Thermal Power Nanogenerator Created Without Solid Moving Parts

As environmental and energy crises become more common, a thermal energy harvester capable of converting abundant thermal energy into mechanical energy appears to be a promising mitigation strategy. The majority of thermal power generation technologies involve solid moving parts, which can reduce reliability and lead to frequent maintenance. This inspired researchers in China to develop a thermal power nanogenerator without solid moving parts. In Applied Physics Letters, they propose a thermal power nanogenerator that converts thermal energy into electrical energy.

School Closures May Not Reduce Coronavirus Deaths as Much as Expected

School closures, the loss of public spaces, and having to work remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic have caused major disruptions in people’s lives all over the world. After running thousands of simulations of the pandemic response in New York City with variations in social distancing behavior, researchers suggest a reduction in fatal coronavirus cases can be achieved without the need for so much social disruption. They discuss the impacts of the closures of various types of facilities in the journal Chaos.

Fast Walking in Narrow Corridors Can Increase COVID-19 Transmission Risk

Simulations have been used to predict droplet dispersal patterns in situations where COVID-19 might be spread and results in Physics of Fluids show the importance of the space shape in modeling how droplets move. The simulations are used to determine flow patterns behind a walking individual in spaces of different shape. The results reveal a higher transmission risk for children in some instances, such as behind quickly moving people in a long narrow hallway.

Highly Sensitive Sensors Show Promise in Enhancing Human Touch

People rely on a highly tuned sense of touch to manipulate objects, but injuries to the skin and the simple act of wearing gloves can impair this ability. In this week’s Applied Physics Reviews, scientists report the development of a new tactile-enhancement system based on a highly sensitive sensor. The sensor has remarkable sensitivity, allowing the wearer to detect the light brush of a feather. This crack-based sensor was inspired by a spider’s slit organ.

Insects’ Drag-Based Flight Mechanism Could Improve Tiny Flying Robots

Thrips don’t rely on lift in order to fly. Instead, the tiny insects rely on a drag-based flight mechanism, keeping themselves afloat in airflow velocities with a large ratio of force to wing size. In a study published in this week’s Journal of Applied Physics, researchers performed the first test of the drag force on a thrip’s wing under constant airflow in a bench-top wind tunnel. Drawing from experience in microfabrication and nanomechanics, they created an experiment in which a thrip’s wing was glued to a self-sensing microcantilever.