Flexible Telescope Lenses Could Enhance Scientists’ Ability to Survey the Stars

Long before civilizations developed, humanity has been fascinated by the stars, and the technological advancements developed over time have given us tools to learn more about the universe beyond our atmosphere. Arguably the most recognizable piece of equipment humans created is the telescope, but as we continue to evolve in our search for knowledge so must the tools we use. Recent advancements have prompted researchers in Taiwan to develop lightweight, flexible lenses that would allow telescopes to view distant exoplanets that orbit outside of our solar system. These new lenses aim to enhance the clarity of captured images by utilizing holographic film, allowing for fine control of the lens focus. The film combined with a flexible body would also allow scientists to convert the captured light into a spectrum for wavelength analysis. 

These “holographic optical elements” as they are being called researchers, are not an entirely new concept and instead build on the design of Fresnel lenses, optical components with a series of flat lenses that mimic the focus of curved lenses. By utilizing a flexible material, these new elements further exaggerate the wavelength separation properties their rigid predecessors exhibited, while also allowing for precision control of focus and clarity. With any luck these new optics will provide astronomers a clearer view of the cosmos and allow us to learn more about the universe beyond our doorstep. 

For more information on this development, click here

Click here, if you are interested in past blogs covering various innovations.

Comfortable Biosensor Fabric could be the Future of Wearable Diagnostics

When someone pictures biosensors, they usually name the obvious ones, heart monitors, fitness equipment, blood glucose sensors. However, as technology has evolved so has the use of biosensors. A team at the University of Utah’s College of engineering has created a wearable biosensor fabric that can be built into clothing. While innovations like this have been created in the past, they are expensive to produce, an obstacle this study hopes to overcome.  

The fabric picks up electrical signals being sent along the nervous system between the brain and muscles. The brain releases electrical signals to the muscles as tiny impulses traveling through pathways telling them what to do. The old-fashioned way to monitor these signals is with uncomfortable wires and electrodes attached to specific areas of the body. This new technology eliminates the need for those. The fabric integrates a thin layer of silver to act as a conductive medium between the fabric and sensors. In considering this, the team devised a way to make the entire process non-toxic by avoiding skin-to-skin contact with harmful materials or chemicals. Thin layers of gold and silver metal work together to detect and conduct readings, the silver layer acting as the conduit and the gold being a protective layer and ensures the readings come through clearly and distinctly. 

Researchers are hopeful that the fabric can be utilized in things like T-shirts, sweaters, sweatpants, and more. The material has proven to be machine washable, lasting through several cycles with no issues. In the end this could be a massive breakthrough in creating comfortable diagnostic devices for the treatment of physical and possibly mental health issues. 

To read the full article, click here.

And click here, to read more posts about innovative technologies Lenox Laser has covered.

Curiosity Rover Discovers Organic Molecules on Mars

The Mars Perseverance Rover has made great progress in exploring the mysterious red planet since its launch on July 30, 2020. The full audio recordings Perseverance collected while traversing the Martian surface, as well as the rustling of the planet’s solar winds had scientists and astronomy enthusiasts excited. The mission’s goal began last year by drilling for Martian rock samples in the Jezero crater. Analysis of data provided by Perseverance indicates that Mars may have had ancient flash floods in the area. The clarity of the images showing massive lake and river formations have scientists undoubtedly excited. The evidence gives insight into how Mars was formed, the planet’s hydrology, its layers and composition, among others. By the time studies from future launches in 2030 are complete, researchers hope to have collected approximately 30 samples for analysis. 

Initial attempts to collect Martian samples were conducted by the Curiosity Rover in 2016, but the larger drill bit shattered during its attempt on Mount Sharp, sidelining the mission for several years after. However, in the wake of this setback, NASA shifted gears to analyzing organic molecules present in loose samples the rover had previously collected. The ‘wet chemistry lab’ aboard Curiosity has only 9 cups of solvent and each one is single use, so samples must be chosen carefully and with great intention. The most difficult part of the experiment is collecting organic molecule samples without them breaking down into smaller molecules due to heat. The solvent avoids this problem by reacting with the compounds first to ensure they can be collected for analysis with the least risk of them breaking down. From the sand Curiosity had collected from Ogunquit Beach, researchers found ammonia, benzoic acid, among others, including several compounds that had not been found on Mars before. As of yet, no amino-acid like molecules have been discovered, so we still cannot conclusively say if there was life on Mars or not. 

