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The Lead

Innovation boosts Wi-Fi bandwidth ten-fold

April 21, 2015 8:39 am | by Rachel Robertson, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have invented a new technology that can increase the bandwidth of Wi-Fi systems by 10 times, using LED lights to transmit information. The technology could be integrated with existing Wi-Fi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops, and in homes where several people have multiple Wi-Fi devices.

Better sensors for medical imaging, contraband detection

April 7, 2015 7:33 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new, ultrasensitive magnetic-...

Optics, nanotechnology combined to create low-cost sensor for gases

April 6, 2015 8:18 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers have combined innovative optical technology with nanocomposite thin films to create a...

Camera chip provides superfine 3-D resolution

April 6, 2015 8:00 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Imagine you need to have an almost exact copy of an object. Now imagine that you can just pull...

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Plants enable highly sensitive temperature sensors

March 31, 2015 12:32 pm | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Scientists from ETH Zurich have developed a thermometer that is at least 100 times more sensitive than previous temperature sensors. It consists of a bio-synthetic hybrid material of tobacco cells and nanotubes. Humans have been inspired by nature since the beginning of time. We mimic nature to develop new technologies, with examples ranging from machinery to pharmaceuticals to new materials.

New way to control light

March 19, 2015 1:30 pm | by Univ. of Central Florida | News | Comments

A device resembling a plastic honeycomb, yet infinitely smaller than a bee’s stinger, can steer light beams around tighter curves than ever before possible, while keeping the integrity and intensity of the beam intact. The work introduces a more effective way to transmit data rapidly on electronic circuit boards by using light.

New optical materials break digital connectivity barriers

March 18, 2015 12:03 pm | by George Hunka, Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

From computers, tablets and smartphones to cars, homes and public transportation, our world is more digitally connected every day. The technology required to support the exchange of massive quantities of data is critical. That's why scientists and engineers are intent on developing faster computing units capable of supporting much larger amounts of data transfer and data processing.

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Black phosphorous: A new wonder material for improving optical communication

March 3, 2015 9:18 am | by Lacey Nygard, Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

Phosphorus, a highly reactive element commonly found in match heads, tracer bullets and fertilizers, can be turned into a stable crystalline form known as black phosphorus. In a new study, researchers from the Univ. of Minnesota used an ultra-thin black phosphorus film, only 20 layers of atoms, to demonstrate high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits.

Breakthrough in OLED technology

March 2, 2015 12:27 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold around other structures, for instance. Conventional LCD displays must be backlit by either fluorescent light bulbs or conventional LEDs whereas OLEDs don't require back lighting.

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

February 27, 2015 9:53 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Univ. of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of separating different frequencies in the terahertz spectrum, the next generation of communications bandwidth that could allow cellphone users and Internet surfers to download data a thousand times faster than today. Once the filter is designed, it can be fabricated using an off-the-shelf inkjet printer.

Using “fuzzy logic” to optimize hybrid solar/battery systems

February 26, 2015 11:11 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance? In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic.

Radio chip for the Internet of things

February 23, 2015 7:46 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the big theme was the “Internet of things”: the idea that everything in the human environment could be equipped with sensors and processors that can exchange data, helping with maintenance and the coordination of tasks. Realizing that vision, however, requires transmitters that are powerful enough to broadcast to devices dozens of yards away but energy-efficient enough to last for months.

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Smarter multicore chips

February 18, 2015 7:33 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Computer chips’ clocks have stopped getting faster. To keep delivering performance improvements, chipmakers are instead giving chips more processing units, or cores, which can execute computations in parallel. But the ways in which a chip carves up computations can make a big difference to performance.

Building a more versatile frequency comb

February 17, 2015 7:25 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Frequency combs are the rulers of light. By counting a wavelength's many oscillations, they measure distance and time with extraordinary precision and speed. Since the discovery of optical frequency combs in the 1990s, many applications in metrology, spectroscopy and frequency synthesis have emerged.

Silver-glass sandwich structure acts as inexpensive color filter

February 13, 2015 10:37 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

The engineering world just became even more colorful. Northwestern Univ. researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.

Using disorder to control light on a nanoscale

February 5, 2015 9:52 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A breakthrough by a team of researchers could lead to the more precise transfer of information in computer chips, as well as new types of optical materials for light emission and lasers. The researchers were able to control light at tiny lengths around 500 nm, smaller than the light’s own wavelength, by using random crystal lattice structures to counteract light diffraction.

