Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Silicon Photonics Pioneer Gets 'Genius' Award

Genius Awards totally over $12 million were given to 23 researchers who the MacArthur Foundation believes are pioneering the future in sciences and art. 2010 recipient Michal Lipson has been pioneering silicon photonics for over a decade using hit-and-miss funding sources, but now Lipson has a assured flow of cash--$25,000 every three months for five years. Look for Michal Lipson to invent a new optical material that still uses traditional CMOS fabrication equipment in the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Michal Lipson recently became a Fellow of the MacArthur Foundation, the "genius" award of five-year $500,000 no-strings-attached funding.

Here is what EETimes says about Lipson: Cornell University professor Michal Lipson was recently made a MacArthur Foundation Fellow—the no-strings-attached $500,000 "genius" award—capping her meteoric rise in the field of silicon photonics. Lipson leads a team of researchers who are crafting silicon waveguides, modulators, switches, lasers and all the other components necessary to route and process optical signals on CMOS chips...MacArthur Fellows—23 of which were awarded in 2010—receive $25,000 quarterly payments over five-years with no restriction on how it is spent. However recipients are expected to pursue research paths for which it would be difficult to secure traditional funding sources. The MacArthur Foundation cited Lipson's pioneering work in silicon photonics...
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#ARM Micros Rival Freescale's ColdFire

Many engineering organizations have standardized on ARM cores in order to consolidate their development efforts and to allow reused of developed algorithms. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the past have had to choose between vendors when deciding on whether to go with ARM or less-expensive proprietary architectures like Freescale's Coldfire. Freescale OEMs can now choose the newest ARM or Coldfire processors with the same low-power consumption for longer battery and the same low price. Look for proprietary architectures continue to serve legacy and standalone applications while ARM-cores consolidate their dominance in mobile electronics over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

The ColdFire MCF5441x houses a 250-MHz V4m Core offering 385 MIPS, and up to 10 serial ports, precision pulse width modulators and analog to digital converters (ADCs).

The i.MX28x chip houses a 454-MHz ARM9 core offering 500 MIPS, and LCD controller, touchscreen user interface, power management unit, two USB modules and analog to digital converters (ADC).
Here is what EETimes says about micros: Industrial designers can now choose from either ARM-based or ColdFire-based microcontrollers for mobile cost-sensitive portable medical devices, smart meters, energy distribution equipment, motor control and other industrial applications. Freescale Semiconductor's two new families of ARM- and ColdFire-based microcontrollers bring the price of battery-saving half-watt power consumption down to around a $5...
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Vector Processing Accelerates QorIQ Communications

Vector processors have been accelerating applications since the invention of the first supercomputer at Cray. With the rise of faster and faster microprocessors, however, the single-instruction-multiple-data (SIMD) applications for which vector processing is appropriate--such as graphics--has fallen to algorithms instead of hardware. However, with Intel touting vector processing extensions to its next-generation Sandy Bridge processor due out in 2011, Freescale has integrated its time-proven AltiVec vector processor. Look for communications applications like basestations to start using vector processors to massage higher-speed 4G data streams over the next few years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Single-instruction Multiple-Data (SIMD) architectures perform the same operation on multiple data streams, such as multiple-users on 4G basestations, here using eight parallel operations units (op) each with three input operands.
Here is what EETimes says about AltiVec: Vector processing accelerates tasks even more than multiple-cores, that is if the same instructions are being executed on multiple parallel data streams—called single-instruction-multiple-data (SIMD). SIMD is traditionally used for parallel data tasks such as dimming all the pixels in an image, but new demands from multiple 4G users are now enabling wireless basestations to utilize SIMD. To meet the need, Freescale Semiconductor Inc. is upgrading its venerable AltiVec vector processing unit for its QorIQ family of Power Architecture-based communications processor

