Fluid optics promise heatless light generation
A small French company, M‚galux, hopes to develop a high-power floodlight that generates no heat based on the practical application of fluid optics. Making it possible: the development of digital simulation that can do complex computing in a few minutes, and the new machines on the market that can accomplish this, according to Jean-Claude Ambiard, M‚galux founding engineer. The work involves total reflection, which has led to the use of diopter curves that cannot be parabola or ellipses. With the M‚galux technology, light rays can be recovered, whatever their angle to the optic axis. The M‚galux-designed optics have a theoretical efficiency of 100% and an actual yield of 80 to 85%. In other words, with a normal 5,000-W input one gets 135,000 lumens, although only 10,000 lumens are recovered. M‚galux optics, on the other hand, can recover 108,000 lumens, or ten times more than standard equipment, Amblard claims. FAX Isabelle Menke at (312) 222-1237.
Disorder could help tame complex natural, artificial systems
Bringing order out of chaos can require a little
disorder. That's the conclusion drawn by a team of physicists who added
variability and disorder to certain complex systems to help tame their behavior.
"We have found that nature utilizes disorder to create organization, and that
there are situations where the lack of disorder will create disorganization,"
reports William Ditto, assistant professor of physics at the Georgia Institute
of Technology. Ditto and colleagues John Lindner of The College of Wooster and
Yuri Braiman of Emory University used computer simulations to study a variety of
coupled nonlinear systems, including a series of chaotic pendula and a system
with a hundred identical oscillators. The systems exhibited chaotic behavior
over both time and space (spatiotemporal chaos), and the activity of each
individual element could affect the behavior of others. This unexpected
conclusion, the team feels, could require scientists and engineers to take a new
look at the operation and interaction of both natural and artificial nonlinear
systems. E-mail Ditto at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Robotic arm lends battlefield soldiers a helping hand
Using a new Crusader system, soldiers on the battlefield
can reload a self-propelled howitzer--a cannon mounted on a tracked
vehicle--without leaving armored protection and without handling the ammunition.
A robotic arm designed by engineers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and
attached to the resupply vehicle automatically reloads the ammunition onto the
howitzer. However, before the robotic arm, with joints much like a human hand,
can transfer ammunition through its inner tunnel by way of a conveyor, it must
locate the howitzer port and maneuver to dock automatically with the
howitzer--under battlefield conditions and on rough terrain. To perform this
task, a system of cameras, sensors, and computers acts as the arm's eyes. E-mail
Ron Walli at email@example.com .
High-speed telementoring brings doctors to disasters
Adesire to utilize Internet technology to bring the
expertise of emergency-medicine physicians to disaster scenes without the
physicians leaving their hospitals enticed a team of radiologists, computer
experts, and other researchers to develop a special telementoring system. "From
workstations, at the disaster scene and at the hospital, we can see the
patient's lab results, their entire medical record, clinical history, radiology
images, reports, charts, and both historical information and 'real time' vital
signs," says Fred Prior, chief of radiologic computing and imaging science at
Penn State's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. "Plus, we can access, through the
Internet, other resource materials at the push of a button." The
Hershey-developed workstation incorporates state-of-the-art video
teleconferencing, remote patient evaluation and monitoring, and full-resolution
medical images. E-mail Emma A. Inman at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Telltale fluid system discourages vehicle thefts
Expensive security systems are not foolproof--especially if car thieves tow or truck their targets away. Accordingly, auto manufacturers are looking at an on-board supplement to these after-market devices. Produced by Lucas Control Systems Products, AccuStar® Mini Dual Axis Clinometer. Two hermetically sealed domes and a captured fluid with high dielectric constant make up the AccuStar¨II. The lower dome carries four conductive quadrants, while the upper dome acts as a ground. An air bubble in the fluid triggers the sensor. Centered when the sensor is level, the bubble moves if a thief jacks up the car. The capacitance change generates an output signal to trip the alarm. Phone Bill Reinagel at (800) 745-4008.
