science + technology news

Smart clothing: memory-storing fiber could lead to smart fabrics and wearable electronics

September 27, 2011

Switching Function2

Scientists at the Center for Nanotechnology at NASA Ames Research Center have developed a new flexible memory fabric woven together from interlocking strands of copper and copper-oxide wires. It may soon enable smart fabrics and wearable electronics.

This design easily lends itself to textiles because it naturally forms a crossbar memory structure where the fibers intersect. The researchers developed a reversible, rewritable memory… read more

Smart coating for military vehicles being developed

December 26, 2002

The New Jersey Institute of Technology has received a U.S. Army contract to develop a nanotech-based smart coating that would enable military vehicles, if corroded or scratched, to detect and heal themselves. The vehicles could also change color on the battlefield, creating instant camouflage and rendering tanks, helicopters and military trucks virtually invisible.

The coatings could also reduce the sensitivity of explosives and thus make them safer for soldiers… read more

Smart contact lens feels the pressure of glaucoma

July 10, 2008
Prototype lenses with pressure sensors (Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH and Co)

University of California, Davis researchers have made a contact lens with a built-in pressure sensor that could help monitor conditions such as glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane, the organic polymer traditionally used for contact lenses) usually cannot conduct electricity or have complicated features, so they developed new techniques to embed conducting circuits with circuit features of 10 micrometers. A transparent sensor could be worn continuously, sending… read more

Smart contact lenses for health and head-up displays

January 11, 2011


Smart contact lenses aren’t intended to improve vision. Instead, they will monitor blood sugar levels in people with diabetes or look for signs of glaucoma.

The lenses could also map images directly onto the field of view, creating head-up displays using arrays of tiny LEDs for the ultimate augmented reality experience, without wearing glasses or a headset.

Smart drug implant has batteries included

December 1, 2008

A “biobattery” magnesium medical implant doubles as a battery as it corrodes, and could power targeted drug release.

Smart Dust

March 27, 2003

“Smart dust” devices — tiny wireless microelectromechanical sensors (MEMS) that can detect everything from light to vibrations — would gather data, run computations and communicate the information using two-way band radio between motes at distances approaching 1,000 feet.

Potential commercial applications range from catching manufacturing defects by sensing out-of-range vibrations in industrial equipment to tracking patient movements in a hospital room.

Smart Dust Collecting in the Enterprise

October 28, 2003

Smart Dust — cubic millimeter-sized sensors, or “motes” — is making its way from the research labs and into the enterprise, courtesy of companies like Intel.

It combines radio frequency communication technology and MEMS to monitor situations where humans may not be able to go.

Smart dust gets magnetic

December 2, 2004

University of California at San Diego researchers have demonstrated a method to control and mix tiny amounts of liquids by encasing the chemicals in smart dust — silicon particles and magnetic nanoparticles.

A chemical coating causes the silicon particles to surround water droplets, and the dust changes color depending on the chemicals it is in contact with. This allows researchers to identify chemicals encased by the smart dust. The… read more

Smart dust may help save energy

May 29, 2001

Sand-grain-sized sensors that can measure ambient light and temperature, linked to a wireless network, could help conserve energy, say researchers at UC Berkeley.

Each room in an office building might have hundreds or thousands of these “motes,” which would tie into a central computer that regulates energy usage by turning off lights and air conditioning/heating in empty rooms.

Smart Dust? Not Quite, but We’re Getting There

February 1, 2010

While smart dust* is not here yet, smaller, faster and cheaper technology has reached the point where sensors may soon be as powerful as tiny computers.

One example: Intel is developing RFID technology that adds an accelerometer and programmable chip in a millimeter-sized package, powered by ambient radio power from television, FM radio and WiFi networks.

* Tiny digital sensors, strewn around the globe, gathering information and communicating… read more

Smart Fabrics Make for Enhanced Living

October 26, 2004

Imagine a handbag that warns you if you are about to forget your umbrella or wallet, and which you can later turn into a scarf that displays today’s pollution levels.

A variety of information-providing or environment-sensing objects like these could be possible using a system of computerized fabric patches developed by MIT engineers.

Each patch contains a functional unit of the system — a microprocessor and memory plus… read more

Smart Foam

January 8, 2008
(Northwestern University)

Researchers have made a lighter and potentially cheaper kind of shape-memory alloy.

The porous foam, made from a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy, stretches slightly when exposed to a magnetic field. It retains its new form when the field is turned off, but it goes back to its original shape when the field is rotated 90 degrees.

It responds faster than most shape-memory alloys (which react to temperature) and… read more

Smart glasses detect eye contact

May 20, 2004

Sunglasses that can detect when someone is making eye contact with the wearer could be used to tell when someone might be too busy to receive a phone call and for automatically detecting and recording interactions and conversations with other people.

Light emitting diodes positioned around the lenses emit infrared light to locate any eyes in the scene. The system then looks for the glint created by the light… read more

Smart grid could reduce emissions by 12 percent

February 1, 2010

A smart electrical power grid could decrease annual electric energy use and utility-sector carbon emissions at least 12 percent by 2030, according to a new report from the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Smart grid will wed modern computing with nanotechnology

September 22, 2003

The smart grid of the future will require far more advanced breakthroughs such as smart power controllers and new lightweight quantum wires made of carbon nanotube fibers to revolutionize the capacity of the transmission wires, according to Nobel laureate Rick Smalley and other experts.

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