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Laser

Electronics

Disposable laser produced with inkjet printing tech

Most of the lasers used in items such as DVD players or optical mice are inorganic. They last much longer than organic lasers (which utilize carbon-based materials to amplify light), but they're also comparatively expensive and complex to make, plus their range of wavelengths is limited. Developing more durable organic lasers would be one way of addressing the situation, but a European research team has come up with another – just make them really cheap and easily-replaceable.Read More

Automotive Feature

Behind the scenes at GE's future-forward factory

It feels like a scene from a movie. I'm standing in the lobby of a brand-new research facility where video screens set in large circular stands beam the company's achievements from their high-res flat screens. Behind glass panels, engineers in slacks and button-down shirts are busy working lasers, monitoring a robot and generally doing engineer-like things. This is GE's brand-new Advanced Manufacturing Works (AMW) in Greenville, South Carolina. It's the company's first in the world and Gizmag got inside to take a sneak peek.Read More

Physics

World's smallest engine powered by a single atom

A team of German physicists has just created the world's smallest working engine. Powered by a single electrically-charged calcium atom, the new device is claimed to have the equivalent thermodynamic efficiency (if scaled to size) of an average automobile engine. Basically a heat-exchange engine, its single-atom acts as both fuel and powerplant and is heated by electrical noise and cooled by laser beam.Read More

Space

Activate cloaking device: Hiding Earth from unfriendly aliens using lasers

In recent years, mankind has become very good at finding other planets. Using instruments like the Kepler Space Telescope, scientists have, to date, discovered over 2,000 planets outside our Solar System, but what if some of those planets are inhabited by beings we'd rather not talk to, much less have drop in? Just in case any potential visitors are less ET and more Aliens, a pair of Columbia University scientists have figured out how to use lasers to hide the Earth from prying eyes by camouflaging its light signature.Read More

Space Feature

Reaching for the stars: How lasers could propel spacecraft to relativistic speeds

How do you send man-made probes to a nearby star? According to NASA-funded research at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the answer is simple: assemble a laser array the size of Manhattan in low Earth orbit, and use it to push tiny probes to 26 percent the speed of light. Though the endeavour may raise a few eyebrows, it relies on well-established science – and recent technological breakthroughs have put it within our reach.Read More

Electronics

Smartphone and laser attachment form cheap rangefinder

A team of researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) led by Li-Shiuan Peh has come up with a new infrared depth-sensing system. The new system, which works outdoors as well as in, was built by attaching a US$10 laser to a smartphone, with MIT saying the inexpensive approach could be used to convert conventional personal vehicles, such as wheelchairs and golf carts, into autonomous ones.Read More

Telecommunications

Shooting planes with lasers makes for better comms

Whether they're flying over battlefields, disaster sites or search-and-rescue operations, aircraft can prove to be a valuable "eye in the sky" for ground crews. Usually, data is transmitted from those planes using radio signals. Such signals can be jammed or intercepted, however, plus bandwidth limitations put a damper on just how much data can be sent. That's why scientists from the University of Oxford and Airbus Group Innovations are now using lasers instead.Read More

Games

Father.IO turns the world into a laser tag playground

The latest real-life take on laser tag uses augmented reality, a small infrared peripheral, and your smartphone's Internet capabilities to put you at war with people both in your area and around the world. Touted as a real-life, massively multiplayer first-person shooter game, Father.IO turns your phone into a virtual weapon.Read More

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