Even if scientists are unable to discover proof of organic life on our red sister planet, the success of this new experiment paves the way for further research into not just extraterrestrial bodies, but our own planet.  

For more information, click here.  

Click here, to read some of Lenox Laser’s past blog posts covering NASA missions. 

Research into Boron Nanosheets leads to an Electrifying Discovery

Amorphous boron is a nonmetallic element that is often used in rockets as a fuel source and for certain pyrotechnic flares that produce a green tinted flame. It is rarely found in pure form with compounds such as boric acid, sodium borate aka. borax, and boric oxide. Common uses for boron over the years have been things like tile glazes, several brands of eyedrops and antiseptics, and washing powders and detergents. Boron also has the highest melting point of any metalloid, at a toasty 3771°F (2077°C). Interestingly, Turkey and the United States contain the largest deposits of borax and the compound is considered a nutrition element for plants. 

Recently scientists were able to synthesize 2D boron monosulfide (BS) nanosheets which led to interesting discoveries about the electrical properties of these single-atom layers of material. The researchers fabricated boron sulfide in a 1:1 ratio with a crystalline structure and stripped off layers that maintained the arrangement. The resulting nanosheets had a large bandgap energy, the material’s ability to conduct current, much greater than that of the base material. They also observed that as more layers were stacked together, the overall bandgap of the material decreased, until it ultimately reached that of the bulk material after approximately five sheets. Scientists believe that these properties could lend well to creating highly conductive, and tunable electrical components. 

Other 2D boron compounds do not exhibit the same responses, making 2D BS unique, and applications for such materials had previously only been speculative. The differing bandgap structures also respond to different electromagnetic wavelengths. The bulk material required lower energy levels (in the visible light range), the nanosheets only activated under wavelengths in the ultraviolet range. This secondary phenomenon implies that the nanosheets can possibly be used in photocatalytic devices, and the number of sheets would allow for fine control of the electrical properties. 

Click here, to read the full article. 

If you are interested in other innovations Lenox Laser has written about, click here

Spectrometer Analysis of Exoplanets Revolutionizes Extraterrestrial Study

NASA has explored planets a variety of ways in the past, from rockets to astronauts to satellites and probes.  Now, they have a new tool to aid in their passion for discovery, an instrument called NEID, a massive spectrometer that will do deep dive studies of exoplanets in and around our solar system. Exoplanets are planets that orbit around other existing stars, and over the summer, the new instrument brought back data from our sun. The spectrometer’s main purpose is to locate, categorize, and define new planets and their locations within the solar system, and it does so by detecting
small shifts in light from nearby stars. Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona is currently where NEID resides. Pointing at the sky, the spectrometer will bring back data that shows the mass, size, and environmental makeup of these exoplanets, giving scientists a better overall understanding of their habitability and even potential evidence of life
within them. Presently exoplanets are found by detecting light fluctuations within surrounding stars. The spectrometer will provide scientists more exact analysis of these planets as they are discovered, which until now had only been hypothesized. 

The spectrometer operates by splitting light into its various color wavelengths, which allows scientists to identify the molecular makeup of the exoplanets orbiting the star it is analyzing. It is not yet known when the findings of this study will be completed but the hope that it will give us further insight into our evolving understanding of the solar system around us and planets in general. 

Space is an ever-growing challenge to understand, but with today’s technology, solving its mysteries has never been more possible and whatever is found out there is sure to be treated with the utmost respect and will be one for the history books. We at Lenox Laser are excited to see what the NEID will discover and teach us about the world beyond
our atmosphere.

Click here, for more info on the NEID.

To see past Lenox Laser posts covering NASA milestones, click here.

1 2 3 4 37