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NASA mission will study what disrupts radio waves

April 26, 2013 8:46 am | by Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

A NASA-funded sounding rocket mission will launch from an atoll in the Pacific in the next few weeks to help scientists better understand and predict the electrical storms in Earth's upper atmosphere These storms can interfere with satellite communication and global positioning signals.

Tracking gunfire with a smartphone

April 26, 2013 8:41 am | by David Salisbury, Vanderbilt University | News | Comments

You are walking down the street with a friend. A shot is fired. The two of you duck behind the nearest cover and you pull out your smartphone. A map of the neighborhood pops up on its screen with a large red arrow pointing in the direction the shot came from. A team has made such a scenario possible by developing a system that transforms a smartphone into a shooter location system.

Piezoelectric taxels convert motion to electronic signals for tactile imaging

April 26, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Using bundles of vertical zinc oxide nanowires, researchers have fabricated arrays of piezotronic transistors capable of converting mechanical motion directly into electronic controlling signals. The arrays could help give robots a more adaptive sense of touch, provide better security in handwritten signatures, and offer new ways for humans to interact with electronic devices.

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The Right Touch for Control

April 24, 2013 12:19 pm | by Paul Livingstone | Articles | Comments

When not properly controlled or monitored, a scientific instrument is of little practical use.  Developers of scientific instrumentation are aware of this, and invest considerable time and money ensuring that users can properly achieve the results promised by the instrument’s design parameters.

Study unlocks secrets of device that is both battery and memory

April 24, 2013 10:18 am | News | Comments

Unlike the building blocks of conventional hard disk drives and memories, resistive memory cells (ReRAM) are active electrochemical components. In these cells, ions generate voltage on electrodes in a similar manner to a battery. Researchers in Europe have conducted an extensive study of ReRAMs, also described as memristors, and have found previously undiscovered sources of voltage in these devices.

Physicists find right (and left) solution for on-chip optics

April 23, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

A Harvard University-led team of researchers has created a new type of nanoscale device that converts an optical signal into waves that travel along a metal surface. Significantly, the device can recognize specific kinds of polarized light and accordingly send the signal in one direction or another.

Robot hands gain a gentler touch

April 18, 2013 12:10 pm | by Carolina Perry, Harvard University | News | Comments

What use is a hand without nerves, that can't tell what it's holding? What use is a hand that lifts a can of soda to your lips, but inadvertently tips or crushes it in the process? Researchers at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have developed a very inexpensive tactile sensor for robotic hands that is sensitive enough to turn a brute machine into a dextrous manipulator.

Ultrathin transistors spread like butter on toast

April 18, 2013 8:37 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Like spreading a thin layer of butter on toast, Cornell University scientists have helped develop a novel process of spreading extremely thin organic transistors, and used synchrotron X-rays to watch how the films crystallize. The coating procedure, called solution shearing, is like the buttering of a slice of toast.

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New keyboard developed for touchscreens

April 17, 2013 4:32 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Europe has created a new keyboard called KALQ that enables faster thumb-typing on touchscreen devices. They used computational optimization techniques in conjunction with a model of thumb movement to search among millions of potential layouts to find the best one. A study confirmed that users could type 34% faster than they could with a QWERTY layout.

Taiwan tech industry faces up to Samsung

April 17, 2013 4:54 am | by ANNIE HUANG - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Taiwanese companies have long viewed tech giant Samsung as a major threat and the battle has recently appeared to tilt in favor of the South Korean rival as Taiwan's smartphone, memory chip, and display panel makers suffered sagging exports.

Layered 2D nanocrystals promising new semiconductor

April 16, 2013 8:52 am | News | Comments

Researchers are developing a new type of semiconductor technology for future computers and electronics based on "2D nanocrystals" layered in sheets less than a nanometer thick that could replace today's transistors. The layered structure is made of a material called molybdenum disulfide, which belongs to a new class of semiconductors—metal di-chalogenides—emerging as potential candidates to replace today's CMOS technology.

Researchers develop tiny gradient chip

April 12, 2013 8:52 am | News | Comments

Nanotechnologists at the University of Twente have developed a tiny chip that makes it easy to create micrometer-scale gradients. Gradients are gradual transitions in specific properties, such as acidity. This newly developed system can be used to efficiently measure the reaction kinetics of various chemical or biological reactions.

Quantum tricks drive magnetic switching into the fast lane

April 4, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory, Iowa State University, and the University of Crete in Greece have found a new way to switch magnetism that is at least 1000 times faster than currently used in magnetic memory technologies. Magnetic switching is used to encode information in hard drives, magnetic random access memory, and other computing devices.

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Project will improve heat dissipation in 3D microelectronic systems

April 2, 2013 1:15 pm | News | Comments

Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology have won a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) contract to develop 3D chip-cooling technology able to handle heat loads as much as ten times greater than systems commonly used today. In addition to higher overall chip heat dissipation demands, the new approach will also have to handle on-chip hot-spots that dissipate considerably more power per unit area than the remainder of the device. Such cooling demands may be needed for future generations of high-performance integrated circuits embedded in a wide range of military equipment.

