The Scope, the Official STEMscopes Blog

Unplug to Charge

Posted by Science Explored on February 25, 2014


Above:  Duke's electrical engineering department may have designed a material that can create electricity from WiFi signals around you.

Metamaterials are a group of substances that have unique properties en masse.  They are not found in nature. Rather, they are fabricated in labs and often look like honeycombs. A team of Duke scientists has created a metamaterial that may be able to make energy from ambient radio, microwave, and WiFi signals.  Imagine being able to charge your phone simply by being near a WiFi signal. You would be able to stop in at a coffee shop, check an email, and charge your phone without the need for a plug-in.   It may seem like novel technology, but it’s actual based on the same science used in power mats.

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Topics: electricity, WiFi, Science Explored, Duke Univeristy, metamaterials

Skimming the Ocean

Posted by Science Explored on February 14, 2014

Concerns about the health of the world’s oceans have been growing for some time.  Recently, Starfish Wasting Disease has reemerged off the Pacific American coast, claiming millions of echinoderms.  Meanwhile, fishermen across the world have been reporting lower yields and higher mercury levels in their catches.  Perhaps most disturbing once flourishing marine ecosystems are being turned into barren wastelands in spots across the globe.  Given that oceans are so vast, we often think of our impact on them is minimal.  Most think cleaning the oceans up is not a pressing need and, even if we did clean them up, it would be an undertaking too large for any one country.  Boyan Slat, a 19-year-old student currently attending Delft University of Technology, has presented a possible solution that may address part of the problem and even turn around a profit.


Above:  an artist's rendition of what Slat's floating, self-powered plastic collection nodes could look like.  The booms extend to either side and would connect with other processing nodes.

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Topics: oceans, Boyan Slat, Science Explored, plastic, PCB and DDT

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