Researchers in Japan and Germany have recently demonstrated a device that can focus and steer terahertz beams electrically. Based on an array of metal cantilevers which can be micromechanically actuated by electrostatic forces, the device can create tunable gratings that may be crucial in future terahertz wavelength communication systems.
Advanced electronics are indispensable in modern warfare, but locating and tracking them all on the field of battle is almost impossible. To prevent valuable and strategic technology from falling into enemy hands, DARPA has announced the Vanishing Programmable Resources program, which has the aim of improving “transient” electronics, or electronics capable of dissolving into the environment around them.
Rice University scientists have taken an important step toward the creation of 2D electronics with a process to make patterns in atom-thick layers that combine a conductor and an insulator. The materials at play—graphene and hexagonal boron nitride—have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions.
A team of scientists have designed and fabricated ultrasmall devices for energy-efficient electronics. By finding out how molecules behave in these devices, a ten-fold increase in switching efficiency was obtained by changing just one carbon atom. These devices could provide new ways to combat overheating in mobile phones and laptops, and could also aid in electrical stimulation of tissue repair for wound healing.
NASA scientists and engineers are working now to lay the groundwork for the Aerosol-Cloud-Ecosystem (ACE) mission, which will change what we can learn about clouds and aerosols. To that end, the Polarimeter Definition Experiment (PODEX) in Southern California will soon commence, testing a new class of polarimeters that are especially suited for finding the type, shape, and size of particles in the upper atmosphere.
The world's love affair with gadgets—many of which contain hazardous materials—is generating millions of tons of electronic waste annually. Now, Purdue and Tuskegee universities are leading an international effort to replace conventional electronics with more sustainable technologies and train a workforce of specialists to make the transition possible.
Electronics devices are a mainstay of our daily lives. But the expectation that the next shopping season will inevitably offer an upgrade to more-powerful gadgets largely depends on size, and developers who employ top down manufacturing methods are running into expensive roadblocks as the domain shrinks to the nanoscale. To go further, some researchers looking at a bottom up method, coaxing individual molecules to self-arrange into patterns.
Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Microsystems Technology Laboratories presented a p-type transistor with the highest "carrier mobility" yet measured. By that standard, the device is twice as fast as previous experimental p-type transistors and almost four times as fast as the best commercial p-type transistors.
In the effort to pile more power atop silicon chips, engineers have developed the equivalent of miniature skyscrapers in 3D integrated circuits and encountered a new challenge: how to manage the heat created within the tiny devices. But a team of University of Texas at Arlington researchers is working first to minimize the heat generated and then to developing nanowindows that will allow the heat to dissipate before it damages the chip.
Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have built a small fleet of portable pollution sensors that allow users to monitor air quality in real time on their smartphones. The sensors could be particularly useful to people suffering from chronic conditions, such as asthma, who need to avoid exposure to pollutants.
Information and communications technology (ICT) continues to evolve into various form factors, platforms, and system configurations. Its expanding applications base includes increasingly high-performance and cloud-based computing systems, a massive infrastructure of mobile communications, global networks of sensing systems, military and defense networks, Internet-based control systems, and many more.
By using electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current, researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles have made major improvements to an ultrafast, high-capacity class of computer memory known as magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM. The team's improved memory, which they call MeRAM for magnetoelectric random access memory, has great potential to be used in future memory chips for almost all electronic applications.
Inductors are essential components of integrated circuits. The sprawling metal spirals store magnetic energy, acting as a buffer against changes in current and modulating frequency. However, because inductance depends on the number of coils, they take up a lot of space. Researchers have recently build a 3D rolled-up inductor with a footprint more than 100 times smaller without sacrificing performance.
Light isn’t always cooperative, and one it’s least favorite things to go around corners. In photonics chips, direction changes are crucial for manipulating light for the purpose of carrying information. Researchers recently have devised a solution—an irregularly-shaped waveguide— that tricks light into thinking it’s going in a straight line.
Using an electronic “leaf” that is able to detect when leaves receive moisture, a team of researchers working in Costa Rica’s cloud forests have discovered that tropical montane cloud forest can augment their water intake by drinking directly from the clouds. In dry but otherwise foggy areas, this ability to drink water through leaves is an essential survival strategy.
After more than a decade of research, chip engineers at IBM Research have built a scalable, fab-ready microchip that successfully integrates a complete optical package built from silicon. This silicon nanophotonics breakthrough allows the new chip, which is built on an existing high-performance 90-nm CMOS fabrication line, to exceed a transceiver data rate of 25 Gbps per channel.
A secret agent is racing against time. He knows a bomb is nearby. He rounds a corner, spots a pile of suspicious boxes in the alleyway, and pulls out his cell phone. As he scans it over the packages, their contents appear onscreen. In the nick of time, his handy smartphone application reveals an explosive device, and the agent saves the day. Sound far-fetched? In fact it is a real possibility, thanks to tiny inexpensive silicon microchips developed at the California Institute of Technology.
Silicon's crown is under threat: The semiconductor's days as the king of microchips for computers and smart devices could be numbered, thanks to the development of the smallest transistor ever to be built from a rival material, indium gallium arsenide. The compound transistor, built by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, performs well despite being just 22 nm in length.
For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with solar cell capabilities has been developed that has been shown to be scalable to many meters in length. The research opens the door to the possibility of weaving together solar cell silicon wires to create flexible, curved, or twisted solar fabrics.
A new type of transistor shaped like a Christmas tree has arrived just in time for the holidays, but the prototype won't be nestled under the tree along with the other gifts. Researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities created the transistor, which is made from a material that could replace silicon within a decade.
Electronic circuits are typically integrated in rigid silicon wafers, but flexibility opens up a wide range of applications. In a world where electronics are becoming more pervasive, flexibility is a highly desirable trait, but finding materials with the right mix of performance and manufacturing cost remains a challenge. Now a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania has shown that nanocrystals of the semiconductor cadmium selenide can be "printed" or "coated" on flexible plastics to form high-performance electronics.
Using a combination metamaterials and transformation optics, engineers at Penn State University have developed designs for miniaturized optical devices that can be used in chip-based optical integrated circuits, the equivalent of the integrated electronic circuits that make possible computers and cell phones. Controlling light on a microchip could, in the short term, improve optical communications and allow sensing of any substance that interacts with electromagnetic waves.
By fabricating graphene structures atop nanometer-scale "steps" etched into silicon carbide, researchers have, for the first time, created a substantial electronic bandgap in the material suitable for room-temperature electronics. Researchers have measured a bandgap of approximately 0.5 electron-volts in 1.4-nm bent sections of graphene nanoribbons.
A research team has used stretchable electronics to create a multipurpose medical catheter that can both monitor heart functions and perform corrections on heart tissue during surgery. The device marks the first time stretchable electronics have been applied to a surgical process known as cardiac ablation, a milestone that could lead to simpler surgeries for arrhythmia and other heart conditions.
Engineers in Texas have adopted the nanoscale fabrication technique of directed self-assembly to increase the surface storage density of hard disk drives. The method, which relies on block copolymers, is able to organize magnetic dots into patterns far finer than existing methods. And it does so without risking the integrity of the magnetic fields.