A team at Stanford’s School of Engineering has demonstrated an ultrafast nanoscale light-emitting diode (LED) that is orders of magnitude lower in power consumption than today’s laser-based systems and is able to transmit data at the very rapid rate of 10 billion bits per second.
The researchers say it is a major step forward in providing a practical ultrafast, low-power light source for on-chip data transmission.
Stanford’s Jelena Vuckovic, an associate professor of electrical engineering, and Gary Shambat, a doctoral candidate in electrical engineering, announced their device in a research paper set to be published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications. [via]
Nanophotonics LED achieves ultrafast data transmission rates - [Link]
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries.
EVANSTON, Ill. — Imagine a cellphone battery that stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes. That dream battery could be closer to reality thanks to Northwestern University research.
A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.
The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations — energy capacity and charge rate — in one fell swoop. In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.
The technology could be seen in the marketplace in the next three to five years, the researchers said.
A paper describing the research is published by the journal Advanced Energy Materials.
“We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by 10 times,” said Harold H. Kung, lead author of the paper. “Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today.”
New technology improves both energy capacity and charge rate in rechargeable batteries - [Link]
KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) researchers have developed a new concept for rechargeable batteries. Based on a fluoride shuttle — the transfer of fluoride anions between the electrodes – it promises to enhance the storage capacity reached by lithium-ion batteries by several factors. Operational safety is also increased, as it can be done without lithium. The fluoride-ion battery is presented for the first time in the “Journal of Materials Chemistry” by Dr. Maximilian Fichtner and Dr. Munnangi Anji Reddy.
Lithium-ion batteries are applied widely, but their storage capacity is limited. In the future, battery systems of enhanced energy density will be needed for mobile applications in particular. Such batteries can store more energy at reduced weight. For this reason, KIT researchers are also conducting research into alternative systems. A completely new concept for secondary batteries based on metal fluorides was developed at the KIT Institute of Nanotechnology (INT). [via]
Fluoride increases storage capacity of rechargeable batteries - [Link]
This video is making the round, lots of fun to watch Suspending a superconducting disc above or below a set of permanent magnets. The magnetic field is locked inside the superconductor ; a phenomenon called ‘Quantum Trapping’. [via]
QuantumLevitation - [Link]
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics just announced… [via]
“Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice…” *
What will be the final destiny of the Universe? Probably it will end in ice, if we are to believe this year’s Nobel Laureates in Physics. They have studied several dozen exploding stars, called supernovae, and discovered that the Universe is expanding at an ever-accelerating rate. The discovery came as a complete surprise even to the Laureates themselves.
In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations as two research teams presented their findings. Headed by Saul Perlmutter, one of the teams had set to work in 1988. Brian Schmidt headed another team, launched at the end of 1994, where Adam Riess was to play a crucial role.
The research teams raced to map the Universe by locating the most distant supernovae. More sophisticated telescopes on the ground and in space, as well as more powerful computers and new digital imaging sensors (CCD, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2009), opened the possibility in the 1990s to add more pieces to the cosmological puzzle.
The teams used a particular kind of supernova, called type Ia supernova. It is an explosion of an old compact star that is as heavy as the Sun but as small as the Earth. A single such supernova can emit as much light as a whole galaxy. All in all, the two research teams found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected – this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating. The potential pitfalls had been numerous, and the scientists found reassurance in the fact that both groups had reached the same astonishing conclusion.
For almost a century, the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating is astounding. If the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.
The acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma – perhaps the greatest in physics today. What is known is that dark energy constitutes about three quarters of the Universe. Therefore the findings of the 2011 Nobel Laureates in Physics have helped to unveil a Universe that to a large extent is unknown to science. And everything is possible again.
The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics – accelerating expansion of the Universe - [Link]
ALMA Opens Its Eyes – [via]
Humanity’s most complex ground-based astronomy observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), has officially opened for astronomers. The first released image, from a telescope still under construction, reveals a view of the Universe that cannot be seen at all by visible-light and infrared telescopes. Thousands of scientists from around the world competed to be the first few researchers to explore some of the darkest, coldest, farthest, and most hidden secrets of the Cosmos with this new astronomical tool.
