Articles

Neural Network Chip Can Perform Powerful Artificial-Intelligence Tasks

In recent years, some of the most exciting advances in artificial intelligence have come courtesy of convolutional neural networks, large virtual networks of simple information-processing units, which are loosely modeled on the anatomy of the human brain. Neural networks are typically implemented using graphics processing units (GPUs), special-purpose graphics chips found in all computing devices with screens. A mobile GPU, of the type found in a cell phone, might have almost 200 cores, or processing units, making it well suited to simulating a network of distributed processors.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers
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Iron Studded BNNTs Could Replace Semiconductors in Wearable Tech

The road to more versatile wearable technology is dotted with iron. Specifically, quantum dots of iron arranged on boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs). The new material is the subject of a study conducted by Yoke Khin Yap, a professor of physics at Michigan Technological University. Yap says the iron-studded BNNTs are pushing the boundaries of electronics hardware. The transistors modulating electron flow need an upgrade.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers
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Stable "Superoxide" Opens the Door to a New Class of Batteries

While lithium-ion batteries have transformed our everyday lives, researchers are currently trying to find new chemistries that could offer even better energy possibilities. One of these chemistries, lithium-air, could promise greater energy density but has certain drawbacks as well. Thanks to research at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory, however, one of those drawbacks may have been overcome.

Posted in: Articles, Electronics & Computers
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NASA-Developed Platform Integrates Sensors with Smartphones

Carbon-nanotube-based gas detectors paved the way for interchangeable smartphone-savvy sensors.

In 2007, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a call for a sensor that could equip a smartphone with the ability to detect dangerous gases and chemicals, NASA Ames Research Center scientist Jing Li had a ready response. She had been developing the use of single-walled carbon nanotubes that respond to various gases and compounds for use in NASA applications such as evaluating planetary atmospheres, detecting chemicals around rocket launch pads, and monitoring the performance of life-support systems. Her proposal was awarded funding in 2008, but she needed a way for the device to “sniff” the air for samples, and a system that would allow it to interface with a smartphone.

Posted in: Articles, Spinoff, Aerospace, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Sensors and actuators, Nanotechnology, Hazardous materials, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Defining and Measuring “LOOSE TIGHT BUFFER” in Fiber Optic Cables

As the optical fiber and cable industry unfolded, several terms were coined to describe specific properties that were new and different from conventional wire processing. One of those that stayed around was the term “Loose Tight Buffer.”

Posted in: Articles, Imaging, Photonics, Measurements, Fiber optics, Fiber optics, Terminology, Test equipment and instrumentation, Test procedures
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Tech Briefs 40th Anniversary: Executive Perspectives

We asked executives to offer perspectives on milestones in their industry or technology area that occurred during the past 40 years. Did their industry exist 40 years ago, and if not, what brought about its creation? Maybe it experienced its greatest growth during that time. And what are their expectations for the coming years?

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Design processes, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Internet of things, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Internet of things, Product development, Robotics, Test equipment and instrumentation
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Executive Perspectives: Data Acquisition & Sensing

GRANT MALOY SMITH
President and CEO
Dewetron, Inc.
Wakefield, RI
www.dewamerica.com

In 40 years, data acquisition products have evolved from paper-based chart recorders and analog tape machines, to computer-based instruments. As a result, the relatively slow pace of improvements in performance that typified data recorders for nearly a century is now swept along on the fast-moving current of computer technology advances.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Data Acquisition, Data Acquisition, Sensors, Data acquisition and handling, Sensors and actuators, Data acquisition and handling, Sensors and actuators
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Executive Perspectives: Software

DOMINIC GALLELLO
President and CEO
MSC Software Corporation
Newport Beach, CA
www.mscsoftware.com

The foundation stones of CAE were laid in the 1960s during the race for space. Because of the obvious defense implications, this was a national imperative. It was a time of virtually unlimited government funding for advancing engineering methods — long nights and weekends, with country first and family second.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Software, Computer simulation, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware
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Executive Perspectives: Software

SVANTE LITTMARCK
President and CEO
COMSOL, Inc.
Burlington, MA
www.comsol.com

With the birth some 50 years ago of computers based on integrated circuits and semiconductors, engineers had a tool that could potentially produce numerical solutions to differential equations based on the laws of science — equations that realistically modeled the physics at hand, not just a simplified version that modeled the physics in a perfectly ideal case. At that point, numerical analysis became practically very important.

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Software, Mathematical analysis, Simulation and modeling, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware
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Executive Perspectives: Internet of Things

ALEX IUORIO
Senior Vice President, Supplier
Management and Business Development
Avnet Electronics Marketing Americas
Phoenix, AZ
www.em.avnet.com

In a 1926 interview, inventor Nikola Tesla stated: “When wireless [technology] is perfectly applied, the whole Earth will be converted into a huge brain.” Though Tesla’s remark was made four decades before the earliest incarnations of Internet technology were introduced by the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency, it is an uncanny depiction of the power and potential we see today from the Internet of Things (IoT).

Posted in: Articles, Aerospace, Electronics & Computers, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems, Internet of things, Sensors and actuators, Wireless communication systems
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