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New 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiency

October 23, 2014 1:11 pm | News | Comments

At first glance, the static, greyscale display created by a group of researchers in Hong Kong might not catch the eye of a thoughtful consumer in a market saturated with flashy, colorful electronics. But a closer look at the specs could change that: the ultra-thin LCD screen is capable of holding 3-D images without a power source, making it a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.

Precise and programmable biological circuits

October 23, 2014 9:37 am | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Bio-engineers are working on the development of biological computers: biological material that...

What a “Star Wars” laser bullet really looks like

October 22, 2014 2:50 pm | News | Comments

Action-packed science-fiction movies often feature colorful laser bolts. But what would a real...

Researchers record sight neurons in jumping spider brain

October 22, 2014 2:43 pm | Videos | Comments

Though neurobiologists have tried for half a century to better understand the brains of jumping...

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Special microscope captures defects in nanotubes

October 22, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Oregon chemists have devised a way to see the internal structures of electronic waves trapped in carbon nanotubes by external electrostatic charges. Their atomic scale observations provide a detailed view of traps that disrupt energy flow, possibly pointing toward improved charge-carrying devices.

Ultra-thin carbon electrodes are powerful tool for studying brain disorders

October 21, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have used graphene to fabricate a new type of microelectrode that solves a major problem for investigators looking to understand the intricate circuitry of the brain. The see-through, one-atom-thick electrodes can obtain both high-resolution optical images and electrophysiological data for the first time.

Restoring order: A spin Hall effect without the fuss

October 21, 2014 9:09 am | by S. Kelley, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Joint Quantum Institute scientists have been developing a model for what happens when ultracold atomic spins are trapped in an optical lattice structure with a “double-valley” feature, where the repeating unit resembles the letter “W”. This new theory result opens up a novel path for generating what’s known as the spin Hall effect, an important example of spin-transport.

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World record in data transmission with smart circuits

October 21, 2014 7:39 am | News | Comments

Fewer cords, smaller antennas and quicker video transmission. This may be the result of a new type of microwave circuit that was designed at Chalmers Univ. of Technology. The research team behind the circuits currently holds an attention-grabbing record: 40 Gbps, about twice as fast as the previous record at 140 GHz. The results will be presented at a conference this week in San Diego.

Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

October 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are popular, but have limitations in energy density, lifetime and safety. One alternative is Mg-ion batteries. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ran a series of computer simulations that suggest that performance bottlenecks experienced with Mg-ion batteries to date may not be so much related to the electrolyte itself, but to what happens at the interface between the electrolyte and electrodes.

Computing with magnetic “tornadoes”

October 16, 2014 10:27 am | News | Comments

Magnetic materials store the vast majority of the 2.7 zettabytes of data that are currently held worldwide. In the interest of efficiency, scientists have begun to investigate whether magnetic materials can also be used to perform calculations. In a recent paper, researchers in the U.K. detail their plan to harness swirling “tornadoes” of magnetization in nanowires to perform logic functions. They plan to soon build prototypes.

A brighter design emerges for low-cost, “greener” LED light bulbs

October 15, 2014 2:52 pm | News | Comments

The phase-out of traditional incandescent bulbs in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as a growing interest in energy efficiency, has given LED lighting a sales boost. That trend could be short-lived as key materials known as rare earth elements become more expensive. Scientists at Rutgers Univ., however, have now designed new materials for making household LED bulbs without using these ingredients.

Researchers develop world’s thinnest electric generator

October 15, 2014 2:47 pm | News | Comments

Scientists report that they have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide. This finding has resulted in a unique electric generator and could point the way to mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.

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Revving up fluorescence for superfast LEDs

October 14, 2014 9:17 am | News | Comments

Duke Univ. researchers have made fluorescent molecules emit photons of light 1,000 times faster than normal, setting a speed record and making an important step toward realizing superfast light emitting diodes (LEDs) and quantum cryptography. This finding could help make LED technology, which earned a Nobel Prize this year, suitable for use as a light source in light-based telecommunications.

Ultra-fast charging batteries last 20 years, charge to 70% in 2 min

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

Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) in Singapore have developed a new type of lithium-ion battery in which the traditional graphite used for the anode has been replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide. The new design allows the battery to endure more than 10,000 cycles, vs. about 500 recharge cycles for typical rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.

Teams set new records for silicon quantum computing

October 13, 2014 8:55 am | Videos | Comments

Two research teams working in the same laboratories in Australia have found distinct solutions to a critical challenge that has held back the realization of super powerful quantum computers. The teams created two types of quantum bits, or "qubits", which are the building blocks for quantum computers, that each process quantum data with an accuracy above 99%. They represent parallel pathways for building a quantum computer in silicon.

New sensor uses radio waves to detect subtle changes in pressure

October 10, 2014 2:09 pm | Videos | Comments

Stanford Univ. engineers have invented a sensor that uses radio waves to detect subtle changes in pressure. Already used to monitor brain pressure in laboratory mice as prelude to possible use with human patients, this pressure-sensing technology relies on a specially designed rubber and could lead to touch-sensitive “skin” for prosthetic devices.

