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A Next-Generation Ice Radar

Scientists can now probe polar ice sheets better than ever using synthetic-aperture radar

10 min read
A Next-Generation Ice Radar
Photo: Eric Rignot/JPL/NASA

graphic link to synthetic magic

It’s rare that an academic researcher gets to experience the life of a stunt pilot, but we found ourselves in more or less that position this past May, as we flew over the ice-covered fjords of southeast Greenland. It was exhilarating—and a little scary. We were riding in one of NASA’s research aircraft, a P-3 Orion turboprop, on which we had installed a special kind of radar for probing glacial ice. Although our equipment can work at higher altitudes, other science instruments needed to be flown low, over terrain so rugged that at times we came within a mere 30 meters of the ridges—near misses that our downward-looking radar measured for us while we peered out the window holding our breath.

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Liquid Metal Stretchy Circuits, Built With Sound

Encase metallic droplets in plastic for elastic electronics

2 min read
Dark photograph of gloved hands holding an item that has the letters DMDL, with glowing yellow rectangles in an assortment of spots on the letters.

Liquid metal particles sheathed in polymers connect microLEDs to make an ultra-stretchable display.

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

A team in Korea has used sound waves to connect tiny droplets of liquid metals inside a polymer casing. The novel technique is a way to make tough, highly conductive circuits that can be flexed and stretched to five times their original size.

Making stretchable electronics for skin-based sensors and implantable medical devices requires materials that can conduct electricity like metals but deform like rubber. Conventional metals don’t cut it for this use. To make elastic conductors, researchers have looked at conductive polymers and composites of metals and polymers. But these materials lose their conductivity after being stretched and released a few times.

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"SuperGPS" Accurate to 10 Centimeters or Better

New optical-wireless hybrid makes use of existing telecommunications infrastructure

3 min read
illustration of man looking at giant smart phone with map and red "you are here" symbol
iStock

Modern life now often depends on GPS(short for Global Positioning System), but it can err on the order of meters in cities. Now a new study from a team of Dutch researchers reveals a terrestrial positioning system based on existing telecommunications networks can deliver geolocation info accurate to within 10 centimeters in metropolitan areas.

The scientists detailed their findings 16 November in the journal Nature.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.