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Gizmorama - October 26, 2016

Good Morning,

It seems that the sky will never be free of drones. With new technology drones could be able to recharge mid-flight.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- New technology may allow drones to recharge midflight --*

LONDON - Drone flight times could soon be unlimited. Researchers believe a technology called inductive coupling can allow drones to recharge midflight.

Inductive coupling is the transfer of electromagnetic energy from one metal coil to another at a specific frequency. The phenomenon was first revealed by Nikola Tesla more than a century ago. While some smartphones and other small electronics can now recharge wirelessly, scientists have so far failed to use the technology to power up flying vehicles.

Scientists at Imperial College London, however, have offered hope of a breakthrough. Recently, researchers successfully charged a battery removed from a drone using inductive coupling. Their success inspired a live experiment.

Engineers at ICL bought a small quadcopter drone, removed its battery and wrapped the craft with a copper wire. They then created a charging station using another copper wire, a circuit board and a power source. Scientists reconfigured the drone's electronics to match the electromagnetic field created by the transmission device.

When the drone was flown over the charging station, its copper wire antenna fielded an alternating current from the magnetic field. The drone's electronics successfully converted the alternating current into a direct current capable of powering the device.

Currently, the technology only works when the drone is within four inches of the transmission device. But researchers are now looking for commercial partners to develop more ambitious wireless recharging devices.

"There are a number of scenarios where wirelessly transferring power could improve drone technology," Samer Aldhaher, a researcher and electrical engineer at ICL, explained in a news release. "One option could see a ground support vehicle being used as a mobile charging station, where drones could hover over it and recharge, never having to leave the air."

Wireless power transmission could allow drones to perform of variety of vital tasks. The technology could allow drones to transmit power to sensors on towers and bridges that monitor structural integrity. The possibilities outside the world of drones are promising, too.

"Another application could include implantable miniature diagnostic medical devices, wirelessly powered from a source external to the body," said Paul Mitchell, a professor of electronic engineering. "This could enable new types of medical implants to be safely recharged, and reduce the battery size to make these implants less invasive."

*-- Scientists create holograms with neutron beams --*

GAITHERSBURG, Md. - Researchers have for the first time managed to create a hologram using neutron beams instead of lasers. The new neutron beam holograms reveal details about the insides of solid objects, a feat impossible for laser holograms.

Unlike a photograph, which simply records the light reflected through a lens and onto a sensor, a hologram is a recording of a light field.

Scientists typically create a hologram by shining a laser on an object and recording the interference pattern created as the light waves collide with each other as they bounce of an object. The method allows for a more detailed rendering of an object -- the reason why holograms can showcase an image in 3D.

Unfortunately, laser holograms can't see through an object and record details about its interior, but neutron beams can.

Scientists already use neutron beams to study the insides of new materials. While adept at penetrating objects, neutron beams aren't all that precise, and don't render very detailed images. Neutron beam data is usually translated visually as a graph -- a roughly approximation of an object's inner structure.

Recently, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology developed a way render greater light field details from neutron beams. When scientists passed neutron beams through an aluminum cylinder with spiral nanostructures etched into its cross section, they were able to impart a unique twist to the beam. Each individual neutron underwent a phase change and released details necessary to form a hologram.

When combined with an interferometer, a sensor that measures interference patterns, the scientists were able to use neutron beams and their aluminum cylinder to create holograms revealing the inner details of objects.

Scientists detailed the process in a new paper published this week in the journal Optics Express.

"Other techniques measure small features as well, only they are limited to measuring surface properties," Michael Huber, a scientists in NIST's Physical Measurement Laboratory, said in a news release. "This might be a more prudent technique for measuring small, 10-micron size structures and buried interfaces inside the bulk of the material."


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