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Infrared digital holography lets firefighters see through flames

February 27, 2013 12:18 pm | News | Comments

Firefighters can see through smoke using current infrared (IR) camera technology. However, such instruments are blinded by the intense infrared radiation emitted by flames, which overwhelm the sensitive detectors and limit their use in the field. By employing a specialized lens-free technique, researchers in Italy have created an IR digital holography system that is able to cope with the flood of radiation from an environment filled with flames as well as smoke.

Memristor that “learns” provides blueprint for artificial brain

February 27, 2013 11:41 am | News | Comments

Memristors are made of fine nanolayers and can be used to connect electric circuits and for several years have been considered to be the electronic equivalent of the synapse. A researcher in Germany, physicist Andy Thomas, is now using his memristors as key components for his blueprint for an artificial brain.

Clever battery completes stretchable electronics package

February 27, 2013 8:05 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University’s Yonggang Huang and the University of Illinois’ John A. Rogers are the first to demonstrate a stretchable lithium-ion battery—a flexible device capable of powering their innovative stretchable electronics. Their battery continues to work—powering a commercial light-emitting diode (LED)—even when stretched, folded, twisted and mounted on a human elbow. The battery can work for eight to nine hours before it needs recharging, which can be done wirelessly.

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Connecting the quantum dots

February 26, 2013 12:51 pm | News | Comments

Recent research offers a new spin on using nanoscale semiconductor structures to build faster computers and electronics. Literally. Researchers have revealed a new method that better preserves the units necessary to power lightning-fast electronics, known as qubits. Hole spins, rather than electron spins, can keep quantum bits in the same physical state up to 10 times longer than before, the report finds.

Hummingbird study challenges vortex consensus

February 26, 2013 11:28 am | by Iqbal Pittalwala, UC Riverside | News | Comments

As of Monday, the Wikipedia entry for the hummingbird explains that the bird’s flight generates in its wake a single trail of vortices that helps the bird hover. But after conducting experiments with hummingbirds in the lab, researchers at the University of California, Riverside propose that the hovering hummingbird instead produces two trails of vortices—one under each wing per stroke—that help generate the aerodynamic forces required for the bird to power and control its flight.

An atlas of the human heart is drawn using statistics

February 26, 2013 10:17 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Pompeu Fabra University (Spain) have created a high resolution atlas of the heart with 3D images taken from 138 people. The study demonstrates that an average image of an organ along with its variations can be obtained for the purposes of comparing individual cases and differentiating healthy forms from pathologies.

Scientists produce densest artificial ionospheric plasma clouds yet

February 25, 2013 11:56 am | News | Comments

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory research physicists and engineers from the Plasma Physics Division, working at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) transmitter facility in Alaska have successfully produced a sustained high density plasma cloud in Earth's upper atmosphere. Previous attempts generated clouds with lifetimes of 10 minutes or less; this one lasted for more than one hour.

Researchers develop new method of controlling nanodevices

February 25, 2013 9:46 am | by Bill Kisliuk, UCLA | News | Comments

Electromagnetic devices, from power drills to smart-phones, require an electric current to create the magnetic fields that allow them to function. But researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have developed a method for switching tiny magnetic fields on and off with an electric field—a sharp departure from the traditional approach of running a current through a wire. The new composite can control magneto-electric activity at a scale of just 10 nm.

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Teaching robots lateral thinking

February 25, 2013 9:12 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many commercial robotic arms perform what roboticists call "pick-and-place" tasks: The arm picks up an object in one location and places it in another. Usually, the objects are positioned so that the arm can easily grasp them; the appendage that does the grasping may even be tailored to the objects' shape. General-purpose household robots, however, would have to be able to manipulate objects of any shape, left in any location. And today, commercially available robots don't have anything like the dexterity of the human hand. Until now.

Curiosity takes a self-portrait

February 22, 2013 11:46 am | News | Comments

In a remarkable demonstration of the imaging abilities of the Mars Hand Lens Imager and Mastcam aboard NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity rover operators recently captured a panoramic self-portrait that includes a sweeping view of the Gale Crater region. Visibly in the photo is Curiosity's recent drilling activities.

Has evolution given humans unique brain structures?

February 22, 2013 11:16 am | News | Comments

Our ancestors evolutionarily split from those of rhesus monkeys about 25 million years ago. Since then, brain areas have been added, have disappeared, or have changed in function. This raises the question: Has evolution given humans unique brain structures? Previous research has been inconclusive, but by combining different research methods, researchers in The Netherlands now say they have the first piece of evidence that could prove that humans have unique cortical brain networks.

College tests fingerprint purchasing technology

February 22, 2013 10:28 am | by Amber Hunt, Associated Press | News | Comments

Futurists have long proclaimed the coming of a cashless society, where dollar bills and plastic cards are replaced by fingerprint and retina scanners. What they probably didn't see coming was its debut not in Silicon Valley but at a small state college in remote western South Dakota. Two shops on the campus are performing one of the world's first experiments in “biocryptology”, a mix of biometrics—using physical traits for identification—and cryptology—the study of encoding private information.

