The recent fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft is forcing officials to take a closer look at the airplanes safety system. The accident—which happened just minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers aboard the Ethiopian Airline—is suspected of being a result of a faulty sensory system built to stabilize the aircraft in flight, known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), according to USA Today.

Why was the MCAS added?

Boeing had originally added the MCAS after redesigning its 737 platform for the Max, changing the placement and size of the aircraft’s engines, consequently altering how the jet handled in flight. As a result, the Max tended to raise its nose in flight; a movement called pitch. If a plane pitches too high, it could lead to crashing or stalling of the aircraft—something the MCAS was installed to detect and prevent. (more…)

According to some scientists, humans are born with an innate sixth sense. And no, it’s not the ability to see ghosts like in the 1999 horror film. It’s the sense of proprioception: the perception or awareness of the position and movement of the body. This sense is what helps us coordinate our movements. For example, if you close your eyes, there remains a sense of awareness of where your muscles and body parts are located, the distance between them, and the perception of how they’re moving relative to one another, according to SingularityHub.

This complex sense is one that is difficult to recreate in robots, as solid state sensors traditionally used in robotics are unable to capture the high-dimensional deformations of soft systems. However, embedded soft resistive sensors have the potential to address this challenge. Using this approach, scientists are getting closer to overcoming the challenge with new techniques that involve an array of sensory material and machine-learning algorithms. (more…)

On a Friday afternoon in 2011, residents of northeastern Japan were hit by a six minute earthquake—shifting the country’s main island by eight feet— triggered powerful tsunami waves that reached up to 120 feet in height, according to Futurity.

Tsunami warnings had initially broadcasted minutes before its arrival; unfortunately, underestimating its size. Many failed to evacuate to higher ground as a result; a total of 15,894 deaths resulted from the natural disaster. Japan has since installed a network of seismic and pressure sensors on the ocean floor that have raised the bar for tsunami early-warning systems worldwide.

New research, which appears in Geophysical Research Letters, suggests how warnings could be more accurate by combining data streaming in real-time from sensors, like those in Japan, with tsunami simulations.

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When it comes to growing crops, it’s a balancing act. You need just the right amount of sun, water, and soil composition to keep plants happy and blooming.

Researchers have recently discovered that light sensors might be able to help with that. According to New Food, the sensors work by actively measuring the various wavelengths of light coming off of crop leaves. These measurements are then used to calculate how much nitrogen crops need for optimal health. (more…)

Credit: ACS Publications

Most of us don’t stop to think about it, but the skin on our body is pretty remarkable. The largest organ in the body can detect pressure, temperature changes, pain, and touch, all made possible thanks to the many nerves and receptors underneath our skin. With all that said, it’s easy to understand why it’s hard to duplicate this unique organ. But, according to ScienceDaily, researchers are working to do just that. Their goal is to reproduce and transfer these qualities into a manmade electronic skin technology that can be used in prosthetic devices, wearable health monitors, robotics, and virtual reality. (more…)

30 Under 30 in Energy

Perk up people, this is the Forbes list 30 under 30 in energy edition. According to Forbes, each year their reporters spend months combing through possible contestants. Questionnaires, online digging, contact recommendations, and a panel of expert judges all help sift through to the top remaining candidates.

This year, Forbes focused on the movers and shakers of the battery field. With a worldwide $200 billion a year investment in wind and solar power generation projects, the revolution in renewables, and the transition to low-carbon energy sources is undeniable. And for that reason, we highlight three—just the tip of the iceburg—from the top thirty list.

Meghana Bollimpalli

Meghana Bollimpalli/Credit: Forbes

I don’t know what you were doing when you were 17, but Meghana Bollimpalli, a student at Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas was inspired by a seminar on energy storage. Bollimpalli began working towards figuring out a way to make supercapacitors from cheaper materials. She discovered a mixture of tea powder, molasses, and tannin, with a pinch of phosphorous and nitrogen, could achieve the same performance as a platinum-based electrode, for just $1 each, taking home the 2018 Intel Foundation Young Scientist award. Not bad for a high school student. (more…)

Credit: American Chemical Society

Pesticides, extremely effective at killing pests, can also unfortunately pass on the same harmful effects to the people who use them—most commonly farmers. To combat the problem, researchers have developed a way to detect the presence of such compounds in the field using a disposable “lab-on-a-glove,” according to Phys.

Because different types of pesticides consist of different levels of toxicity, the protective glove is of particular importance, as it can be used to determine which compounds are present more accurately and quickly.

The new wearable, flexible glove biosensor carries out the sampling and electrochemical biosensing steps on different fingers. Detection of the collected residues is performed when the thumb touches the printed enzyme-based organophosphate biosensor on the glove index finger. (more…)

Journal of The Electrochemical Society

Call for Nominations for Technical Editor in Sensors

New Deadline: November 14, 2018

The Electrochemical Society (ECS) seeks to fill the position of sensors technical editor for the Journal of The Electrochemical Society.

About ECS Journals & Research Areas
ECS has been long-heralded as the nonprofit home of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society (JES), its flagship journal. Published continuously from 1902 to the present, JES, the oldest peer-reviewed journal in its field, remains one of the most-highly cited journals in electrochemistry with a cited half-life of greater than 10 years. JES and the ECS Journal of Solid State Science and Technology (JSS) provide unparalleled opportunities to disseminate basic research and technology results in electrochemical and solid state science and technology. JES publishes a minimum of 10 regular and up to six focus issues each year and offers author choice open access.

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PlantSensors on tape that attach to plants yield new kinds of data about water use for researchers and farmers.

“With a tool like this, we can begin to breed plants that are more efficient in using water,” says Patrick Schnable, plant scientist at Iowa State University. “That’s exciting. We couldn’t do this before. But, once we can measure something, we can begin to understand it.”

The tool making these water measurements possible is a tiny graphene sensor that can be taped to plants—researchers call it a “plant tattoo sensor.” Graphene is an atom-thick carbon honeycomb. It’s great at conducting electricity and heat, and is strong and stable. The graphene-on-tape technology in this study has also gone into wearable strain and pressure sensors, including sensors for a “smart glove” that measures hand movements.

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ChemicalsA new chemical sensor prototype will be able to detect “single-fingerprint quantities” of chemicals and other substances at a distance of more than 100 feet—and its creators are working to make it the size of a shoebox.

The device could potentially identify traces of drugs and explosives, as well as speed up the analysis of certain medical samples. A portable infrared chemical sensor could be mounted on a drone or carried by users such as doctors, police, border officials, and soldiers.

The device’s sensor is made possible by a new optical-fiber-based laser that combines high power with a beam that covers a broad band of infrared frequencies—from 1.6 to 12 microns, which covers the so-called mid-wave and long-wave infrared.

“Most chemicals have fingerprint signatures between about 2 and 11 microns,” says researcher Mohammed Islam, who developed the laser. “Hence, this wavelength range is called the ‘spectral fingerprint region.’ So our device enables identification of solid, liquid, and gas targets based on their chemical signature.”

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