Sylmar, CA —Flying high above the earth are thousands of satellites providing the necessities of daily communication. With the proliferation of cell phones and the Internet, onboard power requirements have become even more demanding. "We have now created space solar cells with an efficiency up to 29%," says David Lillington, acting President of Spectrolab, a division of Hughes Electronics. "By increasing the absorption from single junction to multi-junction arrays we have been able to dramatically increase the [energy] absorption rates."
Standard solar cell technology relies on a single junction. But since the mid 1990s, Spectrolab has created solar cells with multiple junctions. "By growing 16 layers of gallium arsenide on germanium we have been able to create a triple junction cell with much higher efficiencies," says Lillington up from the current 15%. "By improving on these processes, we expect efficiencies up to 50% in about 10 years from now."
A new service lets engineers and orthopedic surgeons design and 3D print highly accurate, patient-specific, orthopedic medical implants made of metal -- without owning a 3D printer. Using free, downloadable software, users can import ASCII and binary .STL files, design the implant, and send an encrypted design file to a third-party manufacturer.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.