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Is Faraday the Future of Bicycles?

October 11, 2011 1 comment

“This ain’t no fixie with a minty fresh paint job, this is the Faraday.

Built for the Oregon Manifest design competition, ideas factory Ideo teamed up with bike builders Rock Lobster Cycles to produce this retro-technotastic electric bike.

Everything futuristic has been hidden inside the frame: those parallel top tubes hold a series of lithium-ion batteries which juice up the front-hub motor — all controlled from the green box tucked beneath the seat cluster.

Those two prongs up front serve as built-in headlights and the base of a modular racking system, letting you swap out various carrying mechanisms like a trunk or child seat with the pop of a bolt.”

Graphene “Big Mac” Sandwich May Replace Silicon Chips

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment

“The world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, has the potential to revolutionize material science.

Demonstrating the remarkable properties of graphene won the two scientists the Nobel Prize for Physics last year and UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has just announced plans for a £50m graphene research hub to be set up.

Now, writing in the journal Nature Physics, the University of Manchester team have for the first time demonstrated how graphene inside electronic circuits will probably look like in the future.

By sandwiching two sheets of graphene with another two-dimensional material, boron nitrate, the team created the graphene ‘Big Mac’ – a four-layered structure which could be the key to replacing the silicon chip in computers.

Because there are two layers of graphene completed surrounded by the boron nitrate, this has allowed the researchers for the first time to observe how graphene behaves when unaffected by the environment.”

Desert Living Tackled With California Roll House

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

“At times, the simplest form with least manipulation from its original form can offer visual amenities and adapted solution to the context.

California Roll prefabricated house takes this methodology to create its morphological adaptation to its environemt : desert.

Homogeneous exterior material which provides high grade of energy efficiency and reflects heat from the sun covers the entire surface except for glass panels which is electronically controlled to change its transparency.

Modularization of every structure members and finish materials are maximized to provide mobilty with rapid assembly and disassembly on site.

To sustain its challenging structural stand, carbon fibre truss frame under neath the exterior material holds the entire architecture.

Hydraulic powered automatic doors and security system is used for main entrance door which allows less spaces to operate the door mechanism.

California Roll house features these latest technologies applied to architecture which breaks the boundary of product or vehicle design and architectural design which brings more mobility to living spaces.”

Controlling Virtual Limbs by Feeling Virtual Textures

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

“Although real-life brain-controlled prosthetics that enable a person to, say, pick up a pencil continue to improve for amputees, limbs that can actually feel touch sensations have remained a challenge.

Now, by implanting electrodes into both the motor and the sensory areas of the brain, researchers have created a virtual prosthetic hand that monkeys control using only their minds, and that enables them to feel virtual textures.

Neuroscientist Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University in Durham, N.C., whose group has been developing so-called brain-machine interfaces, says that one of the pitfalls in these systems is that “no one’s been able to close the loop” between controlling a limb and feeling a physical touch. So he and a group of researchers decided to create a “brain-machine-brain” interface using a virtual system.

The researchers implanted two sets of tiny electrodes into a monkey’s brain: one set in the motor control center, and the other in the part of the somatosensory cortex that processes the sensation of physical touch from the left hand.

Using the first set, the monkey could control a virtual monkey arm on a computer screen and sweep the hand over virtual disks with different “textures.” Meanwhile, the second set of electrodes fed a series of electrical pulses into the touch center of its brain. A low frequency of pulses indicated a rough texture, whereas high frequency indicated a fine texture (see video), and the monkeys quickly learned to tell the difference.

By giving the monkey rewards when it identified the right texture, the researchers discovered that it took as few as four training sessions for the animal to consistently distinguish the textures from one another, even when the researchers switched the order of the visually identical disks on the screen.

The researchers then implanted the electrodes into the sensory region that receives tactile sensations from the foot in a different monkey; this monkey, too, acted as if the virtual appendage (in this case, the foot) was its own, moving it to correctly identify the textures, the team reports online today in Nature.”

Dip in Carbon Nanotubes Improve Batteries, Ultracapacitors

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment

Scanning electron microscope images show the surface of nanostructured graphene-manganese oxide electrodes covered with conductive carbon nanotubes (top) and a polymer (bottom).Credit: Nano Letters

“A simple trick could improve the ability of advanced ultracapacitors, or supercapacitors,  to store charge.

The technique, developed by Stanford University researchers, could enable the use of new types of nanostructured electrode materials that store more energy.

While ultracapacitors provide quick bursts of power and can be recharged many more times than batteries without losing their storage capacity, they can store only a 10th as much energy as batteries, which limits their applications.

To improve their energy density, researchers have focused on the use of electrode materials with greater surface area—such as graphene and carbon nanotubes—which can hold more charge-carrying ions.

The Stanford team, led by Yi Cui and Zhenan Bao, used composite electrodes made of graphene and manganese oxide.

Manganese oxide is considered an attractive electrode material because, “one, manganese is abundant so it’s very low cost,” Cui says. “It also has high theoretical capacity to store ions for supercapacitors.””

Nanorockets Can Deliver Drugs Inside Body

October 4, 2011 Leave a comment

“NANOROCKETS powered by a benign rocket fuel could one day carry drugs around the body.

Nanotubes filled with rocket fuel act like missiles, propelling themselves through liquids at eye-watering speeds. But fuels such as hydrazine are toxic so can’t be used inside the body. Now the tiny rockets have been made to work with a less toxic fuel.

Samuel Sanchez and colleagues at the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden, Germany, made nanotubes by rolling platinum-coated sheets of metal into tubes with the platinum on the inside.

When the team placed the tubes in a warm, weak solution of hydrogen peroxide, the platinum catalysed the decomposition of peroxide into water and oxygen. This forced bubbles of gas out of one end of the tube, generating thrust in the opposite direction.

The result is a nanorocket that travels up to 200 times its own length per second, faster than the quickest bacteria. The team can steer the tubes using a magnetic field and control the speed by varying the temperature of the fluid.”

A Cellphone That Can Fully Charge in 10 Minutes?

October 3, 2011 Leave a comment

“NTT Docomo, one of Japan’s largest carriers, has developed a prototype battery that’s capable of achieving a complete charge in just ten minutes.

NTT reps weren’t willing to get into much detail about the new technology, which currently employs an external lithium-ion battery sleeve and is only designed to support NEC’s super-slim Medias Android (Japan only) smartphone.

They did let us take a look at the battery sleeve’s AC adapter, which supports output of up to 6.0 amps, but otherwise appeared to be fairly generic.

A pair of amp meters compared the power draw of a standard battery with that of the ultra high speed charger, which pulled 0.55 amps and 5.86 amps, respectively — at least according to the demo equipment on hand at NTT’s CEATEC booth.

The model we saw definitely looked very much like an early prototype at this point, and the carrier didn’t seem to have any idea of when it may begin to be implemented in handsets and other devices, only committing to a release “as soon as possible”.”