A single automaker will spend as much as $2 billion each year perfecting dies to press sheet steel into body parts for new car models. Sometimes manufacturers must redesign a die as many as 10 times before discovering the mold that forms the proper shape. A new technique, however, promises to assure that the die of the future needs to be cast but once. The technique was described at the American Crystallographic Association meeting in Arlington, VA. Scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) used an advanced measurement technique, known as in-situ ultrasmall-angle X-ray scattering, to study the evolution of complex defect structures in deformed metals. They designed a special sample holder called a tensile stage for deforming samples in the x-ray beam. Thus engineers can study minute details about the formation of defects while the metal is being stretched and probed by the x-rays. NIST is devising a theoretical model connecting the observed defect structures with the mechanical properties of various materials. It's the first step toward developing new computer models that could help manufacturers slice die costs. Phone NIST's Gabrielle Long at (301) 975-5975 or Lyle Levine at (301) 975-6032.
If you see a hitchhiker along the road in Canada this summer, it may not be human. That’s because a robot is thumbing its way across our neighbor to the north as part of a collaborative research project by several Canadian universities.
Stanford University researchers have found a way to realize what’s been called the “Holy Grail” of battery-design research -- designing a pure lithium anode for lithium-based batteries. The design has great potential to provide unprecedented efficiency and performance in lithium-based batteries that could substantially drive down the cost of electric vehicles and solve the charging problems associated with smartphones.
Robots in films during the 2000s hit the big time; no longer are they the sidekicks of nerdy character actors. Robots we see on the big screen in recent years include Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Eddie Murphy. Top star of the era, Will Smith, takes a spin as a robot investigator in I, Robot. Robots (or androids or cyborgs) are fully mainstream in the 2000s.
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