Texas A&M researchers advance self powered (piezeoelectric) devices

December 02 2008 / by Garry Golden / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: 2019   Rating: 7 Hot

nanotitaniumtubeWhat if you could charge your portable device simply by having it move around in your pocket while you walk?

Texas A&M Professor Tahir Cagin believes that piezeoelectric materials, that convert motion into electric currents could be closer to applied applications thanks to their recent design breakthrough. (Not Image shown)

Professor Cagin and partners from the University of Houston are using piezoelectric material that can covert energy at a 100 percent increase when manufactured at a very small size – in this case, around 21 nanometers in thickness.

"When materials are brought down to the nanoscale dimension, their properties for some performance characteristics dramatically change," said Cagin who is a past recipient of the prestigious Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology. "One such example is with piezoelectric materials. We have demonstrated that when you go to a particular length scale – between 20 and 23 nanometers – you actually improve the energy-harvesting capacity by 100 percent.

"We're studying basic laws of nature such as physics and we're trying to apply that in terms of developing better engineering materials, better performing engineering materials. We're looking at chemical constitutions and physical compositions. And then we're looking at how to manipulate these structures so that we can improve the performance of these materials."

"Even the disturbances in the form of sound waves such as pressure waves in gases, liquids and solids may be harvested for powering nano- and micro devices of the future if these materials are processed and manufactured appropriately for this purpose," Cagin said.

Why is this important to the future?
Micro power systems are in high demand for portable gadgets and sensors like RFID tags used on products in 'smart supply chain' logistics.  While batteries and micro fuel cells might be required for higher demand applications, piezeoelectric systems could find a role in the world of micro-power. 

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Self-Driving Robotic Cars Incredibly Hard to Make But Necessary

November 18 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets   Year: 2019   Rating: 6 Hot

Dr. Sebastian Thrun, Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Stanford University where he directs the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, went over the steps his team has made in developing a self-driving vehicle at RoboDev in Santa Clara today. He showed some incredible video of cars smashing into obstacles (sometimes even seeking other cars out to smash into) but ended with videos of their latest vehicle successfully navigating slowly around other moving cars.

The great thing about his presentation was his appeal not to the side that wants self-driving cars, but to a side we can all agree with — saving energy, lives, and time.

Saving Energy

In saving energy, Dr. Thrun explained that 22% of the Nation’s energy consumption is used by cars. You also only use your car on average during about 10% of your day, making it useless the other 90%. If self-driving cars could be developed, one car could be used by multiple people. “You could be dropped off at work and then send the car back home to pick up your wife.” Added safety will also increase gas mileage since removing the extra weight of safety features (airbag, reinforced steel) would increase fuel efficiency by 30%. (It should also be noted that convoys reduce energy consumption by 11%-17%)

Saving Lives

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