Flying SnifferSTAR may aid civilians and US military

A half-ounce ‘sniffer’ intended to ride on small aerial drones to detect possible gas attacks on cities and military bases has been created by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation. The patented device, which detects nerve gases and blister agents, operates on only half a watt of electrical power, says Sandia researcher Doug Adkins. While other gas monitors exist, “this is small, lightweight, low power, and offers rapid analysis,” says Adkins. “Rapid analysis currently is not possible with any other package near this size.”

Smart heat pipe efficiently cools laptops, permitting greater speed

Evacuating heat is one of the great problems facing engineers as they design faster laptops by downsizing circuit sizes and stacking chips one above the other. The heat from more circuits and chips increase the likelihood of circuit failures as well as overly heated laps. “Space, military, and consumer applications, are all bumping up against a thermal barrier,” says Sandia researcher Mike Rightley, whose newly patented “smart” heat pipe seems to solve the problem. The simple, self-powered mechanism transfers heat to the side edge of the computer, where air fins or a tiny fan can dissipate the unwanted energy into air.

Hyperbaric treatment on the cheap

Hand me a cheap plastic bag, an oxygen tank and some low-tech sensors and I’ll give you … well … I’ll give you them back. But a team from Sandia National Laboratory and a California company has combined the three into an inexpensive wound-healing device that the U.S. military says it plans to license for active and retired personnel. Think of it as a low-rent — but effective — hyperbaric chamber. But instead of costing $1 million to build and $1,500 per treatment, the whole shebang can be had for about $185.

Sandia, Cray, AMD team for Opteron-based supercomputer

Intel-rival Advanced Micro Devices got a nice science win Monday when Sandia National Laboratory and Cray Inc. said they would build a supercomputer capable 40 trillion calculations per second using AMD’s forthcoming Opteron processor. Ten thousand of them, to be precise. Total cost: $90 million. Sandia says it will use the computing heavyweight for “modeling and simulation of complex problems that were only recently thought impractical, if not impossible.”