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Study: Emissions from forests influence first stage of cloud formation

May 16, 2014 8:03 am | News | Comments

Clouds are the largest source of uncertainty in present climate models. Much of the uncertainty surrounding clouds' effect on climate stems from the complexity of cloud formation. New research from scientists at the Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets (CLOUD) experiment at CERN sheds light on new-particle formation, which is the very first step of cloud formation and a critical component of climate models.

Glasses-free 3-D projector

May 16, 2014 7:49 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Over the past three years, researchers in the Camera Culture group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab have steadily refined a design for a glasses-free, multi-perspective, 3-D video screen, which they hope could provide a cheaper, more practical alternative to holographic video in the short term.

Researchers in Korea greatly improve piezoelectric nanogenerator efficiency

May 15, 2014 12:51 pm | News | Comments

Scientists at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology have increased the energy efficiency of a piezoelectric nanogenerator by almost 40 times, moving it closer to commercial flexible energy harvesters that can supply power infinitely to wearable, implantable electronic devices. The technique used to make this improvement, laser lift-off, allows the placement of a high-quality piezoelectric film on a sapphire substrate.

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Nanowire-bridging transistors open way to next-generation electronics

May 15, 2014 11:54 am | News | Comments

A new approach to integrated circuits, combining atoms of semiconductor materials into nanowires and structures on top of silicon surfaces, shows promise for a new generation of fast, robust electronic and photonic devices. Engineers in California have recently demonstrated 3-D nanowire transistors using this approach that open exciting opportunities for integrating other semiconductors, such as gallium nitride, on silicon substrates.

Researchers make breakthrough in terahertz technology

May 15, 2014 9:54 am | News | Comments

Culminating a ten-year development effort, Teraphysics Corp. scientists have demonstrated the emission of terahertz light by passing electron beams through a gold coil, smaller in diameter than a human hair, supported by a diamond structure. The detection of a terahertz signal provided proof of concept for Teraphysics’ suite of microfabricated vacuum electronic devices.

X-rays, computer simulations reveal crystal growth

May 15, 2014 9:08 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

A research team that figured out how to coat an organic material as a thin film wanted a closer look at why their spreadable organic semiconductor grew like it did. So Cornell Univ. scientists used their high-energy synchrotron x-ray source to show how these organic molecules formed crystal lattices at the nanoscale. These high-speed movies could help advance the technology move from the laboratory to mass production.

The brain: Key to a better computer

May 15, 2014 8:03 am | by Sue Holmes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Your brain is incredibly well suited to handling whatever comes along, plus it’s tough and operates on little energy. Those attributes—dealing with real-world situations, resiliency and energy efficiency—are precisely what might be possible with neuro-inspired computing.

Strongly interacting electrons in wacky oxide synchronize to work like the brain

May 14, 2014 2:01 pm | by Walt Mills, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Vanadium dioxide is called a "wacky oxide" because it transitions between a conducting metal and an insulating semiconductor and with the addition of heat or electrical current. A device created by Penn State engineers uses a thin film of vanadium oxide on a titanium dioxide substrate to create an oscillating switch that could form the basis of a computational device that uses a fraction of the energy necessary for today’s computers.

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Microchip-like technology allows single-cell analysis

May 14, 2014 1:52 pm | News | Comments

A U.S. and Korean research team has developed a chip-like device that could be scaled up to sort and store hundreds of thousands of individual living cells in a matter of minutes. The system is similar to a random access memory chip, but it moves cells rather than electrons.

Using nature as a model for low-friction bearings

May 14, 2014 9:30 am | News | Comments

The mechanical properties of natural joints are considered unrivalled. Cartilage is coated with a special polymer layer allowing joints to move virtually friction-free, even under high pressure. Using simulations, scientists in Europe have developed a new process that technologically imitates biological lubrication and even improves it using two different types of polymers.

Implanted devices may reshape medicine

May 14, 2014 8:19 am | Videos | Comments

Researchers from The Univ. of Texas at Dallas and the Univ. of Tokyo have created electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels. These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and stimulate the body for treatments.

High-tech peg measures palsy patients’ dexterity

May 14, 2014 7:31 am | Videos | Comments

It looks like a game board and many of its users will find it fun, but there’s serious intent behind a device by Rice Univ. students to test the abilities of cerebral palsy patients. At the heart of the DeXcellence platform is a small peg comfortable enough for a three-year-old to hold. But packed inside are enough electronics to tell a nearby computer, tablet or other Bluetooth-enabled device of how the cylinder is moving in space.

