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Researchers Develop Thinnest Electric Generator

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.“This material—just a single layer of atoms—could be made as a wearable device, perhaps integrated into clothing, to convert energy from your body movement to electricity and power wearable sensors or medical devices, or perhaps supply enough energy to charge your cell phone in your pocket,” says James Hone, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia and co-leader of the research.Hone’s team placed thin flakes of MoS2 on flexible plastic substrates and determined how their crystal lattices were oriented using optical techniques. They then patterned metal electrodes onto the flakes. In research done at Georgia Tech, a group led by Zhong Lin Wang, Regents’ Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Materials Science and Engineering, installed measurement electrodes on the samples provided by Hone’s group, then measured current flows as the samples were mechanically deformed. They monitored the conversion of mechanical to electrical energy, and observed voltage and current outputs.Ultimately, Zhong Lin Wang notes, the research could lead to complete atomic-thick nanosystems that are self-powered by harvesting mechanical energy from the environment. This study also reveals the piezotronic effect in two-dimensional materials for the first time, which greatly expands the application of layered materials for human-machine interfacing, robotics, MEMS, and active flexible electronics.Source Also: Learn more about a Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Transducer System.

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3D-Printed Power Inverter Enables Lighter Electric Vehicles

Using 3D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful, and more efficient.At the core of this development is wide bandgap material made of silicon carbide, with qualities superior to standard semiconductor materials. Power inverters convert direct current into the alternating current that powers the vehicle. The Oak Ridge inverter achieves much higher power density with a significant reduction in weight and volume.Using additive manufacturing, researchers optimized the inverter’s heat sink, allowing for better heat transfer throughout the unit. This construction technique allowed them to place lower-temperature components close to the high-temperature devices, further reducing the electrical losses and reducing the volume and mass of the package.The research group’s first prototype, a liquid-cooled all-silicon carbide traction drive inverter, features 50-percent-printed parts. Initial evaluations confirmed an efficiency of nearly 99 percent, surpassing DOE’s power electronics target and setting the stage for building an inverter using entirely additive manufacturing techniques.Building on the success of this prototype, researchers are working on an inverter with an even greater percentage of 3D-printed parts in commercially available vehicles. SourceAlso: See other Electronics tech briefs.

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No-Power Wi-Fi Connectivity Could Fuel Internet of Things

Imagine a world in which your wristwatch or other wearable device communicates directly with your online profiles, storing information about your daily activities where you can best access it, all without requiring batteries. Or, battery-free sensors embedded around your home that could track minute-by-minute temperature changes and send that information to your thermostat to help conserve energy.

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Ferroelectric Materials Could Revolutionize Data-Driven Devices

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics — remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets that are inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of "forgetting" stored data. Now, however, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have discovered nanoscale asymmetries and charge preferences hidden within ferroelectrics that may explain their operational limits.

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6U AC/DC VPX Power Supply

North Atlantic Industries (NAI) (Bohemia, NY) has announced its latest 6U rugged VPX power product — the VPX56-6. Well-suited for rugged military and commercial aerospace applications, the VPX56-6 provides up to 700 watts of power (CC4 temperature range, full load) with five outputs and is compliant with MIL-STD-704F. Other features include current share, remote error sensing and a built-in EMI filter compliant with MIL-STD-461, CE-102 — all within a single slot 1.0″ pitch, 6U package. The VPX56-6 is designed to meet standard 6U VPX mechanical requirements and has VITA 62 compatible outputs and signaling. www.naii.com

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Multi-Function HD Video Tracker

  GE’s Intelligent Platforms business (Huntsville, AL) has introduced the rugged ADEPT4000 compact high definition (HD) digital video tracker with electronic image processing. It is the first HD digital video tracker with the capability to perform tracking, image stabilization and video compression simultaneously in a package specifically designed to minimize size, weight and power (SWaP) in highly constrained environments such as autonomous unmanned vehicles, man-portable systems and so on. Measuring just 64mm x 54mm - 75mm x 75mm including connectors – weighing only 28 grams and consuming (depending on settings) a mere 4W of power, the ADEPT4000 enables a powerful, sophisticated solution to be deployed that allows for a high degree of flexibility in board location. http://defense.ge-ip.com/products/adept4000-automatic-video-tracker/p3742

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Multi-Touch Development Platform

Microchip Technology Inc. (Chandler, AZ) announced the expansion of its Human Interface Input Sensing Solutions portfolio with the introduction of the 3DTouchPad, a PC peripheral and world’s first Development Platform for 2D multi-touch and 3D gestures. The 3DTouchPad provides 3D gesture recognition utilizing Microchip’s GestIC(R) technology that offers a detection range of up to 10cm for 3D gestures, along with Microchip’s projected-capacitive 2D multi-touch solution supporting up to 10 touch points and multi-finger surface gestures. The 2D multi-touch is enhanced by Microchip’s new capacitive touch-screen line driver, MTCH652. The new 3DTouchPad includes driverless, out-of-the-box features for Windows(R) 7/8.X and OS X(R), and a free downloadable GUI and SDK/API package tailored for developers. http://www.microchip.com/get/RL1J

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