by Colin Jeffrey @ gizmag.com:
Swiss scientists have created the first semiconductor laser consisting solely of elements of main group IV (the carbon group) on the periodic table. Simply, this means that the new device is directly compatible with other elements in that group – such as silicon, carbon, and lead – and so can be directly incorporated in a silicon chip as it is manufactured. This presents new possibilities for transmitting data around computer chips using light, which could result in potential transfer speeds exponentially faster than possible with copper wire and using only a fraction of the energy of today’s integrated circuits.
First germanium-tin semiconductor laser directly compatible with silicon chips - [Link]
by Steve Taranovich @ edn.com:
The BME680 from Bosch Sensortec is the world’s first environmental sensor combining pressure, humidity, temperature, and indoor air quality in a single 3×3mm2 package.
The new IC enables mobile devices and wearables to monitor indoor air quality measurement in a low power, small footprint package. The level of integration is what makes this solution so attractive as well as Bosch’s capabilities with software algorithms for a full solution.
The IC will enable multiple new capabilities for portable and mobile devices such as air quality measurement, personalized weather stations, indoor navigation, fitness monitoring, home automation, and other applications for the Internet of Things (IoT).
Combo MEMS sensor solution with integrated gas sensor - [Link]
At the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) 2014 held in San Francisco last week the laboratory for advanced research in microelectronics (Imec) announced they had designed an 8-bit RFID transponder chip that used so little power it could run for 20 years on a single AAA battery. If predictions about the interconnectivity of all ‘things’ in the future are to be realized then it will be necessary to optimize the design of sensors and electronics so that they do their job using as little energy as possible.
Ultra Low Power Chips - [Link]
by Stephen Evanczuk @ digikey.com:
For rapidly growing markets such as wearables or the Internet of Things (IoT), energy harvesting can significantly enhance battery life—or even enable battery-free designs. At the same time, however, engineers designing wearables and IoT devices face significant constraints in total design size and footprint. To meet growing demands for miniaturized systems, designers can turn to an array of highly integrated energy-harvesting ICs and wireless MCUs from silicon vendors including Atmel, CSR, Freescale Semiconductor, Linear Technology, Maxim Integrated, NXP Semiconductor, Silicon Laboratories, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments, among others.
Energy harvesting offers tremendous benefits for applications able to take advantage of ambient-energy sources. Designers have employed energy-harvesting techniques to power applications ranging from motor and engine monitors to railway trackside electronics. Typically, these applications are based on wireless-sensor designs built to transmit sampled data about the environment or events of interest to a controller, aggregator, or other host (Figure 1).
Specialized ICs Squeeze Large Capabilities into Tiny Energy-Harvesting Solutions - [Link]
Diodes Incorporated introduced a pair of compact 40 V, 1 A-rated gate drivers specifically designed to control the high-current power MOSFETs used in onboard and embedded power supplies and motor drive circuits. Enabling the MOSFETs to be more rapidly and fully switched on and off, the ZXGD3009E6 (SOT26 package) and ZXGD3009DY (SOT363 package) help minimize switching losses, improve power density and increase overall conversion efficiency.
Acting as a high-gain buffer stage for low-power control ICs, the devices can provide a typical drive current of 500 mA from an input current of only 10 mA, ensuring the desirable fast charging and discharging of the power MOSFET’s capacitive load. The drivers’ switching capability is ultra-fast, with a propagation delay time of less than 5 ns, and rise and fall times of less than 20 ns.
MOSFET Gate Drivers from Diodes Incorporated Boosts Conversion Efficiency - [Link]
A California-based start-up called NanoLambda have developed a low-cost ($10) spectrometer sensor chip called Apollo which makes possible a wide range of new sensing applications. The sensor is capable of measuring individual wavelengths of light and is accurate to 1 nm with 10 nm resolution.
Optical spectroscopy is a very powerful non-invasive diagnostic technique and has been used for decades in many fields including health care. However the equipment cost using traditional methods of spectrum analysis has limited its area of application to professional use only. Using the company’s nano fusion technology NanoLambda have fabricated a sensor from thin nanofilter arrays which reduces the size and cost to about 1 % compared with traditional sensing equipment. The sensor’s sensitivity bandwidth can be defined in the manufacturing process and even allows detection in the infra-red region. The small physical size of the sensor makes it ideal for use for unobtrusive, wearable health monitoring applications.
Spectrometer-on-a-Chip - [Link]
by Stanford University @ phys.org. For decades, the mantra of electronics has been smaller, faster, cheaper. Today, Stanford engineers add a fourth word – taller.
At a conference in San Francisco, a Stanford team will reveal how to build high-rise chips that could leapfrog the performance of the single-story logic and memory chips on today’s circuit cards.
Those circuit cards are like busy cities in which logic chips compute and memory chips store data. But when the computer gets busy, the wires connecting logic and memory can get jammed.
The Stanford approach would end these jams by building layers of logic atop layers of memory to create a tightly interconnected high-rise chip. Many thousands of nanoscale electronic “elevators” would move data between the layers much faster, using less electricity, than the bottle-neck prone wires connecting single-story logic and memory chips today.
Researchers combine logic, memory to build a ‘high-rise’ chip - [Link]
by Susan Nordyk @ edn.com:
Texas Instruments is now sampling to its third-party developer network the 0.47-in. TRP Full-HD 1080p chipset—the smallest TI chipset capable of generating brighter, more efficient full high-definition projection displays from small form-factor electronics. The chipset is based on DLP Cinema technology and employs the DLP4710 digital micromirror device to deliver sharp, clear images in a compact size that enables end-user products in many form factors.
Low power consumption allows the chipset to be used in battery-powered applications, such as mobile projectors and wearable electronics. In addition, the proprietary DLP TRP architecture and adaptive DLP IntelliBright suite of algorithms deliver up to 100% higher brightness or up to 50% lower power consumption than previous DLP Pico chipset architectures.
Tiny 1080p chipset enables full HD projection - [Link]
Amy Norcross @ edn.com:
HRL Laboratories, based in Malibu, CA, recently tested a prototype neuromorphic chip with 576 silicon neurons aboard a tiny drone measuring 6×6×1.5 inches and weighing 93 grams. The project was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
The drone, custom built for the test by AeroVironment of Monrovia, CA, flew between three separate rooms. The aircraft was able to process data from its optical, ultrasound, and infrared sensors and recognize when it was in a new or familiar room.
Smart chip mimics human brain functions - [Link]
by Suzanne Deffree @ edn.com:
Intel announced its 4004 processor and its chipset through an ad in Electronic News on November 15, 1971, making them the first complete CPU on one chip and the first commercially available microprocessor.
The building-block 4004 CPU held 2300 transistors. The microprocessor, the size of a little fingernail, delivered the same computing power as the first electronic computer built in 1946, which, in contrast, filled a room. Full technical details for the 4004 can be found in this January 1972 EDN story on the technology: One-Chip CPU available for low-cost dedicated computers.
Intel 4004 is announced, November 15, 1971 - [Link]