Researchers in the U.K. and Germany have succesfully demonstrated the use of lasers to tackle radioactive waste. The researchers used a 360J laser pulse—with a duration of 0.7 picoseconds and an intensity of 5 × 1020 W/cm2—that helped form gamma rays as it ionized a gold target behind which was a sample of nuclear waste. Transmutation occurred when the gamma rays ejected a neutron from an iodine-129 nucleus to leave behind iodine 128, whose half-life is only 25 minutes, compared with 15.7 million years of iodine 129.
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.