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Colin Jeffrey

Colin Jeffrey

Colin discovered technology at an early age, pulling apart clocks, radios, and the family TV. Despite his father's remonstrations that he never put anything back together, Colin went on to become an electronics engineer. Later he decided to get a degree in anthropology, and used that to do all manner of interesting things masquerading as work. Even later he took up sculpting, moved to the coast, and never learned to surf.

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— Science

Hybrid artificial photosynthesis technique produces hydrogen and methane

By - August 25, 2015 2 Pictures

Not content with using hybrid artificial photosynthesis to turn CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) now claim to have produced an enhanced system that uses water and solar energy to generate hydrogen, which is in turn used to produce methane, the main element of natural gas, from carbon dioxide. Generating such gases from a renewable resource may one day help bolster, or even replace, fossil fuel resources extracted from dwindling sub-surface deposits.

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— Marine

Deep-diving research submersible can plunge to 1,700 meters

By - August 25, 2015 7 Pictures

The team at U-Boat Worx (UBW) has produced a number of futuristic-looking, submersible craft designs over the years, including the Ferrari-esque HP Sport Sub 2 and the superyacht-friendly Sub 3. The latest addition – the C-Researcher – is claimed to be the world’s first fully-transparent, 3-person underwater craft capable of diving to the formidable depth of 1,700 meters (5,577 feet).

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— Science

Super-low loss quantum energy transport could revolutionize sunlight to energy conversion

By - August 24, 2015

The use of sunlight as an energy source is achieved in a number of ways, from conversion to electricity via photovoltaic (PV) panels, concentrated heat to drive steam turbines, and even hydrogen generation via artificial photosynthesis. Unfortunately, much of the light energy in PV and photosynthesis systems is lost as heat due to the thermodynamic inefficiencies inherent in the process of converting the incoming energy from one form to another. Now scientists working at the University of Bayreuth claim to have created a super-efficient light-energy transport conduit that exhibits almost zero loss, and shows promise as the missing link in the sunlight to energy conversion process.

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Fully-flexible touchscreen wristband slated for 2016 launch

Wearables, to be true to their name, should ideally be devices that are comfortable and easy to wear, like a snug scarf or a soft pair of socks. But many devices laying claim to the wearable tag don't quite meet this brief. The Wove Band could be an exception. Billed as the "world's first flexible touch display," the design combines a flexible E Ink display with a proprietary digital fabric developed by Chicago-based Polyera over a ten year period. Read More
— Science

New record energy efficiency for artificial photosynthesis

By - August 20, 2015

As the world moves towards developing new avenues of renewable energy, the efficiencies of producing fuels such as hydrogen must increase to the point that they rival or exceed those of conventional energy sources to make them a viable alternative. Now researchers at Monash University in Melbourne claim to have created a solar-powered device that produces hydrogen at a world-record 22 percent efficiency, which is a significant step towards making cheap, efficient hydrogen production a reality.

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— Robotics

Flashing LEDs facilitate brain-controlled exoskeleton

By - August 18, 2015 5 Pictures

Lower limb exoskeletons show great promise in helping those who have lost the use of their legs to walk again. However, if a person has been rendered quadriplegic, any hand controls in such a device are essentially useless. To help address this and other whole-of-body disabilities, scientists working at Korea University (KU) and Technische Universität Berlin (TU Berlin), have created a hands-free brain-to-computer interface to control a lower limb exoskeleton by specifically decoding signals from the wearer’s brain.

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— Electronics

Breakthrough photonic processor promises quantum computing leap

By - August 17, 2015 2 Pictures
Optical quantum computers promise to deliver processing performance exponentially faster and more powerful than today's digital electronic microprocessors. To make this technology a reality, however, photonic circuitry must first become at least as efficient at multi-tasking as the microprocessors they are designed to replace. Towards this end, researchers from the University of Bristol and Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) claim to have developed a fully-reprogrammable quantum optical chip able to encode and manipulate photons in an infinite number of ways. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

Researchers create soft, weavable LED fibers for truly flexible wearable displays

By - August 13, 2015 3 Pictures
Electronic displays for integration with clothing and textiles are a rapidly developing field in the realm of wearable electronics. However, flexible LEDs designed to form part of an elastic or deformable coating for clothing or apparel – even displays specifically designed to be directly bio-compatible – still rely on a hard substrate on which to layer the appropriate electroluminescent material. Now researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have created a fiber-like LED that can be directly knitted or woven to form part of the fabric itself. Read More
— Science

Magnetism generated in non-magnetic metals

By - August 10, 2015
By subtly altering certain quantum interactions in matter, scientists from the University of Leeds have shown for the very first time how to generate magnetism in metals that aren’t normally magnetic. Synthetic magnets made using this technique may one day reduce our reliance on rare or toxic metals in such things as wind turbines, computer hard drives and magnetic field medical imaging devices.

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— Aircraft

Students rise to NASA electric aircraft design challenge

By - August 5, 2015 5 Pictures
In a recent challenge issued by NASA, university students were asked to design an electric aircraft envisaged to enter service in the year 2020 and be commercially competitive with standard piston-engine craft. In response, the space agency received submissions from 20 universities across the United States that not only met the brief but, in many cases, went above and beyond to really the impress the judges. We take a look at the top five prize winners. Read More
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