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!
Karan Shah writes:
LG Display has announced a 5-inch, full HD LCD panel for smartphones – the highest resolution mobile panel to date, giving a clear indication that the 720p display on your current top-end smartphone won’t reign supreme for long. This new, 5-inch Full HD LCD panel is a step forward from the existing mobile display technology and is based on AH-IPS (Advanced High Performance In-Plane Switching) technology. It features a 440ppi and 1920×1080 resolution, providing, for the first time, Full HDTV quality on a smartphone. We had first carried a story about AH-IPS displays, way back in May 2011 and LG had announced then that they were indeed developing AH-IPS panels for smartphones. Here’s how AH-IPS improves on the existing technology.
LG announces 5-inch – 1080p displays - [Link]
Via Technologies on Tuesday unveiled the $49 APC Android PC system. Powered by a WonderMedia ARM processor that operates at 800MHz, APC integrates 512MB of DDR3 memory, 2GB NAND flash storage, and a full set of consumer I/O features in a small footprint Neo-ITX motherboard. The system also features a custom build of Android that has been optimized for keyboard and mouse input, and comes with a browser and a selection of preinstalled apps.
VIA technologies introduces the $49 Android PC system - [Link]
Liquidware unveiled their latest project, Amber – [via]
The whole idea being that I want a starting point far enough along, so I don’t need to build everything from scratch, but not so far along that it’s a pain to customize.
The Amber is a 7” projected capacitive tablet driven by a 1 GHz, ARM Cortex-A9 OMAP3730 from Texas Instruments. We’ve customized a version of Android Gingerbread 2.3.4 to run on the Amber, and its 2 USB host ports offer high-speed USB and serial communications to a pretty wide range of devices. WiFi, Ethernet, cellular, and battery configurations are available as part of the Enhanced or Pro versions of the Amber.
Liquidware Introduces the Amber, the Open Source Android Tablet - [Link]
More and more data-intensive applications are running on modern wireless consumer electronic products, and communication channels below 10 GHz, such as WLAN, are confronted with spectrum scarcity. Wireless system designers are therefore compelled to explore higher frequency bands, such as the unlicensed 60 GHz band. This band is available throughout the world and allows multi-Gbps wireless communication over short distances. However, the cost, footprint and power consumption must be drastically reduced to enable deployment of 60 GHz wireless communication technology in portable mass-market products.
An important step towards the deployment of 60 GHz technology is the new prototype transceiver front-end IC developed by Imec and Panasonic that achieves a 7 Gbps data rate over short distances in the four channels specified by the IEEE 802.11ad standard with QAM16 modulation and an error vector management figure better than -17 dB. The transmitter signal path, consisting of a power amplifier and a mixer, consumes 90 mW with 10.2 dBm OP1dB. The receiver signal path, consisting of a low-noise amplifier and a mixer, consumes 35 mW and has a noise figure of 5.5 dB and 30 dB gain. Electrostatic discharge robustness is over 4 kV with a human body model. The compact 0.7 mm³ core area makes the transceiver front-end especially suitable for use in phased arrays. The small area is achieved by using lumped components and very compact millimeter-wave CMOS layout methods. [via]
CMOS Transceiver hits 7 Gbps in 60 GHz Band - [Link]
Wrapped around this cardiac balloon catheter are temperature and EKG sensors and LEDs. The wires are stretchable coils. It is manufactured with a lift-off MEMS process. The etched silicon is then stretched and attached to a polymer backing. Silicon usage is minimized over the substrate and the ensemble is quite flexible, to survive inflation and deflation of the balloon.
Stretchable, inflatable electronics - [Link]