1. A team at the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory has shown that existing submarine communication fiber-optic cables could become great seafloor observers with a vast network of thousands of permanent, real-time environmental sensors.
Spatial resolution and sensitivity are limited with current methods because the entire six thousand miles of continuous undersea cable acts as a single sensor. The new approach parts it into individual spans of about 36 hundred miles of the transatlantic cable between repeater-to-repeater span-lengths of about 27 to 55 miles. With this alteration, researchers have already detected earthquakes and ocean signals with higher accuracy, and all without changing any underwater infrastructure.
2. A team at USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering has developed a highly specialized 3D printing technique for fabricating microfluidic channels and controlling them at a more precise microscale than ever before.
The research builds on vat photopolymerization (VPP), a 3D printing process that uses light to convert liquid photopolymer resin into solid form. With VPP, an object is constructed layer by layer before curing each with UV light. It’s ideal to cure one layer of the channel wall and leave the liquid resin inside untouched. The problem is, the light radiation required to build the channel-roof layer over-cures residual resin and clogs the flow channels
The new method, called in situ transfer VPP, prints that most critical roof layer separately using an additional build platform that moves to between the light source and the printed object—this blocks the light and prevents over-curing.
This cheaper, more efficient technique should boost microfluidic technology and ultimately enhance biomedical research.
3. A new drone-operated 1D camera array could help make search and rescue missions more successful, namely those happening through thick foliage.
Developed by researchers from Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria, the new array system can better detect and track moving objects in dense forest as it works in conjunction with airborne optical sectioning—an imaging technique using manned or unmanned aircraft to sample images within large areas. On its own, the technique is only effective with targets that are stationary, so any movement captured results in blurry images.
Pairing the lightweight drone-operated 1D array with airborne optical sectioning overcomes that challenge with real-time computational performance that provides high spatial resolution images.