Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working to eliminate energy guzzling incandescent and fluorescent lights and replace them with semiconductor LEDs. Lighting is responsible for approximately 20% of electricity consumption and use of LEDs mean big energy savings. "LEDs could be 10 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and two times more efficient than florescent," says Jerry Simmons, a department manager at Sandia National Laboratories. Although LEDs were first demonstrated in 1962, new LED colors are available that, when combined, form white light. The researchers believe that the development and adoption of solid-state lighting could end up cutting the nation's electrical consumption by 10% if LEDs could be made more efficiently and less costly. "LEDs will need to decrease their cost as well as improve their energy-conversion efficiency and the quality of their white light", says James M. Gee, senior scientist, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Technologies at Sandia National Laboratories. "Many observers in the community believe that this can be achieved in 10 years with a concerted, coordinated national effort, which is proposed in the Next-Generation Lighting Initiative that is part of energy policy bills in Congress today." The Sandia researchers are studying the physics of the gallium nitride-based materials from which LEDs are made, to boot photon generation and high light extraction. For more information, go to www.sandia.gov.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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