Forget delays, lines and ticket costs — for many people, flying isn’t just an aggravation, it’s an outright phobia.
Thanks to research conducted by an engineering professor and College of Engineering students at Rowan University (Glassboro, N.J.), those airplane passengers may be a little less fearful in the future.
The Rowan team has been focusing on ice clouds and crystals, which can contribute to plane crashes. Some crashes occur because ice crystals collect on a plane’s wings as it passes through a cloud, causing the shape of the wing to change, reducing the lift force needed for flying.
Though these clouds pose a serious threat to airplanes, there is no way to determine which clouds are hazardous to fly through. Enter Rowan engineers.
The team has re-created ice clouds in an ice cloud chamber on a small scale, successfully forming ice crystals with the same characteristics of those in nature. Using these lab-created crystals, they can project a laser beam through the chamber, measuring its change in polarization, which is dependent on the size, shape and distribution of ice crystals in the cloud. The polarization state of light is invisible to the naked eye, but measurable using sensitive lenses and photodetectors. Eventually, this process could enable a pilot to use low-power lasers to detect the crystals in time to allow the plane to avoid the crystal-bearing clouds.
“No one has previously done what we are doing in terms of this lab scale and the ability to vary as many elements,” said Todd Nilsen, a 20-year-old (spring semester 2008) junior from Brick studying mechanical engineering and a member of the team that worked on the project.
Other members of the team during the past year were:• Metin Ahiskali, an electrical and computer engineering senior from Randolph
During the course of two semesters, the team constructed an insulated Plexiglas unit—the ice cloud chamber—to house the ice crystals they would create using liquid nitrogen and water, chilling the chamber to a literally freezing -40 degrees Celsius. The entire system is computer-controlled. A microscope attached to the unit allowed the team to magnify the 40-micron crystals, which are roughly as wide as a human hair, and then take pictures.
After producing the ice cloud in the chamber, a laser beam is directed into the unit. The light that bounces back from the ice crystals, called backscattered light, passes into a detector. The data that are collected from this process can be used to determine which clouds contain ice crystals detrimental to airplane flight.
Thus far, the team has successfully re-created the ice crystals that have characteristics that are needed for further research. This is a significant step toward providing a method to detect the specific crystals in the path of aircrafts. The ability to re-create ice crystals that have the same characteristics as those found in nature, on such a small scale, enables further research by other companies with little financial burden.
The team’s research was sponsored by a $5,000 grant from R.L. Associates, Inc., a research and development company specializing in optical technology located in Chester, Pa.
Patricia Quigley | newswise
New method inverts the self-assembly of liquid crystals
15.04.2019 | University of Luxembourg
'Deep learning' casts wide net for novel 2D materials
11.04.2019 | Rice University
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences