Brand New BiCMOS Flexible Transistor


The transistor revolutionized the field of electronics, and paved the way for smaller and cheaper radios, calculators, and computers, among other things since its very first practically implemented device as a point-contact-transistor invented in 1947 and getting the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956.

Now, engineers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) have built the most flexible, fully-functional transistor in the world!  The BiCMOS  (Bipolar Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) thin-film transistor has all current transistor’s characteristics: speed, carrying large current and low dissipation – but it is extremely flexible.

This is an interesting advance that could open the door to an increasingly interconnected world, enabling manufacturers to add smart wireless capabilities to any number of large or small products that curve, bend, stretch and move.

Making traditional BiCMOS flexible electronics was difficult, in part because the process takes several months and requires a multitude of delicate, high-temperature steps. Even a minor variation in temperature at any point could ruin all of the previous steps. This fabrication process is not currently as commercially viable for most of applications.

However, the engineers fabricated their flexible electronics on a single-crystal silicon nanomembrane on a single bendable piece of plastic. The secret to their success is their unique process, which eliminates many steps and slashes both the time and cost of fabricating the transistors.

This new electronic has the potential to change the electronic’s industry in a new way. Everything touched by electronics (computers, microcontrollers, sensors…) could be completely flexible due the easily of this new technology to scale up to commercial levels.

The vast majority of transistors are now produced in integrated circuits. A logic gate consists of up to about twenty transistors whereas an advanced microprocessor, as of 2009 and with a cost of just a couple of usd, can use as many as 3 billion transistors. This is the best transistor’s advantage: mass-production with a extremely low cost.

For that reason, the transistor is the key active component in practically all modern electronics. The transistor is on the list of IEEE milestones and many consider it to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century.

This new flexible transistor could be in future electronic boards for a flexible electronics development and applications never even seen before. Definitely, the future is now.

obniz – API managed IO on the Cloud

Obniz is the world’s first development board which IO is available as API on the cloud. It’s Tiny but powerful, Internet connected board.

obniz has 12 IO and WiFi module and It can be controlled through the APIs on obniz cloud, either through the REST or WebSocket API. The API can be used in javascript, so obniz programs written in JavaScript can run on a webpage, so “Turning on a motor by pressing a button on the Web” is an easy task!

With obniz, it’s easy to make any hardware project you can think of! Just connect motors or sensors to an obniz then program it via the Internet. No App or firmware flashing is required. Program it from your PC or smartphone now!

obniz – API managed IO on the Cloud – [Link]

What are Aluminum Polymer Capacitors?

Choosing the right capacitors can make a big difference in the reliability, longevity, cost, and board size of your design. But most engineers don’t know which capacitors to choose for which applications. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with James Lewis from KEMET about the fascinating and surprising world of capacitor technology.

What are Aluminum Polymer Capacitors? – [Link]

Apertus AXIOM Professional Digital Cinema Camera is open source

Apertus AXIOM Beta is a professional digital cinema camera built around free open source software and hardware. AXIOM Beta is the latest version powered by MicroZed development board based on Xilinx Zynq 7020 ARM + FPGA SoC, and running Arch Linux ARM. The camera will run Arch Linux ARM on MicroZed board, support common network protocols (SSH/FTP/SCP/etc), and be configurable via a web interface. It has many interesting specification as listed below, however audio recording is not currently supported. Many more software and hardware details can be found in their Wiki.

AXIOM Beta developer kit hardware specifications:

  • “Linux” Board – Xilinx Zynq 7020 based MicroZed board
  • Beta Main Board – Hosts two external medium-speed shield connectors and two high-speed plugin module slot connectors.
  • Image Sensor – 12MP CMV12000 (Used for research and development) via CMV12K ZIF Sensor Board
  • Lens Mount Passive E-mount
  • Ports – USB / USB UART / JTAG / Gigabit Ethernet
  • Modules and Shields
    • Single HDMI Full HD (4:4:4) output at up to 60 FPS
    • Dual 6G SDI output (in development)
    • 3x PMOD debug module
    • LED matrix debug module
    • Genlock, Trigger, Timecode, LANC shields (in development)
    • 4K Displayport/HDMI (in development)
  • Power Supply – 5V/5A via power adapter board; Other voltages provided via Beta Power Board
  • Dimensions -111.76 x 74 x 65.1 mm (devkit)
  • Weight – 319 grams (devkit)

ESP8266 MAX7219 Dot Matrix Display

A MAX7219 driven Display, controlled by an ESP8266 SoC and MQTT

This project describes how to connect a MAX7219 to an ESP8266 Chip and let it act as a MQTT client. Its basically my ninHOME Node Firmware where you can optionally add a MAX7219 Display.

