We've been following the evolution of patient-embedded medical sensors for some time - miniature devices that run on batteries, transcutaneous (through-the-skin) induced current, even sugar
and provide constant monitoring of various metabolic parameters. Now, a team from Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center has developed a prototype pressure sensor which promises to address the shortcomings of previous designs and utilizes a novel power supply: the acoustic energy from bass-heavy riffs of rap music.
In order to do things such as building microelectromechanical systems (MEMS
) or grabbing individual stem cell spheres for analysis, scientists use extremely fine-tipped tools known as microtweezers. While such devices aren't a brand new innovation in and of themselves, researchers from Indiana's Purdue University have developed a new type of microtweezers that are said to be easier and cheaper to manufacture than their conventional counterparts. Not only that, but unlike most similar devices currently in use, they don't require heat, magnetism or electricity to operate.
With sizes typically measured in micrometers, Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS
) devices are already being used in applications such as super-accurate sensors
, energy-harvesting devices
, and electronic signal amplifiers
. Given how difficult it would be to replace such systems' moving parts as they wear out, it would be ideal if those parts could be made from as hard a material as possible. Well, while most MEMS are presently made chiefly of silicon, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are now on their way to making them from diamonds.
The advantages of wireless sensors to monitor equipment and structures in remote locales are obvious, but are lessened significantly if their batteries need to be regularly changed. We’ve seen a number of microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS, that harvest energy from the environment, such as ambient light and radio waves
. Now MIT News is reporting the development of a new piezoelectric device that is about the size of a U.S. quarter and can generate 100 times as much power as similarly sized devices.
Nancy Sinatra once mused that her boots were made for walking. In these days of global positioning, going walkabout is not as random an event as it might once have been, but there are still occasions when the all-seeing GPS device can't pick up a satellite. In such cases, having a back-up could mean the difference between getting out of the deep, dark underground cave in one piece or being lost in its tunnels forever. Researchers from North Carolina State University and Carnegie Mellon University have combined technology that is used to measure speed and distance with portable radar equipment to help keep track of a user's location.
It's much, much smaller than its Stradivarian cousin, but not even the Borrowers, Lilliputians or Blefuscudians are of sufficiently diminutive proportions to take a bow to the Micronium. The tiny instrument is made up of microscopic springs activated by combs to produce an audible tone. Half a dozen tone systems are placed on a chip and then chips combined to offer an orchestral range of sounds.
A team of biomedical engineers at Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University has created a new “on-chip” method to identify bacteria. By creating microchannels between two roughened glass slides containing gold electrodes, the researchers are able to sort and concentrate bacteria. A form of spectroscopy is then applied to identify them, providing a portable device that can be used for tasks like food monitoring and blood-screening.
Micro electromechanical systems, or MEMs
, are promising in an array of high-tech applications. However, the accuracy of conventional techniques to gauge the force and movement of tiny objects containing components so small they have to be measured on the scale of micrometers or nanometers are typically off by 10 percent or more because of their inherent uncertainties. A new technology enabling MEMs to "self-calibrate" could overcome this problem and make possible super-accurate and precise sensors for crime-scene forensics, environmental testing and medical diagnostics.
Anyone who subscribes to the view that good things come in small packages would no doubt be impressed by the winners of this year’s design contest held at Sandia Labs for novel and educational microelectromechanical systems
(MEMs). The big, or should I say exceedingly small, winners were the world’s smallest chessboard, which is about the diameter of four human hairs, and a pea-sized microbarbershop that is intended to service a single hair.
Could walking or running generate enough energy to power your cell phone or GPS device? Dr. Ville Kaajakari has developed an innovative piezoelectric generator prototype small enough to be embedded in the sole of a shoe that's designed to produce enough power to operate GPS receivers, location tags and eventually, even a cell phone.