University of California

— Robotics

VelociRoACH: A tiny robotic cockroach with a need for speed

The common cockroach may make your skin crawl, but it turns out the household pest is the perfect model for miniature legged robots. That's why Duncan Haldane and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, have been studying the six-legged pests to improve their millirobots. Their latest creation, the VelociRoACH, is made primarily out of cardboard and measures just 10 cm long, yet it can run 2.7 meters per second, making it the fastest robot of its size, capable of covering 26 times its body length in a single second. Read More
— Environment

Portable sensor lets users monitor air pollution on their smartphone

Air quality is one of those things that many of us should be more concerned about, but aren’t. According to some people, this is because we’re not easily able to know how clean the air around us really is – we just assume it’s “clean enough.” Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have set out to change that. They’re developing a compact, portable air pollution sensor that communicates with the user’s smartphone, to provide real-time air quality readings for their immediate surroundings. Read More
— Science

Nanofocusing device shrinks light beams

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging. Read More
— Health & Wellbeing

Tattoo-based medical sensor puts a happy face on detecting metabolic problems

Next time you see an adult with a stick-on tattoo, don’t laugh – that person might have a metabolic problem, or they could be a high-performing athlete who’s getting their training schedule fine-tuned. No, really. A team lead by Dr. Joseph Wang at the University of California, San Diego, has created a thin, flexible metabolic sensor that is applied to the skin ... and it takes the form of a smiley-face tattoo. Read More
— Science

Cloaking technology could protect offshore rigs from destructive waves

Recent years have seen much progress in the development of invisibility cloaks which bend light around an object so it can't be seen, but can the same principles be applied to ocean waves that are strong enough to smash steel and concrete? That's the aim of Reza Alam's underwater “invisibility cloak.” The assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, recently outlined how to use variations of density in ocean water to cloak floating objects from dangerous surface waves. Read More
— Telecommunications

Researchers promise doubled wireless spectrum efficiency

Wireless carriers love to talk about a Spectrum Crunch. Like oil, wireless spectrum is a finite resource. Companies like AT&T warn that smartphone proliferation is eventually going to leave those "wells" dry. Carriers' answers to the problem usually involve government (less regulations, and more federally-owned spectrum released). However, researchers at U.C. Riverside have another solution: make those networks more efficient. Read More
— Environment

Resurrected process converts sugar directly into diesel

Researchers at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) are generating bio fuels from renewable sources, such as sugar and starch, using a process that could be commercialized in as little as five to ten years. Although the fuels are currently more expensive to produce than those made from petroleum, they contain more energy per gallon than ethanol and the researchers say that, if adopted, could help to cut greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. Read More
— Energy

New algorithms could allow lithium-ion batteries to charge twice as fast

The single biggest factor hindering the convenience, and therefore the adoption, of electric vehicles is the batteries used to power them. While filling up an ICE vehicle takes just a few minutes at the pump, electric vehicle recharge times are measured in hours. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed new algorithms that improve the efficiency of existing lithium-ion batteries and could allow them to be charged twice as fast than is currently possible. Read More
— 3D Printing

New technique paves the way for instant 3D-printed biological tissues

3D printing technologies have come a long way since their earliest incarnations as rapid product prototype makers. It's now shaping up as the next disruptive technology and in medical science, 3D printing has huge potential. The latest advance comes from University of California, San Diego Nanoengineering Professor Shaochen Chen, whose group has demonstrated the ability to print three-dimensional blood vessels in seconds. If the technique proves scalable, it could revolutionize regenerative medicine. Read More