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Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution monitors

February 20, 2015 8:48 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As urban residents know, air quality is a big deal. When local pollution levels go up, the associated health risks also increase, especially for children and seniors. But air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst.

Tool helps boost wireless channel frequencies, capacity

February 20, 2015 8:16 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, which is great for communications but a growing burden on wireless channels. Forecasted huge increases in mobile data traffic call for exponentially more channel capacity. Boosting bandwidth and capacity could speed downloads, improve service quality and enable new applications like the Internet of Things connecting a multitude of devices.

Satellite images reveal ocean acidification from space

February 17, 2015 8:09 am | by Jo Bowler, Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

Pioneering techniques that use satellites to monitor ocean acidification are set to revolutionize the way that marine biologists and climate scientists study the ocean. This new approach, published in Environmental Science and Technology, offers remote monitoring of large swathes of inaccessible ocean from satellites that orbit the Earth some 700 km above our heads.

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Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul

February 13, 2015 10:43 am | by Melissa Osgood, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Circling hundreds of miles above Earth, weather satellites are working round-the-clock to provide rainfall data that are key to a complex system of global flood prediction. A new Cornell Univ. study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul.

Smartphone apps just as accurate as wearable devices for tracking physical activity

February 11, 2015 12:37 pm | by Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Although wearable devices have received significant attention for their ability to track an individual’s physical activity, most smartphone applications are just as accurate.              

Rediscovering spontaneous light emission

February 4, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have developed a nano-sized optical antenna that can greatly enhance the spontaneous emission of light from atoms, molecules and semiconductor quantum dots. This advance opens the door to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that can replace lasers for short-range optical communications, including optical interconnects for microchips, plus a host of other potential applications.

Nanoscale mirrored cavities amplify, connect quantum memories

January 28, 2015 8:11 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

The idea of computing systems based on controlling atomic spins just got a boost from new research performed at MIT and Brookhaven National Laboratory. By constructing tiny "mirrors" to trap light around impurity atoms in diamond crystals, the team dramatically increased the efficiency with which photons transmit information about those atoms' electronic spin states, which can be used to store quantum information.

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

January 25, 2015 12:18 pm | by Phuong Le, Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales and other creatures that live in the water. The Navy wants to deploy up to 720 sonobuoys at least 12 nautical miles off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and Northern California.

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Scientists set quantum speed limit

January 23, 2015 8:01 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

Scientists have proved a fundamental relationship between energy and time that sets a “quantum speed limit” on processes ranging from quantum computing and tunneling to optical switching. The energy-time uncertainty relationship is the flip side of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which sets limits on how precisely you can measure position and speed, and has been the bedrock of quantum mechanics for nearly 100 years.

Single-photon emission enhancement

January 14, 2015 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new way to enhance the emission of single photons by using "hyperbolic metamaterials," a step toward creating devices in work aimed at developing quantum computers and communications technologies. Optical metamaterials harness clouds of electrons called surface plasmons to manipulate and control light.

Toward quantum chips

January 9, 2015 8:10 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A team of researchers has built an array of light detectors sensitive enough to register the arrival of individual light particles, or photons, and mounted them on a silicon optical chip. Such arrays are crucial components of devices that use photons to perform quantum computations.

Quantum hard drive breakthrough

January 8, 2015 9:50 am | by Phil Dooley, The Australian National Univ. | News | Comments

Physicists developing a prototype quantum hard drive have improved storage time by a factor of more than 100. The team’s record storage time of six hours is a major step towards a secure worldwide data encryption network based on quantum information, which could be used for banking transactions and personal emails.

Steering a quantum path to improved Internet security

January 7, 2015 7:33 am | by Michael Jacobson, Griffith Univ. | News | Comments

Research conducted at Griffith Univ. may lead to greatly improved security of information transfer over the Internet. In a paper published in Nature Communications, physicists from Griffith's Centre for Quantum Dynamics demonstrate the potential for "quantum steering" to be used to enhance data security over long distances, discourage hackers and eavesdroppers and resolve issues of trust with communication devices.

