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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

First responders get mobile app for biodetection

January 9, 2015 9:07 am | by Susan Bauer, PNNL | News | Comments

First responders have downloaded more than 10,000 copies of a guide to commercially available, hand-portable biodetection technologies created to help them determine what they might be up against in the field. Since many first responders do not always have immediate access to a computer, a mobile version of the guide is now available for cell phones and tablets.

Quantum dots have made quantum leaps

January 9, 2015 8:57 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Outside his career as a noted nanochemist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) director Paul Alivisatos is an avid photographer. To show off his photos, his preferred device is a Kindle Fire HDX tablet because “the color display is a whole lot better than other tablets,” he says.

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 qubit candidate shines brighter

January 2, 2015 8:38 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

In the race to design the world's first universal quantum computer, a special kind of diamond defect called a nitrogen vacancy (NV) center is playing a big role. NV centers consist of a nitrogen atom and a vacant site that together replace two adjacent carbon atoms in diamond crystal. The defects can record or store quantum information and transmit it in the form of light.

Sensor could improve one of nano research’s most useful microscopes

December 17, 2014 3:31 pm | by Chad Boutin, NIST | News | Comments

Spotting molecule-sized features may become both easier and more accurate with a sensor developed at NIST. With their new design, NIST scientists may have found a way to sidestep some of the problems in calibrating atomic force microscopes (AFMs). The AFM is one of the main scientific workhorses of the nano age.

Switching to spintronics

December 17, 2014 3:18 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a development that holds promise for future magnetic memory and logic devices, researchers have successfully used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature. This demonstration, which runs counter to conventional scientific wisdom, points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

Researchers generate tunable photon-pair spectrum

December 16, 2014 9:14 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

A team of researchers have demonstrated a way to emit and control quantum light generated using a chip made from silicon—one of the most widely used materials for modern electronics. The researchers say practical applications of quantum optics will seem more feasible if devices for generating and controlling these photons can be manufactured using conventional materials from the semiconductor industry.

New findings could point the way to “valleytronics”

December 15, 2014 1:41 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New findings could provide a pathway toward a kind of 2-D microchip that would make use of a characteristic of electrons other than their electrical charge, as in conventional electronics. The new approach is dubbed “valleytronics,” because it makes use of properties of an electron that can be depicted as a pair of deep valleys on a graph of their traits.

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