Alexandra Foley | September 3, 2013

It’s probably something we have all experienced. We get home, stick last night’s leftovers in the microwave, and sit down to have a nice meal — only to realize that the food is scalding hot one bite and freezing cold the next. This experience has prompted me on more than one occasion to wonder: Why does a microwave heat food so unevenly?

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | August 22, 2013

There are many different routes through which drugs and other medications can be delivered into a patient’s body during treatment. These include topographical ointments, pills, vaporizers, and injection systems, among others. Many of these drug delivery systems require an enormous amount of precision when it comes to the location, timing, concentration, and amount of the drug to be administered. This is where simulation can be a big help, as it can allow for the modeling of each of these aspects […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | August 21, 2013

Solar photovoltaic (PV) cells are semiconductor devices that directly convert solar energy into electricity or voltage using the photovoltaic effect. These PV cells are more commonly known as solar cells, or solar panels, and in 2012 they produced roughly 93 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity — enough energy to power over 20 million homes. Because the cells must be directly exposed to the sun’s rays, they are housed outdoors where the panels are affected by the elements. Therefore, the cells must […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | August 16, 2013

You may be familiar with the humming start of the mechanical fan that turns on when booting up your laptop computer. Such a fan is necessary to prevent electronic devices from overheating, and the accompanying whirring sound of the cooling system is an unavoidable side effect. As electronic devices become smaller, this mechanical fan must decrease in size as well, and therefore spin faster and faster in order to deliver the same amount of heat dissipation as a larger fan. […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | August 8, 2013

When pesticides are used in crops to control pests, their effects on the environment continue even after they have served their purpose. Pesticides can leach into the soil and water sources that both humans and animals depend on, spreading harmful chemicals to the surrounding ecosystem. Over time, their active ingredients are detoxified through different reactions that occur after their release, eventually degrading them into harmless products. Understanding the pesticide runoff patterns and mobility of various pesticides before and after they […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | August 1, 2013

When thinking about freeze-drying processes, I am reminded of astronaut food like the freeze-dried ice cream I tried as a kid. While this application of freeze-drying is important for preserving food being launched into space, there is also an incredible number of noteworthy applications that are used a little closer to home. Let’s take a look at the freeze-drying process, how it can be simulated, and some of the products and designs that rely on it to function.

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | July 29, 2013

A contact switch is used to regulate whether or not an electrical current is passing from a power source and into an electrical device. These switches are found in many types of equipment and they are used to control, for example, the power output from a wall socket into a device when it is plugged in; the currents passing across the circuit board of a computer; or the electricity powering a light bulb when the switch is flipped on. Because of their […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | July 23, 2013

There are many different forces that can induce flow in fluids, such as kinetic energy, pressure gradients, concentration gradients, and many more. In natural systems, one effect that can initiate fluid flow in a still fluid is a change in density. This density change will result in a change in the fluid’s buoyancy, thus inciting flow as the denser fluid sinks and the less dense, buoyant, fluid rises. You’re probably most familiar with these changes in density occurring due to […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | July 18, 2013

Underground medium voltage cables are often used to deliver electrical power from a transmission system and into the home of consumers. In the United Kingdom, these cables carry hundreds of amps at voltages between 11 and 33 kV, a typical voltage of electrical transmission cables around the world. Analyzing the stresses that these cables are exposed to over their lifetime is important for ensuring both consumer safety and energy efficiency. Researchers from the Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland used COMSOL […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | July 15, 2013

The Doppler effect, or Doppler shift, is the change in wavelength and frequency caused by the movement of an observer relative to the source. One of the most common ways we can experience the Doppler effect in action is in the change of pitch that occurs due to a moving sound source. You’ve probably experienced the Doppler effect when a fire truck or ambulance passes by with its sirens blaring. As the siren passes, the pitch suddenly drops as the […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories

Alexandra Foley | July 10, 2013

The flow of fluid through a porous medium is usually described by Darcy’s Law. However, what if you wanted to look at a combination of fluid flow, heat transfer, and mass transport in a porous medium? Instead of using Darcy’s Law, which calculates an average linear velocity for fluid flow in porous media, the Navier-Stokes equations would be necessary in order to obtain accurate results. In addition, heat convection and conduction, as well as mass transport would need to be […]

Read more ⇢

Article Categories