Observing electron clouds, scientists could improve chemical processes

May 13, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

With the help of an x-ray laser, a team of international researchers has looked more precisely than ever before into the electron cloud, a bunch of charged tiny particles orbiting molecules. The team managed to document changes in the states of electrons in a similar way to how pictures taken at different times can be assembled to become a movie.

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Computing with a quantum trick

May 13, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Physicists in Germany have recently developed a new type of an essential logic element for quantum computers: the quantum gate. As a central element of their quantum gate, the Max Planck Institute scientists are using an atom trapped between two mirrors of a resonator. By reflecting the photon off the resonator with the atom, they are able to switch the state of the photon.

The doctor’s in … through webcam, smartphone

May 13, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

Welcome to the virtual house call, the latest twist on telemedicine. It's increasingly getting attention as a way to conveniently diagnose simple maladies, such as whether that runny nose and cough is a cold or the flu. One company even offers a smartphone app that connects to a doctor. Patient groups and technology advocates are now pushing to expand this approach digital care to people with complex chronic diseases.

Radar surveys and data models indicate West Antarctica Ice Sheet collapse underway

May 13, 2014 7:27 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Washington have concluded that Antarctica's fast-moving Thwaites Glacier will likely disappear in a matter of centuries, potentially raising sea level by more than a half a meter. Data gathered by airborne radar, detailed topography maps and computer modeling were used to make the determination. The fastest scenario based on the data, the researchers said, is 200 years, and the longest is more than 1,000 years.

All in the rotation

May 12, 2014 3:10 pm | News | Comments

In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.

The largest electrical networks are not the best

May 12, 2014 2:55 pm | News | Comments

There is an optimum size for electrical networks if what is being considered is the risk of a blackout. This is the conclusion reached by a scientific study by researchers in Spain and the U.S. The study, which analyzed the dynamics of these complex infrastructures, found that an optimum adequate size exists that helps guarantee correct functioning of an electrical network.

Physicists show unlimited heat conduction in graphene

May 8, 2014 9:22 am | News | Comments

Based on recent experiments and computer simulations, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and the National Univ. of Singapore have attested that the thermal conductivity of graphene diverges with the size of the samples. This discovery challenges the fundamental laws of heat conduction for extended materials.

Nanoscope probes chemistry on the molecular scale

May 8, 2014 8:27 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

For years, scientists have had an itch they couldn’t scratch. Even with the best microscopes and spectrometers, it’s been difficult to study molecules at the mesoscale, a region of matter that ranges from 10 to 1,000 nm. Now, with the help of broadband infrared light from the Advanced Light Source synchrotron, researchers have developed a broadband imaging technique that looks inside this realm with unprecedented sensitivity and range.

Astronomers create first realistic virtual universe

May 7, 2014 2:43 pm | News | Comments

Move over, Matrix, astronomers at MIT/Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies in Germany have done you one better. They have created the first realistic virtual universe using a computer simulation called "Illustris." Illustris can recreate 13 billion years of cosmic evolution in a cube 350 million light-years on a side with unprecedented resolution.

FIB doesn’t lie: New NIST microscope sees what others can’t

May 7, 2014 2:33 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have recently built the first low-energy focused ion beam (FIB) microscope that uses a lithium ion source. Although the new microscope's resolution isn't yet as good as a scanning electron microscope or a helium ion microscope (HIM), it can image nonconductive materials and can more clearly visualize the chemical composition on the surface of a sample than the higher-energy SEMs and FIBs.

New IBM memory card combines flash with phase-change materials

May 7, 2014 2:27 pm | by Chris Sciacca, IBM Research - Zurich | News | Comments

First proposed for memory in the 1970s, phase-change materials exhibit two metastable states which can store data when placed between two electrically conducting electrodes. IBM researchers in Zurich have recently used them as part of Project Theseus to develop a PCI-e card that melds flash memory with phase-change memory. The major improvement in speed interests IBM for Big Data applications.

Toward a faster, more accurate way to diagnose stroke

May 7, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

When someone suffers from a stroke, a silent countdown begins. A fast diagnosis and treatment can mean the difference between life and death. So scientists are working on a new blood test that one day could rapidly confirm whether someone is having a stroke and what kind.

Sprites form at plasma irregularities in the lower ionosphere

May 7, 2014 9:46 am | News | Comments

Sprites are an optical phenomenon that occur above thunderstorms, about 37 to 56 miles above the Earth. Atmospheric sprites have been known for nearly a century, but their origins were a mystery. Now, a team of researchers has evidence that sprites form at plasma irregularities and may be useful in remote sensing of the lower ionosphere.

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