Research laboratory Imec has announced that it has integrated an ultra-thin, flexible chip with bendable and stretchable interconnects into a package that adapts dynamically to curving and bending surfaces. The resulting circuitry can be embedded in medical and lifestyle applications where user comfort and unobtrusiveness is key, such as wearable health monitors or smart clothing.
For the demonstration, the researchers thinned a commercially available microcontroller down to 30µm, preserving the electrical performance and functionality. This die was then embedded in a slim polyimide package (40-50µm thick). Next, this ultrathin chip was integrated with stretchable electrical wiring. These were realized by patterning polyimide-supported meandering horseshoe-shaped wires, a technology developed and optimized at the lab. Last, the package is embedded in an elastomeric substrate, e.g. polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). In this substrate, the conductors behave as two dimensional springs, enabling greater flexibility while preserving conductivity. [via]
Electronics that Flex and Stretch like Skin - [Link]
In an effort to bring the advantages of relay logic to the modern world of miniaturized devices, research groups in various parts of the world are exploring ways to develop nanoscale mechanical relays that can be used to build process controllers. Although typically slower than semiconductor logic devices, relays have the advantage of very low quiescent power and bidirectional current flow. Nanoscale relays can additionally achieve significantly higher switching rates than their normal-scale cousins. [via]
Relay Logic Goes Nano - [Link]
The ATF697FF is the newest member of Atmel’s SPARC V8 processor family and the industry’s first radiation-hardened (RAD Hard) high-performance aerospace microprocessor that can be reconfigured on-the-fly. The ability to reconfigure on-the-fly allows making on-going design modifications to satellites, including specification updates, in-flight adjustments during trial flights and post-launch alterations.
The new device is a reconfigurable processor that combines an AT697F processor and an ATF280F SRAM-based FPGA unit in a single multichip module. It can run at speeds up to 100MHz and it is low-power, down to 0.7W. Designed and developed by the Atmel Aerospace Business Unit in Rousset, France, adds the flexibility of a reprogrammable FPGA to the reliability of a powerful core processor running application software. It is targeted at systems that require reconfiguration of peripherals and interfaces, making it easy to comply and stay up-to-date with evolving standards that are used on many space missions, such as SpaceWire, CAN or IEEE1553. The flexibility of the ATF697FF processor is also beneficial for late design modifications performed on Earth, for in-flight adjustments on satellites and for space trial operations. [via]
Reconfigurable Processor for Space Applications - [Link]
Exynos 5 Dual supports resolutions of up to 2560×1600 as well as SATA, USB 3.0.
amsung has just released details about its new Exynos 5 5250 SoC for mobile devices. This dual-core, 1.7GHz chip is the first one on the market to feature the new Cortex A15 CPU architecture from ARM, which will provide substantially improved performance over the Cortex A9-based chips used in most of today’s smartphones and tablets.
The chip also includes ARM’s new Mali-T604 GPU designed to power Retina-class displays and support high-performance connectivity options like SATA and USB 3.0. These improvements make it a substantial upgrade over current-generation products like NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 or Samsung’s own Exynos 4. We’ll look at different aspects of the chip to see not just how the Exynos 5 and other Cortex A15 SoCs will benefit current tablets, but also how those improvements could lead to more viable laptop replacements.
New Samsung Cortex A15-based chip opens door to “Retina” Android tablets - [Link]
Singapore-based fuel cell company Horizon announced that world’s first personal hydrogen station is now available in stores. The company is offering a small-scale hydrogen system consisting of a Minipak portable power device, Hydrostik cartridges and Hydrofill which enables you to safely generate your own hydrogen at home.
The Minipak produces electricity on the go and can be used as a universal charger for mobile gadgets. At its core is a passive air-breathing fuel cell converting hydrogen and oxygen into electricity. The Minipak can produce up to 2 W of energie. [via]
Get Your Own Personal Hydrogen Station and Fuel Cell - [Link]
Researchers at MIT have designed a novel device the size of a U.S. quarter that harvests energy from low-frequency vibrations, such as those that might be felt along a pipeline or bridge. The tiny energy harvester — known technically as a microelectromechanical system, or MEMS — picks up a wider range of vibrations than current designs, and is able to generate 100 times the power of devices of similar size.
