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University of Michigan

— Space

Kickstarter project developing micro plasma thrusters to send CubeSats on interplanetary missions

CubeSats are one of the wonders of our day. They allow projects with small budgets and smaller equipment to access low Earth orbit (LEO) at achievable costs. Seeing greater potential for these miniaturized modular satellites, Professor Benjamin Longmire of the University of Michigan is heading a team to install a miniature plasma thruster system into a 3U CubeSat, enabling the vehicle to leave LEO and cruise much of the Solar System. Funding for the project is being sought through Kickstarter. Read More
— Electronics

DARPA program develops world's smallest vacuum pumps with big potential

Three DARPA-funded research teams have completed a foundational study of chip-scale vacuum pumps by inventing three very different approaches to removing air from a sample chamber with a volume of one cubic millimeter, which is about one-tenth the volume of a grain of rice. These new technologies will enable many micro-scale devices which require a vacuum or a controlled flow of gas, such as Lab-on-a-Chip sensors, radio frequency MEMS switches and microscopic vacuum tubes. Read More
— 3D Printing

3D-printed implant saves baby's life

Six week-old Kaiba Gionfriddo was out at a restaurant with his family, when he stopped breathing and started turning blue. It turned out that he had a severe form of tracheobronchomalacia, a rare condition in which the trachea collapses due to flaccid supporting cartilage. Although he survived that incident, he proceeded to stop breathing on a regular basis, requiring daily resuscitation. Given the seriousness of the situation, his doctors decided to go for broke and try something new – an implanted 3D-printed tracheal support splint. Read More
— Mobile Technology

DARPA develops non-GPS navigation chip

The Global Positioning System (GPS) has proved a boon for those with a bad sense of direction, but the satellite-based system isn’t without its shortcomings. Something as simple as going indoors or entering a tunnel can render the system useless. That might be inconvenient for civilians, but it's potentially disastrous for military users for whom the system was originally built. DARPA is addressing such concerns with the development of a self-sufficient navigation system that can aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable. Read More
— Good Thinking

Radar used to detect concealed weapons in public spaces

An electrical engineering professor at the University of Michigan believes that a type of radar, part developed by the Department of Defense, has the potential to be used as a means of detecting concealed weapons. Originally intended for military use, it is possible that the millimeter-wave radar system could be used to detect weapons across distances as large as a football field. Read More
— Science

Unlocking color mechanism of peacock’s feathers could lead to next-gen color displays

Structural color, which is the foundation that makes things like a peacock's tail feathers appear iridescent, has been an area of study for scientists as they try to adapt it for use in everyday technologies – only without the “rainbow effect” that makes the colors unstable depending on the angle of view. Now, Researchers at the University of Michigan have mimicked the peacock's color mechanism in an approach that could lead to high resolution reflective color displays and have implications for data storage, cryptography and counterfeiting. Read More
— Science

"Superomniphobic" nanoscale coating repels almost any liquid

A team of engineering researchers at the University of Michigan has developed a nanoscale coating that causes almost all liquids to bounce off surfaces treated with it. Consisting of at least 95 percent air, the new "superomniphobic" coating is claimed to repel the broadest range of liquids of any material in its class, opening up the possibility of super stain-resistant clothing, drag-reducing waterproof paints for ship hulls, breathable garments that provide protection from harmful chemicals, and touchscreens resistant to fingerprint smudges. Read More
— Medical

Brain releases powerful, opiate-like painkiller in repsonse to electric stimulation

Twenty to thirty percent of the world's population suffers from some sort of chronic pain, which is far more difficult to control than, say, the pain of a cut or bruise. A great deal of effort has gone into the search for medically acceptable ways to control such pain, with few good answers emerging. Now medical researchers at the University of Michigan have directly demonstrated that transcranial electrical stimulation of a patient's brain causes the release of a natural opiate that dulls or eliminates the perception of pain. Read More
— Science

Sonic "invisible scalpel" could be used for non-invasive surgery

First of all, how can non-invasive surgery even be possible? After all, even in the case of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are still made in the skin. Nonetheless, that’s just what scientists from the University of Michigan are proposing. They believe that it could be achieved by using a beam of sound, which would be emitted through the skin to a highly-focused point within the body – and they’ve already created such a beam and used it. Read More