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Metamaterials and transformation optics control light on a microchip

November 26, 2012 9:40 am | News | Comments

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.

Researchers create electronic bandgap in graphene for electronics

November 19, 2012 7:48 am | News | Comments

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.

Catheter performs triple-duty with stretchable electronics

November 15, 2012 4:20 pm | News | Comments

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.

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Computer memory could increase fivefold with self-assembly

November 13, 2012 7:39 pm | News | Comments

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.   

Toyota tests cars that communicate with each other

November 12, 2012 4:45 pm | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Toyota Motor Corp. is testing car safety systems that allow vehicles to communicate with each other and with the roads they are on in a just completed facility in Japan. The size of three baseball stadiums, the Intelligent Transport System site hosts a fleet of cars that receive information from sensors and transmitters installed on the streets. The sensors help to minimize the risk of accidents in situations such as missing a red traffic light, cars advancing from blind spots, and pedestrians crossing the street.

Tooth “tattoo” sensor may help dentists assess patients' oral health

November 9, 2012 8:58 am | by David Levin, Tufts University | News | Comments

A sensor invented by Tufts University bioengineers, when attached temporarily to a tooth, could one day help dentists fine-tune treatments for patients with chronic periodontitis, for example, or even provide a window on a patient’s overall health. The thin foil-like sensor is built from gold, silk, and graphite, has a built-in antenna to receive power and signals, and is applied directly to a tooth.

Engineers build ultrasensitive photon hunter

November 8, 2012 9:50 am | News | Comments

When it comes to imaging, every single photon counts if there is barely any available light. This is the point where the latest technologies often reach their limits. Researchers have now developed a single photon avalanche photodiode that can read individual photons in just a few picoseconds. The speed allows the image sensor to capture high quality images with very low light levels.

Millimeter-wave oscillation possible in ferromagnetic nanocontact device

November 8, 2012 8:47 am | News | Comments

Conventional giant magnetoresistive devices or ferromagnetic tunnel junction devices provide only low frequency oscillation and have been deemed unsuitable for applications requiring millimeter-wave (30-300 GHz) oscillation, including radar. Researchers in Japan have recently demonstrated, however, that oscillations of 5 to 140 GHz is theoretically possible in these devices by supplying direct current.

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Data storage: How magnetic recording heats up

November 7, 2012 2:15 pm | News | Comments

Most electronic data is stored on magnetic hard drives that cannot simply be enlarged to store more data. The required spinning speed for larger sizes strains components. Researchers in Singapore report that an alternative technology, heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR), is now a significant step closer to commercial realization. The method has the potential to double storage capacity for a given hard drive.

The first controllable atom SQUID

November 7, 2012 9:43 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST have created the first controllable atomic circuit that functions analogously to a superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) and allows operators to select a particular quantum state of the system at will. By manipulating atoms in a superfluid ring thinner than a human hair the investigators were able for the first time to measure rotation-induced discrete quantized changes in the atoms’ state, thereby providing a proof-of-principle design for an “atomtronic” inertial sensor.

Study reveals challenge facing designers of future computer chips

November 6, 2012 1:25 pm | News | Comments

To build the computer chips of the future, designers will need to understand how an electrical charge behaves when it is confined to metal wires only a few atom-widths in diameter. Now, a team of physicists at McGill University, in collaboration with researchers at General Motors R&D, have shown that electrical current may be drastically reduced when wires from two dissimilar metals meet.

Home theater gets a boost from “Virtual Sound Ball”

November 6, 2012 11:28 am | News | Comments

A research team in Korea developed a powerful audio rendering technology that reproduces a desired sound field more clearly and accurately. The system, which they call a “Virtual Sound Ball”, establishes a virtual array of loudspeakers and a virtual sound source within that system. Application of acoustical mathematics and a “spatial equalizer” allows the user to more accurately reproduce 3D sound effects with an existing speaker setup.

Sensors for the real world

November 5, 2012 12:34 pm | News | Comments

Over the last decade there has been an increased interest in developing resonators for gravimetric sensing; however, the sensors’ response to variations in temperature has prevented them from being used outside the laboratory. New sensors developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge negate the effects of temperature so that they may be used in industries including health care, telecommunications, and environmental monitoring.

