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Tiny compound semiconductor transistor could challenge silicon's dominance

December 10, 2012 7:23 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Silicon's crown is under threat: The semiconductor's days as the king of microchips for computers and smart devices could be numbered, thanks to the development of the smallest transistor ever to be built from a rival material, indium gallium arsenide. The compound transistor, built by a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, performs well despite being just 22 nm in length.

Point of light

December 7, 2012 10:07 am | by Marcus Woo, Caltech | News | Comments

As technology advances, it tends to shrink. From cell phones to laptops—powered by increasingly faster and tinier processors—everything is getting thinner and sleeker. And now light beams are getting smaller, too. Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have created a device that can focus light into a point just a few nanometers across—an achievement they say may lead to next-generation applications in computing, communications, and imaging.

Naval welding technique crosses over to computers

December 7, 2012 9:11 am | News | Comments

Apple’s newest iMac computer line, which went on sale last week, has something in common with world of shipbuilding. Refined for use in constructing vessels by the Office of Naval Research, friction-stir welding is responsible for the enabling the design of the iMacs. The process uses heat and pressure to join metals, and is used to achieve an extra-thin aluminum-bodied computer.

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Engineer defines the globalization rubric for construction

December 6, 2012 1:19 pm | by Neal Moriconi, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

Many design and construction companies are frustrated by a lack of strategic information when it comes time for them to decide whether to expand their efforts globally.  John E. Taylor, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech has created a unique lab at Virginia Tech that can identify systemic changes in engineering networks of industrial and societal importance, and could help guide these companies.

Flexible silicon solar cell fabrics may soon be possible

December 6, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

For the first time, a silicon-based optical fiber with solar cell capabilities has been developed that has been shown to be scalable to many meters in length. The research opens the door to the possibility of weaving together solar cell silicon wires to create flexible, curved, or twisted solar fabrics.

Dell picks new leader for tech consulting arm

December 5, 2012 6:21 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Dell Inc. has named a new executive to run its technology consulting service as the company intensifies its focus on more profitable operations outside its struggling personal computer business. Suresh Vaswani is taking over as president of Dell Services as part of a reshuffling announced Wednesday.

California's nitrous oxide emissions nearly triple current estimates

December 5, 2012 12:09 pm | News | Comments

Using a new method for estimating greenhouse gases that combines atmospheric measurements with model predictions, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have found that the level of nitrous oxide, a potent greenhouse gas, in California may be 2.5 to 3 times greater than the current inventory. At that level, total nitrous oxide emissions would account for about 8% of California's total greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas teen takes home $100K national science prize

December 5, 2012 10:33 am | by Jessica Gresko, Associated Press | News | Comments

The Siemens Foundation announced the winners of its annual science competition for high school students during a ceremony in Washington on Tuesday. The winner was a high school student from Texas who earned a scholarship for a developing a computer algorithm that helps robots navigate around obstacles, an algorithm that could be used in applications like driverless cars.

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Optical tweezers trap specimens a few nanometers across

December 5, 2012 9:53 am | News | Comments

A microscale technique known as optical trapping uses beams of light as tweezers to hold and manipulate tiny particles. Stanford University researchers have found a new way to trap particles smaller than 10 nm, which until now have escaped light's grasp.

4D transistor is preview of future computers

December 5, 2012 9:24 am | News | Comments

A new type of transistor shaped like a Christmas tree has arrived just in time for the holidays, but the prototype won't be nestled under the tree along with the other gifts. Researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities created the transistor, which is made from a material that could replace silicon within a decade.

IBM completes $1.3B acquisition of Kenexa

December 4, 2012 8:09 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

IBM Corp. has completed its $1.3 billion acquisition of human-resources-management company Kenexa Corp. to expand its line of cloud-based software services. The deal was first announced in late August. About 2,800 Kenexa workers scattered across the U.S. and 20 other countries are now joining IBM, which is based in Armonk, N.Y. Kenexa is based in Wayne, Pa.

A bridge to the quantum world

December 4, 2012 12:35 pm | News | Comments

In a discovery that helps clear a new path toward quantum computers, University of Michigan physicists have found elusive Dirac electrons in a superconducting material. The combination of properties the researchers identified in a shiny, black material called copper-doped bismuth selenide adds the material to an elite class that could serve as the silicon of the quantum era.

