Tech Universe: Tuesday 18 March

By Miraz Jordan

Halo X (two Halo Belt 2.0 snapped together). Photo / Halo X
Halo X (two Halo Belt 2.0 snapped together). Photo / Halo X

BELTING AROUND: The nights can be dark, and dangerous for pedestrians, cyclists or others on or near the roads. The Halo Belt 2.0 though lights you up with LEDs and a custom designed fibre optic system. The belt's Lithium Ion battery takes 2 hours to fully recharge via USB, and provides up to 36 hours illumination in flash mode. 3M reflective elastic provides for passive reflection of lights that shine on the belt, while the bright LEDs can either shine or flash, with a much larger surface area than most bike lights. Will drivers be distracted by the unusual lights?

SMALL YET POWERFUL: The LEDs researchers at the University of Washington are working on are only 3 atoms thick. They are thin and foldable yet mechanically strong and could find a place in portable electronics or to run nano-scale computer chips. The LEDs, made from tungsten diselenide, are 10,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair, yet the light they emit can be seen by standard measurement equipment.

Move over graphene.

BLINKING WIFI: Radio waves don't travel well underwater so submarines and other undersea technology can have trouble communicating. One alternative could be LiFi, or visible light-based communication that transmits data using fast-blinking LEDs. The blinks are so fast that the human eye can't see them, but a computer can register and decode them. One thing that slows LiFi down is how fast the LEDs can blink, but researchers are working on a material that uses layers of silica and silver on a sheet of glass. Adding rhodamine dye molecules that fluoresce when they absorb light created a hyperbolic metamaterial that may speed up blinking in the LEDs. Better hope no schools of fish get in the line of sight.

WIRED WINDOWS: Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology made a diode from tungsten diselenide: one layer of tungsten atoms, sandwiched by selenium atoms. 95% of light passes through the material, while 5% is absorbed. Because one tenth of that 5% can be converted into electrical power the material could prove useful as a solar energy collector on windows. Make all the windows solar collectors.

COLOURS ON THE RUN: Does your desktop 3D printer print in only one colour at a time? Spectrom changes that. The low-cost device upgrades desktop 3D printers to print in a full rainbow of colours by adding dye to the plastic as it melts. The computer sends code to the device so it switches between colours, but otherwise the printer works as usual. That's an easy and efficient way to achieve the colours.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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