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MilliDelta robot surgeon is the size of a one cent coin

Another tiny robot is gearing up to join the ranks of microsurgeons, but this one is small enough to fit in your coin purse. Inspired by pop-up books and origami, the milliDelta bot measures mere millimetres when unfolded (roughly the size of a one cent coin). But, even at that scale, the miniature helper packs flexible joints and bending, piezoelectric actuators that allow it to work with force, precision, and high speed.

Its creators (from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences) claim it can perform a range of microsurgery and manufacturing tasks in compact spaces.

Unlike existing Delta robots, which scientists have been shrinking down for workspace use for years, the new bot is a swift operator. “Currently available Delta robots are only able to operate at a few hertz,” said Hayley McClintock, a Harvard researcher who helped design the device. “So for our robot to be able to draw circles at frequencies up to 75 Hz is quite impressive.”

Scientists developed the new bot using a technique known as pop-up microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), allowing them to create a complex structure from flat pieces of materials. The same approach was used to create the flying RoboBee. Next up for the milliDelta bot, the researchers plan to refine its specs in order to pin down its final design and add power and control electronics.

Source: ScienceRobotics

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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