News

Fundamental Optics Experiments Seek to Create Better Long-Range Sensors

Dr. Qiuhai “Ken” Zuo, left, and Dr. Lingze Duan plan experiments that could make infrasonic optical sensors more sensitive and accurate over long distances. (Credit: Michael Mercier/UAH) A pair of University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) researchers aim to explore fundamental properties of infrasonic optical sensors that could make them more sensitive and accurate over long distances. The results of their research, which combines experiments and theoretical modeling, could impact future operation of these sensors in areas ranging from national security to Earth system science.

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Light-Trapping 3-D Solar Cells Undergo Space Testing

GTRI researcher Stephan Turano shows an optical microscope image of one of the carbon nanotube array patterns on a solar cell that will be tested on the International Space Station. The actual cell is visible on microscope stage under the objective. (Credit: Gary Meek, Georgia Tech) A novel three-dimensional solar cell design developed at Georgia Tech will soon get its first testing in space aboard the International Space Station. An experimental module containing 18 test cells was launched to the ISS in July and will be installed on the exterior of the station to study the cells’ performance and their ability to withstand the rigors of space.

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Molecular Electronics Could Someday Replace Silicon Chips

Preferential adsorption of p-nitrobenzoic acid on carbon nanotubes. (a) Top: Chemical structure of p-nitrobenzoic acid (pNBA). Bottom: Schematic illustration of the monoclinic unit cell of pNBA powder as extracted from X-ray diffraction analysis. (b,c) Dark field optical microscopy images of pNBA nanocrystals adsorbed along CVD grown carbon nanotubes (CNTs). Scale bar, 50 and 20 µm, respectively. (d) Amplitude image of AFM of a single CNT with a few pNBA nanocrystals along. Scale bar, 1 µm. Inset: height cross sections along the marked lines of the main figure. (e) Dark field optical microscopy image of pNBA nanocrystals after intensive deposition. Note the black voids along the CNT. Scale bar, 20 µm. (f) Dark field optical microscopy image of pNBA nanocrystals adsorb onto commercial dispersed CNTs. Scale bar, 20 µm. Technion researchers have developed a method for growing carbon nanotubes that could lead to the day when molecular electronics replace the ubiquitous silicon chip as the building block of electronics.

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Research May Lead to More Durable Electronic Devices

In modeling new protective materials, the researchers introduced sacrificial molecules (shown in grey) in the four-frame simulation on the left. These molecules can be removed after the material is made, leaving behind tiny pores (visible in the larger frame on the right) that make the material more durable to expansion and contraction. (Credit: Dauskardt Group) Deep inside the electronic devices that proliferate in our world, from cell phones to solar cells, layer upon layer of almost unimaginably small transistors and delicate circuitry shuttle all-important electrons back and forth. It is now possible to cram 6 million or more transistors into a single layer of these chips. Designers include layers of glassy materials between the electronics to insulate and protect these delicate components against the continual push and pull of heating and cooling that often causes them to fail.

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Engineered “Sand” May Help Cool Electronic Devices

A thermal probe tests heat conductance in a sample of silicon dioxide nanoparticles. The material could potentially conduct heat at an efficiency higher than that of conventional materials. (Credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech) Baratunde Cola would like to put sand into your computer. Not beach sand, but silicon dioxide nanoparticles coated with a high dielectric constant polymer to inexpensively provide improved cooling for increasingly power-hungry electronic devices.

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Navy Grant Fuels Effort to Improve Safety of Military Technology

The Naval Engineering Education Consortium grant will advance the use of computer vision to guarantee the integrity of electronic circuitry in military technology. (Photo by Magnascan) An Indiana University expert in the high-tech field of computer vision will collaborate with U.S. Navy engineers to improve the quality of microelectronic components used in critical military systems like communication and navigation. David Crandall, a professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing, has received $450,000 from the Naval Engineering Education Consortium to conduct research in collaboration with the Crane, Ind.-based Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division on new methods to guarantee the integrity of the electronic circuitry used in U.S. Navy platforms.

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Researcher Creates System to Control Robots With the Brain

Skull cap outfitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer to record brain activity. A researcher at Arizona State University has discovered how to control multiple robotic drones using the human brain. A controller wears a skull cap outfitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The device records electrical brain activity. If the controller moves a hand or thinks of something, certain areas light up.

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