May 1, 2013
By George I. Seffers
Johns Hopkins University research had demonstrated microdevices that actuate in response to chemicals, but this was not the most practical for defense applications.

U.S. Army researchers have developed micro materials that fold when hit with a low-intensity laser. The advance may eliminate the need for relatively bulky power systems—such as battery packs—on tiny robotic systems. It also could enable robotic microthrusters, unattended ground sensors, or even—theoretically—programmable, easily changeable camouflage patterns.

The microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are shaped like stars with four, six or eight legs. The legs fold—like origami—when heated slightly with light from a low-level laser. That folding action is accomplished without the materials being tethered to batteries, wires or other any other power supply.

May 1, 2013
By Max Cacas
Marines at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, assist each other in donning chemical and biological protection suits. Scientists are working to develop new fabrics that will minimize the need for the heavy, uncomfortable suits.

Academic, research and industry teams join forces to improve uniform materials.

New fabrics now under development will one day relieve troops from the burden of wearing additional garments to protect from chemical and biological attack. The effort, dubbed Second Skin, is being led by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department. The goal is to weave a new generation of multifunctional materials that can be manufactured into everyday military uniforms but use molecular-level technologies to protect against such attacks as soon as the wearer enters a contaminated area. The program is budgeted for $30 million over the next five years.

January 31, 2013
By Robert K. Ackerman
John Smart, president of the Acceleration Studies Foundation, tells the keynote luncheon audience that dramatic change is evolutionary and inevitable.

West 2013 Online Show Daily, Day 2

Quote of the Day: “How can you help me make the least-dumb decisions quicker?”—Terry Halvorsen, chief information officer (CIO) for the Department of the Navy, requesting cyber security solutions from industry

July 2005
By Maryann Lawlor

Art and science combine to create a representation of a desktop-scale molecular manufacturing appliance. As envisioned, tiny machines would join molecules then larger and larger parts in a convergent assembly process that makes products such as computers with a billion processors.
Nanotechnology could lead to next arms race; experts debate how to prepare.

July 2005
By Robert K. Ackerman

This microscopic mirror lies at the heart of many nanotechnology-driven devices. These mirrors can tilt in various directions to steer light to act as optical switches for information in the form of photons.
Longtime telecommunications scientists join forces with academia to push the state of the art.

July 2005
By Henry S. Kenyon

The porphyrin nanotubes developed by Sandia National Laboratory researchers John Shelnutt (l) and Zhongchun Wang use light to assemble themselves. These structures have a variety of potential applications in electronics, fuel cells and optics.
Photo-activated porphyrin nanotubes offer potential energy, manufacturing solutions.