ALMA Opens Its Eyes - [Link]
What exactly are they?
With a neutral charge and nearly zero mass, neutrinos are the shadiest of particles, rarely interacting with ordinary matter and slipping through our bodies, buildings and the Earth at a rate of trillions per second.
First predicted in 1930 by Wolfgang Pauli, who won a Nobel prize for this work in 1945, they are produced in various nuclear reactions: fusion, which powers the sun; fission, harnessed by humans to make weapons and energy; and during natural radioactive decay inside the Earth.
Neutrinos: Everything you need to know - [Link]
So the web is buzzing right now over news that scientists have detected some subatomic particles moving faster than the speed of light.
Yeah, well, not so fast. Let’s think about this for a sec.
First, what happened is that they create these particles, called neutrinos, at CERN in Geneva. Neutrinos don’t interact with normal matter well, so they can pass right through the Earth as if it isn’t there. In a fraction of a second, some of them enter a detector called OPERA in Italy where they are recorded (pictured here). If you divide the distance between those two points by the time it takes for the neutrinos to travel, you get their speed.
And when the scientists did that, they find the neutrinos get to Italy about 60 nanoseconds faster than a photon would.
The thing to do is to look at where this claim might have gone awry. First, the timing is interesting. They claim a measuring accuracy of 10 nanoseconds, so 60 ns would be pretty significant. However, my first thought is that light travels about 30 centimeters in 1 ns, so they need to know the distance between the source and the detector to an accuracy of 3 meters. If they are off by 20 meters, then we’re done; that would explain the difference entirely. I suppose this depends on how they measured the distance and the speed of the particles, too. However, they haven’t published a paper on this just yet, so that’ll have to wait.
Also, as pointed out in a Science Magazine article, knowing the exact moment the neutrinos are created isn’t easy either. Mind you, 60 nanoseconds is 0.00000006 seconds, so they need a pretty good clock here. That page also says they used GPS to determine the distance, which could be off a bit.
Why the Faster-than-Light Neutrino Experiment May Be Wrong - [Link]
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley, have shown that it is possible to reduce the minimum voltage necessary to store charge in a capacitor, an achievement that could reduce the power draw and heat generation of today’s electronics. Shown is a rendition of an experimental stack made with a layer of lead zirconate titanate, a ferroelectric material. UC Berkeley researchers showed that this configuration could amplify the charge in the layer of strontium titanate, an electrical insulator, for a given voltage, a phenomenon known as negative capacitance.
“Just like a Formula One car, the faster you run your computer, the hotter it gets. So the key to having a fast microprocessor is to make its building block, the transistor, more energy efficient,” said Asif Khan, UC Berkeley graduate student in electrical engineering and computer sciences. “Unfortunately, a transistor’s power supply voltage, analogous to a car’s fuel, has been stuck at 1 volt for about 10 years due to the fundamental physics of its operation. Transistors have not become as ‘fuel-efficient’ as they need to be to keep up with the market’s thirst for more computing speed, resulting in a cumulative and unsustainable increase in the power draw of microprocessors. We think we can change that.” [via]
Negative capacitance – one day soon - [Link]
Scientists at the University of Washington (USA) have developed a new type of transistor that uses protons instead of electrons for charge transport. It is intended to simplify the interfacing of electronic circuitry to the brains of living organisms, since protons (positively charged hydrogen atoms) and ions are responsible for signal transport between nerve cells. Proton-based transistors are therefore better suited to controlling and monitoring processes in the brain.
The researches discovered that the natural biomaterial chitosan, obtained from squid pens and crab shells, is a good proton conductor. They then used it to fabricate a transistor that can generate proton pulses. The prototype device is a field-effect transistor with a source, gate and drain, but it operates with protons. [via]
Novel transistor uses protons for charge transport - [Link]