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The Lead

One step closer to a single-molecule device

May 26, 2015 10:57 am | by Columbia Univ. | News | Comments

Under the direction of Latha Venkataraman, associate professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, researchers have designed a new technique to create a single-molecule diode, and, in doing so, they have developed molecular diodes that perform 50 times better than all prior designs. Venkataraman's group is the first to develop a single-molecule diode that may have real-world technological applications for nanoscale devices.

Fine-tuned molecular orientation is key to more efficient solar cells

May 26, 2015 10:19 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

Polymer solar cells are a hot area of research due to both their strong future potential and the...

Advance in quantum error correction

May 26, 2015 7:25 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Quantum computers are largely theoretical devices that could perform some computations...

Robot masters new skills through trial-and-error

May 22, 2015 10:04 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn...

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Cooling the cloud

May 22, 2015 8:34 am | by Binghamton Univ. | News | Comments

Data centers are one of the largest and fastest-growing consumers of electricity in the U.S. The industry has been shifting from open-air cooling of these facilities to increasingly complex systems that segregate hot air from cold air. When it comes to cost savings, there are definite advantages to the aisle containment systems, which have been estimated to save 30% of cooling energy.

Mars Rover’s ChemCam gets sharper vision

May 22, 2015 7:51 am | by Nancy Amrbosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam instrument just got a major capability fix, as Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists uploaded a software repair for the auto-focus system on the instrument. The team realized last November that a small laser used to focus the ChemCam telescope on its target fialed. And without this laser rangefinder, the instrument was blind.

Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

May 21, 2015 3:06 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But what if they just dissolved away, or broke down to their molecular components so that the material could be recycled? Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed heat-triggered self-destructing electronic devices, a step toward greatly reducing electronic waste and boosting sustainability in device manufacturing.

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New class of magnets could energize the world

May 21, 2015 10:30 am | by Temple Univ. | News | Comments

A new class of magnets that expand their volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at Temple Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland. This transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

Technology could change future wireless communications

May 21, 2015 10:22 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Radio systems, such as mobile phones and wireless Internet connections, have become an integral part of modern life. However, today's devices use twice as much of the radio spectrum as is necessary. New technology is being developed that could fundamentally change radio design and could increase data rates and network capacity, reduce power consumption, create cheaper devices and enable global roaming.

Simulations predict flat liquid

May 21, 2015 10:11 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Computer simulations have predicted a new phase of matter: atomically thin 2-D liquid. This prediction pushes the boundaries of possible phases of materials further than ever before. Two-dimensional materials themselves were considered impossible until the discovery of graphene around 10 years ago.

Designing microwave devices from scratch

May 21, 2015 10:03 am | by Umea Univ. | News | Comments

For decades, the fundamental design of microwave devices, such as antennas for mobile communication and waveguides used in radars, has essentially relied on the inventiveness of a professional designer. Computer simulations are usually used only in final design stages to fine-tune details in the design.

Shape-shifting plastic

May 21, 2015 8:18 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.

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How to make continuous rolls of graphene

May 21, 2015 7:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Graphene is a material with a host of potential applications, including in flexible light sources, solar panels that could be integrated into windows and membranes to desalinate and purify water. But all these possible uses face the same big hurdle: the need for a scalable and cost-effective method for continuous manufacturing of graphene films.

NASA advances CubeSat concept for planetary exploration

May 20, 2015 8:08 am | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Although scientists are increasingly using pint-size satellites sometimes no larger than a loaf of bread to gather data from low-Earth orbit, they have yet to apply the less-expensive small-satellite technology to observe physical phenomena far from terra firma. Jaime Esper, a technologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., however, is advancing a CubeSat concept that would give scientists that capability.

Seashell strength inspires stress tests

May 20, 2015 7:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Mollusks got it right. They have soft innards, but their complex exteriors are engineered to protect them in harsh conditions. Engineers at the Indian Institute of Science and Rice Univ. are beginning to understand why. By modeling the average mollusk’s mobile habitat, they are learning how shells stand up to extraordinary pressures at the bottom of the sea.

Taking control of light emission

May 20, 2015 7:31 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have found a way to couple the properties of different 2-D materials to provide an exceptional degree of control over light waves. They say this has the potential to lead to new kinds of light detection, thermal management systems and high-resolution imaging devices.

These scanning electron microscope images show the graphene ink after it was deposited and dried (a) and after it was compressed (b). Compression makes the graphene nanoflakes more dense, which improves the electrical conductivity of the laminate. Courtes

Wearable wireless devices: Low cost radio frequency antenna printed with graphene ink

May 19, 2015 10:34 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Scientists have moved graphene—the incredibly strong and conductive single-atom-thick sheet of carbon—a significant step along the path from lab bench novelty to commercially viable material for new electronic applications. Researchers have printed a radio frequency antenna using compressed graphene ink.

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Electricity generating nano-wizards: Quantum dots are an ideal nanolab

May 19, 2015 10:20 am | by Springer | News | Comments

Just as alchemists always dreamed of turning common metal into gold, their 19th century physicist counterparts dreamed of efficiently turning heat into electricity, a field called thermoelectrics. Such scientists had long known that, in conducting materials, the flow of energy in the form of heat is accompanied by a flow of electrons.

Laser technique for self-assembly of nanostructures

May 19, 2015 8:38 am | by Swinburne Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from Swinburne Univ. of Technology and the Univ. of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).

Bats sonar secrets could make for better drones

May 19, 2015 8:21 am | by Virginia Tech | Videos | Comments

The U.S. Navy has found that it pays to listen to Rolf Mueller carry on about his bat research. From unmanned aerial systems to undersea communications, practical applications flow from the team headed by Mueller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Artificial enzymes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

May 19, 2015 8:14 am | by Univ. of Nottingham Malaysia Campus | News | Comments

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions, such as the conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide into carbonates. Carbonates are the basic component of coral reefs, mollusc shells and kidney stones. Although naturally occurring enzymes would be ideal for converting human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into carbonates, they are generally incapable of coping with the extreme conditions of industrial plants.

A foundation for quantum computing

May 19, 2015 8:01 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.

Designing better medical implants

May 19, 2015 7:51 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection.

Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps

May 18, 2015 12:50 pm | by Aalto Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1% on nanostructured silicon solar cells as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. An almost 4% absolute increase to their previous record is achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures by Atomic Layer Deposition, and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.

Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs

May 18, 2015 11:22 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

Computing at the speed of light

May 18, 2015 11:14 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines. The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons.

New options for spintronic devices

May 18, 2015 10:46 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Scientists from Paris and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have been able to switch ferromagnetic domains on and off with low voltage in a structure made of two different ferroic materials. The switching works slightly above room temperature. Their results, which are published online in Scientific Reports, might inspire future applications in low-power spintronics, for instance for fast and efficient data storage.

Liquid-crystal-based compound lenses work like insect eyes

May 18, 2015 10:37 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Videos | Comments

The compound eyes found in insects and some sea creatures are marvels of evolution. There, thousands of lenses work together to provide sophisticated information without the need for a sophisticated brain. Human artifice can only begin to approximate these naturally self-assembled structures, and, even then, they require painstaking manufacturing techniques.

Things You Need to Know about Digital Oscilloscopes

May 18, 2015 9:42 am | by Lisa Clark, Product & Test Engineer | Articles | Comments

Oscilloscopes are a staple for any individual or firm involved with electronics and their functioning due to their versatility. An oscilloscope, also called a scope, is a type of electronic test equipment that allows signal voltages to be viewed, usually as a 2-D graph of one or more electrical potential differences (vertical axis) plotted as a function of time or of some other voltage (horizontal axis).

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