Category Archives: Engineering

Quantum Computing Just Got Real

green-chip

Quantum computing just took a big step forward, as engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), in Sydney, successfully fabricated a quantum logic gate in silicon for the first time. The achievement represents the last physical component needed to realize silicon quantum computers, which utilize the behavior of subatomic particles to solve problems beyond the capabilities of today’s supercomputers.

“What we have is a game changer,” said team leader Andrew Dzurak, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at UNSW.

It looks like he may be right.

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Multi-jet Jellies May Point the Way to Better Underwater Propulsion

N. bijuga nectophore structure (uoregon.edu)

N. bijuga nectophore structure
(uoregon.edu)

Squids and octopuses can swim using jet propulsion by forcing water through a mantle.  It’s a fast and effective method, and the jet can be steered, but only works in one direction at a time. Engineers, always in search of better undersea vehicle designs, however, are interested in these natural methods of locomotion.

A team of biologists has now found a tiny jellyfish that can maneuver through the water by coordinating multiple jets. The discovery, published in the September 2 issue of Nature Communications, could lead to better, more agile undersea vehicle designs.

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Multipurpose Micro Machines – Robotic Fish from 3D Printing

3D-printed microfish containing functional nanoparticles are capable of sensing and removing toxins (J. Warner, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

3D-printed microfish containing functional nanoparticles are capable of sensing and removing toxins (J. Warner, UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering)

Nanoengineers have used an innovative 3D printing technology to manufacture quantities of multipurpose, self-propelled, and controllable microrobotic “fish,” each smaller than the width of a human hair.

Some basic chemical tools, embedded in the microfish during the fabrication process, enable them to perform useful work.

The project team hopes that the work will inspire a new generation of smart microrobots with capabilities that can be applied to sensing, directed drug delivery, and environmental detoxification.

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Cave Camera – New Technology May Image Beneath the Moon’s Surface

(NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

(NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University)

Almost all current lunar exploration relies on imaging by telescope and satellite.  Some of the moon’s most intriguing features, however, may be under its surface. How do you explore deeper when your only tool is remote imaging? You invent a technology that peeks around the edges of lunar craters to glimpse what lies underneath. That technology is coming to NASA.

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Better Building Biology

building

Bacteria are a familiar part of indoor environments – always present, difficult to remove – and a lot of those microbes aren’t friendly (remember Legionnaire’s Disease?).  While cleaning is often ineffective – and can even be counterproductive – there are solutions to keeping buildings healthy.  New research is looking into design methods that cooperate with biology, rather than fighting it. In the process, this work could bring microbe management into mainstream architectural design.

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The Neurosynaptic Chip – Intelligence in Everyday Stuff

IBM neurosynaptic chip (IBM Research)

IBM neurosynaptic chip (IBM Research)

If you want a computer that works like a living brain you need to build it with the processes of living organisms.  That’s the notion underlying neuromorphic engineering, a field of computer science that draws inspiration from biological nervous systems. Conceived in the late 1980s, it’s a fundamental departure from conventional computer designs and it’s shown some big advances lately. A research team announced the creation of a “neurosynaptic” chip that works much like the human brain, and it could be the necessary enabler for the next generation of smart technologies.

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