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Hackers could make smart homes stupid

January 6, 2015 4:40 pm | by Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

If a hacker got to every smart home in a neighborhood, utility bills would shoot up and brownouts, if not blackouts, would be imminent. It’s a cybersecurity nightmare. And it’s exactly what one Michigan Technological Univ.'s Shiyan Hu is working to prevent. His research focuses on hardware and system security for smart devices, ones with chips embedded that respond to a central controller powered by Wi-Fi.

A look at North Korea's limited internet capabilities

December 23, 2014 11:07 am | by Tong-Hyun Kim and Youkyung Lee - Associated Press | News | Comments

An hours-long Internet outage Tuesday in one of the world's least-wired countries was probably more inconvenient to foreigners than to North Korean residents, most of whom have never gone online. Even for wired Koreans south of the heavily armed border separating the rivals, the temporary outage made little difference - southerners are banned by law from accessing North Korean websites.

The Next Big Things

December 15, 2014 3:38 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

The Internet is a massive place, linking billions of devices which share data that should exceed the zettabyte mark by 2016. Even as data transfer grows, the number of devices connected to the Internet will soon experience a geometric rise as well.

Fraud-proof credit cards possible with quantum physics

December 15, 2014 3:11 pm | by Lyndsay Meyer, The Optical Society | News | Comments

Credit card fraud and identify theft are serious problems for consumers and industries. Though corporations and individuals work to improve safeguards, it has become increasingly difficult to protect financial data and personal information from criminal activity. Fortunately, new insights into quantum physics may soon offer a solution.

App triggers horrible traffic for locals

December 15, 2014 10:17 am | by Associated Press, John Rogers | News | Comments

When the people whose houses hug the narrow warren of streets paralleling the busiest urban freeway in America began to see bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling by their homes a year or so ago, they were baffled. When word spread that the explosively popular new smartphone app Waze was sending many of those cars through their neighborhood in a quest to shave five minutes off a daily rush-hour commute, they were angry and ready to fight back.

Control on shape of light particles opens the way to quantum Internet

December 15, 2014 8:53 am | by Eindhoven Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

In the same way as we now connect computers in networks through optical signals, it could also be possible to connect future quantum computers in a quantum Internet. The optical signals would then consist of individual light particles or photons. One prerequisite for a working quantum Internet is control of the shape of these photons.

New theory could yield more reliable communication protocols

December 12, 2014 7:54 am | News | Comments

Researchers have begun to describe theoretical limits on the degree of imprecision that communicating computers can tolerate, with very real implications for the design of communication protocols.                                   

The gold standard

December 9, 2014 5:37 pm | News | Comments

Precious elements such as platinum work well as catalysts in chemical reactions, but require large amounts of metal and can be expensive. However, computational modeling below the nanoscale level may allow researchers to design more efficient and affordable catalysts from gold.

Study makes case for RFID forensic evidence management

December 5, 2014 10:10 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Radio frequency identification (RFID) tags have become increasingly popular for tracking everything from automobiles being manufactured on an assembly line to zoo animals in transit to their new homes. Now, thanks to a new NIST report, the next beneficiaries of RFID technology may soon be law enforcement agencies responsible for the management of forensic evidence.

Smaller lidars could allow UAVs to conduct underwater scans

December 4, 2014 8:06 am | by Rick Robinson, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Bathymetric lidars are used today primarily to map coastal waters. At nearly 600 lbs, the systems are large and heavy, and they require costly, piloted aircraft to carry them. A team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute has designed a new approach that could lead to bathymetric lidars that are much smaller and more efficient than the current full-size systems.

Brain’s reaction to virtual reality

November 25, 2014 7:42 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Los Angeles neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.

Terahertz device could strengthen security

November 24, 2014 11:12 am | by Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures are making us any safer. Now a new type of security detection that uses terahertz radiation is looking to prove its promise.

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