A research team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed a novel, tunable nanoantenna that paves the way for new kinds of plasmonic-based optomechanical systems, whereby plasmonic field enhancement can actuate mechanical motion. "Recently, there has been a lot of interest in fabricating metal-based nanotextured surfaces that are pre-programmed to alter the properties of light in a specific way after incoming light interacts with it," explained Kimani Toussaint, an associate professor of mechanical science and engineering who led the research. "For our approach, one can take a nanoarray structure that was already fabricated and further reconfigure the plasmonic, and hence, optical properties of select antennas. Therefore, one can decide after fabrication, rather than before, how they want their nanostructure to modify light."
With this erosion of strict authority structures in organisations, the question then becomes: If leaders and managers are no longer in the comfortable position of dictating policy, products or direction, how can they make effective change?
They have to win people over, that's how. They have to constantly persuade others to go along with their ideas. In short, leaders have to negotiate with practically everyone.
While negotiation may be the best way to work out differences, there may be times when you’re better off simply making a decision and acting on it. If you’re in a leadership position, this may mean doing things your way regardless of the concerns or interests of the other party or parties.
In the current competitive job climate, hard work alone doesn't always get noticed, say career experts. Good employees are getting passed up for new opportunities because companies may not be aware of their full capabilities. That's where branding can be used to promote your value to your busy bosses, peers and anybody else that can help you from inside and outside the company. Through a coordinated networking, social-media and blogging effort, you can become the go-to specialist in your field.
The next generation of micro rockets could be built around a magnetic fluid that appears to defy gravity.
Nanosatellites borrow many of their components from terrestrial gadgets: miniaturized cameras, wireless radios and GPS receivers that have been perfected for hand-held devices are also perfect for spacecraft. However, according to Michigan Technological University's L. Brad King, there is at least one technology need that is unique to space: "Even the best smartphones don't have miniaturized rocket engines, so we need to develop them from scratch."
Miniature rockets aren't needed to launch a nanosatellite from Earth. The small vehicles can hitchhike with a regular rocket that is going that way anyway. But because they are hitchhikers, these nanosats don't always get dropped off in their preferred location. Once in space, a nanosatellite might need some type of propulsion to move it from its drop-off point into its desired orbit. This is where the micro rocket engine comes in.
For the last few years, researchers around the world have been trying to build such rockets using microscopic hollow needles to electrically spray thin jets of fluid, which push the spacecraft in the opposite direction. The fluid propellant is a special chemical known as an ionic liquid. A single thruster needle is finer than a human hair, less than one millimeter long and produces a thrust force equivalent to the weight of a few grains of sand. A few hundred of these needles fit in a postage-stamp-size package and produce enough thrust to maneuver a nanosatellite.
These new electrospray thrusters face some design challenges, however. "Because they are so small and intricate, they are expensive to make, and the needles are fragile," says King, the Ron and Elaine Starr Professor of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics. "They are easily destroyed either by a careless bump or an electrical arc when they're running."
To get around the problem, King and his team have developed an elegant strategy: eliminate the expensive and tedious microfabrication required to make the needles by letting Mother Nature take care of the assembly. "We're working with a unique type of liquid called a ferrofluid that naturally forms a stationary pattern of sharp tips in the liquid surface," he says. "Each tip in this self-assembling structure can spray a jet of fluid just like a micro-needle, so we don't actually have to make any needles."
Ferrofluids have been around since the 1960s. They are made of tiny magnetic particles suspended in a solvent that moves when magnetic force is applied. King illustrates with a tiny container holding a ferrofluid made of kerosene and iron dust. The fluid lies flat until he puts a magnet beneath it. Then suddenly, the liquid forms a regular series of peaks reminiscent of a mountain range or Bart Simpson's haircut. These peaks remain perfectly stable despite vigorous shaking and even turning the container upside down. It is, nonetheless, completely liquid, as a finger-tip touch proves undeniably. When the magnet is removed, the liquid relaxes to a perfectly flat surface.
King's team was trying to make an ionic liquid that behaved like a ferrofluid when they learned about a research team at the University of Sydney that was already making these substances. The Sydney team was using magnetic nanoparticles made by the life-sciences company Sirtex, which are used to treat liver cancer. "They sent us a sample, and we've used it to develop a thruster," King said. "Now we have a nice collaboration going. It's amazing that the same technology used to treat cancer can also function as a micro rocket for spacecraft."
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers (3DPs) priced less than $100,000 will grow 49 percent in 2013 to reach a total of 56,507 units, according to Gartner, Inc.'s first forecast of the less than $100,000 consumer and enterprise 3D printer market. Rapid quality and performance innovations across all 3DP technologies will drive enterprise and consumer demand. Gartner said that shipments will increase further in 2014, growing 75 percent to 98,065 units, followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.
Early in 2012, MIT scientists reported on the development of a postage stamp-sized microchip capable of sorting cells through a technique, known as cell rolling, that mimics a natural mechanism in the body. The device successfully separated leukemia cells from cell cultures — but could not extract cells directly from blood.
Now the group has developed a new microchip that can quickly separate white blood cells from samples of whole blood, eliminating any preliminary processing steps — which can be difficult to integrate into point-of-care medical devices. The hope, the researchers say, is to integrate the microchip into a portable diagnostic device that may be used to directly analyze patient blood samples for signs of inflammatory disease such as sepsis — particularly in regions of developing countries where diagnostic lab equipment is not readily available.
In their experiments, the scientists pumped tiny volumes of blood through the microchip and recovered a highly pure stream of white blood cells, virtually devoid of other blood components such as platelets and red blood cells. What’s more, the team found that the sorted cells were undamaged and functional, potentially enabling clinicians not only to obtain a white blood cell count, but also to use the cells to perform further genetic or clinical tests.
Rohit Karnik, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT, says the key to recovering such pure, functional cells lies in the microchip’s adaption of the body’s natural process of cell rolling.
“We believe that because we’re using a very biomimetic process, the cells are happier,” Karnik says. “It’s a more gentle process, and the cells are functionally viable.”
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