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Rescooped by Ralph Johnson from Amazing Science
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Extreme Miniaturization: Seven Devices, One Chip to Navigate without GPS

Extreme Miniaturization: Seven Devices, One Chip to Navigate without GPS | Nanotechies | Scoop.it

The U.S. Military relies on the space-based Global Positioning System (GPS) to aid air, land and sea navigation. Like the GPS units in many automobiles today, a simple receiver and some processing power is all that is needed for accurate navigation. But, what if the GPS satellites suddenly became unavailable due to malfunction, enemy action or simple interference, such as driving into a tunnel? Unavailability of GPS would be inconvenient for drivers on the road, but could be disastrous for military missions. DARPA is working to protect against such a scenario, and an emerging solution is much smaller than the navigation instruments in today’s defense systems.

 

DARPA researchers at the University of Michigan have made significant progress with a timing & inertial measurement unit (TIMU) that contains everything needed to aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable. The single chip TIMU prototype contains a six axis IMU (three gyroscopes and three accelerometers) and integrates a highly-accurate master clock into a single miniature system, smaller than the size of a penny. This chip integrates breakthrough devices (clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers), materials and designs from DARPA’s Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program.

 

Three pieces of information are needed to navigate between known points ‘A’ and ‘B’ with precision: orientation, acceleration and time. This new chip integrates state-of-the-art devices that can measure all three simultaneously. This elegant design is accomplished through new fabrication processes in high-quality materials for multi-layered, packaged inertial sensors and a timing unit, all in a tiny 10 cubic millimeter package. Each of the six microfabricated layers of the TIMU is only 50 microns thick, approximately the thickness of a human hair.  Each layer has a different function, akin to floors in a building. 

 

“Both the structural layer of the sensors and the integrated package are made of silica,” said Andrei Shkel, DARPA program manager. “The hardness and the high-performance material properties of silica make it the material of choice for integrating all of these devices into a miniature package. The resulting TIMU is small enough and should be robust enough for applications (when GPS is unavailable or limited for a short period of time) such as personnel tracking, handheld navigation, small diameter munitions and small airborne platforms.” 


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Rescooped by Ralph Johnson from Papers
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Controlled Flight of a Biologically Inspired, Insect-Scale Robot

Flies are among the most agile flying creatures on Earth. To mimic this aerial prowess in a similarly sized robot requires tiny, high-efficiency mechanical components that pose miniaturization challenges governed by force-scaling laws, suggesting unconventional solutions for propulsion, actuation, and manufacturing. To this end, we developed high-power-density piezoelectric flight muscles and a manufacturing methodology capable of rapidly prototyping articulated, flexure-based sub-millimeter mechanisms. We built an 80-milligram, insect-scale, flapping-wing robot modeled loosely on the morphology of flies. Using a modular approach to flight control that relies on limited information about the robot’s dynamics, we demonstrated tethered but unconstrained stable hovering and basic controlled flight maneuvers. The result validates a sufficient suite of innovations for achieving artificial, insect-like flight.

 

Controlled Flight of a Biologically Inspired, Insect-Scale Robot
Kevin Y. Ma, Pakpong Chirarattananon, Sawyer B. Fuller, Robert J. Wood

Science 3 May 2013:
Vol. 340 no. 6132 pp. 603-607
http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1231806


Via Complexity Digest
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An inside look at the world's newest quantum computing and nanotechnology center

An inside look at the world's newest quantum computing and nanotechnology center | Nanotechies | Scoop.it
“We are trying to be the first to build the quantum computer,” says Crow.
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Rescooped by Ralph Johnson from Tracking the Future
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Nanotechnology: striking a balance between glorification and 'grey goo'

Nanotechnology: striking a balance between glorification and 'grey goo' | Nanotechies | Scoop.it

Emerging fields such as nanotechnology must resist the false dichotomy that says they're either marvellous or demonic


Via Szabolcs Kósa
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Rescooped by Ralph Johnson from Solar Energy projects & Energy Efficiency
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Thin-film microcells: a new generation of photovoltaic devices

Thin-film microcells: a new generation of photovoltaic devices | Nanotechies | Scoop.it

The miniaturization of solar cells enables the fabrication of devices with high efficiencies that consume many times less rare earth material, and are capable of operating in extreme illumination conditions.

One way to increase the efficiency of a solar cell is to increase the power density of the light incident upon it. Indeed, if light is concentrated on a solar cell (e.g., via a lens), its voltage, and thus its efficiency, increases logarithmically. There are, however, limits to this efficiency increase; for example, the temperature of a device under intense light can become high enough to decrease the efficiency and eventually destroy it. Additionally, the output power for large current densities is limited by series resistance.

 


Via Pol Bacquet
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