ESP8266 MAX7219 Dot Matrix Display – [Link]

Changing Hospital Waiting Rooms with RFID Technology

Engineers at Cornell university have created a new system for measuring vitals, which could revolutionize hospital experience for everybody. Usually, getting sick means having to go to the hospital which because of today´s procedures takes almost all your day (if not more), and most of the time is spent in waiting rooms. What if you could be “attended” while still in the waiting room? Because of RFID technology this is now possible with a device that can measure your vitals while you wait.

RFID (short for radio frequency identification) uses electromagnetic fields to track and identify tags attached to objects. Passive tags collect energy from a nearby RFID reader (they don’t require a battery) and can operate several meters away. The signal from the reader induces a small electric current enough to operate the CMOS of the tag.

This new system uses cheap sensor that don’t require their own power supplies, while the reader powers them and gathers data wirelessly. These tags are applied to the skin, and using radio waves they can measure blood pressure, breath rate, heart rate etc. The reader can gather data from hundreds of these tags at the same time, and they are cheap to produce. Nowadays, the price of the tags depends on memory, type of packaging and the volume of tags requested, but passive tags cost around 7 to 15 U.S cents.

As a result, not only waiting times could be shortened, but the work of many doctors and nurses could be lightened. Currently, monitoring vitals takes a lot of equipment which is expensive and big. With this new technology, big and not practical equipment will be no longer needed, and the work done by many devices will be done by a small sticker with the size of a finger or smaller.

In the beginning RFID had security issues because anyone could access the information on the tags, but nowadays security protocols have been implemented to encrypt and protect users data. This makes this device not only practical and affordable, but also safe and private.


DS18B20 Sensor Based Thermometer with Nokia 5110 LCD display

Hi guys welcome to this tutorial. Today we will be building a simple temperature monitor using the DS18B20 sensor with a Nokia 5110 LCD Display and an Arduino mega.

The DS18B20 digital temperature sensor gives a 9-bit to 12-bit Celsius temperature readings and also has an alarm function with nonvolatile user-programmable upper and lower trigger points. The sensor communicates via the 1-Wire communication protocol and thus by definition requires only one data line (and ground) for communication with a central microprocessor. Among the special features of this sensor, is an operational mode in which it can derive power directly from the data line (“parasite power”), eliminating the need for an external power supply line.

DS18B20 Sensor Based Thermometer with Nokia 5110 LCD display – [Link]

Imitation Fireplace Using Cool Mist and LEDs

A convincing artificial fire effect for the holiday season, using NeoPixel LEDs, an Arduino UNO, and a cool mist module.

The instructions for this are actually pretty simple, basically you just need to get the materials, and put them all together. The only technical part is soldering the wires onto the NeoPixel stick, and uploading the code to the Arduino. So let’s start with the NeoPixel LEDs.

Imitation Fireplace Using Cool Mist and LEDs – [Link]

Butterfly IQ – Ultrasound Anywhere, Anytime

Ultrasound, also known as sonography, is a medical procedure which uses sound waves to get images from inside the body. It is used to help guide biopsies, diagnose causes of pain, examine a baby in pregnant women, diagnose heart conditions etc. High- frequency sound waves are transmitted to the body using a small transducer (probe), then the probe collects the sounds that bounce back, and a computer uses that information to render an image. Ultrasound scanner consist of a transducer, a video display, a console (with computer and electronics) and sometimes multiple transducers are needed for different parts of the body. As a result, ultrasound machines are not portable, and are not easy to access during emergencies.