AltiVec programmable vector processing architecture incurs no penalty for mixed floating-point and integer operands since it has execution units for both.
Freescale already sells legacy AltiVec processors to industry, military and aerospace customers performing traditional tasks such as image processing, pattern recognition and forward kinematics to position robotic arms as well as for emerging applications such as smart analytics on multiple surveillance cameras. But by adding AltiVec to its leading edge QorIQ processors, Freescale hopes to expand further its penetration of the basestation processor market.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Meditation Proven to Boost Brain Efficiency

"Mind over body" has long been a theme of eastern philosophy, prompting followers to spend long hours acquiring a quieter state of mind. The trend, however, has been more a psychological draw than a medical treatment since there was no uncontested proof that meditation does anything more than change one's "state of mind." Now researchers in the U.S. and China have verified that meditation actually makes changes inside the brain--and not just after years of practice, but in only six hours. Look for meditation to become a bonafide medical treatment for maladies like "stress" over the rest of the decade. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

After just eleven hours of guided meditation increases in fiber strength (colored) can be measured in the anterior cingulate cortex.
Here is what Smarter Technology says about meditation: Meditation was once the domain of fringe groups bent on instilling life-changing attitudes into their inductees by getting them to slow down, take deep breaths and let the stress melt away. Unproven until now, Chinese and U.S. researchers claim to have scientific evidence that guided meditation introduces positive structural changes in the brain, which help people regulate goal-oriented behaviors without all the stress.

University of Oregon professor Michael Posner receiving the National Medal of Science from President Obama last year.
University of Oregon psychologist Michael I. Posner, found that just 11 hours of guided meditation is all you need to make positive structural changes in your brain. Their technique, called integrative body-mind training (IBMT), has been developed in China over the last two decades, but finally its positive benefits have been measured with the help of brain-imaging technology...
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Mobile Internet Apps Moving E-commerce Off the Web

As people migrate to keyboardless touchscreen mobile devices as their main Internet portal, apps become more convenient to use--just a single click takes to directly to the information you want. Today most apps are without commercial interruption too (no ads)--like the early days of MTV--but of course as their popularity increases, the ads will likely return. For now, however, ad-free apps are quicklybecoming the preferred method of Internet surfing. Look for obscure references like URLs and domain-name-servers to receded into geeky lore as mobile users switch to the App Culture over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

The Apps Culture population will grow from about 300 million today to almost 1 billion by 2013.
Here is what EETimes says about apps: Welcome to the Apps Culture. Two years ago, it was a blip. Since then, developers have built a $2 billion market around it. The think tankers at the Pew Research Center have studied it; the trend watchers at The Nielsen Co. are tracking it. If you haven’t embraced it yet, you probably will, since ultimately every smartphone user on the planet is expected to buy into. Apps move e-commerce off the Web and onto a more secure mobile Internet platform. They cut through the clutter of domain-name servers and uuncalibrated information sources, taking the user straight to the content he or she already values. App downloads have been selling like gangbusters to millions of smartphone users who prefer the one-click convenience of secure paid services (think iTunes) over the Web’s arcane universal resource locators (URLs), where spammers, identity thieves, cons and malware lurk.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

#IBM Characterizes Single-Atom DRAM

Single-atom DRAMs offer the ultimate in memory density, where each node in their atomic lattice is encoded with a 1 or 0 (magnetic spin up or down). IBM's recent characterization of an atomic scale memory bit is the first step toward realization of such atomically accurate semiconductor materials. Invented at IBM in 1980, the original scanning tunneling microscope (STM) facilitated the current DRAM, flash and other memory technologies. Now IBM's new pulsed-STM can set and reset bits on individual atoms as well as turn the bit-refresh process into a super slow-motion movie. Look for current semiconductors to extend their lifetime using the new pulsed-STM method recently invented by IBM, as well as for new designer materials to be realized that finally make commercial quantum computing a reality by 2020. RColinJohnson @NextGenLogScanning tunneling microscope topograph of a iron atom (large yellow) on a nitride-covered substrate (blue) which may someday enable single-atom bit-cells for memory chips. Next to the iron are two more atoms and a missing atom defect in the nitride.