One-atom-thin silicon transistors hold promise for super-fast computing

February 4, 2015 7:50 am | by Sandra Zaragoza, The Univ. of Texas at Austin | News | Comments

Researchers at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have created the first transistors made of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material. Their research holds the promise of building dramatically faster, smaller and more efficient computer chips. Made of a one-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms, silicene has outstanding electrical properties but has until now proved difficult to produce and work with.

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Technique doubles the distance of optical fiber communications

February 3, 2015 8:34 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

A new way to process fiber optic signals has been demonstrated by Univ. College London researchers, which could double the distance at which data travels error-free through transatlantic submarine cables. The new method has the potential to reduce the costs of long-distance optical fiber communications as signals wouldn’t need to be electronically boosted on their journey.

Entanglement on a chip

January 26, 2015 9:12 am | by Lyndsay Meyer, The Optical Society | News | Comments

Unlike Bilbo's magic ring, which entangles human hearts, engineers have created a new microring that entangles individual particles of light, an important first step in a whole host of new technologies. Entanglement is one of the most intriguing and promising phenomena in all of physics. Properly harnessed, entangled photons could revolutionize computing, communications and cyber security.

Improvements in transistors will make flexible plastic computers a reality

January 26, 2015 8:11 am | by National Institute for Materials Science | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan revealed that improvements should soon be expected in the manufacture of transistors that can be used, for example, to make flexible, paper-thin computer screens. The scientists reviewed the latest developments in research on photoactive organic field-effect transistors, devices that incorporate organic semiconductors, amplify weak electronic signals and either emit or receive light.

Infrared imaging technique operates at high temperatures

January 23, 2015 4:19 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

From aerial surveillance to cancer detection, mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) radiation has a wide range of applications. And as the uses for high-sensitivity, high-resolution imaging continue to expand, MWIR sources are becoming more attractive. Currently, commercial technologies for MWIR detection can only operate at cryogenic temperatures in order to reduce thermal and electrical noise.

Wearable sensor clears path to long-term EKG, EMG monitoring

January 20, 2015 10:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new, wearable sensor that uses silver nanowires to monitor electrophysiological signals, such as electrocardiography (EKG) or electromyography (EMG). The new sensor is as accurate as the “wet electrode” sensors used in hospitals, but can be used for long-term monitoring and is more accurate than existing sensors when a patient is moving.

3-D displays without 3-D glasses

January 15, 2015 10:06 am | by Vienna Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Public screenings have become an important part of major sports events. In the future, we will be able to enjoy them in 3-D, thanks to a new invention from Austrian scientists. A sophisticated laser system sends laser beams into different directions. Therefore, different pictures are visible from different angles. The angular resolution is so fine that the left eye is presented a different picture than the right one, creating a 3-D effect.

2-D metamaterial surface manipulates light

January 15, 2015 9:02 am | by Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

A single layer of metallic nanostructures has been designed, fabricated and tested by a team of Penn State Univ. electrical engineers that can provide exceptional capabilities for manipulating light. This engineered surface, which consists of a periodic array of strongly coupled nanorod resonators, could improve systems that perform optical characterization in scientific devices, sensing or satellite communications.

Zinc-oxide materials tapped for tiny energy harvesting devices

January 14, 2015 8:45 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Today, we're surrounded by a variety of electronic devices that are moving increasingly closer to us. Many types of smart devices are readily available and convenient to use. The goal now is to make wearable electronics that are flexible, sustainable and powered by ambient renewable energy. This last goal inspired a group of researchers to explore zinc oxide as an effective material choice.

Shedding light on why blue LEDs are so tricky to make

January 8, 2015 11:19 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

Scientists at Univ. College London, in collaboration with groups at the Univ. of Bath and the Daresbury Laboratory, have uncovered the mystery of why blue light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are so difficult to make, by revealing the complex properties of their main component—gallium nitride—using sophisticated computer simulations.

Choreography of an electron pair

December 18, 2014 2:47 pm | News | Comments

A German-Spanish team working with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg has now become the first to image the motion of the two electrons in a helium atom and even to control this electronic partner dance.   

Team combines logic, memory to build “high-rise” chip

December 15, 2014 7:49 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | News | Comments

For decades, the mantra of electronics has been smaller, faster, cheaper. Today, Stanford Univ. engineers add a fourth word: taller. A Stanford team revealed how to build high-rise chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today's circuit cards.

Big step toward using light instead of wires inside computers

December 5, 2014 10:36 am | by Chris Cesare, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. engineers have designed and built a prism-like device that can split a beam of light into different colors and bend the light at right angles, a development that could eventually lead to computers that use optics, rather than electricity, to carry data.

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