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Microchannel

We've seen numerous examples of self-healing polymers that allow materials to repair themselves after being damaged. One of the more common approaches involves the use of embedded microcapsules that release a healing agent when damaged. Researchers have expanded on this idea to develop a new technique that brings self-healing capabilities to fiber-reinforced composite materials, like those used in airplanes and automobiles. Read More
A new manufacturing method that incorporates laser technology may result in thin film solar panels that are less expensive and more efficient than anything presently on the market. Currently, a stylus is used to mechanically etch microchannels into such panels, which electrically connect the individual solar cells and allow them to form an array. Researchers from Indiana’s Purdue University, however, are developing a technique in which an ultrafast pulsing laser is used to do the etching. Not only will it hopefully be quicker and cheaper than mechanical “scribing,” but it should also produce cleaner, sharper microchannels that offer superior performance. Read More
Microfluidic technology, in which liquid is made to pass through “microchannels” that are often less than a millimeter in width, has had a profound effect on fields such as physics, chemistry, engineering and biotechnology. In particular, it has made “lab-on-a-chip” systems possible, in which the chemical contents of tiny amounts of fluid can be analyzed on a small platform. Such devices are typically made in clean rooms, through a process of photolithography and etching. This rather involved production method is reflected in their retail price, which sits around US$500 per device. Now, however, a high school teacher has come up with a way of making microfluidics that involves little else than a photocopier and transparency film. Read More
If you had to sort a bunch of nanoparticles by size, what would you use? A microscope, tweezers, and a very finely-calibrated caliper? Actually, you’d probably use the nanofluidic “multi-tool” created by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the US. Before you start picturing a teeny-tiny Leatherman, which would admittedly be pretty cool, you should be aware that the NIST device is more like a coin separator, that sorts your nickels, dimes and quarters. In this case, however, they would be nickels, dimes and quarters that are smaller than a bacterium. Read More
We've seen vertically oriented transistors, now it's time for entire chips to explore the z-axis. Collaborating with Swiss research institutes EPFL and ETH Zurich, IBM has made another important step toward creating faster, higher-efficiency "3D" processors stacking their cores vertically to increase the number of interconnections and sensibly reduce heat. Read More
As an increasing number of hybrid-powered vehicles move from concept to completion, technology is battling to keep pace with some of the less-publicized technical challenges found among the complex electronics aboard these land- and air-based vehicles, computers and other devices. For instance, how do you effectively cool the electronics in a high-power electric motor that propels a passenger car from 0-60mph in under 10 seconds and uses regenerative braking to stop? Researchers in the U.S. believe the secret may lie in understanding precisely how fluid boils in tiny ‘microchannels’, which has led them to develop formulas and models that will help engineers design unique systems to cool high-power electronics found in today’s and tomorrow’s devices. Read More
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