HotSpot Episode 50: Blinking Beacons Help Planes Miss Wind Turbines

Tue, 02/18/2014 - 10:54am
Eric Sorensen, Coordinator of Multimedia Development

This week on WDD's HotSpot:

  • Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have developed a low-power, signal-processing chip that could lead to a cochlear implant with no external hardware. The new device will use the natural microphone of the middle ear and a sensor that generates a signal. It will also be able to wirelessly recharge, lasting up to 8 hours on each charge.
  • A team of chemists and engineers at Penn State University have placed tiny synthetic motors inside live human cells, propelled them with ultrasonic waves and steered them magnetically. According to Tom Mallouk, Evan Pugh Professor of Materials Chemistry and Physics at Penn State, these nanomotors have the potential to treat cancer and other diseases by mechanically manipulating cells from the inside. Nanomotors could perform intracellular surgery and deliver drugs noninvasively to living tissues.
  • The Fraunhofer Institute for High Frequency Physics and Radar Techniques FHR, has developed a solution for blinking beacons on wind turbines that help aircraft locate windmills. The project, dubbed Parasol, uses passive radar sensors to detect local radio station frequencies to determine not only if there is an airplane in the vicinity, but its distance, position and velocity. This new sensor system is intended to decrease complaints from disgruntled neighbors of windmills, by switch on a beacon warning system only when aircraft are approaching.
  • Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) have designed a clever detector array that can extract more information than usual from single particles of light. As described in a new paper, the NIST/JPL array-on-a-chip easily identifies the position of the exact detector in a multi-detector system that absorbs an incoming infrared light particle, or photon. It also records the signal timing, as these particular single-photon detectors have always done.

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