Semiconductors & ICs

Method for Formal Verification of Polymorphic Heterogeneous Multicore Processors

John H. Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

Amethod was developed to model polymorphic heterogeneous multicore processors at a high level of abstraction, and formally verify them. The Bahurupi polymorphic heterogeneous multi-core architecture allows the combination of multiple simple processor cores — which can be superscalar — in order to form a coalition that behaves like a wider superscalar processor. This is done at runtime under software directives, allowing the architecture to adapt to the needs of executed applications with high instruction level parallelism. Such coalitions of cores were found to have comparable or better performance than that of a wide superscalar processor with issue width equal to the sum of the issue widths of the simple cores in the coalition, while avoiding the complexity, reliability issues, and high power consumption of wide superscalar cores. All of these are highly desirable advantages of future microprocessors that will be optimized for aerospace applications.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Architecture, Semiconductors

SEE Mitigation Technique for Self-Timed Circuits and Rad-Hard, Self-Timed Configurable Memory

The new block RAM is faster and consumes less power than conventional block RAMs, while providing unparalleled levels of radiation resilience.

Marshall Space Flight Center, Alabama

To enable NASA’s next-generation missions, there is a critical need for a reconfigurable field programmable gate array (FPGA) that can withstand the wide temperature ranges and radiation of the space environment while consuming minimal power without compromising on performance. To address this need, GoofyFoot Labs developed the E2-AMP FPGA, a radiation-hardened, high-performance, low-power FPGA capable of operating reliably over wide temperature ranges and rapid thermal changes.

Posted in: Briefs, Semiconductors & ICs, Electronic equipment

Modeling for Partitioned and Multicore Flight Software Systems

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

The current flight software approach is monolithic in nature. Every module has tentacles that reach deep within dozens of other software modules. Because of these interdependencies between modules, functionality is difficult to extract and reuse for other missions.

Posted in: Briefs, TSP, Semiconductors & ICs, Architecture, Computer software and hardware, Flight control systems, Semiconductors

Technique Generates Electricity from Mechanical Vibrations

Research scientists at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have demonstrated a new technique for generating electrical energy. The method can be used in harvesting energy from mechanical vibrations of the environment and converting it into electricity. Energy harvesters are needed in wireless self-powered sensors and medical implants, where they could ultimately replace batteries. The technology could be introduced on an industrial scale within three to six years.

Posted in: News, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Energy, Energy Harvesting, Semiconductors & ICs

New System Could Prolong Power in Mobile Devices

Researchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use. The technology taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, PCs/Portable Computers, Power Management, Semiconductors & ICs

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.

Posted in: News, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Materials, Metals, Semiconductors & ICs, Sensors

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.

Posted in: News, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Semiconductors & ICs, Automotive, Transportation

'Solar Battery' Runs on Light and Air

Ohio State University researchers report that they have succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”During charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons.When the battery discharges, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide. An iodide additive in the electrolyte acts as a “shuttle” that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel. The use of the additive represents a distinct approach on improving the battery performance and efficiency, the team said. The invention eliminates the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery.SourceAlso: Learn about Full-Cell Evaluation for New Battery Chemistries.

Posted in: News, Batteries, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Power Management, Energy, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Solar Power, Semiconductors & ICs

Tiny Wireless Sensing Device Alerts Users to Telltale Vapors Remotely

A research team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) has developed a small electronic sensing device that can alert users wirelessly to the presence of chemical vapors in the atmosphere. The technology, which could be manufactured using familiar aerosol-jet printing techniques, is aimed at a variety of applications in military, commercial, environmental, healthcare and other areas.

Posted in: News, Communications, Wireless, Board-Level Electronics, Electronic Components, Electronics, Electronics & Computers, Nanotechnology, RF & Microwave Electronics, Semiconductors & ICs, Detectors, Sensors

3D Printer That Could Build a Home in 24 Hours Wins Global Design Competition

New York, NY – Contour Crafting, a computerized construction method that rapidly 3D prints large-scale structures directly from architectural CAD models, has been awarded the grand prize of $20,000 in the 2014 "Create the Future" Design Contest.

Contour Crafting automates the construction of whole structures and radically reduces the time and cost of construction. The large-scale 3D printing technology is revolutionary to the construction industry and could lead to affordable building of high-quality, low-income housing; the rapid construction of emergency shelters; and on-demand housing in response to disasters. NASA is looking at the technology for building moon and Mars bases.

Behrokh Khoshnevis, a professor at University of Southern California, who invented Contour Crafting, views this invention as a proven concept. “Bringing 3D printing to construction is bringing a concept to a proven application. For many years, building has been done in layers – concrete foundation blocks, brick laying, structural framing, etc.”

“I am very happy to receive this award and find it to be very timely as I am in the process of fund raising and I think this recognition will help me greatly in furthering the project,” said Khoshnevis.

Contour Crafting was among the 1,074 new product ideas submitted in the 12th annual design contest, which was established in 2002 to recognize and reward engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. This year’s design contest was co-sponsored by COMSOL ( and Mouser Electronics ( Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors.

In addition to the grand prize of $20,000, first-place winners (of Hewlett-Packard workstations) were named in seven categories:

*Aerospace & Defense:

The Polariton Interferometer - a Novel Inertial Navigation System

Frederick Moxley

A stealth navigation system that provides precise course-plotting while operating independently from GPS.


Continuously Variable Displacement Engine

Steve Arnold

A continuously variable stroke engine that operates at 30% better fuel efficiency than conventional thick stroke engine designs.

*Consumer Products:

NanoFab a Box!

Jonathan Moritz (Team Leader)

An educational kit that brings nanomanufacturing out of the cleanroom and into the classroom.


A Paradigm Shift for SMT Electronics

Jim Hester (Team Leader)

Micro-coil springs that provide flexible electrical interconnections for integrated circuit packages, preventing connection breaks due to heat and vibration.

*Machinery/Automation/Robotics  – sponsored by Maplesoft:

Automatic Eye Finder & Tracking System

Rikki Razdan (Team Leader)

Real-time point-of-gaze eye tracking system that allows users to control computer input through "Look and Click" applications. 


HemeChip for Early Diagnosis of Sickle Cell Disease

Yunus Alapan (Team Leader)

A biochip that can rapidly, easily, and conclusively identify the hemoglobin type in blood to diagnose Sickle Cell Disease in newborns.

*Sustainable Technologies:

Ecovent Systems - Making Every Room the Right Temperature

Dipul Patel (Team Leader)

A system of wireless vents and sensors that makes any forced air heating and cooling system smarter by directing conditioned air where it’s needed most.

Finalists were selected by senior editors at Tech Briefs Media Group and judged by an independent panel of design engineers. Visitors to the contest Web site could vote on entries, with the 10 most popular designs awarded a Sphero mobile game system by Orbotix. For more information, visit        


Posted in: News, Automotive, Electronic Components, Electronics & Computers, Green Design & Manufacturing, Manufacturing & Prototyping, Rapid Prototyping & Tooling, Diagnostics, Medical, Nanotechnology, Automation, Semiconductors & ICs, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), Software

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