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Photonics breakthrough could allow for faster electronics

October 1, 2013 8:53 am | News | Comments

A pair of breakthroughs in the field of silicon photonics by researchers at the Univ. of Colorado Boulder, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Micron Technology Inc. could allow for the trajectory of exponential improvement in microprocessors that began nearly half a century ago—known as Moore’s Law—to continue well into the future, allowing for increasingly faster electronics, from supercomputers to laptops to smartphones.

Achieving an innovation nation

September 25, 2013 7:42 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The U.S. economy retains myriad sources of innovative capacity; but not enough of the innovations occurring in America today reach the marketplace, according to a major two-year Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. The report found that potentially valuable innovations occur throughout the advanced manufacturing sector and in companies of all sizes, from multinational conglomerates to specialized “Main Street” firms.

R&D 100 Video: Solution for Magnetic Flux Leakage

September 23, 2013 10:09 am | Videos | Comments

FluxMerge, adjusts the magnetic reluctance distribution across the pole faces opposite the airgap. The magnetic flux crossing over the airgap, as a result, merges toward the central axis along the magnetic circuit path to reduce leakage into the surrounding space. Reduced airgap leakage improves efficiency by about 1.5%, and offers the opportunity for more compact designs.

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Robohand uses 3-D printing to replace lost digits

September 11, 2013 10:50 am | by Carley Petesch, Associated Press | News | Comments

Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, lost four fingers from his right hand to a circular saw two years ago. He was unable to afford the tens of thousands of dollars to get a myoelectric hand, which detects a muscle's electric impulses to activate an artificial limb. He decided to build his own hand, made from cables, screws and thermoplastic, using only the Internet and a 3-D printer. He has since fitted 170 people with Robohands.

Interlocking segments might be 3-D printed, assembled into parts

September 11, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers are working with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory to develop a technology for creating parts out of interlocking segments produced using 3-D printing to repair vehicles and other equipment in the field. The Purdue portion of the research focuses on clever, Lego-like building blocks called "topologically interlocking structures”.

The new allure of electric cars: Blazing-fast speeds

September 10, 2013 11:52 am | News | Comments

Speaking at the American Chemical Society’s meeting in Indianapolis this week, electric vehicle pioneer John E. Waters said that relatively recent advances in engineering and use of lithium-ion batteries are producing electric vehicles (EVs) capable of leaving traditional internal combustion engine race cars in the dust. Part of the shift is the elevated storage-to-torque efficiency of electric motor.

Semiconductor wafer saws made from carbon nanotubes and diamond

September 9, 2013 11:10 am | News | Comments

A new method developed in Germany makes it possible to manufacture ultra-thin saw wires by placing diamond on carbon nanotubes. The new invention is designed to cut through silicon wafers with minimum kerf, or “sawdust”, loss that is the unavoidable result of current tools used in semiconductor wafer fabrication.

SpaceShipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:09 pm | News | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

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SpaceshipTwo successfully completes second flight test

September 6, 2013 3:04 pm | Videos | Comments

On Thursday, Virgin Galactic demonstrated the SpaceShipTwo’s full technical mission profile in a single flight for the first time. The second rocket-powered, supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle marked the first high altitude deployment of the unique wing “feathering” re-entry mechanism and achieved the highest altitude and greatest speed to date.

Computer model to help design flexible touchscreens

September 4, 2013 7:33 am | News | Comments

Electronic devices with touchscreens rely on transparent conductors made of indium tin oxide, or ITO. But cost and the physical limitations of this material are limiting progress in developing flexible touchscreens. A research collaboration between the Univ. of Pennsylvania and Duke Univ. is exploring the use of nanowires to replace ITO, and are using simulation tools to determine how they might work.

Grayscale technique opens third dimension for nanoscale lithography

August 29, 2013 3:32 pm | News | Comments

Engineers at NIST have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio 3-D nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam lithography, photolithography and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3-D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch features in two process steps without masks

Molecular motors: Power much less than expected?

August 28, 2013 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Composed of a very little number of atoms, nanomachines offer the promise of a revolution in manufacturing and civilization. Researchers around the world look at various molecules trying to put them to work. But recent measurements in Poland using a new technique for estimating power generated by motors of single molecule in size reveal that power of such motors is considerably less than expected by developers.

