The improvements in random access memory (RAM) that have driven many advances of the digital age owe much to the innovative application of physics and chemistry at the atomic scale. Accordingly, a team led by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers has employed a Nobel Prize-winning material and common household chemical to enhance the properties of a component primed for the next generation of high-speed, high-capacity RAM.
Univ. of California, Los Angeles neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have carried out a theoretical analysis showing that a family of 2-D materials exhibits exotic quantum properties that may enable a new type of nanoscale electronics. These materials are predicted to show a phenomenon called the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, and belong to a class of materials known as transition metal dichalcogenides, with layers a few atoms thick.
Enzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and respiration, with the help of clusters of metal atoms as "active" sites. But scientists lack basic information about their function because the states thought to be critical to their chemical abilities cannot be experimentally observed.
Univ. of Utah engineers have developed a polarizing filter that allows in more light, leading the way for mobile device displays that last much longer on a single battery charge and cameras that can shoot in dim light. Polarizers are indispensable in digital photography and LCD displays, but they block enormous amounts of light, wasting energy and making it more difficult to photograph in low light.
Flexible electronic sensors based on paper have the potential to cut the price of a wide range of medical tools, from helpful robots to diagnostic tests. Scientists have now developed a fast, low-cost way of making these sensors by directly printing conductive ink on paper.
If LCD TVs get more colorful in the next few years, it will probably be thanks to QD Vision, a pioneer of quantum-dot television displays. Quantum dots are light-emitting semiconductor nanocrystals that can be tuned to emit all colors across the visible spectrum. By tuning these dots to red and green, and using a blue backlight to energize them, QD Vision has developed an optical component that can boost the color gamut for LCD televisions.
Testing for ovarian cancer or the presence of a particular chemical could be almost as simple as distinguishing an F sharp from a B flat, thanks to a new microscopic acoustic device that has been dramatically improved by scientists at Argonne National Laboratory. The device, known as a surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor, detects frequency changes in waves that propagate through its crystalline structure.
A team of New York Univ. and Univ. of Barcelona physicists has developed a method to control the movements occurring within magnetic materials, which are used to store and carry information. The breakthrough could simultaneously bolster information processing while reducing the energy necessary to do so.
The race to make computer components smaller and faster and use less power is pushing the limits of the properties of electrons in a material. Photonic systems could eventually replace electronic ones, but the fundamentals of computation, mixing two inputs into a single output, currently require too much space and power when done with light.
Physicists at Australian National Univ. have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser and fiber-based technologies.
Researchers at the Univ. of Southampton have demonstrated how glass can be manipulated to create electronic devices that will be smaller, faster and consume less power. The researchhas the potential to allow faster, more efficient electronic devices; further shrinking the size of our phones, tablets and computers and reducing their energy consumption by turning waste heat into power.
An easy-to-use smartphone app developed by Rutgers Univ. engineers will help keep the lights on in a heavily wooded New Jersey suburb that suffered widespread power outages during Superstorm Sandy. The smartphone app walks users through documenting hazards, such as branches dangling perilously close to wires or poles cracking and leaning.
It’s not uncommon to see cameras mounted on store ceilings, propped up in public places or placed inside subways, buses and even on the dashboards of cars. Cameras record our world down to the second. This can be a powerful surveillance tool on the roads and in buildings, but it’s surprisingly hard to sift through vast amounts of visual data to find pertinent information, until now.
A collaboration blending research in U.S. Dept. of Energy's offices of High-Energy Physics (HEP) with Basic Energy Sciences (BES) will yield a one-of-a-kind x-ray detector. The device boasts Brookhaven National Laboratory sensors mounted on Fermilab integrated circuits linked to Argonne National Laboratory data acquisition systems. It will be used at Brookhaven's National Synchrotron Light Source II and Argonne's Advanced Photon Source.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new way to transfer thin semiconductor films, which are only one atom thick, onto arbitrary substrates, paving the way for flexible computing or photonic devices. The technique is much faster than existing methods and can perfectly transfer the atomic scale thin films from one substrate to others, without causing any cracks.
An electronic “tongue” could one day sample food and drinks as a quality check before they hit store shelves. Or it could someday monitor water for pollutants or test blood for signs of disease. With an eye toward these applications, scientists are reporting the development of a new, inexpensive and highly sensitive version of such a device in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
A team of engineers and scientists has identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The findingscould have implications for the future design of transistors and other electronic components.
In a step toward robots smaller than a grain of sand, Univ. of Michigan researchers have shown how chains of self-assembling particles could serve as electrically activated muscles in the tiny machines. So-called microbots would be handy in many areas. But several challenges lie between current technologies and science fiction possibilities. Two of the big ones are building the bots and making them mobile.
In the Pacific Northwest, young salmon must dodge predatory birds, sea lions and more in their perilous trek toward the ocean. Hydroelectric dams don't make the trip any easier, with their manmade currents sweeping fish past swirling turbines and other obstacles. Despite these challenges, most juvenile salmon survive this journey every year.
Univ. of Utah engineers developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors. A study of the new cells appears online in ACS Catalysis.
Laser surgery to correct eyesight is common practice, but did you know that technology developed for use in space is now commonly used to track the patient's eye and precisely direct the laser scalpel? If you look at a fixed point while tilting or shaking your head, your eyes automatically hold steady, allowing you to see clearly even while moving around. This neat trick of nature is a reflex and we are usually unaware that it even happens.
Microsoft is releasing a $199 fitness band that also checks your email and even pays for coffee as the software company seeks to challenge Apple and others in the still-infant market for wearable devices. The Microsoft Band will work with the company's new Microsoft Health system for consolidating health and fitness data from various gadgets and mobile apps.
Inside Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Building 41, a small, Roomba-like robot is trying to decided where to go. As the robot considers its options, its “thoughts” are projected on the ground in the form of different colored dots and lines. This new visualization system, called “measurable virtual reality”, combines projectors with motion-capture technology and animation software to project a robot’s intentions in real time.
Electrical engineers from the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed hardware for a new generation of automotive radar systems designed to keep drivers, and the pedestrians around them they may not see, safe. Their project is part of an initiative led by Toyota Technical Center that won a 2014 R&D 100 Award for its “Automotive Phased Array Radar.”