Here is what EETimes says about pulsed-STM: The ultimate memory chips of the future will encode bits on individual atoms, a capability recently demonstrated for iron atoms by IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., which unveiled a new pulsed technique for scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs). Pulsed-STMs yield nanosecond time-resolution, a requirement for designing the atomic-scale memory chips, solar panels and quantum computers of the future...
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

#Optical #Antenna Boosts Signals by Millions

Optical signals transmit billions of bits per second for telecommunication applications and can sense incredibly small amounts of substances when crafted into sensors. Most optical materials, however, are of the clear plastic variety, formed into optical fibers, or into transparent semiconductors used for advanced on-chip lasers and photodetectors. Others, however, are learning to harness optical effects using electromagnetic materials, since in principle optical signals are just super high-frequency electromagnetic radiation the same as any other EM source. Rice University researchers are using an angstrom-scale air-gap between gold electrodes to harness the amplification effects of plasmons, but at optical frequencies. Although such effects have been demonstrated before, this group claims to be the first to explain why the technique works as well as the first to measure how much optical signals can be amplified by angstron-scale nanogaps. Look for incredibly tiny antennas to be used for sensors capable of detecting as little as a single molecule of nearly any substance within four years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) image of gold tips in a nanogap device used in experiments to capture and amplify light. (Image courtesy Natelson Lab/Rice University)

Here is what EETimes says about optical antennas: Optical antennas can amplify signals by a million times or more using lasers to induce quantum tunneling between sub-nanometer gaps between metal electrodes, according to researchers at Rice University who say they have accurately characterized optical antennas, which promise to enable single-molecule sensors and other advanced non-linear optical application...Sensors using the effect could sense even single molecules by harnessing the radiation intensity in the sub-nanometer gap between electrodes...Closely spaced metal electrodes act as optical antennas because their electrons can be excited with a laser, inducing plasmons—collective oscillations of the free electrons—whose evanescent electromagnetic fields are thousands of times stronger than the incident light. Unfortunately, these fields have been very difficult to measure and characterize. Now Natelson and doctoral candidate Dan Ward have found a relatively easy way to measure the fields between sub-nanoscale electrodes on optical antennas...
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

#Nanocrystalline Alloy Aims to Boost #PRAM

As flash memory becomes too dense to sidestep atomic-scale errors, many different approaches are being tried to replace the aging technology. Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM), for instance, uses ferroelectric materials to enhance its DRAM-like bit cells, magnetic RAM stores information as magnetism instead of charge, and phase-change RAMs store bits as either an amorphous or crystalline state of its bit cell. Now these researchers claim their new material could enable phase-change memory (PRAM) to win the race to succeed flash. Look for PRAMs to attempt take the baton from flash memories over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Diagram shows enthalpy curves sketched for the liquid, crystalline and amorphous phases of a new class of nanomaterials called “BEANs” for Binary Eutectic-Alloy Nanostructures. (Image courtesy of Daryl Chrzan)

Phase-change memory (PCM) technology could profit from a new material that improves performance over traditional materials with binary eutectic-alloy nanostructures (BEANs)...formed into high density arrays of nanowires or quantum dots whose state can be switched from amorphous to crystalline in nanoseconds.

Joel Ager, Daryl Chrzan and Eugene Haller (left to right) claim binary eutectic-alloy nanostructure (BEAN) can enable quantum dots and nanowires a phase-changing memory elements for optical data storage technologies. (Photo by Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab Public Affairs)

Traditional PCM materials use chalcogenide glass materials that can be switched crystalline and amorphous states—representing a "1" or "0"—with the application of heat. BEANs works similarly, but is made from an alloy of metal and semiconductor that melts and solidifies at a temperature which is lower than the melting points of a single material...shown to be stable at room temperature for long-term retention in PRAMs...
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Monday, September 20, 2010

#Silicon Nanosprings Target Microreactors in Biomed

Nanosprings could hold biomolecules for micro-reactions used in the production of pharmaceuticals, for bio-sensors and for diagnostic medical devices. Look for biomedical applications of nanosprings within three years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Silicon dioxide nanosprings resemble old-style curled-up phone cords.

