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Shape Memory Alloys

Office buildings with plate glass windows may provide a nice view for workers, but they're certainly not ideal when it comes to energy-efficiency. Among other things, the sunlight that pours through them can raise the temperature in the office, causing the air conditioning to come on. Now, however, researchers from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology have created a light-blocking facade for such windows that only kicks in when exposed to strong sunlight – and it's powered by that sunlight, too. Read More
Whether they're on robots or amputees, artificial hands tend to be rather complex mechanisms, incorporating numerous motor-driven cables. Engineers from Germany's Saarland University, however, have taken a different approach with their hand. It moves its fingers via shape-memory nickel-titanium alloy wires, bundled together to perform intricate tasks by working like natural muscle fibers. Read More
Shape memory alloys (SMAs), which when heated are able to return to their original shape after being severely deformed, have found their way into everything from spectacle frames to cars. Now researchers at Empa in Switzerland have developed a new type of SMA that could allow the material to find applications in the building and construction industries. Read More
It's strange to wrap one's mind around the idea of human pee powered robots, but that's exactly what a group of UK researchers are attempting to create. Mimicking the human heart, their latest innovation is a heart pump with artificial muscles that aims to deliver human urine to their latest generation of Ecobots – a self-sustaining robot that runs on all manner of waste matter collected from its environment. Read More
There may soon be another technical specification to consider when buying a mobile device. Researchers from the University of Bristol and the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI Saarbrücken) have coined the term “shape resolution” to indicate the self-actuated shape-shifting abilities they believe will be featured in the next generation of mobile devices. To demonstrate this new metric, the researchers have developed a number of prototype shape-shifting devices they have dubbed “Morphees,” which have the potential to change their shape on demand, depending on the desired use. Read More
While there are already memory materials that are able to change to a given shape when exposed to certain stimuli, researchers from ETH Zurich have created something a little different. Taking inspiration from the humble pine cone, they’ve developed a process that allows a wider variety of materials to be used, that can in turn attain a wider variety of shapes. Read More
Chevrolet is taking some major steps to improve and evolve the Corvette. The automaker is bringing back the beloved Stingray and adding a 6.2L V-8 LT1 engine with over 450 horsepower (335kw). Now, Chevy has revealed its intentions to incorporate heat-activated "smart materials" into the 2014 Corvette. Read More
If a woman wishes to avoid pregnancy for the time being, but thinks she might want to get pregnant at some point in the future, then using an intrauterine device (IUD) is often a good course of action – the simple devices are now the world’s most common form of birth control, as used by women. However, while IUDs are generally fairly safe and reliable, complications can occur. Now, Israel’s OCON Medical has announced the forthcoming availability of something that it claims is considerably safer and more effective – the Intra Uterine Ball, or IUB. Read More
Researchers have created a silicone submarinal robot that gets about by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish. The robot is powered by heat-producing reactions catalyzed by its surface, and using hydrogen and oxygen present in the water as fuel. It's claimed that that the Robojelly, so named by its Virginia Tech creators, could run indefinitely, effectively drawing energy from the water in which it swims. Read More
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