Photokina 2014 highlights

Ions

This is a speaker, believe it or not (Photo by Eliza Grinnell, SEAS Communications)

Audio speakers are showing up in a variety of unusual forms these days, from the incredibly tiny to the eye-catchingly bizarre, but a research group at Harvard University may have trumped them all with a new one that's as clear as glass. Scientists at the college's Engineering and Applied Sciences branch recently built a flexible speaker out of ionic gel that is almost invisible to the naked eye and can produce high-quality sound ranging across the full audible spectrum. In doing so, they also provided a proof of concept for electronics that can transfer electric signals in a similar manner to the human nervous system.  Read More

A Hall thruster electric propulsion unit in operation

A marriage of the tortoise and the hare may be the key to exploring the Solar System. At least, that’s the belief of Nathan Strange, a mission formulation systems engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who has outlined a plan to use hybrid chemical/solar-electric propulsion systems for the manned exploration of the Moon, Mars and the asteroids.  Read More

The Solidey ionic toothbrush is claimed to be able to clean teeth using only light and wat...

In Japan and much of Europe, the Soladey toothbrush is nothing new. It was invented 20 years ago, and is currently used by over 16 million people – you may now pause to make a joke about 16 million people all using the same toothbrush. Just recently, however, it has become available in the U.K., U.S. and Canada. What makes it special is the fact that it uses nothing but light and water to clean your teeth.  Read More

Infra-red image of an optimized EHD-cooled laptop after three minutes
 Image credit: Tesse...

Keeping electronic components cool is a constant problem for electronics manufacturers – computer manufacturers in particular. While desktop PCs have a few options open to them, such as water-cooling, laptops are more limited in how they can be cooled. As laptops and other electronic devices continue to shrink while the heat they generate increases, the search is on for alternatives to the bulky, noisy fan-based systems widely used. A cooling system developed by Tessera has discovered a way to create a cooling airflow through ionizing air particles.  Read More

Where the river meets the sea - salt and freshwater could be used like a giant battery (Im...

Green energy comes in many guises these days, from wind-power to wave-power. One of the more compelling of the new kids on the eco-energy block is salinity power, which uses the concurrence of salt-water and freshwater in estuaries and marries it with the natural, effortless process of osmosis.  Read More

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