Holographic storage systems would outperform hard-disk drives
A joint university/industry/government consortium has
begun to develop holographic data storage systems that can hold more than 12
times the information of today's largest magnetic hard-disk drives--and maintain
data input and output rates more than 10 times faster. The five-year, $32
million program is being supported 50% by the Defense Department's Advanced
Research Project Agency and 50% by the 12 participants. Holographic data storage
uses lasers to store information as "pages" of electronic patterns within the
volume of special optical materials. Because a million or more data bits are
placed on each page, and thousands of pages can be stored in material no larger
than a small coin, holographic systems offer the possibility of compact devices
holding many trillions of bytes of information. And, since there are no moving
parts and all the information in each page is accessed simultaneously in
parallel, the technology also has the potential for very rapid access to any of
the stored data. E-mail IBM's Michael Ross at email@example.com .
Molecular switch may protect crops from drought, heat, and cold
Plant biologists at Washington University in St. Louis have made an artificial molecular switch that is highly sensitive to abscisic acid (ABA), a plant hormone key to plants' response to environmental stresses. They plan to use the switch to control beneficial genes that could protect such crops as barley, wheat, and rice, among others. "The best analogy to understand what we're doing is a light and a switch," says David Ho, professor of biology in arts and sciences. "The light illuminates, but a switch regulates the light. We've known there is a switch for this protective gene, but it was hidden." Ho and his group isolated the promoter region and introduced it to barley seed with the use of a "gene gun," which works like a rifle, shooting DNA deposited on the surface of tungsten or gold particles into plant tissues. FAX Tony Fitzpatrick at (314)935-4259.
Russian-made tank to fly on McDonnell Douglas launch vehicle
Engineers at McDonnell Douglas Aerospace have installed a
cryogenic liquid oxygen tank made from an advanced Russian 1460 aluminum-lithium
alloy on an experimental reusable launch vehicle. The Delta Clipper-Experimental
Advanced (DC-XA) vehicle will head skyward again sometime this year with the
eight-foot-diameter tank on board. "The lightweight, high-strength Russian alloy
will operate at temperatures ranging between minus 297 and 100F," says Dave
Schweikle, the DC-XA program director. "The aluminum-lithium tank weighs about
20% less than tanks of the same design constructed of conventional aluminum
alloy." The demonstration will play a key role in advancing the reusable launch
vehicle data for single-stage-to-orbit rockets. E-mail Evelyn Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Prototype cryogenically cooled power converter demonstrated
American Superconductor Corp. has demonstrated a commercial-scale prototype of a cryogenically cooled power converter "four months ahead of schedule that exceeded performance expectations by more the 30%." The company's plan for introducing its CryoPower™ had called for a 75-kW demonstration this month. The commercial CryoPower devices will integrate cryocooled power semiconductors with high-temperature superconducting inductor coils. "This combination," says Bob Howsey, manager of the Superconductivity Program for Electric Power Systems at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, "will result in a quantum improvement in the size, weight, and efficiency of power conversion equipment." The result: motor controllers, power conditioning equipment, and "many other products will become more economical to use," Howsey believes. FAX Denise Mikulis at (508) 836-4248.
Coating technology prevents fiber-optic cable downtime
By combining its proprietary reinforcement with a patented coating technology, Owens-Corning has developed a system that prevents water from damaging sensitive optical-fiber cables. The Advantex™ E-glass continuous-filament fiber reinforcement is designed to be easily processed without the need for special handling or equipment. Incorporating the AquaBlok™ "super absorbent powder" compound with the reinforcement eliminates an extra process step required to add gels, grease, or tape to the cables. During cable jacketing, the reinforcement carrying the absorbent powder is wrapped helically around the cable core of optical fibers. If water gets into the cable, the coating swells to its maximum absorption level--almost three times its weight in water in one minute, sealing off the damaged area. Phone Bill Hamilton at (800) 438-7465.
Composite core combines best of urethanes, phenolics
For complex vehicle body shapes, a need exists for skin and core products that combine the best qualities of urethanes and phenolics. Urethanes by themselves are good for molding processes, but not stable when skins are put on them up to 300F. Phenolics by themselves have good thermal stability, but are hard to mold; they generally contain too much acid and need special dispensing machinery. Now comes a product, Alba-Core, that blends the best features of both materials into a single material. Produced by Molded Fiber Glass Co., Ashtabula, OH, under an agreement with ISORCA, Granville, OH, the syntactic Alba-Core foam doesn't need a blowing agent. In the proprietary process, it starts out as dry powder, then molds to a skin at temperatures from 300 to 400F, without losing any desired properties. The finished product remains stable to 500F. FAX Gerri Radkowski at (216) 992-0542.