• BiodefenseSurface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology for on-site detection

    Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) technology currently is applied using chemical analysis of materials, such as scanning at airports to identify what materials may be inside of glass vials. Researchers want to expand SERS for use in biological applications that could employ antibodies for purposes such as identifying viruses, water toxins, or pathogens in food samples. The researchers work on developing a small hand-held device that allows users to take a sample, put it in a glass vial and insert into the instrument for rapid identification.

  • Water desalinationNew material enables more efficient desalination

    Engineers have found an energy-efficient material for removing salt from seawater. The material, a nanometer-thick sheet of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) riddled with tiny holes called nanopores, is specially designed to let high volumes of water through but keep salt and other contaminates out, a process called desalination.

  • Personal protective equipmentWireless technology enables advanced up protective clothing

    Combining the latest advances in sensor and wireless technology with comfortable protective clothing has opened up new partnership possibilities across a range of sectors. Numerous end users stand to benefit from the inclusion of smart technology in protective clothing. One French start-up has pioneered intelligent active protection systems for ski racers. Further advances may see the use of advanced protective clothing by soldiers and first responders.

  • In the trenchesMicrowave absorber may advance radar cloaking for stealth missions

    Microwave absorbers are a kind of material that can effectively absorb incident microwave energy to make objects invisible to radar; therefore they are commonly used in aircraft cloaking and warship stealth. Recently, as radar detection devices have been improved to detect the near-meter microwave length regime, scientists are working on high-performance absorbers that can cloak objects in the equivalent ultra-high frequency regime (from 300 megahertz to two gigahertz). Conventional absorbers for the ultra-high regime, however, are usually thick, heavy, or have narrow absorption bandwidth, making them unsuitable for stealth missions. To solve this problem, researchers have developed an ultra-thin, tunable broadband microwave absorber for ultra-high frequency applications.

  • CybersecurityDHS S&T-funded technology protects devices from cyberattacks

    In 2011, a small group of university researchers working on securing embedded devices caught the attention of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T). That effort has since evolved into a one-of-a-kind technology — called Symbiote — which Hewlett-Packard (HP) recently licensed from Red Balloon Security, to protect its printers from cyberattacks.

  • Infrastructure protectionSelf-healing concrete being tested

    At present, billions of pounds are spent every year maintaining, fixing, and restoring structures such as bridges, buildings, tunnels, and roads. It is estimated that around £40 billion a year is spent in the United Kingdom on the repair and maintenance of structures, the majority of which are made from concrete. Researchers are testing three separate concrete-healing technologies for the first time in real-world settings, with a view to incorporating them into a single system that could be used to automatically repair concrete in the built environment.

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  • Quake-proofing buildings Concrete innovation makes Seattle skyscraper stable

    All coupling beams in the 1.5 million-square-foot Lincoln Square Expansion — which includes luxury condos, a hotel, dining, retail and office space in two 450-foot towers in the heart of Seattle suburb Bellevue, Washington — are made of fiber-reinforced concrete using a unique design. These concrete coupling beams span doorways and windows, helping walls with such openings in them to function as a single structural unit, while bolstering the building as a whole against earthquakes. Traditionally, coupling beams are reinforced with a labyrinth of rebar, adding a great deal of time, cost and complexity to the construction process.

  • ForensicsSteam thermography may compete with luminol in solving crimes

    Luminol gets trotted out pretty frequently on TV crime shows, but a new technique might someday compete with the storied forensics tool as a police procedural plot device and, perhaps more importantly, as a means of solving real crimes. Researchers developed what they term “steam thermography,” which has the ability to detect blood spots in all kinds of spots — even in spots where luminol cannot.

  • DisastersTechnology confronts disasters

    By Dorothy Ryan

    In 2010, soon after Haiti was devastated by an earthquake, a team from MIT Lincoln Laboratory collected and analyzed information to help the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM), the lead military agency responding to the crisis, effectively dispatch vital resources, including food, water, tents, and medical supplies, to the victims of this disaster. This Haiti experience demonstrated to Lincoln Laboratory researchers that advanced technology and technical expertise developed for the Department of Defense (DoD) can significantly benefit future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts. In February, the Laboratory established the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) Systems Group to explore ways to leverage or advance existing capabilities for improving disaster responses.

  • Nuclear power safetyDeveloping nuclear cladding to withstand Fukushima-like meltdown conditions

    Like much of the rest of the world, thousands of scientists and engineers watched in March 2011 as Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors exploded. The fuel’s cladding, a zirconium alloy used to contain the fuel and radioactive fission products, reacted with boiling coolant water to form hydrogen gas, which then exploded, resulting in the biggest nuclear power-related disaster since Chernobyl. Challenged by this event, two research teams have made progress in developing fuel claddings that are capable of withstanding the high temperatures resulting from a Loss of Coolant Accident (LOCA), like that at Fukushima.

  • In the trenchesAirborne networking capabilities for hostile environments

    Modern airborne warfare is becoming increasingly complex, with manned and unmanned systems having rapidly to share information in a volatile environment where adversaries use advanced, commercially available electronic systems to disrupt U.S. and allied communications. DARPA’s Dynamic Network Adaptation for Mission Optimization (DyNAMO) program. DyNAMO seeks novel technologies which would enable independently designed networks to share information and adapt to sporadic jamming and mission-critical dynamic network bursts in contested RF environments.

  • DronesImproving precision of drone navigation

    Researchers are working to bring a new level of precision to the navigation systems used to guide drones. The work is supported through a contract with Southern Company, one of the U.S. largest energy companies, which plans to use unmanned aircraft to enhance safety for crews in the field and improve reliability for customers. The researchers have designed a prototype which uses onboard ultrasound sensors to relay information on the aircraft’s location to its operator.

  • WaterInstant water heater offers energy, cost savings

    Traditional water heaters take time to reach preferred temperatures, thus wasting water and energy. A new instant hot water solution, developed through the EU-funded RAPIDHEAT project, successfully optimized heating and control technologies to develop a lightweight low thermal mass heater that provides full temperature output within two seconds of switch-on.

  • CrimeAn app alerts people, law enforcement about potential crime risk

    You are walking home after a night out on a dark autumn evening. Suddenly, you get the feeling that someone is following you. You look over your shoulder, and see a shadow between the trees in the park. You quicken your steps. When you glance behind you again, you see the shadow disappear in between two houses. This is when you could press the “help” button on the app that you have downloaded. It sends a message to everyone in the area who also has the app, with information about your phone number and where you are. This way they are able to call you, alert emergency services, or get to your location if need be. The app has been developed by a group of student entrepreneurs.

  • Flame retardantNew flame retardant is naturally derived, nontoxic

    Flame retardants are added to foams found in mattresses, sofas, car upholstery, and many other consumer products. Once incorporated into foam, these chemicals can migrate out of the products over time, releasing toxic substances into the air and environment. Inspired by a naturally occurring material found in marine mussels, researchers have created a new flame retardant to replace commercial additives that are often toxic and can accumulate over time in the environment and living animals, including humans.