Washington, Aug 2 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Scientists in the United States developed a kind of remotely-controlled soft robots that can move to a targeted position and be reconfigured into new shapes, revealing potential applications in biotechnology and aerospace.
The study published on Friday in the journal Science Advances described the soft robots made of a polymer embedded with magnetic iron microparticles, and controlled by light and magnetic fields.
"We can get it to hold a given shape; we can then return the robot to its original shape or further modify its movement; and we can do this repeatedly," said the paper's corresponding author Joe Tracy, professor of materials science and engineering at North Carolina State University.
The researchers used light from a light-emitting diode (LED) to heat up the material that is relatively stiff under normal conditions, and the polymer became pliable. Then, they demonstrated that the robot's shape can be remotely controlled by applying a magnetic field.
After the robot took a desired shape, the researchers removed the LED light, and then the robot resumed the original stiffness, locking the shape in place.
In an experimental test, the researchers used the soft robot as a "grabber" for lifting and transporting objects. Also, it can be folded into "flowers" with petals that bend in different directions.
In addition, the researchers developed a computational model to fine-tune the robot's shape, polymer thickness, and the size and direction of the required magnetic field, which helps make a prototype design to accomplish a specific task.
Now, they are working to engineer polymers that respond at different temperatures in order to meet the needs of specific applications.
Washington, Aug 9 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Chinese scientists discovered the oldest fossil forest in Asia, lending more clues to how those ancient plants evolved to become coal finally.
The study published on Thursday in the journal Current Biology reported the largest example of a patch of forest that grew in the Devonian period, which was 419 million to 359 million years ago.
It was made up of 250,000 square meters of fossilized lycopsid trees near Xinhang Town in east China's Anhui Province.
The lycopsids in the fossilized forest resembled palm trees, and grew in a coastal environment prone to flooding. They were normally less than 3.2 meters tall, but the tallest one was estimated at 7.7 meters, according to the study.
Giant lycopsids would later thrive in a period that followed the Devonian, and became much of the coal that is mined today. The Xinhang forest in Anhui showed the early root systems, which made their height possible in the Carboniferous period (359 million to 299 million years ago), according to the study.
The forest also contributes to our understanding of atmospheric carbon dioxide decline and coastal consolidation at that time.
"The large density as well as the small size of the trees could make Xinhang forest very similar to a sugarcane field, although the plants in Xinhang forest are distributed in patches," said the paper's lead author Wang Deming, a professor in the School of Earth and Space Sciences at Peking University.
"It might also be that the Xinhang lycopsid forest was much like the mangroves along the coast, since they occur in a similar environment and play comparable ecologic roles," said Wang.
Two other Devonian fossil forests have been found in the United States and in Norway.
Dhaka, Aug 8 (UNB) - Robi and ICMAB have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for enhancing the knowledge and skills of ICMAB’s students in digital technologies.
Robi’s Chief Enterprise Business officer, Md Adil Hossain and ICMAB’s Director, Nazmus Salehin recently signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations at the Robi Corporate office in Gulshan.
Robi’s Managing Director and CEO, Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, ICMAB’s President, Md Abul Kalam Mazumder FCMA, Vice President, Arif Khan FCMA, Council Member, Mohammad Selim FCMA, along with high officials from Robi and ICMAB were present on the occasion.
Under the agreement, Robi will set up a state-of-the-art ‘Innovation Lab’ in the ICMAB campus.
Key focus of the Lab will be to introduce ICMAB students with the latest developments in data analytics, block chain, Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.
Besides, the Lab will facilitate the students to come up with innovative digital business ideas to address the problems faced by the companies.
Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua/UNB) -- China's lunar rover Yutu-2 has driven 271 meters on the far side of the moon to conduct scientific exploration on the virgin territory.
Both the lander and the rover of the Chang'e-4 probe switched to its dormant mode for the lunar night on Wednesday (Beijing time), according to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.
China's Chang'e-4 probe, launched on Dec. 8, 2018, made the first-ever soft landing on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3.
A lunar day equals 14 days on Earth, a lunar night the same length. The Chang'e-4 probe switches to dormant mode during the lunar night due to lack of solar power.
During the eighth lunar day of the probe on the moon, the scientific instruments on the lander and rover worked well, and a new batch of scientific detection data were sent to the core research team for analysis.
Beijing, Aug 8 (Xinhua/UNB) -- China's super-thin rubidium atomic clock, which is just 17 millimeters thick, has been put into mass production, said its manufacturer Thursday.
The clock, developed in 2018 by a research institute under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Limited, is the key to the positioning and timing accuracy of BeiDou navigation satellites.
Compared with the previous generation, the new clock is smaller in size but performs better. It adopts a plug-in design, making it easy to insert and remove on circuit board. With stronger resistance to high temperatures, it can work at 70 degrees Celsius.
The clock can be used in fields such as aviation, aerospace and telecommunications. According to its developers, the ultra-accurate clock will have a broader market prospect in the future.
A large number of self-developed rubidium and hydrogen atomic clocks have been carried by satellites that provide accurate positioning for China's BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.
The atomic clocks are the workhorses that send synchronized signals so sat-nav receivers can triangulate their position on Earth.