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Stretching electrical conductance to the limit

December 5, 2011 4:50 am | News | Comments

Individual molecules have been used to create electrical components like resistors, transistors, and diodes, that mimic the properties of familiar semiconductors. But according to Nongjian Tao, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, unique properties inherent in single molecules may also allow designers to produce novel devices whose behavior falls outside the performance observed in conventional electronics.

The first molybdenite microchip

December 5, 2011 4:09 am | News | Comments

Molybdenite, a mineral of molybdenum disulfide, was shown earlier this year to be an effective band gap semiconductor and a possible competitor to graphene. EPFL scientists have now made the first molybdenite microchip, boasting smaller and more energy-efficient transistors than traditional silicon.

Electronics takes on a new spin

December 5, 2011 3:16 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Exotic materials called topological insulators, discovered just a few years ago, have yielded some of their secrets to a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers. For the first time, the team showed that light can be used to obtain information about the spin of electrons flowing over the material's surface, and has even found a way to control these electron movements by varying the polarization of a light source.

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Researchers invent switch that could improve electronics

December 1, 2011 8:26 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have invented a new type of electronic switch that performs electronic logic functions within a single molecule. The incorporation of such single-molecule elements could enable smaller, faster, and more energy-efficient electronics.

Important step toward computing with light

November 23, 2011 4:42 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

There has been enormous progress in recent years toward the development of photonic chips—devices that use light beams instead of electrons to carry out their computational tasks. Now, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have filled in a crucial piece of the puzzle that could enable the creation of photonic chips on the standard silicon material that forms the basis for most of today's electronics.

3D printers may signal personal electronics’ next revolution

November 17, 2011 5:19 am | News | Comments

Instead of sending grandma a holiday photo of the family for her fridge, imagine calling up the image on your computer monitor, clicking “print,” and producing a 3D plastic model ready for hanging on the holiday tree. According to a American Chemical Society editor, scenes like that are fast approaching reality.

Adding up photons with a transition edge sensor

November 14, 2011 5:24 am | News | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated that a superconducting detector called a transition edge sensor (TES) is capable of counting the number of as many as 1,000 photons in a single pulse of light with an accuracy limited mainly by the quantum noise of the laser source.

Russian scientists struggle to save Mars moon probe

November 9, 2011 6:29 am | by Vladimir Ischenkov, Associated Press | News | Comments

A Martian probe designed to examine one of Mars’ tiny moons, Phobos, was imperiled just hours after a successful launch on Wednesday. Probable failure of the craft’s orientation system has left it stuck in Earth’s orbit and engineers have just days to reboot the system’s software before battery power fails and the 13.2-ton spacecraft full of toxic fuel falls to Earth.

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Sound mapping ferrets out dead spots

November 8, 2011 4:17 am | News | Comments

Despite dramatic improvements in the sound quality of loudspeakers over the years, manufacturers still wrestle with the issue of “dead spots”. A new noninvasive method to visualize sound propagation may help sound engineers design out the deconstructive interferences that cancel sound waves.

Mask-bot: A robot with a human face

November 7, 2011 7:22 am | News | Comments

A prototype of a new robot face that teams in Germany and Japan have developed ingeniously solves the problem of how to make realistic human features from a variety of angles. A projector accurately beams a human face onto the back of the mask, changing the face on demand.

Tank robot drives itself up the wall

November 2, 2011 12:54 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in the U.K. have built a tank-like robot that has the ability to scale smooth walls. It gets its ability from tiny mushroom cap-shaped fibers on its treads that use van der Waals forces to adhere to flat surfaces. Inspired by the feet of geckos, the robot could find use in power plants or search and rescue.

Toyota shows machines to help sick, elderly move

November 1, 2011 11:13 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

On Tuesday, the auto giant Toyota showcased experimental robots that can help disabled patients work, or even get up out of bed. The company intends to commercialize its walk-assist products sometime after 2013.

Paper-based wireless sensor could help detect explosive devices

October 27, 2011 5:01 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a prototype wireless sensor capable of detecting trace amounts of a key ingredient found in many explosives. The device, which employs carbon nanotubes and is printed on paper or paper-like material using standard inkjet technology, could be deployed in large numbers to alert authorities to the presence of explosives, such as improvised explosive devices.

