Scientists Create Glass That’s Almost as Strong as Steel

Glass, by its very nature, is known to be quite easy to break. Of course, this much can be changed by altering the thickness of it, as we’ve seen with everything from bullet-proof glass to bridges being made from it. Now, a team of scientists in Japan are saying they’ve created a new type of glass which is almost as strong as steel, and it could usher in a new generation of super-strong glass panels that lead to big innovations in windows for buildings and vehicles, screens for electronic devices and so much more.

“We are looking to commercialize the technique within five years,” University of Tokyo assistant professor Atsunobu Masuno told Asahi Shimbun.

The new tough glass is made using alumina, an oxide of aluminium. This technique has been tried before, but any contact between the materials and their container caused crystals to form and ruined the compound. The team used gas to push the components into the air, allowing them to mix without the need for a container, thus creating the new transparant glass that is made from 50% alumina. The new glass rivals steel and iron in terms of rigidity.
Little else is known for now but expect to hear a lot more about this innovative glass in the coming years.

New LED Tech May Bring More Natural Light and Less Power Consumption in Just 5 Years

Have you switched to LED lighting solutions in your house to cut down on power consumption? If not, you may be doing in the near future. Scientists from the Niels Bohr Institute discovered a new way of making LEDs with the use of nanowires, bringing a more natural light and less power consumption than the LEDs we have on the market.

So what are these nanowires? They seem to be very small pieces of wire with sizes of about 2 micrometers in height and 10 to 500 nanometers in diameter. The researchers used a special nanoscale X-ray technique to test out the wires in Hamburg, Germany, without destroying them in the process. The result helped them find what type of nanowires they can use to make these future LEDs.

“We measured 20 nanowires and when we saw the images, we were very surprised because you could clearly see the details of each nanowire. You can see the structure of both the inner core and the outer layer. If there are defects in the structure or if they are slightly bent, they do not function as well. So we can identify exactly which nanowires are the best and have the most efficient core/shell structure,” explains Tomas Stankevic, a PhD student in the research group ‘Neutron and X-ray Scattering’ at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

This information is said to be useful in making the perfect adjustments for future nanowires. The scientists believe that future LEDs made out of the latter nanowires will bring more natural light and less power consumption, so we will be able to see better and more energy-efficient LED displays for smartphones, TVs and even light bulbs. Also, the scientists are so optimistic about this technique that they believe the new LED technology will be available on the market within five years.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of BrightLux

Optical Nanotechnology Sensor Claimed to be as Good as a Dog’s Nose

Researchers for the Oregon State University have created a new technology by combining optical tech with nanocomposite thin-films to develop a new type of cheap sensor, which is said to be fast, highly sensitive and able to detect and analyse a wide range of gases.

The sensor is said to be suited to detect carbon dioxide and may find potential use in industrial applications or systems designed to store the gas underground.

However, there are many other applications for the sensor. The researchers have filed a patent on the invention and are working in collaborating with a variety of industries to perfect and help commercialize the product.

“Optical sensing is very effective in sensing and identifying trace-level gases, but often uses large laboratory devices that are terribly expensive and can’t be transported into the field,” said Alan Wang, a photonics expert and an assistant professor in the OSU School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.”By contrast, we use optical approaches that can be small, portable and inexpensive,” Wang said. “This system used plasmonic nanocrystals that act somewhat like a tiny lens, to concentrate a light wave and increase sensitivity.”

The sensor works by having a metal-organic framework of thin films which can quickly absorb gases within material pores and be recycled by simple vacuum processes.

After the thin-film captures the gas molecules near the surface, the plasmonic materials act at a near-infrared range, help magnify the signal and precisely analyze the presence and amounts of different gases.

Detecting gas can also find its use in the explosive diffusion industry, with further applications seen in public places with high risk of terrorism and explosive use, such as airports or border security.

However, a lot of gases required to be monitored in the lab before the sensor can do its job in the field. Other fields that might find potential use for the technology include healthcare, automobile engines and prevention of natural gas leakage.

Thank you Phys.org for providing us with this information

Internet Access Makes You Think You Are Smarter than You Actually Are

Yale University has made a study regarding the psychological impact of searching for answers on the internet, having some interesting results regarding people and how well prepared they believe to be.

“The internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world’s knowledge at your fingertip,” lead researcher Matthew Fisher told the Telegraph. “It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source. When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the internet.”

For the study, 1000 students were split into two groups and were asked how a zipper works, having the first group given the information on the internet and the second was given a printout of the same information. Both groups have then been asked to explain how cloudy nights are warmer, but none of the participants were given the answer this time around.

When asked about their confidence in knowing the answer, the group who previously researched the answer on the internet appeared to be more confident and more knowledgeable compared to the others. Researches said the study showed that the cognitive effects of using search engines are so powerful that people still feel smarter even when they haven’t had access to the internet.

“In cases where decisions have big consequences, it could be important for people to distinguish their own knowledge and not assume they know something when they actually don’t,” Fisher said.”The internet is an enormous benefit in countless ways, but there may be some trade-offs that aren’t immediately obvious and this may be one of them. Accurate personal knowledge is difficult to achieve, and the internet may be making that task even harder.”

People believe they are smarter if they research the answer on the internet and this proves to be a worrying fact that we depend more and more on a piece of technology for information instead of having the confidence of going out there and finding the answer for ourselves.

