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The Lead

Copper shines as flexible conductor

August 26, 2014 4:20 pm | News | Comments

Sensors made with copper could be cheap, light, flexible and highly conductive. Making such concepts affordable enough for general use remains a challenge but a new way of working with copper nanowires and a PVA “nano glue” could be a game-changer. Engineers in Australia have found a way of making flexible copper conductors cost-effective enough for commercial applications.

Symphony of nanoplasmonic and optical resonators leads to laser-like light emission

August 26, 2014 11:20 am | by Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office | News | Comments

By combining plasmonics and optical microresonators, researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at...

C2D2 fighting corrosion

August 26, 2014 8:48 am | by Anna Maltsev, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Bridges become an infrastructure problem as they...

Razor-sharp TV pictures

August 25, 2014 1:24 pm | News | Comments

The future of movie, sports and concert...

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Laser device may end pin pricks for diabetics

August 22, 2014 8:07 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Princeton Univ. researchers have developed a way to use a laser to measure people's blood sugar, and, with more work to shrink the laser system to a portable size, the technique could allow diabetics to check their condition without pricking themselves to draw blood.

Engineers take step toward photonic circuits

August 20, 2014 8:35 am | by Richard Cairney, Univ. of Alberta | News | Comments

The invention of fiber optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we’d only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the Univ. of Alberta are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips.

Laser “lightning rods” channel electricity through thin air

August 19, 2014 8:49 am | News | Comments

By zapping the air with a pair of powerful laser bursts, researchers at the Univ. of Arizona have created highly focused pathways that can channel electricity through the atmosphere. The new technique can potentially direct an electrical discharge up to 10 m away or more, shattering previous distance records for transmitting electricity through air. It also raises the intriguing possibility of one day channeling lightning with laser power.

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Molecular engineers record an electron’s quantum behavior

August 15, 2014 12:09 pm | by Jane Marie Andrew, Univ. of Chicago | News | Comments

A Univ. of Chicago-led team of researchers has developed a technique to record the quantum mechanical behavior of an individual electron contained within a nanoscale defect in diamond. Their technique uses ultrafast pulses of laser light, both to control the defect’s entire quantum state and observe how that single electron state changes over time.

Can our computers continue to get smaller and more powerful?

August 14, 2014 9:09 am | News | Comments

Chip designers are facing both engineering and fundamental limits that have become barriers to the continued improvement of computer performance. Have we reached the limits to computation? In a review article in Nature, Igor Markov of the Univ. of Michigan reviews limiting factors in the development of computing systems to help determine what is achievable, identifying "loose" limits and viable opportunities for advancements.

Tattoo biobatteries produce power from sweat

August 13, 2014 12:45 pm | Videos | Comments

In the future, working up a sweat by exercising may not only be good for your health, but it could also power your small electronic devices. Researchers report that they have designed a sensor in the form of a temporary tattoo that can both monitor a person’s progress during exercise and produce power from their perspiration.

New research to develop next-generation “race track memory” technology

August 13, 2014 9:02 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the discovery of “race track memory” by IBM researchers, scientists at the Univ. of California, Davis, with the support of the Semiconductor Research Corp., are investigating complex oxides that could be used to manipulate magnetic domain walls within the wires of semiconductor memory devices at nanoscale dimensions. This research may lead to devices that displace existing magnetic hard disk drive and solid state RAM solutions.

Scientists make cheap, fast self-assembling robots

August 7, 2014 3:51 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Borrowing from the ancient Japanese art of origami, children's toys and even a touch of the "Transformers" movies, scientists and engineers at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created self-assembling, paper robots. These complex machines transform themselves from little more than a sheet of paper and plastic into walking automatons.

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Artificial retina: Physicists develop an interface to the optical nerve

August 7, 2014 9:49 am | News | Comments

Graphene has excellent biocompatibility thanks to its great flexibility and chemical durability, and its conducting properties suggest uses for prosthetic devices in humans. Physicists are now developing key components of an artificial retina made of graphene. These retina implants may one day serve as optical prostheses for blind people whose optical nerves are still intact.

The Preferred Method for Electronic Test

August 6, 2014 9:40 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Oscilloscope technology is developing at a fast pace with more features packed into smaller and less expensive packages, providing engineers with more choices in the expanding marketplace. Recent market analysis from TechNavio notes the global oscilloscope market will grow at a 20% CAGR through 2016.

Thin diamond films provide new material for micro-machines

August 5, 2014 6:12 pm | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Most MEMS are made primarily of silicon for reasons of convenience, but they wear out quickly due to friction and they are not biocompatible. Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory and a handful of other institutions around the world have directed their focus on ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), which are smooth and wear-resistant diamond thin films. Recent work opens the door to using diamond for fabricating advanced MEMS devices.

Researchers close in on pure lithium anode

July 31, 2014 4:15 pm | by Andrew Myers, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

In a recent paper, a team at Stanford Univ. which includes materials science expert Yi Cui and 2011 R&D Magazine Scientist of the Year Steven Chu report that they have taken a big step toward accomplishing what battery designers have been trying to do for decades: design a pure lithium anode.

