Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Laser

A rendering and a photo of the SMART tool

No matter how steady you try to hold your hand, it will still tremble several times a second, moving a distance roughly the same as the thickness of a sheet of paper each time. While that might not matter much for the average person, it can be a very big deal to surgeons performing fine-scale surgery on things like eyes or nerve fibers. While there are experimental robotic devices to help smooth out the shakes, researchers from Johns Hopkins University have come up with something else – a surgical tool with a jiggling tip.  Read More

A hacker has retrofitted a classic NES Zapper with a powerful laser, resulting in a gun th...

Remember the classic NES Zapper, as used in games like Duck Hunt? Well, an intrepid tinkerer at North Street Labs hacker space in Portsmouth, Virginia, has taken that same harmless toy and retrofitted it with a powerful laser. While not quite deadly enough to take out a real life mallard, you wouldn't want to point the NES Zapper Laser toward a TV either, as it's capable of doing considerable damage to whatever it shoots.  Read More

Professor Zenghu Chang with his ultrashort laser pulse apparatus

Since first invented, the effort to make lasers that can produce shorter and more powerful pulses of light has been a very active one. One driving force is that if you want to take a picture of something occurring very rapidly, you need a very short pulse of light to prevent the image from blurring. The first ruby laser produced microsecond pulses of light, but more recently femtosecond optical pulses a billion times shorter have become common. Still shorter pulses belong to the attosecond regime - the regime wherein a University of Central Florida research team is creating optical pulses sufficiently brief to stop quantum mechanics in its tracks.  Read More

A beam entrance view of the laser injector (Photo: Jack Yoh/Seoul National University)

Nobody likes getting their shots, but whether childhood immunization, annual flu vaccination, or whatever else, we're required to undergo the uncomfortable sensation of needle piercing skin multiple times throughout our lives. However, a new laser-based system promises to take the “ouch” out of injections by delivering shots as painlessly as being struck by a puff of air.  Read More

CTX's Virtual Keyboard projects a usable laser outline of a QWERTY keyboard onto any flat ...

Even though tablets and smartphones are improving and adding new features all the time, a shrunken keyboard on a touch screen still doesn't compare to the comfort of a full-sized keyboard for typing. There are plenty of solutions for this, from snap-on cases with keyboards built into them to keyboards that fold into a small package, but these all just make your less mobile or give you one more bulky thing to carry. For a more compact alternative, Brookstone has begun taking orders for a new virtual keyboard from CTX, which projects a usable laser keyboard onto any flat surface, all while fitting nicely inside a small keychain.  Read More

Fluorescent 3D pattern 180 µm wide (Image: Vienna University of Technology)

Three-dimensional printers are popping up everywhere these days. Some are small enough to fit in a briefcase and others are large enough to build print houses, but scientists at the Vienna University of Technology are going for the microscopic. Earlier this year, the university built a 3D printer that uses lasers to operate on a tiny small scale. Now they're refining the technique to enable precise placement a selected molecule in a three-dimensional material. This process, called “3D-photografting,” can potentially be used to create a “lab on a chip” or artificially grow living tissue.  Read More

The Whispering Gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral (Image: Femtoquake /CC 3.0)

Researchers led by Professor Stephen Arnold at Polytechnic Institute of New York University have developed a new ultra-sensitive biosensor. Currently undergoing commercial development, the sensor is designed to inexpensively identify viruses in a doctor’s office within a matter of minutes instead of the weeks needed by conventional techniques ... and it can detect even the smallest RNA virus particle, MS2, which weighs only six attograms (10-18 grams).  Read More

Details of ChemCam (Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL)

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has already fired its laser over 500 times as it studies its surroundings as engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) calibrate its sensors. In a classic example of “waste not, want not” Curiosity concentrated its activity on a patch of rocks that were uncovered by the rocket backwash of the sky crane that delivered the unmanned explorer to the Martian surface on August 6.  Read More

Artist's concept of Curiosity using laser (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has fired its laser for the first time. Its target wasn’t attacking Martians, but a 7 cm (2.75 inch) wide rock called “Coronation” (AKA N165) about 10 feet (3 m) from the rover. Curiosity’s laser fired 30 pulses over a ten-second interval, hitting Coronation with one million watts for five-one billionths of a second. As tiny bits of Coronation vaporized into a glowing plasma, Curiosity's ChemCam analyzed the stone’s makeup by means of a telescope and three spectrometers.  Read More

The core of the new solid state maser (Photo: National Physics Laboratory)

Everyone has heard of lasers, but hardly anyone outside of a physics lab or a science fiction novel has heard of a maser. Despite the fact that it was the precursor of the laser, the maser has been something of a technological backwater because masers are difficult to build and expensive to operate. That, however, may be changing. In the August 16 issue of Nature, a team of scientists from Britain’s National Physics Laboratory and Imperial College, London led by Dr. Mark Oxborrow report that they have created the first solid state maser that operates at room temperature, paving the way toward the widespread practical application of the technology.  Read More

Looking for something? Search our 29,580 articles