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


Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

  1. Synthetic circuits can harvest light energy, Anne Trafton, November 13, 2017, MIT – New  synthetic structures could be integrated into 2D and 3D materials then converted into solar energy. An MIT-led team organized pigments onto a DNA scaffold to design a light-harvesting material that mimics the structure of naturally occurring photosynthetic structures. This resulted in a synthetic material that can absorb light and transfer its energy along controlled pathways. The material could be incorporated into things like glass and fabric to harvest the energy from the sun. The team created a new computer-programming tool that automates the process of designing DNA scaffold of nearly any shape. The synthetic structure may also form a new basis for quantum computers implemented at the nanoscale. The researchers now plan to explore how to make these synthetic light-harvesting systems even better. For more information check out MIT.
  2. Tinfoil hat for your router stops bad guys snooping your Wi-Fi, November 13, 2017, New Scientist – There may be a new quick and easy solution to common Wi-Fi woes. Researchers have developed customized reflectors that can control the shape of the Wi-Fi signal from a router. This new technology boosts an existing signal in hard to reach parts of the home and allows it to be reduced in other areas, like near windows, to prevent anyone from eavesdropping on the user’s network. The researchers designed an algorithm that can calculate the ideal shape of a reflector needed to change the Wi-Fi signal coverage to the user’s exact specifications. The algorithm models the signal distribution in the home and then computes the optimal reflector shape needed to change it. The resulting reflector can then be 3D-printed. The prototypes were printed in plastic before being wrapped in aluminum foil to reflect radio waves. The reflectors boosted the Wi-Fi signal by 55 percent in desired areas and reduced it by 63 percent where it wasn’t. The team is currently working on a user-friendly interface. For the full article visit New Scientist.
  3. New Textile is Both Warming and Cooling, Saving Energy Costs, Kenny Walter, November 13, 2017, Research & Development – A new double-sided fabric could allow users to wear the same clothes in the summer and winter months. Researchers have created a reversible fabric that keeps wearers at a comfortable temperature depending on which side faces out. An estimated 13 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S. is due to indoor temperature control. For every one degree Celsius that a thermostat is turned down, a building can save 10 percent of its heating energy. If individuals had the power to control their temperature, homes and business could save a lot of money. To create the textile, the team stacked two layers of a material with different abilities to release heat energy and sandwiched them between layers of polyethylene. One side had a copper coating to trap heat between the polyethylene layer and the skin. The other side contained a carbon coating that releases heat under another layer of polyethylene. The material shows promise, but work still needs to be done before it can be used in clothing. For the full article visit Research & Development.
  4. Ben-Gurion U. researchers camouflage an optical chip rendering it invisible, American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the NEGEV, November 13, 2017, EurekAlert – Researchers    have manipulated light to render an object invisible. The team created a method that deflects and scatters light away from a “cloaking” chip surface so it’s not detected. An operational cloaking chip could be an extension of technologies, like radar-absorbing dark paint, local optical camouflage or electromagnetic wave scattering. The new technology could open doors to new integrated photonic devices, harnessing electromagnetic fields of light at a nanoscale for a variety of applications from on-chip optical devices to all-optical processing. The team demonstrated that it’s possible to bend the light around an object, located on the cloak on an optical chip. The light doesn’t interact with the object, thus leaving it invisible. For the full story visit EurekAlert.
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to The Probe. To help you master that art of probing, we’ve consolidated the most common probing questions into this easy-to-print 11X17 poster -- providing you with helpful probing tips. Download your copy today!


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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