Charging electric cars efficiently…and inductively

July 31, 2014 10:25 am | News | Comments

We already charge our toothbrushes and cellphones using contactless technology. Researchers in Germany have developed a particularly efficient and cost-effective inductive method that could allow electric cars to soon follow suit. The new design places the charging coils close to the car’s undercarriage without actually touching it. The charging station is also robust enough to be driven over.

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Scientists develop new way to separate birdsong sources

July 31, 2014 10:08 am | News | Comments

A team of U.S. and Chinese scientists have published a new study that could greatly improve current methods of localizing birdsong data. Their findings, which ascertain the validity of using statistical algorithms to detect multiple-source signals in real time and in three-dimensional space, are of especial significance to modern warfare.

A smart wristband for nocturnal cyclists

July 30, 2014 12:08 pm | News | Comments

A team of engineers in Switzerland have invented a wristband that flashes when the rider reaches out to indicate a turn. Designed to add safety for cyclists in urban areas, the relatively simple device consists of an accelerometer and a magnetometer that can detect the position of the user's arm. When the rider reaches out laterally, the accelerometer and magnetometer provide data to a microcontroller, which directs the LED to engage.

Vision-correcting display makes reading glasses so yesterday

July 30, 2014 9:00 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

What if computer screens had glasses instead of the people staring at the monitors? That concept is not too far afield from technology being developed by UC Berkeley computer and vision scientists. They are developing computer algorithms to compensate for an individual’s visual impairment, and creating vision-correcting displays that enable users to see text and images clearly without wearing eyeglasses or contact lenses.

New gadget helps the vision impaired to read graphs

July 29, 2014 10:47 am | News | Comments

An affordable digital reading system invented by researchers in Australia now allows people who are blind to read more than just words. The device works by using pattern recognition technology and other methods on any document to identify images, graphs, maths or text. From here it is then converted to audio format with navigation markup.

DARPA collaboration launches breakthrough elastic cloud-to-cloud networking

July 29, 2014 9:06 am | News | Comments

In 2006, DARPA launched a long-term project called CORONET, which sought to develop a cloud-based technology that could enable affordable, fast bandwidth and ensure the survival of cloud networks in the event of system-wide failures. After years of work, scientists from AT&T, IBM and Applied Communication Sciences have announced a proof-of-concept technology that reduces setup times for cloud-to-cloud connectivity from days to seconds.

A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

July 28, 2014 11:19 am | by Olivia Meyer-Streng, Max Planck Institute | News | Comments

With the help of ultracold quantum gas, physicists have achieved a 20-fold amplification of single-photon signals, a step that could aid all-optical data processing efforts. The breakthrough was made with the invention of a new type of optical transistor build from a cloud of rubidium atoms, held just above absolute zero, that is transparent to certain wavelengths of light.

Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

July 28, 2014 11:12 am | News | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. recently published work that describes how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.  These waveguide loops, called “racetrack resonators” because of their shape, could help form a device architecture that would make graphene biochemical sensors a reality.

The birth of topological spintronics

July 24, 2014 10:31 am | News | Comments

Research led by Penn State Univ. and Cornell Univ. physicists is studying "spintorque" in devices that combine a standard magnetic material with a new material known as a topological insulator. The new insulator, which is made of bismuth selenide and operates at room temperature, overcomes one of the key challenges to developing a spintronics technology based on spin-orbit coupling.

First direct-diode laser bright enough to cut, weld metal

July 23, 2014 9:43 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

MIT Lincoln Laboratory spinout TeraDiode is commercializing a multi-kilowatt diode laser system that’s bright enough to cut and weld through a half-inch of steel, and at greater efficiencies than today’s industrial lasers. The new system is based on a wavelength beam-combining laser diode design that won an R&D 100 Award in 2012. It combines multiple beams into a single output ray, allowing for a power boost without efficiency loss.

Joint Singapore-U.S. program to increase IC circuit designers globally

July 22, 2014 1:37 pm | News | Comments

North Carolina-based Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and Singapore’s Silicon Cloud International (SCI) are launching a new program aimed at globally advancing integrated circuit (IC) design education and research. The program will focus on increasing the quantity of IC designers in university systems worldwide, and enhancing expertise in secure cloud computing architecture.

DNA used as a lightswitch

July 21, 2014 9:12 am | News | Comments

Using two thin, tiny gold nanorods 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, researchers from the U.S. and Germany have succeeded in creating an adjustable filter for so-called circularly polarized light. This switch for nano-optics is made from two tiny gold rods that reversibly change their optical properties when specific DNA molecules are added.

Study: Squid skin protein could improve biomedical technologies

July 16, 2014 2:24 pm | News | Comments

The common pencil squid may hold the key to a new generation of medical technologies that could communicate more directly with the human body. Materials science researchers in California have discovered that reflectin, a protein in the tentacled creature’s skin, can conduct positive electrical charges, or protons, making it a promising material for building biologically inspired devices.  

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