Here is what EETimes says about nanosprings: Silicon nanosprings resembling old-fashioned phone cords can carry biological catalysts for medical electronics devices, according to researchers at Oregon State University (OSU). Nanotechnology has enabled a variety of tiny structures to be mass-produced for everything from smaller transistor channels to anti-counterfeiting mechanisms. Now the commercial production of nanosprings, fashioned from the semiconductor insulation material silicon dioxide and grown using the same chemical vapor deposition process used to manufacture semiconductors, could be poised to revolutionize biomedical devices.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

#Piezotronics Marries #Electronics to Self-Powered #MEMS

Piezotronics is a new research area that fabricates electronic components like transistors and diodes out of self-powering piezoelectric materials. Look for piezotronics to enable self-powered sensors, actuators and eventually general-purpose computing devices over the next decade. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

A Georgia Tech research team has developed a new class of electronic logic device in which current is switched by an electric field generated by the application of mechanical strain to zinc-oxide nanowires (credit: Gary Meek).

Here is what Smarter Technology says about piezotronics: Piezoelectricity is showing promise again with piezotronics, a new category of electronic device that harnesses the relationship between mechanical motion and electricity generation in piezoelectric crystals. A wide variety of naturally occurring and man-made crystals harbor the piezoelectric effect, whereby mechanical motion and the flow of electricity are caused by each other—that is, bending a piezoelectric nanowire causes electricity to flow and, visa versa, running current through a piezoelectric nanowire makes it bend. Now, the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is pioneering a whole array of piezotronic devices that use both effects—acting not only as transducers, but also as self-powered information processors.

A Georgia Tech researcher manipulates and measures nanodevices based on zinc-oxide nanowires fabricated on a flexible polymer substrate (credit: Gary Meek).

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

#Silicon #MEMS Oscillators Expand to kHz Region

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) enable system clocks to fit into a few square millimeters, and now cover a larger range of available frequencies. Look for migration to MEMS oscillators that reduce further the size of mobile electronic devices over the next five years. RColinJohnson @ NextGenLog

SiTime fills out its low-end with the world's first kHz-range MEMS silicon oscillator chip.

Here is what EETimes says about MEMS oscillators: SiTime Corp. has fielded what it says is the first kilohertz-range microelectromechanical system (MEMS) oscillator chip. The SiT8503 covers the 200-kHz to 1,000-kHz range with claimed five-decimal-place accuracy...SiTime already claims to have the broadest portfolio of MEMS-based silicon oscillators, voltage-controlled oscillators, resonators, clock generators and spread-spectrum timing products. With the addition of a kilohertz offering, it hopes to become a one-stop-shop for all the timing needs of application developers...
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#MEMS #Accelerometer Boosts Resolution, Cuts Noise, Power

Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) are revolutionizing the man-machine interface, allowing intuitive gestures to control devices as well as helping make devices smarter in handling tasks like camera shake. Look for accelerometers to be installed in every mobile electronic device as well as some stationary ones--like smart meters--within two years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

The three 10-, 12- and 14-bit accelerometers from Freescale MMA845xQ have identical pinouts.

Here is what EETimes says about MEMS: Smarter three-axis accelerometers with lower power and noise, but higher resolution, were unveiled by Freescale Semiconductor...As the newest members of its Xtrinsic family of smart MEMS sensors, the new accelerometers include configurable DSP functions for smarter human interfaces as well as smarter power management. The MMA845xQ accelerometers have already been sampled to key customers and have just gone into volume production for applications in smartphones, personal navigation devices, music players, gaming controllers, digital cameras, eReaders and netbooks...
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Monday, September 13, 2010

#Freescale #DSP Tackles Scalable Video Coding

Scalable video codings (SVC) allow a single data stream to contain multiple speeds and resolutions, solving the problem with applications that stutter, skip and crash when they can't keep up with bit rates. Look for SVC to proliferate to cure poor video connection woes over the next three years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Scalable video coding (SVC) enables a single encoder to create a video bitstream that contains several bitstreams that can be separately decoded, by dropping packets, to down-sample for lower spatial resolution, lower temporal resolution or a lower quality, or a combination of the three, as required for specific client viewing hardware.