Supercomputers journey to limits of spacetime

February 21, 2013 1:19 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have used the 3D simulation capabilities of the supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to predict the formation of accretion disks and relativistic jets that warp and bend more than previously thought, shaped both by the extreme gravity of the black hole and by powerful magnetic forces generated by its spin. Their highly detailed models of the black hole environment contribute new knowledge to the field.

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New imaging device is flexible, flat, and transparent

February 20, 2013 12:20 pm | News | Comments

A research team in Austria has developed an entirely new way of capturing images based on a flat, flexible, transparent, and potentially disposable polymer sheet. The new imager, which resembles a flexible plastic film, uses fluorescent particles to capture incoming light and channel a portion of it to an array of sensors framing the sheet. With no electronics or internal components, the imager’s elegant design makes it ideal for a new breed of imaging technologies.

Technique developed to scale up production of graphene microsupercapacitors

February 20, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

While the demand for ever-smaller electronic devices has spurred the miniaturization of a variety of technologies, one area has lagged behind in this downsizing revolution: energy storage units, such as batteries and capacitors. Now, a team from University of California, Los Angeles may have changed the game by developing a groundbreaking technique that uses a DVD burner to fabricate microscale graphene-based supercapacitors.

Future science: Using 3D worlds to visualize data

February 20, 2013 4:29 am | by CARLA K. JOHNSON - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Take a walk through a human brain? Fly over the surface of Mars? Computer scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago are pushing science fiction closer to reality with a wraparound virtual world where a researcher wearing 3D glasses can do all that and more. In the system, known as CAVE2, a 8-foot-high screen encircles the viewer 320 degrees. A panorama of images springs from 72 stereoscopic liquid crystal display panels, conveying a dizzying sense of being able to touch what's not really there.

CDC app lets you solve disease outbreaks at home

February 19, 2013 2:34 pm | by MIKE STOBBE - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

You may not be a disease detective, but now you can play one at home. The nation's public health agency has released a free app for the iPad called "Solve the Outbreak." It allows users to run through fictional outbreaks and make decisions: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to people who are sick?

Production process doubles speed, efficiency of flexible electronics

February 19, 2013 10:44 am | News | Comments

Stretched-out clothing might not be a great practice for laundry day, but in the case of microprocessor manufacture, stretching out the atomic structure of the silicon in the critical components of a device can be a good way to increase a processor's performance.

Chip cleans up common flaws in amateur photographs

February 19, 2013 8:28 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Your smartphone snapshots could be instantly converted into professional-looking photographs with just the touch of a button, thanks to a processor chip developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The chip can perform tasks such as creating more realistic or enhanced lighting in a shot without destroying the scene's ambience, in just a fraction of a second. The technology could be integrated with any smartphone, tablet computer, or digital camera.

Professor brings access to previously untapped higher frequency bandwidth

February 19, 2013 8:26 am | News | Comments

Society's increasing technology use and data consumption is causing an information bottleneck, congesting airwave frequencies and sending engineers searching for access to higher capacity bandwidths. Until now, no technology has existed to tap into and successfully use these frequencies, which span 30 to 100 GHz.

Organic electronics: Better contact between carbon compounds and metals

February 18, 2013 9:00 am | News | Comments

A recurring problem in organic electronics technology has been the difficulty in establishing good electrical contact between the active organic layer and metal electrodes. Organic molecules are frequently used for this purpose, but, until recent research at the Helmholtz Center in Germany unraveled this mystery, it was practically impossible to accurately predict which molecules performed well on the job.

Researchers propose breakthrough architecture for quantum computers

February 15, 2013 1:19 pm | News | Comments

A team of researchers in Canada has proposed a new computational model that may become the architecture for a scalable quantum computer. They say the model should use multi-particle quantum walks for universal computation. In a multi-particle quantum walk, particles live on the vertices of a graph and can move between vertices joined by an edge. Furthermore, nearby particles can interact with each other.

Quantum cryptography put to work for electric grid security

February 15, 2013 11:25 am | News | Comments

Recently, a Los Alamos National Laboratory quantum cryptography (QC) team successfully completed the first-ever demonstration of securing control data for electric grids using quantum cryptography. The project, says experts, shows that quantum cryptography is compatible with electric-grid control communications, providing strong security assurances rooted in the laws of physics, without introducing excessive delays in data delivery.

Researchers invent “acoustic-assisted” magnetic information storage

February 14, 2013 2:29 pm | News | Comments

Electrical engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to use high-frequency sound waves to enhance the magnetic storage of data, offering a new approach to improve the data storage capabilities of a multitude of electronic devices around the world.

Team creates MRI for the nanoscale

February 14, 2013 11:59 am | News | Comments

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals details of living tissues, diseased organs and tumors inside the body without x-rays or surgery. What if the same technology could peer down to the level of atoms? Physicists in New York and Germany have worked together to make this type of nanoscale MRI possible. To do this, researchers used the tiny imperfections in diamond crystals known as nitrogen-vacancy centers.

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