Light frequencies sniff out deadly materials from a distance

October 9, 2014 10:56 am | News | Comments

Spectroscopic chemical sensing has great promise, but current technologies lack sensitivity and broad spectral coverage. DARPA’s Spectral Combs from UV to THz (SCOUT) program aims to overcome these limitations. The goal is to develop chip-sized, optical frequency combs that accurately identify even tiny traces of dangerous biological and chemical substances several football fields away, DARPA is now soliciting proposals for a solution.

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Electrically conductive plastics promising for batteries, solar cells

October 9, 2014 10:46 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

An emerging class of electrically conductive plastics called "radical polymers” may bring low-cost, transparent solar cells, flexible and lightweight batteries, and ultrathin antistatic coatings for consumer electronics and aircraft. Researchers have established the solid-state electrical properties of one such polymer, called PTMA, which is about 10 times more electrically conductive than common semiconducting polymers.

NIST quantum probe enhances electric field measurements

October 9, 2014 8:37 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST and the Univ. of Michigan have demonstrated a technique based on the quantum properties of atoms that directly links measurements of electric field strength to the International System of Units. The new method could improve the sensitivity, precision and ease of tests and calibrations of antennas, sensors, and biomedical and nano-electronic systems and facilitate the design of novel devices.

Laser comb system maps 3-D surfaces remotely

October 8, 2014 9:37 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have demonstrated a laser-based imaging system that creates high-definition 3-D maps of surfaces from as far away as 10.5 m. The method, which combines a form of laser detection and ranging that is sensitive enough to detect weak reflected light with the ranging accuracy made possible by frequency combs, may be useful in diverse fields, including precision machining and assembly, as well as in forensics.

Two Japanese, one American win Nobel for LED lights

October 7, 2014 9:10 am | by Karl Ritter and Malin Rising, Associated Press | Videos | Comments

Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano of Japan and U.S. scientist Shuji Nakamura won the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics for the invention of blue light-emitting diodes, a breakthrough that spurred the development of light-emitting diode (LED) technology. Scientists had struggled for decades to produce the blue diodes that are a crucial component in producing white light from LEDs when the three laureates made their breakthroughs in the early 1990s.

Nanoparticles break the symmetry of light

October 6, 2014 12:59 pm | News | Comments

At the Vienna Univ. of Technology gold nanoparticles have been coupled to a glass fiber. The particles emit light into the fiber in such a way that it does not travel in both directions, as one would expect. Instead, the light can be directed either to the left or to the right. This became possible by employing the spin-orbit coupling of light, creating a new kind of optical switch that has the potential to revolutionize nanophotonics.

Through the combining glass

October 6, 2014 11:35 am | Videos | Comments

Trying on clothes when a shop is closed could become a reality thanks to new research that uses semi-transparent mirrors in interactive systems. The innovation, which builds on a mirror’s ability to map a reflection to one unique point behind the mirror, independently of the observer’s location, could change the way people interact and collaborate in public spaces, such as museums and shop windows.

Fast, cheap nanomanufacturing

October 6, 2014 9:19 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT | News | Comments

Arrays of tiny conical tips that eject ionized materials are being made at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The technology, which harnesses electrostatic forces, has a range of promising applications, such as spinning out nanofibers for use in “smart” textiles or propulsion systems for fist-sized “nanosatellites.” The latest prototype array that generates 10 times the ion current per emitter that previous arrays did.

NIST releases final version of Smart Grid Framework, update 3.0

October 3, 2014 11:51 am | News | Comments

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published its NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 3.0, a document that reflects advances in smart grid technologies and developments from NIST’s collaborative work with industry stakeholders. Revisions to its guidelines for smart grid cybersecurity are available as well.

Imaging system obtains 12 times more information than the human eye

October 3, 2014 11:41 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Spain and Italy have designed a multispectral imaging system capable of obtaining information from a total of 36 color channels, which is up to twelve times more color information than the human eye and conventional cameras, which have three color image sensors. This important scientific development will facilitate the easy capture of multispectral images in real time.

Batteries included: A solar cell that stores its own power

October 3, 2014 9:07 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The world’s first “solar battery”, invented by researchers at Ohio State Univ., is a battery and a solar cell combined into one hybrid device. Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

A new approach to on-chip quantum computing

October 2, 2014 1:17 pm | News | Comments

Commercial devices capable of encrypting information in unbreakable codes exist today, thanks to recent quantum optics advances, especially the generation of photon pairs. Now, an international team is introducing a new method to achieve a different type of photon pair source that fits into the tiny space of a computer chip. The team’s method generates “mixed up” photon pairs from devices that are less than one square millimeter in area.

All directions are not created equal for nanoscale heat sources

October 1, 2014 10:11 am | News | Comments

Thermal considerations are rapidly becoming one of the most serious design constraints in microelectronics, especially on submicron scale lengths. A study by researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has shown that standard thermal models will lead to the wrong answer in a 3-D heat-transfer problem if the dimensions of the heating element are on the order of one micron or smaller.

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