Here is what EETimes says about SVC: Freescale Semiconductor's embedded DSP targets scalable video coding (SVC) using a customizable H.264/SVC algorithm for its StarCore DSP. The chip maker said its design enables cost-effective media gateways, high-end video conferencing systems and IPTV distribution systems by eliminating the need for Pentium-grade processors for coding...SVC enables a single encoder to create a video streams that contains several sub-bitstreams that can be separately decoded by dropping packets, allowing algorithms to down-sample for lower spatial resolution, slower frame rates and lower quality--or a combination of the three--as required for specific viewing devices. Hence, it is said to solve problems with stutters and stops, choppy frames, delays, blurred motion and broken pictures suffered by traditional video conferencing systems...
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#LEDs Replacing Venerable Street Lamps

Semiconductor makers have been concentrating on making brighter light-emitting diodes (LEDs), albeit at the expense of generating more heat in the process, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) claims to have a graphite-based solution. Look for LED-powered streetlights cooled by graphite foam from LED N.A. with in two years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Here is what Smarter Technology says about LEDs: Oak Ridge National Laboratory claims to have surmounted the final hurdle to retrofitting streetlights with LEDs. Until now, LEDs burned out early when enough were amassed to illuminate a street. ORNL's carbon-based graphite material remedies the problem by keeping the LEDs cooler, an innovation it recently licensed to spinoff company LED North America for use in street lights, parking garages, industrial lighting and offices...
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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

#WellDoc #App Boosts #Health 4X over Pills

Software has begun to compete with pills at the FDA, who just approved an app that improves a diabetics health four-times more than the best drug therapies. Look for software therapies for every chronic malady under the sun by 2012. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

WellDoc’s AI in-the-clouds gives expert advise such as directing a diabetic to consume carbohydrates, wait 15 minutes, then retest, when blood sugar is found to be low.

Here is what Smarter Technology says about WellDoc: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just approved a diabetes app—the first in a new category of FDA-approved medical software apps that will soon serve every chronic medical condition. WellDoc claims its app improves a diabetic's health index four times more than drugs by using artificial intelligence (AI)—an expert cloud-based system that analyzes a patient's condition, tracks treatment regimes, suggests real-time interventions and detects symptom trends...
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Self-Repairing #Solar Cell is Bio-Inspired

Experimental solar cells using carbon nanotubes in a liquid core instead of the solid-state can be designed to rejuvenate themselves from the sun's damaging rays just like leaves do when performing photosynthesis. Look for self-repairing solar cells using a liquid core within three years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Professor Michael Strano (left) with doctoral candidate Ardemis Boghossian (seated) and postdoctoral fellow Moon-Ho Ham who is holding their photoelectrochemical cell.
Photo: Patrick Gillooly

Here is what EETimes says about self-healing liquid-core solar cells: Carbon nanotubes studded with phospholipid disks enable solar cells to perform self-repairing operations similar to plants performing photosynthesis. The resulting photoelectrochemical solar cells are claimed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers to be twice as efficient as the best solid-state solar panels. The main difference between man-made and natural solar power conversion is that engineers aim to armor solar cells against gradual degradation with solid-state inorganic materials, whereas natural solar conversion uses photosynthesis to anticipate and repair inevitable damage to liquid-state organic materials.
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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

#Silicon #Photonics uses Vapor-filled Waveguide

Scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image of hollow on-chip silicon waveguide produced by the Applied Optics Group at University of California at Santa Cruz.

