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University of Michigan

— Science

Crystal-forming microparticles could lead to color-changing tanks and planes

Military vehicles that change color to be dark at night, and camo-green in the daylight ... could such a thing be possible? Well, it's certainly closer to reality, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Michigan. Scientists there have created a solution that changes color when exposed to light, then changes back when the light is removed. If incorporated into a thin film coating, the result could be chameleon-like surfaces. Read More
— Science

Polaris-H detector maps nuclear radiation in real time

Turn on any old science fiction film and odds are that you'll see someone listening to the ominous chirping of a Geiger counter. It's very dramatic, but not very precise and, unfortunately, nuclear scientists and engineers of today are stuck with the same problem. Now, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a faster, cheaper way for nuclear power plants to detect and map dangerous hot spots and leaky fuel rods using a camera that maps radiation in real time. Read More
— Electronics

"Stained glass" photovoltaics fuse form and function

A beautiful stained glass installation, a colorful billboard, or rows of windows on an office building ... all as electricity-generating solar cells? New research at the University of Michigan gives a method for creating such transparent and colorful solar cells using a hybrid silicon/organic composition, and furthermore avoids some of the problems of previous colored and transparent solar cells. Read More
— Motorcycles

Honda testing vehicle-to-vehicle communications to eliminate SMIDSY accidents

Here's a term almost all motorcyclists run across in their first couple of years on the road: SMIDSY. It stands for "sorry mate, I didn't see you" and it's the standard apology we get when we're sprawled across the bonnet of a car after its driver has pulled out in front of us. Bikes are tougher to see on the road for a number of reasons, so Honda is looking into the idea of using Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) to give drivers advance warning when a SMIDSY situation could be coming up. Read More
— 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
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