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Mobile electrons multiplied in quantum dot films

October 17, 2011 6:22 am | News | Comments

Researchers of the Opto-electronic Materials section of Delft University of Technology and Toyota Europe have demonstrated that several mobile electrons can be produced by the absorption of a single light particle in films of coupled quantum dots. These multiple electrons can be harvested in solar cells with increased efficiency.

Kodak to license laser projection patents to Imax

October 17, 2011 4:54 am | by Bree Fowler, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

The financially troubled 131-year-old photography Eastman Kodak Co. has made a deal with Imax to license thousands of patents. The deal, which includes laser-projection technologies, is reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars.

X-ray camera makes A-grade particle detector

October 11, 2011 12:25 pm | News | Comments

A group of nuclear physicists and molecular scientists from the Université Paris Sud and Hamamatsu Photonics have demonstrated a new type of detector that can, for the first time, perform equally well at detecting spatial location and energy of target molecules.

Steve Jobs told us what we needed before we knew

October 6, 2011 9:23 am | by Jordan Robertson, AP Technology Writer | News | Comments

From the moment he saw Steve Wozniak’s homebuilt computer a pattern was set for Steve Jobs’ career. He moved technology from garages to pockets, took entertainment from discs to bytes and turned gadgets into extensions of the people who use them.

Low-cost electronic tablet proves worth in Indian classroom

October 4, 2011 4:21 am | News | Comments

The U.S.- and Singapore-based creators of the low-cost I-slate electronic tablet are preparing for full-scale production now that a yearlong series of tests has shown that the device is an effective learning tool for Indian children.

Physicists play ping-pong with electrons

September 22, 2011 7:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory have moved an individual electron along a wire, batting it back and forth over 60 times, rather like the ball in a game of ping-pong. The technique helps retain coherence, and could be beneficial in the development of quantum computing.

3M, IBM to develop new types of adhesive to create 3D semiconductors

September 8, 2011 9:24 am | News | Comments

3M and IBM announced that the two companies plan to jointly develop the first adhesives that can be used to package semiconductors into densely stacked silicon "towers." The companies are aiming to create a new class of materials, which will make it possible to build, for the first time, commercial microprocessors composed of layers of up to 100 separate chips.

Automation in the air dulls pilot skill

August 31, 2011 5:26 am | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press | News | Comments

Pilots' "automation addiction" has eroded their flying skills to the point that they sometimes don't know how to recover from stalls and other mid-flight problems, say pilots and safety officials. The weakened skills have contributed to hundreds of deaths in airline crashes in the last five years.

Flexible electronics hold promise

August 29, 2011 6:44 am | News | Comments

Plastic-based flexible electronics, produced in large volume using roll-to-roll processing, inkjet printing or spray deposition, is the "electronics everywhere" trend of the future, says Oana Jurchescu, assistant professor of physics at Wake Forest University. And the key to success in this market will be the low-cost production of large molecular structures with excellent electronic performance.

Photon loops may be key to optical photonics

August 22, 2011 12:25 pm | News | Comments

Fiber optic technology is well-established for long-distance data transmission, but efforts to use photons in microcircuits have been hampered the tendency for materials defects to deflect the signal. A new type of circuit component now allows photons to find their around these defects.

Reports: Hewlett-Packard to spin off PC business

August 18, 2011 11:07 am | News | Comments

Hewlett-Packard plans to spin off its personal computer division into a separate business, according to unnamed sources in major news outlets. It marks a reversal from HP's previous stance, in March, when it denied this rumor.

Reliability issues uncovered for carbon nanotubes in future electronics

August 17, 2011 4:57 am | by Laura Ost | News | Comments

Carbon nanotubes offer big promise in a small package. For instance, these tiny cylinders of carbon molecules theoretically can carry 1,000 times more electric current than a metal conductor of the same size. It's easy to imagine carbon nanotubes replacing copper wiring in future nanoscale electronics. But—not so fast.

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