Plastic solar cells’ new design promises bright future

August 14, 2013 9:53 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Polymer, or plastic, solar cells contain Earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials, can be made flexible and lightweight, and can be fabricated using roll-to-roll technologies. But the cells’ power-conversion efficiency has been limited. A Northwestern Univ. research reports the design and synthesis of new polymer semiconductors a plastic solar cells with fill factors of 80%. This number is close to that of silicon solar cells.

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The positive sides of doping

August 14, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

Flexible thin film solar cells that can be produced by roll-to-roll manufacturing are a highly promising route to cheap solar electricity. Researchers in Switzerland report that they have designed a low-cost cadmium telluride solar cell technology based on metal foil substrates. By doping the cells with cooper, they have elevated efficiency from 8 to 11.5%.

A new light wave

August 12, 2013 8:41 am | News | Comments

Hold a mag­ni­fying glass over the dri­veway on a sunny day and it will focus sun­light into a single beam. Hold a prism in front of the window and the light will spread out into a per­fect rainbow. Lenses like these have been used for thou­sands of years. Until now, all lenses have shared one big lim­i­ta­tion: It’s impos­sible to focus light into a beam that’s smaller than half of the light’s wave­length.

Improved innovative performance through production offshoring

August 6, 2013 10:55 am | by Management Center Innsbruck | News | Comments

In the last few decades, European companies have moved much of their manufacturing abroad. A joint study produced by Austrian Institute of Technology and the Management Center Innsbruck shows that such companies spend significantly more on R&D or product design, and invest more in process innovation than non-offshoring firms.

Scientists add new bond to protein-engineering toolbox

August 6, 2013 8:11 am | News | Comments

Proteins are the workhorses of cells. But when a scientist is designing a new drug they can't always find a protein that will do the job they want, and often engineer their own novel proteins to use in experiments. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have developed a new tool for protein engineering: a way to add strong, unbreakable bonds between two points in a protein or between two proteins.

Multispectral Imaging for Your Application

August 5, 2013 1:12 pm | by Steve Smith, PhD, Pixelteq, Golden, Colo. | Articles | Comments

The power of multispectral imaging is already leveraged in a wide variety of research applications. Multispectral images are data-rich, revealing things beyond our human vision by combining ultraviolet fluorescence, narrow-band color and penetrating near-infrared images. However, until recently, there has not been a feasible way to scale this technology for production-volume portable devices.

Lifelike cooling for sunbaked windows

July 30, 2013 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Sun-drenched rooms make for happy residents, but large glass windows also bring higher air-conditioning bills. Now a bioinspired microfluidic circulatory system for windows developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University could save energy and cut cooling costs dramatically—while letting in just as much sunlight.

Elastic electronics: Stretchable gold conductor grows its own wires

July 18, 2013 4:57 pm | News | Comments

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body. Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered.

ASU center produces largest flexible color organic light emitting display

July 18, 2013 4:28 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Arizona State Univ. have successfully manufactured the world’s largest flexible color organic light emitting display prototype using advanced mixed oxide thin film transistors. Measuring 7.4 diagonal inches, the device was developed at ASU’s Flexible Display Center in conjunction with Army Research Labs scientists.

How to make a compact frequency comb in minutes

July 11, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Laser frequency combs—high-precision tools for measuring different colors of light in an ever-growing range of applications such as advanced atomic clocks, medical diagnostics and astronomy—are not only getting smaller but also much easier to make. Physicists at NIST can now make the core of a miniature frequency comb in one minute. Conventional microfabrication techniques, by contrast, may require hours, days or even weeks.

Invention transforms plain surfaces into low-cost touchscreens

July 10, 2013 9:26 am | News | Comments

A low-cost system developed in Singapore, based on the principles of vibration and imaging, can turn a whiteboard, glass window or even a wooden tabletop into a responsive, touch-sensitive surface. According to its developers, retrofitting the system onto existing flat-panel TVs will transform them into new, touch-sensitive display screens.

Princeton researchers create "bionic ear"

July 8, 2013 7:17 am | News | Comments

With a 3-D printer, a petri dish and some cells from a cow, Princeton Univ. researchers are growing synthetic ears that can receive—and transmit—sound. The 3-D ear is not designed to replace a human one, though; the research is meant to explore a new method of combining electronics with biological material.

Tiny tweezers allow precision control of enzymes

July 3, 2013 10:01 am | by Richard Harth, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

In new research, Biodesign Institute team members describe a pair of tweezers made using principles of DNA base-pairing. They are astonishingly small: When the jaws of these tools are in the open position, the distance between the two arms is about 16 nanometers—over 30,000 times smaller than a single grain of sand.

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