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

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs
 

  1. Engineers turn plastic insulator into heat conductor, Jennifer Chu, March 30, 2018, MIT -- Engineers have developed a plastic material that works as a heat conductor. Plastics are great heat insulators, but they aren’t ideal materials to use as casing for laptops and mobile phones, which can overheat. This new material – a polymer thermal conductor – is lightweight, flexible and conducts 10 times as much heat as most commercially used polymers. Traditional polymers are electrically and thermally insulating and have been used in electronic applications, like flexible displays and wearable biosensors. The team’s polymer can thermally conduct and remove heat efficiently. The engineers believe it could be made into next-generation heat conductors for advanced thermal management applications, as a self-cooling alternative. Going forward, the team will explore the physics behind polymer conductivity and alternative uses like casings for batteries and films for printed circuit boards. For the full article visit MIT.
     
  2. Cat-Like ‘Hearing’ With Device Tens of Trillions Times Smaller than Human Eardrum, Case Western Reserve University, April 2, 2018, ECN -- Researchers are developing new, advanced “drumheads.” These drumheads are able to receive and transmit signals across a radio frequency range much greater than what humans can hear. The drumheads are tens of trillions of times smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum. The advance could contribute to the development of the next generation of ultralow-power communication and sensory devices that are smaller and have greater detection and tuning ranges. Rather than gearing the work to specific devices available today, the engineering team focused on measurements, limits and scaling, which would be important for essentially all transducers. For now, the team has successfully demonstrated the capability of their key components – the atomic layer drumheads or resonators – at the smallest scale yet. For the full article visit ECN
     
  3. Keeping Things Rolling: Engineers Develop Sensor-Free Smart Wheel Technology, University Saarland, April 2, 2018, Wireless Design & Development -- New technology allows wheels to ‘know’ when and how to rotate and enables them to work together interactively. The technology can be used wherever there is a need for additional support pulling, pushing or driving a system with wheels. Applications range from mobility aids, like wheelchairs, to wheelbarrows and shopping carts. For example, the wheels immediately recognize when there is an increase or decrease loading on the right or left-hand side of a wheelbarrow, like when a load becomes unbalanced. This is achieved without the need for additional sensors. The system monitors the data generated by small electric motors within the wheels and it knows the position of the wheels and the forces applied by the drive motors. The team has essentially turned the motor itself into a sensor – creating a new category of sensor. This technology could be used in motor-driven vehicles as well. For more information visit Wireless Design & Development
     
  4. Nanoscale “supersoap” allows liquid 3D structure to be printed within other liquids, Dario Borghino, March 30, 2018, New Atlas -- Scientists have created a new form of 3D printing. This breakthrough could lead to flexible and stretchable liquid electronics, aided chemical synthesis or as a transport and delivery system for nanoscale particles. The team discovered a way to “print” narrow tubes of water within liquid-state silicon oil. The water structure can survive without breaking down into droplets even as the encapsulating fluid changes shape. The researchers modified a standard 3D printer, allowing it to inject narrow streams of water into a small container filled with silicon oil. The streams of water don’t break down into droplets due to a special nanoscale coating, which separates the water from the surrounding liquid. The coating, called a surfactant, is essentially a “nanoparticle supersoap,” which locks water structures into place even as the surrounding oil changes shape. This technology could also be used to fabricate complex coatings with specific structures or advanced magnetic properties. For the full article visit New Atlas
     
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to Interference Hunting Application Note. Spectrum managers and the like are dealing with noise due to the “interference of things.” In this app note, we will look at the shortcomings of traditional interference hunting tools and how to make your interference hunting efforts more successful.

 

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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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