games and film. Using the algorithm, simulated characters have learned how to walk along a narrow path without falling over, dribble a soccer ball and more. The research will be presented at SIGGRAPH 2017. For the full article visit Science Daily. 


2. Rice University chemists make laser-induced graphene from wood, Rive University, July 31, 2017, EurekAlert – Scientists at Rice University have made wood into an electrical conductor by transforming its surface into graphene. The team used a laser to blacken a thin film pattern of an “R” onto a block of pine. The resulting pattern is laser-induced graphene (LIG). Previous LIGs were made by heating the surface of a sheet of polyimide with a laser. According to the team, turning wood into graphene opens new doors for the synthesis of LIG from nonpolyimide materials. For certain applications, like 3D graphene printing, polyimide is not an ideal substrate. Wood, on the other hand, is abundant and renewable. Graphene is also a naturally occurring mineral, therefore the whole process is environmentally friendly. For more information check out EurekAlert.


3. Graphene the Key to Solar Cells, Kenny Walter, July 31, 2017, Research & Development – MIT researchers have developed a low-cost, flexible, transparent solar cell made from graphene. The team created an organic material with electrodes of graphene that allows for the method of depositing a one-atom thick layer of graphene onto a solar cell without damaging sensitive organic materials. Transparent solar cells require brittle electrodes that crack when the device is flexed. But graphene can enable flexible, inexpensive, transparent solar cells that convert nearly any surface, like walls and windows, into an electric power source. Until now it has been difficult if not impossible to deposit graphene electrodes on solar cells because most solar cells are built on substrates like glass or plastic. Check out Research & Development for the details.


4. Metal instability achieves energy-efficient nanotechnology, Osaka University, July 31, 2017, ScienceDaily – Pocket-sized computers, ultra-thin television screens and more are due in part to nano-electromechanical resonators. Now, a research team has developed a freestanding nanowire that could reduce the power demands of nano-resonators by a factor of 100, while increasing performance. The team made their nanowires by injecting electrical power into vanadium dioxide crystals.  The freestanding trait of the wire is critical; otherwise the energy efficiency would be significantly less. According to the researchers, their system is simple and scalable, opening up the possibility for even smaller nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) with fast switching that are powered by a DC power source. The system could open new avenues for energy-efficient technologies. For the full article visit ScienceDaily.


5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Measuring Laser Diode Optical Power with an Integrating Sphere. Our latest white paper provides an overview on using integrating sphere to measure the optical power of radiant sources in a production environment.

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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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