Technological innovation

  • Reducing urban water leakage

    No resource is more fundamental to life and human society than water. Yet, globally, 25 to 30 percent of drinking water is lost every year due to leakages in urban water distribution systems. An EU-funded project is proposing an innovative solution for the automatic detection, sealing, and curing of typical network pipes, without digging up pavements and roads.

  • Reducing security threats from explosives

    Researchers, as part of the Awareness and Localization of Explosives-Related Threats center (ALERT), a DHS Center of Excellence, are working on ways to detect explosives and neutralize their impact. The researchers are developing portable detectors as well as larger systems to scan for explosives. Some technologies will analyze the spectrum of light shining through vaporized samples; others will analyze solid residues.

  • Tiny smartphone sensors create an urban seismic network

    A tiny chip used in smart phones to adjust the orientation of the screen could serve to create a real-time urban seismic network, easily increasing the amount of strong motion data collected during a large earthquake. This urban seismic network could transmit in real-time ground motion data to a central location for assessment. The rich volume of data could help first responders identify areas of greatest potential damage, allowing them to allocate resources more effectively.

  • Harnessing lightning power to charge a mobile phone

    Scientists from the University of Southampton have collaborated with Nokia on ground-breaking, proof-of-concept research into harnessing the power of lightning for personal use, an industry first that could potentially see consumers tap one of nature’s significant energy sources to charge their devices in a sustainable manner.

  • New technology spots killer waves

    Sailors throughout the ages have wished they could predict the strength and size of the next wave. The Environmental and Ship Motion Forecasting (ESMF) system, a Future Naval Capability effort supported by the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) Sea Warfare and Weapons Department, seeks to provide sea-based forces with new capabilities for difficult operations like ship-to-ship transfer of personnel, vehicles, or materiel — giving operators sea condition information at levels of accuracy never possible before.

  • Innovations help lighten the load for marines

    The Office of Naval Research (ONR) was at the Modern Day Marine exposition last week, showcasing some of the newest technologies it has helped develop to give sailors and marines the edge. The Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department at ONR highlighted its focused initiatives to lighten the load for marines, including integrated day/night vision sights, scalable body armor, and other research which will help marines out-think, out-maneuver, and out-perform the enemy.

  • Teams show robust radio techniques at Spectrum Challenge event

    Radios are used for a wide range of tasks, from the most mundane to the most critical of communications, from garage door openers to first responders to military operations. Wireless devices often inadvertently interfere with and disrupt radio communications, and in battlefield environments adversaries may intentionally jam friendly communications. To stimulate the development of radio techniques that can overcome these impediments, the agency launched its Spectrum Challenge — a competitive demonstration of robust radio technologies that seek to communicate reliably in congested and contested electromagnetic environments without direct coordination or spectrum preplanning.

  • Microbial power storage can do the job

    Oil and gas can be converted into electricity in line with demand, but wind, water, and sun cannot be adapted as readily to fluctuations in power consumption. Efficient power storage solutions must satisfy two essential criteria: Their own consumption of resources must be as low as possible, and surplus power must be stored within seconds. The results of a pilot study have now demonstrated that a microorganism-based process developed by is unequalled in the way it satisfies both of these criteria.

  • Smartphone “microscope” can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

    Your smartphone now can see what the naked eye cannot: A single virus and bits of material less than one-thousandth of the width of a human hair. Researchers have created a portable smartphone attachment that can be used to perform sophisticated field testing to detect viruses and bacteria without the need for bulky and expensive microscopes and lab equipment. The device weighs less than half a pound.

  • Extracting maximum energy from currents

    In the long sprint to find new sources of clean, low-cost power, slow and steady may win the race — the slow-moving water of currents and tides, that is. Just as wind turbines tap into the energy of flowing air to generate electricity, hydrokinetic devices produce power from moving masses of water.

  • World's first grid-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage system

    A New Hampshire company has completed construction and begun startup of the world’s first megawatt-scale isothermal compressed air energy storage (ICAES) system. The system stores and returns megawatts of electricity to provide long-term grid stability and support integration of renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Unlike chemical battery systems, ICAES performance does not degrade over its lifetime or need frequent replacement. No hazardous materials are used.

  • History of explosives highlighted in museum exhibit

    For more than seventy years, Los Alamos National Laboratory has been a frontrunner in explosives research, development, and applications. To highlight the Laboratory’s work in the field of explosives, the Bradbury Science Museum is opening a new exhibit, titled “The Science of Explosives.”

  • Unified military intelligence picture dispels the fog of war

    Military operations depend upon the unimpeded flow of accurate and relevant information to support timely decisions related to battle planning and execution. To address these needs, numerous intelligence systems and technologies have been developed over the past twenty years, but each of these typically provides only a partial picture of the battlefield, and integrating the information has proven to be burdensome and inefficient. DARPA’s Insight program aims to bring real-time, integrated, multi-source intelligence to the battlefield.

  • Bomb-detecting lasers to improve security checkpoints

    Research has put the possibility of bomb-detecting lasers at security checkpoints within reach by developing a laser that can detect micro traces of explosive chemicals on clothing and luggage. The laser not only detects the explosive material, but it also provides an image of the chemical’s exact location, even if it’s merely a minute trace on a zipper.

  • Flexible vehicle-arrest system stops cars involved in crime, terrorism

    Researchers have developed a mathematical model that could help engineers design a flexible vehicle-arrest system for stopping cars involved in criminal activity or terrorism, such as suspect car bombers attempting break through a check point, without wrecking the car or killing the occupants.