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Light

Robotics

Light used to steer muscle-powered bio-bots

It was just a couple of years ago that we heard about how scientists at the University of Illinois were using electrical fields to activate tiny muscle-powered "walking" biological robots – or "bio-bots." Ultimately, it was hoped that such devices could be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the body. Recently, however, the researchers made an improvement: the bio-bots can now be steered using light.Read More

Science

Visible light search for gravitational waves black hole merger comes up empty

Last week an international team of scientists announced that they had made history by directly detecting gravitational waves. In light of those findings, a second team has attempted to detect the burst of visible light given off by the source of the waves – two merging black holes. The results were disappointing, but could help future attempts at imaging the source of gravitational waves.Read More

Outdoors

Fuel cell lantern ditches batteries for salt water

For many people, camping/emergency lanterns are one of those things that may sit for months without being used, only to have dead batteries when they're finally needed again. While solar-powered lanterns are one alternative, they do still need to sit in the sunlight for a few hours in order to charge. That's where Hydra-Light's PL-500 comes in. It's a fuel cell-powered lantern that's ready to shine as soon as it receives some salt water.Read More

Outdoors

Zyntony's flexible, wearable Ra light keeps heads and hands free

Even the best flashlights aren't as effective when your hands are busy with other tasks. Headlamps provide convenience and freedom, although visibility is limited by direction, with the potential to blind others upon eye contact. That's why Zyntony has created a new type of adventure light that pairs high lumen output with versatile mounting. The Ra is designed to magnetically strap to clothing, backpacks, or gear for broad area illumination.Read More

Science

Standout science and technology in 2015

The blistering advance of technology we are experiencing in the 21st century is nothing short of mind-boggling, and the rate of change being exponential, 2015 was by definition the busiest year yet. So before the Gregorian calendar keels over into 2016, let's take a wander through some of the year's most significant, salutary and attention-grabbing examples of scientific achievement, technological innovation and human endeavor.
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Science

Ultrathin metasurface lenses do things conventional optics can't

Once, the only way to manipulate light was with the use of a transparent glass or plastic lens whose shape and makeup determined such things as focus, magnification, and polarity. However, to incorporate all of these properties in the one optical system required a large and complex collection of multiple lenses to achieve. Now researchers working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have created a flat silicon metamaterial lens that manages all of these thing in a microminiaure device that electromagnetically controls the properties of any light passing it.Read More

Environment

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

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.Read More

Electronics

Smart light lets you control your environment

What if the light in the room could sense you waving your hand as you enter? And what if it responded by introducing minute light changes that instructed your smart coffee machine to switch on? Researchers at Dartmouth College have developed a sensing system called LiSense that aims to make the light around us "smart." Not only does it use light to sense people’s movements, but it also allows them to control devices in their environment with simple gestures, using light to transmit information.Read More

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