Our brains have upwards of 86 billion neurons, connected by synapses that not only complete myriad logic circuits; they continuously adapt to stimuli, strengthening some connections while weakening others. Materials scientists have now created a new type of transistor that mimics the behavior of a synapse. The novel device simultaneously modulates the flow of information in a circuit and physically adapts to changing signals.
Most people know about ultrasound through its role in prenatal imaging: those grainy, grey outlines of junior constructed from reflected sound waves. A new technology called an "acoustic diode” that would transmit sound in one direction may dramatically improve future ultrasound images by changing the way sound waves are transmitted.
If consumer electronics companies are to be believed, someone on your holiday shopping list is just dying for a wristwatch that displays message alerts and weather updates. Samsung and Sony have them, Google and Apple are rumored to be developing them. But some experts say it's a product in search of a market, and an expensive one at that.
Today, users of electronic test instrumentation strive to get their products to market quickly as design and development cycles are becoming shorter. They require consistency in their test strategy, yet flexibility in form factor. Current electronic test instrumentation vendors demonstrate this by offering a diversity of test products that leverage common test functionalities.
A patent filing shows Samsung Electronics Co. is working on a device it calls sports glasses in a possible response to Google's Internet-connected eyewear. A design patent filing at the Korean Intellectual Property Office shows a Samsung design for smartphone-connected glasses that can display information from the handset.
Researchers in electrical and computer engineering at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara have introduced and modeled an integrated circuit design scheme in which transistors and interconnects are monolithically patterned seamlessly on a sheet of graphene. The demonstration offers possibilities for ultra-energy-efficient, flexible and transparent electronics.
As electronics approach the atomic scale, researchers are increasingly successful at developing atomically thin, virtually 2-D materials that could usher in the next generation of computing. Integrating these materials to create necessary circuits, however, has remained a challenge. Northwestern Univ. researchers have now taken a significant step toward fabricating complex nanoscale electronics.
Although the amount of data that can be stored has increased immensely during the past few decades, it is still difficult to actually store data for a long period of time. A researcher has recently demonstrated a way to store data for extremely long periods, even millions of years, using an etched wafer made of tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride. The material is resistant to both time and elevated temperatures.
Researchers have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or “biobots.” The software would also allow public safety officials to determine the location of radioactive or chemical threats, if the biobots have been equipped with the relevant sensors.
When pilots encounter an in-flight emergency they consult with manuals, emergency procedures and other reference materials contained in their flight bags for information on how to respond. In the future, these cumbersome flight bags could be replaced by “electronic flight bags” consisting of a lightweight tablet computer loaded with electronic versions of documents that today are printed on paper.
People often customize the size and shape of materials like textiles and wood without turning to specialists like tailors or carpenters. In the future this should be possible with electronics, according to computer scientists who have developed a printable multi-touch sensor whose shape and size can be altered by anybody.
Tracking blood flow in the laboratory is an important tool for studying ailments and is usually measured in the clinic using professional imaging equipment and techniques like laser speckle contrast imaging. Now, developers have built a new biological imaging system 50 times less expensive than standard equipment, and suitable for imaging applications outside of the laboratory.
A group of researchers at Caltech has created the optical equivalent of a tuning fork: a device that can help steady the electrical currents needed to power high-end electronics and stabilize the signals of high-quality lasers. The work marks the first time that such a device has been miniaturized to fit on a chip and may pave the way to improvements in high-speed communications, navigation and remote sensing.
Watching a plant grow and develop roots can be a long and tiresome process, but watching this process closely can reveal what happens to a genetically modified organism. A recently developed system from IntelLiDrives and the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison uses robotic cameras and computerized motion control systems to make this process easier.
A recent study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology describing how graphene can be used to convert signals from optical to electrical has also been explored by engineers in Austria, who have also constructed a graphene light detector on a semiconductor chip. According to the researchers, graphene can convert all light wavelengths which are used in telecommunications.
Researchers at North Carolina State Univ. have created a new compound, strontium tin oxide (Sr3SnO) that can be integrated into silicon chips and is a dilute magnetic semiconductor, meaning that it could be used to make “spintronic” devices, which rely on magnetic force to operate, rather than electrical currents.
DNA is the blueprint for life. Could it also become the template for making a new generation of computer chips based not on silicon, but on an experimental material known as graphene? That’s the theory behind a process that Stanford Univ. chemical engineering prof. Zhenan Bao has revealed.
Product development firm Cambridge Consultants is helping conservationists protect some of the world’s most rare and endangered species. As part of the Instant Wild project, new satellite-connected and motion-triggered cameras are beaming near-real-time images of animals from the remotest areas of Africa. A mobile app allows users anywhere in the world to view the photos, providing early warning of illegal poaching activity.
Earlier this summer, a small drone managed something that even larger flying robots had not yet been able to do. Equipped with an HD camera, and in adverse conditions, it set off from Switzerland and crossed the Saint-Gotthard Massif towards Italy. The company behind this experiment has just released video of the record flight.
Researchers at Oregon State Univ. have made a significant advance in the function of metal-insulator-metal, or MIM diodes, a technology premised on the assumption that the speed of electrons moving through silicon is simply too slow. For the extraordinary speed envisioned in some future electronics applications, these innovative diodes solve problems that would not be possible with silicon-based materials as a limiting factor.
The origin of cosmic rays in the universe has confounded scientists for decades. But a study by researchers using data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole reveals new information that may help unravel the longstanding mystery of exactly how and where these “rays”, which are actually high-energy particles, are produced.
Titanium dioxide is an inexpensive, yet versatile material. The use of titanium oxide in the electronics industry is currently being investigated. An international team of researchers has confirmed theoretically-predicted interactions between single oxygen molecules and crystalline titanium dioxide and the implications of these findings could be important for a variety of applications.
Univ. of Washington researchers have performed what they believe is the first noninvasive human-to-human brain interface, with one researcher able to send a brain signal via the Internet to control the hand motions of a fellow researcher. Using electrical brain recordings and a form of magnetic stimulation, Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal to Andrea Stocco on the other side of campus, causing Stocco’s finger to move on a keyboard.
Standard drug-testing methods have shortcomings. Animal testing is expensive and unreliable, and the static environment of cells and cultures don’t mimic the behavior of the entire organism. An interdisciplinary research team at Lehigh Univ. is using microscopy and optical tweezers to develop a new finger-sized chip that can study the activities of cells at the nanoscale, possibly offering an alternative to traditional drug testing.
Google Glass is designed to work like a smartphone that's worn like a pair of glasses. Although it looks like a prop from a science fiction movie, the device is capturing imaginations beyond the realm of nerds. Some 10,000 people are trying out an early version of Glass, most of them selected as part of a contest. Their feedback reveals some advantages and shortcomings of the technology.