• EbolaCellphone-sized device detects the Ebola virus quickly

    The worst of the recent Ebola epidemic is over, but the threat of future outbreaks lingers. Monitoring the virus requires laboratories with trained personnel, which limits how rapidly tests can be done. Now scientists report in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry a handheld instrument that detects Ebola quickly and could be used in remote locations.

  • R&DDHS, NASA collaborate in search of innovation in homeland security

    Crowdsourcing and incentive prizes across industry have led to the successful creation of advanced technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and improved data analytics. The DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is expanding its efforts to solicit innovations like these through its partnership with NASA.

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  • DetectionCoded apertures improves, shrinks mass spectrometers for field use

    A modern twist on an old technology could soon help detect rogue methane leaks, hidden explosives, and much more. Mass spectrometers were invented in the 1930s, and they are still typically the size of an oven or refrigerator. Inherent hurdles to miniaturization have made it difficult to use them outside of a laboratory. Researchers are using software to dramatically improve the performance of chemical-sniffing mass spectrometers. With the help of modern data analytics, researchers have demonstrated a technology using a so-called “coded aperture” that promises to shrink these devices while maintaining their performance.

  • Water securityNew way to clean contaminated groundwater

    A team of researchers has helped discover a new chemical method to immobilize uranium in contaminated groundwater, which could lead to more precise and successful water remediation efforts at former nuclear sites. Uranium is present in contaminated groundwater at various sites in the United States as a legacy of Cold War-era processing and waste disposal activities associated with nuclear materials production.

  • Terrorists & technologyNon-state actors exploiting emerging technologies, complex engineering

    In a special issue of the Journal of Strategic Security, experts explore the threat of violent non-state actors (VNSAs) exploiting emerging technologies and executing complex engineering operations to facilitate their violent and criminal activities. The special issue of the journal presents the results of a series of case studies of VNSAs and their attempts to increase their capabilities through engaging in sophisticated engineering efforts.

  • Planetary securityLaser cloaking device to help us hide Earth from aliens

    Several prominent scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have cautioned against humanity broadcasting our presence to intelligent life on other planets. Two astronomers suggest humanity could use lasers to conceal the Earth from searches by advanced extraterrestrial civilizations.

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  • CrimeFlexible security solution makes life difficult for burglars

    Ideally, homeowners want to be warned if a burglar sneaks onto their property, and farmers want to know if horses or sheep are no longer in the paddock or field they were left grazing in. Experimental physicists at Saarland University have developed a flexible security solution that can be used in gardens, driveways, business premises, or on grazing land and in woodland.

  • TechnologyDARPA’s seeking innovative system-level technologies

    DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO) focuses on developing and demonstrating innovative system-level technologies and prototypes that incorporate new and emerging technologies, for the purpose of preserving and extending U.S. military advantages over potential adversaries. To help accomplish these goals and inform potential performers about TTO’s technical objectives, TTO has scheduled its fourth annual Proposers Day for Wednesday and Thursday, 20 and 21 April 2016.

  • Search & rescueMathematics helps search and rescue ships sail more safely in heavy seas

    Fast ships deliver all kinds of services in fields such as disaster response, the fight against crime, the provision of supplies for oil and gas platforms, and the transportation of wind farm maintenance personnel. Each year, however, around 100 such ships worldwide are lost or damaged in heavy seas, with around 2,500 casualties in 2013. A unique new computer model built on highly complex mathematics could make it possible to design safer versions of the “fast ships” widely used in search-and-rescue, anti-drugs, anti-piracy, and many other vital offshore operations.

  • TechnologyIdentifying national security threats posed by everyday commercial technologies

    For decades, U.S. national security was ensured in large part by a simple advantage: a near-monopoly on access to the most advanced technologies. Increasingly, however, off-the-shelf equipment developed for the transportation, construction, agricultural, and other commercial sectors features highly sophisticated components, which resourceful adversaries can modify or combine to create novel and unanticipated security threats. DARPA’s “Improv” effort asks the innovation community to identify commercial products and processes that could yield unanticipated threats.

  • Infrastructure protectionMicrowave repairs might annihilate zombie potholes once and for all

    By Larry Zanko

    Some potholes are like zombies – they never die. Or at least that’s the perception of much of the driving public, especially as we enter peak pothole season: late winter and early spring. Recurring “zombie” potholes are too often a reflection of the type of method that’s used to patch or “fix” them – many of which are short-lived and only marginally effective. Researchers around the world are working to develop better and longer lasting repair alternatives. Microwave technology is not yet a routine method of repair, and it’s best-suited for potholes in asphalt rather than concrete. But this approach merits further consideration. After all, given our nation’s aging network of roads, zombie potholes will continue to flourish. Microwave repair could be an effective method for keeping them at bay.

  • Disaster reliefNew laser-based aircraft tracking system to aid in disaster relief efforts

    A ground-breaking tracking system called HYPERION, based on eye-safe lasers, could enable aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and even orbiting satellites to transmit vital data to ground stations more securely, quickly and efficiently. HYPERION, offering major benefits compared with the traditional radio frequency (RF) data transmission systems currently relied on in the UAV sector, could allow UAVs engaged in disaster monitoring, surveying, search and rescue, and other humanitarian missions to send detailed images more rapidly back to the ground for analysis.

  • DronesMiniaturized fuel cell makes drones fly more than one hour

    Drones are used for various applications such as aero picturing, disaster recovery, and delivering. Despite attracting attention as a new growth area, the biggest problem of drones is its small battery capacity and limited flight time of less than an hour. A newly developed fuel cell can solve this problem.

  • In the trenches DARPA announces VTOL X-Plane Phase 2 design

    For decades, aircraft designers seeking to improve vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities have endured a substantial set of interrelated challenges. Dozens of attempts have been made to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work, with each effort struggling or failing in one way or another. DARPA says that its VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program aims to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between fixed-wing and rotary-wing technologies.

  • African innovationFour African innovators selected for engineering innovation prize

    Following an open, competitive, application process which saw entries from fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa, twelve African entrepreneurs were chosen to receive a package of six months of business training and mentoring from the U.K.’s Royal Academy of Engineering. The four finalists showing the greatest promise have now been chosen, and are in with a chance to become the overall winner. Each will receive at least £10,000 with the grand prize of £25,000 to be awarded at a ceremony in Cape Town on 1 June. A low-cost sustainable water filter system to provide clean and safe drinking water, and a service that allows African mobile phone users to switch easily between multiple mobile networks are among the four African innovations selected by the Academy.