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Two small-scale versions of three-dimensional photovoltaic arrays that were tested by MIT ...

While we’ve looked at the development of solar cell technologies that employ nanoscale 3D structures to trap light and increase the amount of solar energy absorbed, MIT researchers have now used 3D on the macro scale to achieve power output that is up to 20 times greater than traditional fixed flat solar panels with the same base area. The approach developed by the researchers involves extending the solar cells upwards in a three-dimensional tower or cube configuration to enable them to better capture the sun's rays when it is lower on the horizon.  Read More

The experimental camera setup that is able to see around corners (Photo: Christopher Barsi...

Fans of the classic 1982 science fiction movie Blade Runner will remember the ESPER machine that allows Deckard to zoom in and see around corners in a two-dimensional photograph. While such technology is still some way off, researchers in MIT’s Media Lab have developed a system using a femtosecond laser that can reproduce low-resolution 3D images of objects that lie outside a camera’s line of sight.  Read More

The Tohoku University design would change shape during flight to adapt to supersonic speed...

A throwback to early 20th Century aviation may hold the key to eliminating the sonic boom - at least according to researchers at MIT and Stanford University. Strongly reminiscent of biplanes still in use today, the researcher's concept supersonic aircraft introduces a second wing which it is claimed cancels the shockwaves generated by objects near or beyond the sound barrier.  Read More

Aircraft carrier deck crews may one day be able to direct autonomous drones, using standar...

We’ve all seen footage of flight crews on the decks of aircraft carriers, directing taxiing planes using arm signals. That’s all very well and good when they’re communicating with human pilots, but what happens as more and more human-piloted military aircraft are replaced with autonomous drones? Well, if researchers at MIT are successful in one of their latest projects, not much should change. They’re currently devising a system that would allow robotic aircraft to understand human arm gestures.  Read More

A new algorithmic system allows AUVs to reach their destinations faster, or to use less po...

Autonomous underwater vehicles, better known as AUVs, are increasingly finding use in applications such as oceanographic research, mapping, military reconnaissance, and deep-sea oil-well maintenance. As these independent underwater robots make their way through the world’s oceans, they use GPS transceivers to keep themselves on a predetermined route. When they encounter challenges such as cross-currents, one might assume that their best course of action would be simply to power straight across them, in order to travel the shortest distance possible. Engineers from MIT, however, have developed a system that allows AUVs to reach their destinations sooner, by traveling out of their way to “go with the flow.”  Read More

Scientists are reporting success in the first human trial of a chip-based implant that del...

Much as anyone with a medical condition wants to get better, it can often be difficult to get patients to stick to their medication regimens. This is particularly true for patients who are required to give themselves injections – a time-consuming and unpleasant procedure that it’s easy to “forget” to do. Scientists from MIT and Massachusetts-based company MicroCHIPS Inc., however, have come up with what could be a solution. Yesterday, they announced success in the first clinical trial of an implantable chip-based device, that automatically delivered regular doses of medication to osteoporosis sufferers.  Read More

FreeD is a handheld smart milling device that gives the artist creative control, but won't...

Even if you think you're pretty handy with a chisel, often all it takes is one wrong angle or strike of the hammer to ruin an entire sculpting project. MIT's media lab has a solution - the FreeD is a handheld smart milling device that gives the artist creative control, but won't let you totally screw up your project with one wrong move.  Read More

Schematic of MIT's Photosystem-I solar energy harvesting chip

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!  Read More

Analysis of the way a goshawk flies through cluttered forests has revealed a critical safe...

Research into goshawk flight could inform the design of next generation UAVS. Where prior research into bird flight has focused on steady flight, new research from MIT examines the patterns of birds adept at flying in "cluttered environments" to find principles applicable to robot motion planning. It's research that might one day find practical applications in engineering, including fast, agile UAVs.  Read More

The Fermat spiral found in the spiraling pattern of florets in sunflowers has inspired a m...

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, such as the Gemsolar and PS10 plants in Spain, use arrays of mirrors (or heliostats) to focus a large area of the Sun's rays onto a small area, where the concentrated light is converted to heat that is used to generate electricity. While CSP has gained popularity in recent years with numerous plants being built around the world, they require a large area to generate the amounts of electricity needed to make them economically viable. Taking inspiration from the sunflower, researchers have devised a more efficient design that would allow such plants to be constructed on a much smaller area.  Read More

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