MIT Popup from Self-Assembly Lab, MIT on Vimeo.

Students of MIT's M.Arch. Options Studio, in a class taught by Skylar Tibbits, are developing a self-assembling structure made of fiberglass spines and parachute components intended for disaster relief. The "Fast, Cheap and Out of the Box" prototype can be dropped from the air and spring open from a figure-eight configuration into a tent-like structure during its descent. Starting with centimeter-scale models, the students' final meters-large, life-size prototype ultimately opened successfully when dropped from a 100-foot crane on MIT's campus. [Wired]

As many as 1,050 rural villages in India could become Wi-Fi hotspots as the government transitions away from cash transactions and toward technology solutions that enable mobile payments. As part of an effort called Digital Villages, the pilot program includes installing Wi-Fi into LED streetlamps for online accessibility for a minimum of five hours per day and will likely be used primarily with smartphones. The Indian government has budgeted $62 million for the plan. [Fast Company]

Courtesy Chalmers University of Technology

Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, has come up with a system to store solar power called Molecular Solar Thermal. The liquid storage technique differs from conventional solutions by storing energy directly within the bonds of a chemical fluid. It also replaces a rare metal—ruthenium—with carbon-based elements, which respectively makes it easier to release heat while lowering material cost. [New Atlas]

Hybrid Tower (2016) Guimaraes, Portugal from CITA on Vimeo.

Measuring 29.5 feet tall, the Hybrid Tower in Guimaraes, Portugal is made of glass fiber–reinforced polymer rods and a custom made CNC-knit textile. The concept structure was designed by practicing architects at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation's experimental research studio, CITA, in collaboration with structural engineers, textile engineers, and Portuguese knitting company A. Ferreira & Filhos. The tower is lightweight, but "capable of balancing wind and other external forces through an interdependent combination of compression and tension elements," according to Materia. [Materia]

Scientists at Lund University in Sweden have developed the first metal-dye molecule using iron, and it is capable of emitting light. This is a significant discovery because most metal-based dye molecules with this capability—often used in display technology and solar cells—require rarer and less environmentally friendly metals, such as ruthenium. The iron-based molecule can not only capture light but also emit light of a different color, meaning it could have future applications in luminescent materials. []

ICYMI: The UMass Amherst Design Building is the first mass-timber structure on the East Coast and the first project to use several cutting-edge building technologies, including a “zipper truss” and a composite floor system developed by the institution’s faculty. [ARCHITECT]

Courtesy Surrey NanoSystems

Earlier this year, scientists at U.K. nanotechnology company Surrey NanoSystems developed the world's blackest material, whose light absorption cannot be measured by any spectrometer in the world. Vantablack is a coating comprising millions of carbon nanotubes that trap and absorb light when it hits objects covered in the product. Surrey NanoSystems has also created a slightly less black sprayable material available for purchase, Vantablack S-VIS, which blocks 99.8 percent of light. Vantablack, which is not for sale, is so dark that the human brain can only process the shade by referencing surrounding objects. [Science Alert]

Philips Lighting and international flooring manufacturer Tarkett have collaborated on an LED vinyl flooring product that allows retailers to embed directional signage and ads into the walking surface. [Architectural Lighting]

PLOPP line of Fidu products by Zieta
Courtesy Zieta PLOPP line of Fidu products by Zieta

ICYMI: From inflatable steel to a microlattice lighter than air, metal innovations abound in manufacturing and design. [ARCHITECT]