• Infrastructure protectionMood ring materials offer a new way to detect damage in failing infrastructure

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that more than $3.6 trillion in investment is needed by 2020 to rehabilitate and modernize the nation’s failing infrastructure. President-elect Donald Trump has promised to establish a $1 trillion infrastructure improvement program when he takes office. An important element in any modernization effort will be the development of new and improved methods for detecting damage in these structures before it becomes critical. This is where “mood ring materials’ comes in. “Mood ring materials” could play an important role in minimizing and mitigating damage to the U.S. failing infrastructure.

  • R&DFortifying advanced manufacturing, save $100 billion annually by closing tech gaps

    To spur significant innovation and growth in advanced manufacturing, as well as save over $100 billion annually, U.S. industry must rectify currently unmet needs for measurement science and “proof-of-concept” demonstrations of emerging technologies. This is the overall conclusion reached by economic studies of four advanced manufacturing areas used to create everything from automobile composites to zero-noise headsets.

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  • DronesAdvanced anti-drone protection and neutralization system unveiled

    Elbit Systems will use the Israel HLS & Cyber Conference, taking place this week in Tel Aviv, to unveil its ReDrone system, a solution for protection of closed air spaces, national infrastructures, and other critical areas against hostile drones penetrating the protected perimeter. The new system addresses growing global demand for effective – and affordable — airspace protection against hostile drones.

  • Gene drivesCaution about emerging technologies is compatible with science

    Precautionary approaches to governance of emerging technology, which call for constraints on the use of technology whose potential harms and other outcomes are highly uncertain, are often criticized for reflecting “risk panics,” but precaution can be consistent with support for science.

  • Nuke detectionFirst large-scale, citywide test of advanced radioactive threat detection system

    Field testing of more than 1,000 networked, mobile radiation sensors in Washington, D.C., yields valuable data for implementing enhanced radiation-detection networks in major U.S. cities. By getting volunteers to walk all day looking for clues, the DARPA-sponsored exercise provided the largest test yet of DARPA’s SIGMA program, which is developing networked sensors that can provide dynamic, real-time radiation detection over large urban areas.

  • ForensicsForensic technique to measure mechanical properties of evidence

    You may have seen it on CSI: The star examines hair from a crime scene and concludes its color or texture looks like the defendant’s hair, or maybe his dog’s. Case closed. But looks can be deceiving, as well as vague and subjective. In real life, the FBI is now reviewing thousands of cases involving hair comparisons going back to the 1980s because traditional identifications—often based on looks alone — have been called into question. Instead, what if investigators could precisely measure a hair’s mechanical properties — its stiffness and stickiness? Researchers say that in fact, they can.

  • CybersecurityUsing hardware to fight computer viruses

    More than 317 million pieces of new malware — computer viruses, spyware, and other malicious programs — were created in 2014 alone, according to work done by Internet security teams at Symantec and Verizon. Malware is growing in complexity, with crimes such as digital extortion (a hacker steals files or locks a computer and demands a ransom for decryption keys) becoming large avenues of cyberattack. Fighting computer viruses is not just for software anymore, as researchers study how hardware can help protect computers too.

  • Infrastructure protectionSensors monitor bridges’ health – and tweet the information they gather

    While bridge collapses are rare, there have been enough of them to raise concerns in some parts of the world that their condition is not sufficiently monitored. Sweden is taking a hi-tech approach to its aging infrastructure. Researchers are rigging up the country’s bridges with multiple sensors that allow early detection of wear and tear. The bridges can even tweet throughout the course of a day.

  • DetectionNanobionic spinach plants can detect explosives

    By Anne Trafton

    Spinach is no longer just a superfood: By embedding leaves with carbon nanotubes, MIT engineers have transformed spinach plants into sensors that can detect explosives and wirelessly relay that information to a handheld device similar to a smartphone. This is one of the first demonstrations of engineering electronic systems into plants, an approach that the researchers call “plant nanobionics.”

  • ForensicsNuclear CSI: Noninvasive procedure could spot criminal nuclear activity

    Determining whether an individual – a terrorist, a smuggler, a criminal — has handled nuclear materials, such as uranium or plutonium, is a challenge national defense agencies currently face. The standard protocol to detect uranium exposure is through a urine sample; however, urine is able only to identify those who have been recently exposed. Scientists have developed a noninvasive procedures that will better identify individuals exposed to uranium within one year.

  • ForensicsNew 3-D crime-scene forensics technology

    Researchers are developing a new type of portable crime-scene forensics technology designed to take precise high-resolution 3-D images of shoeprints and tire tread marks in snow and soil. The system will cost around $5,000, which is about one-tenth the cost of systems commercially available, and represents an alternative to the traditional method of plaster casting.

  • Energy securityBolstering energy security with homegrown energy sources

    The U.S. Department of Energy has a goal to develop and demonstrate transformative bioenergy technologies to fuel a more sustainable nation. Reaching that goal will require roughly a billion tons of biomass, so we will need to rely on a variety of resources to get the job done.

  • EncryptionChina’s quantum satellite could make data breaches a thing of the past

    By Robert Young

    China recently launched a satellite into orbit with a unique feature: it has the ability to send information securely, not with mathematical encryption but by using the fundamental laws of physics. China will be the first country to achieve this feat, and it marks a milestone in the development of quantum technologies. The next revolution in technology promises to embrace fundamental laws of physics to enable devices to perform operations that are beyond the bounds of current electronics. For practical quantum communications we need devices integrated into our computers and smartphones that exchange data in a similar way to the quantum satellite. These devices are thankfully just around the corner. In a few years we may look back on digital eavesdropping and massive information breaches from databases as a problem buried in the past.

  • First response technologyDHS S&T announces 10 start-ups for first responder technology innovation

    DHS S&T has announced the selection of ten startup companies to be part of EMERGE 2016: Wearable Technology, a program designed to bring startups, accelerators, and other strategic partners together in a common research and development effort. The program is focused on wearable technology that can be modified specifically for first responders.

  • R&DHalf of U.S. business R&D concentrated in five states

    Five states accounted for just over half of the $255 billion of research and development (R&D) companies paid for and performed in the United States in 2013. The five states with the highest levels of business R&D performance — California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas, and Washington — accounted for $133 billion, or 52 percent, of the total.