To harvest electricity from environmental vibrations, researchers have typically looked to piezoelectric materials, or PZT, such as quartz and other crystals. Various designs are based on a small microchip with layers of PZT glued to the top of a tiny cantilever beam. As the chip is exposed to vibrations, the beam moves up and down like a wobbly diving board, bending and stressing the PZT layers. The stressed material builds up an electric charge, which can be picked up by arrays of tiny electrodes. However, the beam itself has a resonant frequency and outside of this frequency, the beam’s response drops off, along with the amount of power that can be generated. [via]
New MEMS Device Generates More Energy From Small Vibrations - [Link]
Get that warm tube sound in your MP3 player!
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a semiconductor device with a vacuum channel etched in silicon for electron transport, instead of a conventional solid-state channel. This represents a return to vacuum tube technology, but on a much smaller scale.
Fast electronic devices need on short carrier transport times, which are usually achieved by decreasing the channel length and/or increasing the carrier velocity. In an ideal device, carrier motion is ballistic with no collisions, but it is difficult to achieve ballistic transport in a solid-state medium because the high electric field used to increase the carrier velocity also increases scattering. Vacuum is an ideal medium for ballistic transport, but vacuum devices typically have low emission currents and high operating voltages. [via]
Silicon Vacuum Tubes - [Link]
engineerguyvideo writes: [via]
Bill details how a microwave oven heats food. He describes how the microwave vacuum tube, called a magnetron, generates radio frequencies that cause the water in food to rotate back and forth. He shows the standing wave inside the oven, and notes how you can measure the wavelength with melted cheese. He concludes by describing how a magnetron generates radio waves.
How a Microwave Oven Works - [Link]
The Raspberry Pi received an extraordinary amount of pre-launch coverage. It truly went viral with major news corporations such as the BBC giving extensive coverage. Not without reason, it is groundbreaking to have a small capable computer retailing at less than the price of a new console game. There have been a number of ventures that have tried to produce a cheap computer such as a laptop and a tablet but which never materialised at these price points. Nothing comes close to the Raspberry Pi in terms of affordability, which is even more important in the current economic climate. Producing a PC capable of running Linux, Quake III-quality games, and 1080p video is worthy of praise.
First Steps with the Raspberry Pi: Introduction - [Link]
The number and quality of electric vehicle (EV) options on the market continues to expand, spawning vehicles like the new C-1. Created by Lit Motors, the trick electric motorbike uses gyroscopes for stabilization in much the same way as the Segway personal transporter to keep the rider from falling over, even at a stop without added effort from the rider.
Taking around 6 hours to charge to full capacity, the C-1 can then travel for around 150 to 220 miles without ever using a drop of gas. Top speed is around 120 mph, impressive for any EV. The electric motorbike offers the traditional advantages of a motorcycle; fast speed, good acceleration, spirited cornering and a fun ride; while avoiding their pitfalls.
The rider doesn’t need to worry about balance as that’s what the gyros are for. As for safety, a hard outer shell creates a cocoon around the rider, allowing for car-like safety. Even when struck by another vehicle from the side, the gyroscopic system will work to keep the C-1 from falling over.
Expected some time in 2014, the Lit Motors C-1 will carry a base price of around $12,000 to $14,000, less than a typical home renovation, but undercutting the cost of commercially available electric cars by a significant margin. Due to the small nature of the company, credit buyers will likely be responsible for their own financing.
When seeking bank financing for an alternative powertrain vehicle the applicant needs good credit. The average credit card debt of card users will need to be kept under control as banks will be hesitant to loan out to applicants already saddling heavy debt.
One option for those who would like to get rid of some debt in anticipation of electric vehicle financing is 0 interest balance transfer credit cards. By transferring balance from several cards or other debt sources to a single card with a no-interest policy for one year, monthly payments will come down significantly and come at the convenience of paying to a single source rather than several monthly payments.
The Lit Motors C-1 is the EV to watch out for in 2013 and 2014, proving that thinking outside the box to create a new type of personal vehicle can produce a form of transportation that has never even been conceived of before. There’s tons of electric motorbikes on the market, but the C-1′s innovative gyroscope system makes it stand out. And stand up, on it’s own!