Acoustic time delay device could reduce size, cost of phased-array systems

April 1, 2013 7:51 am | News | Comments

Radar systems today depend increasingly on phased-array antennas, an advanced design in which extensive grids of solid-state components direct signal beams electronically. Phased-array technology is replacing traditional electromechanical radar antennas because stationary solid-state electronics are faster, more precise, and more reliable than moving mechanical parts. Yet phased-array antennas, which require bulky supporting electronics, can be as large as older systems. To address this issue, a research team from the Georgia Institute of Technology has developed a novel device.

High-efficiency neutron imaging detector features new oblique design

March 31, 2013 6:53 pm | News | Comments

To increase the neutron detection efficiency of bulk-micromegas (MICRO-MEsh GAseous Structure) neutron detectors, researchers from China and the University of Tennessee-Knoxville have proposed three new types of thin-film converters: micro-channel, parallel micro-pillar, and oblique micro-pillar 2D array. When validated using Monte Carlo simulations, the latter design showed a threefold increase in neutron detection efficiencies.

Scientists in Korea develop low-power 60 GHz RF chip for mobile devices

March 31, 2013 6:44 pm | News | Comments

As a possible method for accelerating transmission of large data, researchers are studying the adoption of gigabits per second (Gbps) wireless communications operating over the 60 GHz radio frequency (RF) band. But mobile applications have not been developed yet because the 60 GHz RF circuit consumes hundreds of milliwatts of DC power. A new chip developed at KAIST in Korea, however, consumes as little 67 mW of power thanks to newly developed components.

Sensory helmet could mean firefighters are not left in the dark

March 29, 2013 1:38 pm | News | Comments

A specially-adapted “tactile helmet”, developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield, could provide fire-fighters operating in challenging conditions with vital clues about their surroundings. The helmet is fitted with a number of ultrasound sensors that are used to detect the distances between the helmet and nearby walls or other obstacles. These signals are transmitted to vibration pads that are attached to the inside of the helmet, touching the wearer's forehead.

Backpack-sized mini-mapper captures intel in tight spots

March 27, 2013 7:44 am | News | Comments

Engineers have recently developed a portable mapping system—carried in a backpack—that can be used to automatically create annotated physical maps of locations where GPS is not available, such as in underground areas and on ships. The system improves upon algorithms once developed for robots—which are not practical for all environments—and has a built-in allowance for normal human movement, like walking.

Paint-on plastic electronics

March 25, 2013 7:51 am | News | Comments

Semiconducting polymers are an unruly bunch, but University of Michigan engineers have developed a new method for getting them in line that could pave the way for cheaper, greener, "paint-on" plastic electronics.

Tessera to restructure DigitalOptics business

March 21, 2013 10:57 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Tessera Technologies Inc. said Thursday that it is restructuring its DigitalOptics business, which makes camera parts for smartphones, to cut costs. Tessera, which also provides chip technology for small electronic devices, said it expects the moves to reduce DigitalOptics' yearly costs by $78 million, or 45%, compared with 2012.

HP develops glasses-free 3D for mobile devices

March 20, 2013 7:55 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Researchers at Hewlett-Packard Co. have developed a way to put glasses-free 3D video on mobile devices with a viewing angle so wide that viewers can see an object more fully just by tilting the screen. Glasses-free 3D is not unique. Nintendo Co. Ltd.'s 3DS handheld allows video game play in 3D without glasses, but it requires players to look straight into the screen with their noses centered.

Wireless sensor diagnoses “stressed” machines remotely

March 20, 2013 10:18 am | News | Comments

Singapore company Hoestar PD Technology is working with that country’s leading research organization, A*STAR, to deploy wireless piezoelectric sensors that will track vibrations and stresses that affect the health of machinery such as motors, pumps and generators. The size of a coin, the sensors increase productivity by saving time, reducing manual checking, and offering precision at detecting defects.

New flash memory combines graphene and molybdenite

March 20, 2013 9:09 am | News | Comments

Two years ago, a research team in Switzerland revealed the promising electronic properties of molybdenite, a mineral that is abundant in nature. Several months later, they demonstrated the possibility of building an efficient molybdenite chip. Today, they've combined two materials with advantageous electronic properties—graphene and molybdenite—into a promising flash memory prototype.

Wireless, implanted sensor broadens range of brain research

March 19, 2013 3:31 pm | News | Comments

A compact, self-contained sensor recorded and transmitted brain activity data wirelessly for more than a year in early stage animal tests, according to a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health. In addition to allowing for more natural studies of brain activity in moving subjects, this implantable device represents a potential major step toward cord-free control of advanced prosthetics that move with the power of thought

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