As a result, Butterfly has combined semiconductor engineering, artificial intelligence, and the cloud in order to create IQ, a portable and affordable ultrasound machine. Butterfly believes that “Medical imaging should be accessible to everyone on the planet”. With the use of a chip, a single probe, and an iPhone now every licensed healthcare practitioner can have an ultrasound anywhere, anytime.

The chips used for the device has transducers, signal processing and computational horsepower. Also, the device has its own battery (to avoid draining the phone’s battery), and works with 9,000 little drums that wobble to create sound and then receive it from the body. It does all the signal processing that would normally cost a hundred thousand dollars to render an image.

Nowadays, ultrasound machines use piezoelectric crystals which require on factory tuning for specific depths which generates the need for multiple probes. The IQ can be tuned on the go and can be buzz at 1 MHz for deep analysis or 5 MHz for shallow analysis. Additionally, the Butterfly IQ incorporates artificial intelligence for image acquisition and analysis which in the future could help guide nonprofessionals in proper operation of the device. Also, it includes cloud services for storage.

This device already has FDA clearance for 13 clinical applications which include abdominal, cardiac (adult and pediatric), fetal (obstetric), gynecological and procedural guidance. The same probe can be used to look anywhere inside the body, with different depths and to anyone.

Eventually, Butterfly expect their device to become as accessible and useful as a household thermometer, but currently it is not available for consumers and the price is high for household purposes. Its only supported by iPhone (soon by iPad), but there has been no talk about Android support. The price starts in 2K and shipping will begin on 2018.



The “Neuropixels” probe records brain signals


After $5.5 millions collaboration and a lot of work during the past four years of engineers at Imec, the next-generation electrodes called Neuropixels probe were designed to record hundreds of neurons in the brain. Imec is an international nano electronics research center dedicated to build and test powerful new devices for detecting neural activity within the brain.

To understand how the brain operates, we must measure the joint activity of a myriad individual neurons distributed across brain regions. Until recently, this has been impossible.

Their success is due to three innovations:

  1. a multiplayer fabrication process that allows 384 interconnects on a thin shank;
  2. on-shank CMOS circuitry that allows 384 sites to be rapidly selected from a total of 966;
  3. on-device processing that amplifies, digitizes, and multiplexes the signals.

Neuropixels thus constitute a self-contained recording system: the data that emerge are already digital, and can be read by a simple, inexpensive interface to a standard computer.

Probe Options

There are four probe options, all four have the same on-probe amplification and digitization, and can all be used interchangeably with the same headstages and recording equipment.

  • Option1 probes (no switches, no amps) have 5mm-long shanks, and have no switches (they can only record from the most distal 384 sites) or on-site buffer amplifiers.
  • Option2 probes (no switches, yes amps) have 5mm-long shanks, and have no switches
  • Option3 probes (yes switches, no amps) have 10mm-long shanks with 960 total sites accessible via switches; they do not have on-site buffer amplifiers.
  • Option4 probes (yes switches, yes amps) have 10mm-long shanks with 966 total sites accessible via switches; they have on-site buffer amplifiers. Option4 probes can only record 276 channels at a time.

In practical terms, the probes with buffer amps (2 & 4) have slightly higher RMS noise levels in saline (~10-12µV RMS compared to 6-9) but may have superior rejection of certain types of noise.

Switched probes (3 & 4) do not seem to have any deficits relative to the un-switched, unless the shorter shank of the unswitched probes is more suitable for your experimental situation.

Basic Probe Details

  • Neuropixels probes have 384 recording channels (i.e. can record 384 signals simultaneously), and up to 966 recording sites (depending on the option)
  • Recording sites are laid out in a checkerboard pattern, see geometry note below.
  • 10 sites per group of 384 are reserved for selection as internal reference sites and cannot be used for recording (whether they are used for referencing or not)
  • Recording sites have ~200k-ohm impedances
  • Shanks are 70µm wide and 20µm thick (for Option1, shank is 50µm wide)
  • Probe weighs 0.3g, headstage weighs 1.1g.

Neuropixels probes represent a significant advance in measurement technology and will allow for the most precise understanding yet of how large networks of nerve cells coordinate to give rise to behavior and cognition.

Preliminary data examples and a user guide are available.