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ORNL debuts Titan supercomputer

October 30, 2012 1:36 pm | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory launched a new era of scientific supercomputing on Tuesday with Titan, a system capable of churning through more than 20,000 trillion calculations each second—or 20 petaflops—by employing a family of processors called graphic processing units first created for computer gaming. Titan will be 10 times more powerful than ORNL's last world-leading system, Jaguar.

Well-ordered nanorods could improve LED displays

October 25, 2012 2:16 pm | News | Comments

Synchrotron-based imaging has helped develop enhanced light-emitting diode (LED) displays using bottom-up engineering methods. Collaborative work between researchers from the University of Florida and Cornell University has produced a new way to make colloidal "superparticles" from oriented nanorods of semiconducting materials.

Obstinate electrons “ignore” assumptions and follow another path

October 25, 2012 10:36 am | News | Comments

It is possible to make gold wires so thin that there is not even enough room for electrons to pass one another. But exactly what path do the electrons take? Measurements made by researchers have found that the electrons do not move through the nanowires themselves, but through the “troughs” between them.

Optical vortices packaged on a chip

October 19, 2012 9:01 am | News | Comments

An international research group has recently demonstrated integrated arrays of emitters of so call “optical vortex beams” onto a silicon chip. The generation of these “twisted” light beams, which do not propagate in straight rays, have typically relied on bulk optical elements such as plates, lenses, and holograms. The new emitters, however, are thousands of times smaller than conventional elements.

NRI to lead five-year effort to develop post-CMOS electronics

October 19, 2012 8:17 am | News | Comments

NIST announced the selection of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), a collaboration of several key firms in the semiconductor industry, to support university-centered research for the development of after-the-next-generation "nanoelectronics" technology. NRI consists of participants from the semiconductor industry, including GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, Intel, Micron Technology, and Texas Instruments.

Developing the next generation of microsensors

October 18, 2012 8:01 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier | News | Comments

Thanks to an ultrasensitive accelerometer—a type of motion detector—developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester, a new class of microsensors is a step closer to reality. Instead of using an electrical circuit to gauge movements, this accelerometer uses laser light and is so sensitive it could be used to navigate shoppers through a grocery aisle or even stabilize fighter jets.

Complex logic circuits can be made from bacterial genes

October 12, 2012 5:07 pm | by Diana Lutz, Washington University in St. Louis, Tae Seok Moon, logic circuit, gene circuit | News | Comments

Logic circuits can be built from just about anything, including billiard balls, pipes of water, or animals in a maze. Tae Seok Moon, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, intends to build logic gates out of genes, and has already built the largest such device yet reported. But the purpose of these circuits is not to crunch numbers.

New tools to aid in recycling flat-screen monitors, televisions

October 10, 2012 8:41 am | News | Comments

Millions of flat-screen monitors and television sets will soon become obsolete, posing environmental hazards, and Purdue University researchers are developing tools to help industry efficiently recycle the products. The researchers are producing equipment and tools specifically designed to disassemble liquid-crystal displays with acceptable labor cost while recovering high-value components and reducing environmental hazards.

Scientists simultaneously measure electronic and optical properties of OLEDs

October 9, 2012 3:35 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Japan has succeeded in developing equipment that enables simple, high speed measurement of the band diagrams of organic semiconductor materials in atmospheric conditions. The device essentially combines a spectrophotometer system for studying band gaps with a photoemission yield system to examine ionized potential.

Interactive system detects touch and gestures on any surface

October 9, 2012 3:25 pm | News | Comments

People can let their fingers—and hands—do the talking with a new touch-activated system that projects onto walls and other surfaces and allows users to interact with their environment and each other. Developed at Purdue University, the "extended multitouch" system allows more than one person to use a surface at the same time and also enables people to use both hands, distinguishing between the right and left hand.

Silicon at the breaking point could be basis for efficient transistors

October 8, 2012 11:53 am | by Paul Piwnicki | News | Comments

When stretched, a layer of silicon can build up internal mechanical strain which can considerably improve its electronic properties. Using this principle, engineers have developed a method which allows them to produce 30-nm-thick highly strained wires in a silicon layer. This strain is the highest that has ever been observed in a material which can serve as the basis for electronic components.

Research describes longest fiber-optic sensor network yet

October 1, 2012 7:57 am | News | Comments

Design for remotely monitoring large infrastructures, the longest fiber-optic sensor network yet designed would measure 250 km in length and be equipped with multiplexing technology to allow multiple information channels to be carried. Theorized by a researcher in Spain, the network would allow long-distance analysis with requiring a power source for the sensors.

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