• Researchers have used integrated circuits to create a material that can think and act on mechanical stressors
  • DroneShield’s counterdrone system now in place at a US international airport
  • Altech plans to produce pouch cell lithium ion batteries for testing in Perth


Researchers at the US Air Force and Penn State University have engineered a material that can ‘think’ and ‘sense’ – kind of like a brain.

The technology is based on integrated circuits, that can realise combinational logic: when the material receives external stimuli, it translates the input into electrical information that is then processed to create output signals.

“We have created the first example of an engineering material that can simultaneously sense, think and act upon mechanical stress, without requiring additional circuits to process such signals,” Penn State associate professor of mechanical engineering Ryan Harne said.

“The soft polymer material acts like a brain that can receive digital strings of information that are then processed, resulting in new sequences of digital information that can control reactions.”


Next step is interpreting visual data

The material could use mechanical force to compute complex arithmetic, or detect radio frequencies to communicate specific light signals, among other potential translation examples. 

Plus, Harne says there’s the opportunity for nearly any material around us to act like its own integrated circuit: being able to ‘think’ about what’s happening around it.

The next step is to improve the substance so that it can interpret visual data similarly to how it ‘feels’ physical signals.

“We are currently translating this to a means of ‘seeing’ to augment the sense of ‘touching’ we have presently created,” Harne said.

“Our goal is to develop a material that demonstrates autonomous navigation through an environment by seeing signs, following them and manoeuvring out of the way of adverse mechanical forces, such as something stepping on it.”


Who’s got tech news out today?


DroneShield has sold and deployed its DroneSentry counterdrone system at a US international airport – but it’s secret squirrel because they haven’t disclosed which one. 

The system includes the company’s RfOne passive long-range drone detection sensors integrated with DroneSentry-C2 command-and-control enterprise software = providing near real-time drone detection, tracking and reporting assisting airport authorities with security and risk assessment throughout the airspace. 

“Drones can damage, or even bring down, an airliner with contact,” sales executive Jayde Wilks said. 

“Reports of airport disruptions due to drones continue to rise, and the safety risk and cost involved from plane diversions and flight disruptions can be significant. 

“With this and future airport deployments, we look forward to helping address this risk.” 

While the revenue associated with the sale is considered immaterial (sub $500,000), it is considered an important development due to the deployment serving as a potentially gateway into the US civilian aviation market consisting of over 5,000 airports. 



The battery technologies company is expanding its research and development laboratories in Perth, WA, to allow production of pouch cell size batteries for the next stage of its Silumina Anodes project.

Late last year the company announced its game-changing technology of incorporating high-capacity silicon in lithium-ion batteries, resulting in 30% more energy capacity than a conventional graphite-only lithium-ion battery.

When developing new active material for lithium-ion batteries, the cell chemistry is first optimised in smaller format coin cells and then progressively scaled up to full-sized pouch cells to provide more information on electrochemical performance, energy density, and safety. 

And by having an in-house pouch cell production and testing facility, electrical abuse scenarios – where the cell is required to operate outside nominal voltage and current limitations – can be tested. 

Physical and environmental abuse scenarios, where the cell is subjected to temperature extremes or mechanical deformation, can also be tested. 



Wastewater treatment player De.mem has signed a $2.1 million build, own, operate (BOO) contract to, unsurprisingly, build, own and operate a waste water treatment system to be deployed on-site at Givaudan’s factory in Singapore. 

The new plant will incorporate the company’s proprietary ultrafiltration membrane technology as a key treatment step, combined with its specialty chemicals and other waste water treatment processes.  

“Our BOO model offers clients convenience and simplicity, whilst generating recurring, long-term revenues for De.mem,” CEO Andreas Kroell said. 

“Our in-house membrane technology and specialty chemicals range provides a competitive advantage over our peers.” 


ATC, DRO and DEM share prices today:



At Stockhead we tell it like it is. While Altech Chemicals is a Stockhead advertiser, they did not sponsor this article.