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The Lead

Smartphones could tell consumers what's in food

February 26, 2015 9:09 am | by Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the ever-complicated debate over labeling of genetically modified foods, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he has an idea: use your smartphone. Vilsack told members of Congress on Wednesday that consumers could just use their phones to scan special bar codes or other symbols on food packages in the grocery store. All sorts of information could pop up, such as whether the food's ingredients include genetically modified organisms.

Fever alarm armband

February 23, 2015 11:28 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a "fever alarm armband," a flexible, self-powered...

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...

Fibers made by transforming materials

February 20, 2015 8:26 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Scientists have known how to draw thin fibers from bulk materials for decades. But a new...

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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.

The future of electronics could lie in material from the past

February 17, 2015 8:31 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The future of electronics could lie in a material from its past, as researchers from The Ohio State Univ. work to turn germanium, the material of 1940s transistors, into a potential replacement for silicon. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, Asst. Prof. of Chemistry Joshua Goldberger reported progress in developing a form of germanium called germanane.

Giving Design Power to Everyone

February 13, 2015 12:01 pm | by Tim Studt, Editor-in-Chief | Articles | Comments

Multiphysics software has become the simulation tool for designing and optimizing new products. This software can quickly provide designers with multiple options for critical product designs across a range of environmental, physical and chemical operating conditions. Recently introduced multiphysics software enhancements also allow simplified use of these simulation tools across a broader range of users.

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Lab-in-a-Box Can Aid Doctor's Bedside Manner

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by UC San Diego | News | Comments

Researchers invented the Lab-in-a-Box— a box that contains assorted sensors and software designed to monitor a doctor’s office, particularly during consultations with patients. The goal is to analyze the physician’s behavior and better understand the dynamics of the interactions of the doctor with the electronic medical records and the patients in front of them.

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.              

Electronics you can wrap around your finger

February 10, 2015 11:51 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Electronic devices have shrunk rapidly in the past decades, but most remain as stiff as the same sort of devices were in the 1950s: a drawback if you want to wrap your phone around your wrist when you go for a jog or fold your computer to fit in a pocket. Researchers from South Korea have taken a new step toward more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful electric and magnetic properties even when highly curved.

Technique devised for mapping temperature in tiny electronic devices

February 10, 2015 9:06 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Overheating is a major problem for the microprocessors that run our smartphones and computers. But a team of scientists have made a breakthrough that should enable engineers to design microprocessors that minimize that problem: They have developed a thermal imaging technique that can “see” how the temperature changes from point to point inside the smallest electronic circuits.

Nanoscale solution to big problem of overheating in microelectronic devices

February 6, 2015 10:01 am | by Megan Hazle, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Anyone who has ever toasted the top of their legs with their laptop or broiled their ear on a cell phone knows that microelectronic devices can give off a lot of heat. These devices contain a multitude of transistors, and although each one produces very little heat individually, their combined thermal output is significant and can damage the device.

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Programming safety into self-driving cars

February 4, 2015 11:21 am | by Aaron Dubrow, NSF | News | Comments

For decades, researchers in artificial intelligence, or AI, worked on specialized problems, developing theoretical concepts and workable algorithms for various aspects of the field. Computer vision, planning and reasoning experts all struggled independently in areas that many thought would be easy to solve, but which proved incredibly difficult.

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.

Using a single molecule to create a new magnetic field sensor

January 30, 2015 9:16 am | by Univ. of Liverpool | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Liverpool and Univ. College London have shown a new way to use a single molecule as a magnetic field sensor. In a study, published in Nature Nanotechnology, the team shows how magnetism can manipulate the way electricity flows through a single molecule, a key step that could enable the development of magnetic field sensors for hard drives that are a tiny fraction of their present size.

Eyeglasses that turn into sunglasses

January 29, 2015 3:52 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Imagine eyeglasses that can go quickly from clear to shaded and back again when you want them to, rather than passively in response to changes in light. Scientists report a major step toward that goal, which could benefit pilots, security guards and others who need such control, in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

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.

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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.

Smart keyboard cleans, powers itself

January 21, 2015 9:44 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

In a novel twist in cybersecurity, scientists have developed a self-cleaning, self-powered smart keyboard that can identify computer users by the way they type. The device, reported in ACS Nano, could help prevent unauthorized users from gaining direct access to computers.

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.

Scientists discover better metal contact that improved 2-D transistor performance

January 16, 2015 1:23 pm | by Curt Richter, NIST | News | Comments

2-D materials, such as molybdenum-disulfide, are attracting much attention for future electronic and photonic applications ranging from high-performance computing to flexible and pervasive sensors and optoelectronics. But in order for their promise to be realized, scientists need to understand how the performance of devices made with 2-D materials is affected by different kinds of metal electrical contacts.

Software that knows the risks

January 16, 2015 8:37 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Imagine that you could tell your phone that you want to drive from your house in Boston to a hotel in upstate New York, that you want to stop for lunch at an Applebee’s at about 12:30, and that you don’t want the trip to take more than four hours. Then imagine that your phone tells you that you have only a 66% chance of meeting those criteria.

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.

Carbon nanotube finding could lead to flexible electronics with longer battery life

January 14, 2015 4:04 pm | by Adam Malecek, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison materials engineers have made a significant leap toward creating higher-performance electronics with improved battery life and the ability to flex and stretch. The team has reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors ever demonstrated. In addition to paving the way for improved consumer electronics, this technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications.

Laser-induced graphene “super” for electronics

January 14, 2015 10:34 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists advanced their recent development of laser-induced graphene by producing and testing stacked, 3-D supercapacitors, energy storage devices that are important for portable, flexible electronics. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour discovered last year that firing a laser at an inexpensive polymer burned off other elements and left a film of porous graphene.

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.

Smartwatches get face lift at CES

January 9, 2015 1:22 pm | by Anick Jesdanun, Associated Press | News | Comments

Smartwatches don't have to look ugly to be functional. Clothing and accessories designers are collaborating with engineers to produce computerized wristwatches that people will want to wear all day and night. With Apple Inc. preparing to release a watch line that includes an 18-karat gold edition, rivals know they need to think beyond devices that look like miniature computers.

Countering a new class of coffee shop hackers

January 9, 2015 10:52 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

If you’re sitting in a coffee shop, tapping away on your laptop, feeling safe from hackers because you didn’t connect to the shop’s Wi-Fi, think again. The bad guys may be able to see what you’re doing just by analyzing the low-power electronic signals your laptop emits even when it’s not connected to the Internet. And smartphones may be even more vulnerable to such spying.

How the “Beast Quake” is helping scientists track real earthquakes

January 9, 2015 10:31 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

It’s not just the football players who have spent a year training. Univ. of Washington seismologists will again be monitoring the ground-shaking cheers of Seahawks fans, this year with a bigger team, better technology and faster response times. Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will install instruments this Thursday to provide real-time monitoring of the stadium’s movement during the 2015 NFL playoffs.

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