Electronics

NASA Launch Pads Protected Against Lightning-Induced Power Surges

Circuit protection components Littelfuse Chicago, IL 773-628-1000 www.littelfuse.com Circuit protection is an essential part of any electrical or electronic product or system design. As the complexity of the product or system grows, circuit protection design becomes increasingly crucial. As circuitry is increasingly miniaturized, it’s more important than ever to protect it from damaging power surges. For engineers whose work is critical to the safety of a NASA mission, protecting the lives of crewmembers depends to no small extent on protecting delicate digital circuitry from hazards like electrostatic discharges and lightning-induced surges.

Posted in: Application Briefs, Electronics, Power Management

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Building Optical Chips that Can Be Tuned to Different Frequencies

Chips that could use light, instead of electricity, to move data would consume much less power—a growing concern as chips’ transistor counts rise. Of the three chief components of optical circuits—light emitters, modulators, and detectors—emitters are the toughest to build. One promising light source for optical chips is molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), which has excellent optical properties when deposited as a single, atom-thick layer, say researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. Other experimental on-chip light emitters have more-complex three-dimensional geometries and use materials that are much more scarce, which would make them more difficult and costly to manufacture.

Posted in: MDB, News, Electronics, Medical

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Can New Material Succeed Silicon for Electronic Uses?

Silicon is generally the material of choice in the electronics industry. Yet transistors, the switchable valves that control the flow of electrons in a circuit, cannot simply keep shrinking to meet the needs of powerful, compact devices. Physical limitations like energy consumption and heat dissipation are too significant. Now, using a quantum material called a correlated oxide, a team of researchers at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, have achieved a reversible change in electrical resistance of eight orders of magnitude, a result the researchers are calling “colossal.” In short, they have engineered this material to perform comparably with the best silicon switches.

Posted in: MDB, News, Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs

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Researchers Control Surface Tension of Liquid Metals

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages, opening the door to a new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies. The technique hinges on the fact that the oxide “skin” of the metal – which can be deposited or removed – acts as a surfactant, lowering the surface tension between the metal and the surrounding fluid.The researchers used a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium. In base, the bare alloy has a remarkably high surface tension of about 500 millinewtons (mN)/meter, which causes the metal to bead up into a spherical blob. “But we discovered that applying a small, positive charge – less than 1 volt – causes an electrochemical reaction that creates an oxide layer on the surface of the metal, dramatically lowering the surface tension from 500 mN/meter to around 2 mN/meter,” says Dr. Michael Dickey, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. “This change allows the liquid metal to spread out like a pancake, due to gravity.”The researchers also showed that the change in surface tension is reversible. If researchers flip the polarity of the charge from positive to negative, the oxide is eliminated and high surface tension is restored.  The surface tension can be tuned between these two extremes by varying the voltage in small steps.SourceAlso: Learn about Gradient Metal Alloys Fabricated Using Additive Manufacturing.

Posted in: News, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Materials, Metals, Antennas, RF & Microwave Electronics

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Connecting the World with Tiny Radios

A Stanford University engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant that requires no batteries. The device gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. Designed to compute, execute, and relay commands, the tiny wireless chip costs pennies to manufacture, making it cheap enough, they say, to become the missing link between the Internet and the connected smart gadgets envisioned in the “Internet of Things.”

Posted in: MDB, News, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics, Power Management, Power Supplies, Diagnostics, Medical, Patient Monitoring

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First Ultra-Flexible Graphene-Based Display Produced

A team of scientists in a collaboration between the Cambridge Graphene Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK, and Plastic Logic Ltd., also in Cambridge, have created a prototype of a flexible display incorporating graphene in its pixels’ electronics, marking the first time that graphene has been used in a transistor-based flexible device.

Posted in: MDB, News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Displays/Monitors/HMIs, Imaging, Diagnostics, Medical, Patient Monitoring

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Nano-Measurements Using Optical Microscope Technique

New research has confirmed that a technique developed previously at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Gaithersburg, MD, can enable optical microscopes to measure the 3D shape of objects at nanometer-scale resolution—far below the normal resolution limit for optical microscopy. The results could make the technique a useful quality control tool in the manufacture of nanoscale devices such as next-generation microchips.

Posted in: MDB, News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Medical, Nanotechnology, Measuring Instruments, Test & Measurement

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