Smartphones might soon develop emotional intelligence

December 4, 2012 12:10 pm | News | Comments

If you think having your phone identify the nearest bus stop is cool, wait until it identifies your mood. New research by a team of engineers at the University of Rochester may soon make that possible.

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'Quantum tornadoes' pave the way for ultra-precise measuring, control

December 4, 2012 11:57 am | News | Comments

Tornado-like vortexes can be produced in bizarre fluids that are controlled by quantum mechanics, completely unlike normal liquids. New research demonstrates how massed ranks of these quantum twisters line up in rows, and paves the way for engineering quantum circuits and chips measuring motion ultra-precisely.

Observations of “mechanochemical” synthesis could boost green chemistry

December 3, 2012 11:39 am | News | Comments

Solvents are omnipresent in the chemical industry, and are a major environmental and safety concern. “Mechanochemistry” offers a possible green, energy-efficient alternative that avoids using bulk solvents. The technique, now being researched at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, relies on high-frequency milling to drive reactions. Until now, however, the underlying chemistry of this method has eluded observation.

New fluorescent lighting won’t flicker, shatter, or burn out

December 3, 2012 8:49 am | News | Comments

A team at Wake Forest University has used a nano-engineered polymer matrix to convert electrical charge charge into light, creating an entirely new bulb based on field-induced polymer electroluminescent technology. Unlike conventional fluorescent bulbs, these new lights will not flicker, hum, or shatter, and they offer a soft, white light.

A human-caused climate change signal emerges from the noise

November 30, 2012 7:40 am | News | Comments

By comparing simulations from 20 different computer models to satellite observations, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory climate scientists and colleagues from 16 other organizations have found that tropospheric and stratospheric temperature changes are clearly related to human activities.

Georgia Tech awarded $2.7 million from DARPA

November 30, 2012 7:25 am | News | Comments

A research team at the Georgia Institute of Technology has received a $2.7 million award from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop technology intended to help address the challenges of "big data"—data sets that are both massive and complex.

Progress made in intelligent radio-over-fiber systems

November 29, 2012 9:40 am | News | Comments

Intelligent radio-over-fiber (I-ROF) systems combine the advantages of flexible wireless access and fiber-optic broadband transmission, using methods of microwave photonics to generate microwave signals in the optical domain. A research group in China has built an experimental I-ROF platform that may offer a way to significantly increase the availability of broadband wireless.

Scientists image molecular structure of polymer blends

November 29, 2012 9:31 am | News | Comments

Using an enhanced form of "chemical microscopy" developed at NIST, researchers there have shown that they can peer into the structure of blended polymers, resolving details of the molecular arrangement at sub-micrometer levels. The capability has important implications for the design of industrially important polymers like the polyethylene blends used to repair aging waterlines.

Record-setting X-ray jet discovered

November 28, 2012 1:07 pm | News | Comments

A jet of X-rays from a supermassive black hole 12.4 billion light years from Earth has been detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This is the most distant X-ray jet ever observed and gives astronomers a glimpse into the explosive activity associated with the growth of supermassive black holes in the early universe.

Scanning innovation may improve personalized medicine

November 28, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

New combinations of medical imaging technologies hold promise for improved early disease screening, cancer staging, therapeutic assessment, and other aspects of personalized medicine, according to a new Virginia Tech report. The integration of multiple major tomographic scanners into a single framework involves the fusion of many imaging modalities known as "omni-tomography”.

Putting more cores to work in server farms

November 27, 2012 4:02 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Switzerland have found that reorganizing the inner architecture of the processors used in massive data processing centers can yield significant energy savings. They argue that using a greater number of less-powerful cores would be a more appropriate to current usage, which involves memory retrieval far more than complicated analysis.

New computer approach could change design, manufacturing

November 27, 2012 3:44 pm | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State University and other leading institutions have made important advances that may dramatically change how machines get built, with a concept that could turn the approaches used by modern industry into a historic relic. Instead of old prototyping and testing approaches, virtually all of the design, testing, error identification, and revisions of products will be done on a computer up to the point of commercial production.

Computerized approach could revolutionize design, manufacturing

November 27, 2012 3:38 pm | News | Comments

A collaboration of several government and academic research organizations are hard at work on a design and manufacturing concept called “model-based design and verification”. Instead of building prototypes and discarding them, manufacturers would conduct virtually all of the design, testing, error identification, and revisions on a computer up to the point of commercial production.

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