MRAM Alternative Uses Less Energy than Conventional Chip

Purely electrical memory chips commonly used today are volatile and their state must be continuously refreshed, which requires a lot of energy. An alternative to these electrical memory chips is magnetic random access memory (MRAM), which saves data magnetically and does not require constant refreshing. They do, however, require relatively large electrical currents to write the data to memory, which reduces reliability.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Integrated circuits, Energy consumption

Reconfigurable Chaos-Based Microchips

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed nonlinear chaos-based integrated circuits that enable computer chips to perform multiple functions with fewer transistors. These integrated circuits can be manufactured with off-the-shelf fabrication processes, and could lead to novel computer architectures that do more with less circuitry and fewer transistors.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Integrated circuits, Transistors, Fabrication

Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Sandia National Laboratories researchers designed a cooling system for supercomputer centers that is expected to save four to five million gallons of water annually in New Mexico if installed at Sandia's computing center, and hundreds of millions of gallons nationally if the method is widely adopted. It is being tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which expects to save a million gallons annually. The system, built by Johnson Controls and called the Thermosyphon Cooler Hybrid System, cools like a refrigerator without the expense and energy needs of a compressor.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Computer software and hardware, Product development, Cooling, Refrigerants

Computer Chips Calculate and Store in an Integrated Unit

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison created computer chips that can be configured to perform complex calculations and store massive amounts of information within the same integrated unit, and communicate efficiently with other chips. Called “liquid silicon” — liquid for software and silicon for hardware — the technology has uses in data-intensive applications such as facial or voice recognition, natural language processing, and graph analytics.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Integrated circuits, Product development

Printed Circuit Board Design Software Helps Create New Energy Solutions

Founded in 2006, Eagle Harbor Technologies (EHT) delivers high-quality pulsed power solutions to organizations such as the Department of Energy (DoE), NASA, and the United States Navy. From its headquarters in Seattle, WA, EHT offers a full suite of pulsed power products to commercial and research markets. These organizations depend on high-voltage nanosecond pulse generation, advanced plasma sources, and fusion energy technologies.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Integrated circuits, Electric power, Supplier assessment

Electron-to-Photon Communication for Quantum Computing

Princeton University researchers have built a device in which a single electron can pass its quantum information to a particle of light. The particle of light, or photon, then acts as a messenger to carry the information to other electrons, creating connections that form the circuits of a quantum computer.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Architecture, Communication protocols, Computer software and hardware, Product development

Material Combination Enables Transistor Gate Length of 1 Nanometer

The laws of physics have set a 5-nanometer threshold on the size of transistor gates among conventional semiconductors, about one-quarter the size of high-end, 20-nanometer-gate transistors now on the market. Researchers from the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have created a transistor with a working 1-nanometer gate.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Downsizing, Transistors, Nanomaterials, Semiconductors

Electric Field Quantitative Measurement System and Method

This technology could be used for medical imaging, security applications, weather prediction, and nondestructive evaluation of composites and insulators.

NASA Langley Research Center’s Electric Field Imaging (EFI) system is the only noncontact method capable of quantitatively measuring the magnitude and direction of electrostatic fields in near- and far-field applications. Based on low-cost, commercially available components, the EFI system uses measurement of very-low-current, human-safe electric fields to construct a three-dimensional image of objects and people based on their dielectric properties. This platform technology, originally developed for measurement of the efficacy of electrical shielding around cables, could be optimized for a variety of applications, including medical imaging, security and detection, weather and natural disaster prediction, and nondestructive evaluation of composites and insulators. The EFI system has the potential to offer a lower-cost, portable, and safer alternative to the imaging systems currently used in these applications.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Measurements, Electrical systems, Imaging and visualization, Surveillance, Weather and climate, Non-destructive tests

Auto-Balancing Series-Stacked Input DC-DC Converter

This invention could enable practical, reliable, and efficient power conversion in high-voltage DC systems without power level limitation.

ADC-DC converter that can operate from a high input voltage is needed for future high-power space applications. However, the selection of space-qualified, high-voltage transistors and filter capacitors for such a converter are very limited. The available high-voltage components have lower performance than lower-voltage components. One possible solution to this problem is connecting in series the inputs of multiple converters to lower the input voltage at the individual converter inputs. However, because of component tolerances, performance degradation, and transient events, this can result in an unbalanced voltage distribution throughout the various inputs. Excessive voltage on any of the stacked converters can damage components and cause a catastrophic failure. A circuit that could inherently balance the voltage between the inputs of multiple low-voltage DCDC converters would have better performance and reliability.

Posted in: Briefs, Board-Level Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Capacitors, Integrated circuits, Switches, Transistors, Performance upgrades, Spacecraft

Larger-Area Integrated Electrical Metallization Dielectric Structures with Stress-Managed Unit Cells for Extreme- Environment Semiconductor Electronics Chips

Electronic circuits that operate in high temperatures are used in automobiles, airplanes, oil drilling operations, and many other applications.

The use of patterned multiple layers of thin films of metal and dielectric to form integrated circuit interconnections of transistors and/or form on-chip circuit capacitors is well known to those skilled in the art of semiconductor microelectronic fabrication. Because differing layers of thin film materials have different physical and thermal expansion properties, it is also well known that stress is inherently present in these multilayer film structures on a microelectronic chip. The amount of stress changes with temperature and as a function of lateral feature size/area across the chip. When stress anywhere within a patterned metal film feature becomes critically large (i.e., the “yield stress” is exceeded), the metal film can physically crack, buckle, or delaminate from other layers, which usually damages/fails the intended electrical operation of the microelectronic circuit.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Failure modes and effects analysis, Capacitors, Integrated circuits, Fabrication, Semiconductors

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