Thank you News.com.au for providing us with this information

Scientists Want to Help Power Your Phone by Talking to It

A group of scientists from the university of Sungkyunkwan in South Korea have apparently developed a new technology which converts sound waves into electrical energy. With this concept, smartphones will be able to charge from any sound source, from talking to music and even highway traffic noise.

“The sound that always exists in our everyday life and environments has been overlooked as a source. This motivated us to realise power generation by turning sound energy from speech, music or noise into electrical power.” Dr. Sang-Woo Kim, a researcher involved in the project, stated.

The current outcome involves a prototype that converts around 100 decibels to 50 millivolts of electricity. This is done with a pad which absorbs sound waves and causes zinc oxide wires mounted between electrodes to compress and release, creating an electrical current that can be used to charge a battery.

While the generated electricity so far isn’t enough to power a whole phone, Dr. Kim stated that different materials can be used in the future to get better results. The current prototype however can already be beneficial for small, low-power sensors and implantable devices.

Thank you Huffington Post for providing us with this information

Nanoparticles Could Lead to Cheaper , Lighter and More Flexible Solar Cells

When hearing the name ‘Colloidal Quantum Dots’, minds fly away to science-fiction scenarios and technologies far from reach. Actually, the name has been given to a new form of solid nanoparticles.

It is said that the newly discovered nanoparticles could eventually contribute to the creation of cheaper, lighter and more flexible solar cells. A few examples were also given, having the nanoparticles in question considered to make better sensors, infrared lasers, remote controls, LEDs and even satellites.

The colloidal quantum dots were discovered at the University of Toronto by a group of scientists led by researcher Zhijun Ning and professor Ted Sargent, having the group achieve more efficient light absorption in the material by solving a problem in which a type of semiconductor would lose its electrons when exposed to the oxygen in the air. In the end, the group came up with the new material which remains rich in electrons despite being exposed to the oxygen.

The scientists find a lot of potential in the colloidal quantum dots, having been stated that they could eventually be added to inks or paints. Considering the latter, roofs and other buildings could eventually become solar panels themselves, leading to cheaper solar power and electricity.

However, the technology is not yet fully understood and tested. Considering its potential though, a lot of indie entrepreneurs should be extremely eager to get their hands on the new technology and flood the Kickstarter campaigns with new ideas and gadgets.

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of CNET

Scientists Predict Top Speed of 1,800 mph From Prototype Maglev Train

Modern public transport as we know it is pretty fast if you chose the right service, but if you’re in quite a rush to get to that important board meeting on the other side of the States, simply put – you’re screwed. Over at the Southwest Jiaotong University in China, scientists have been working away to overcome the problem surrounding air resistance on a moving object at super fast speeds.

The test platform that the team has come up with could theoretically see speeds of 1,800 mph or 2,900 km/h being reached by a high-speed maglev train running through a near vacuum, removing the friction that air would otherwise create. Now if you think that sounds fast, to be honest you’re not far from wrong. The fastest commercial train service that is available has a top speed of only 431 km/h and even the world record sits at only 581 km/h, making the near 3,000 km/h speeds sound absolutely ridiculous and considering the fact that you need to remove almost all the air that we breath out of the trains way, it’s not going to be a service that will be coming a town near us any time soon.

Lead scientist Dr. Deng Zigang spoke out saying, “If the running speed exceeds 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour, more than 83 percent of traction energy will wastefully dissipate in air resistance”.

To put this into context, what Dr Zigang is saying is that as you move faster and faster through the air, the friction build up would be similar to trying to swim through treacle – no matter how hard you try, the resistance that is put upon you is too great and the only way to resolve the problem is to remove the treacle. In the case of the Maglev project, the air pressure within the prototype system is dropped around 10% that of normal atmospheric pressure at sea level, giving the scientists the thin air that they need in order to run the train at close to two times the speed of sound.

Want a little more context? A typical twenty-one and a half hour flight from the UK to Australia would take little under 5 1/2 hours, presuming the train could maintain close to top speed all the way. You could hop to see you’re mates down under, have a BBQ and be back home all in the same day.

Source: Rocketnews24

NASA Finds “Mysterious” Rock In Front Of Mars’ Opportunity Rover

NASA scientists from the Mars Exploration Rover project have discovered a strange discrepancy in two photos taken by the Opportunity rover. The first picture displays a photo taken 3528 SOL days (or Martian days) after the Opportunity arrived on Mars. The second photo shows the exact landscape, only with a strange object, presumably a rock, added to the background just after 12 SOL days.

The first reaction of NASA’s scientists looked like: “‘wait a second, that wasn’t there before, it can’t be right. Oh my god! It wasn’t there before!’ We were absolutely startled.” The object itself is merely the size of a “jelly doughnut”, as they described it. Nonetheless, it is a startling discovery for NASA scientists since they cannot explain the ‘rock’s whereabouts. Therefore, they have already cooked up a couple of possibilities of how the “jelly doughnut” got there.

The first theory is described as the rock belonging to a meteor which has entered the Martian atmosphere, and a fragment that detached from the meteor might have found its place in the exact spot we are looking at now. The other, more plausible, theory is that the rover itself might have tipped it over when it did a turn in place on bedrock, having one of its wheels broken. The manoeuvre might have coupled a portion of the rock to the wheel, which in turn flipped it.

There is still the “third” possibility, as every alien fanatic out there might think, that a Martian threw the rock (obviously ruled out of the question). Whatever the cause might be for the mysterious object’s appearance, we will undoubtedly see more information about it as scientists are eager to analyse it from each and every angle possible (and impossible even).

Thank you Gizmodo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Gizmodo