The world's first demonstration of electromagnetic optical switching on a fully self-contained silicon chip heralds a day when fiber optics will carry information between chips. Look for novel optical solutions for everything from disk-server-farms to home networking over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

UCSC fabricates arrays of waveguides on a single four inch silicon wafer, here showing 32 atomic spectroscopy chips using them.

Here is what EETimes says about silicon photonics: A new technique harnesses vapor-filled optical waveguides on silicon chips to process data streams encoded on light, allowing optical signals to be slowed down and switched on-chip. This technique sidesteps the current requirement to convert optical signals to electrical signals in applications that detect, buffer, multiplex and store photonic information...In what is claimed to be the world's first demonstration of electromagnetic optical switching on a fully self-contained silicon chip, the technique employs quantum interference effects in an on-chip hollow-core optical waveguide filled with rubidium vapor. A control laser is used to switch the optical signal on and off as well as to slow the data stream's speed by up to 1,200 times...
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Europe Focuses Fiber #Optics on #Silicon #Photonics

Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) process technology enables silicon photonic components capable of terabit per second speeds on broadband core networks.

The European Union is aiming to lower the cost of fiber-optic communications by developing inexpensive silicon chips that turn photonics into a mass market. Look for fiber optic communications to start taking over from copper wires not only in data centers but in consumer electronics over the next seven years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Silicon photonics sculpts out optical waveguides on standard CMOS chips, here a filter for optical fibers.

Here is what Smarter Technology says about fiber optics: Today, fiber-optic communications are ultra-high-speed, but also ultra-high-cost compared to conventional copper wires. But by recasting photonics onto silicon chips, instead of the exotic indium-gallium-arsenide compounds used today, a mass market for fiber optics will result. The European Union is planning to play a leadership role. The European Silicon Photonics Cluster is a multiyear, $36 million effort that aims not only to develop the technology but to raise awareness of silicon photonics and its potential applications in optical communications, optical interconnects between semiconductor chips and circuit boards, optical signal processing, optical sensing and biological efforts.
The Cluster is divided into 10 project "consortia," in which most of the leading European research institutes, universities and companies are participating...
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Moon #Rover Ditches Wheels

#NASA astronaut proposes a hover-craft-like planetary rover design to sidestep the Mars rover’s problem of wheels getting stuck in sand. Look for a vertical takeoff Moon-rover from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory to be entered in Google's Lunar X-Prize for the first commercial rover to traverse the moon in 2014. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Talaris consists of the carbon fiber vehicle, four electric ducted fans to simulate lunar gravity, lithium polymer batteries to power the fans, compressed gas thrusters and nitrogen tanks to provide the fuel and thrust to maneuver the vehicle.

Here is what Smarter Technology says about the new rover design: The rover called Spirit has become a "stationary science platform" on Mars, but not by choice. After months of attempting to free its wheels from a Martian sand trap, NASA has simply given up. That gave NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman, now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an idea: why not equip rovers with a gas thruster that allows them to rise above obstacles? The result is called the Terrestrial Artificial Lunar and Reduced Gravity Simulator, or Talaris, as described at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Conference in late August.
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Cell Phone Antenna Woes Cured by Radio Frequency RF#MEMS

RF-MEMS uses tiny mechanical switches, filters and other radio frequency front-end replacements that can be dynamically tuned in realtime to compensate for mobile user reception woes causes by antenna interference. Look for improved reception for #Apple #iPhone and other #smartphone models adding RF-MEMS chips in 2011 creating a quarter-billion dollar market by 2014. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

The iSuppli global market revenue forecast for RF MEMS switches and varactors from 2006 to 2014.

Here is what iSuppli says about RF-MEMS: Help may be on the way for iPhone 4 users frustrated by dropped calls with the arrival of Radio Frequency Microelectromechanical Systems (RF MEMS), semiconductors that can improve the performance of antennas in cell phones...Long plagued by technological hurdles and other disappointing setbacks, RF MEMS are finally ready for the big time, with revenue projected to double in 2010 and more than triple in 2011. From slightly less than $4 million in 2006, global RF MEMS revenue is anticipated to climb to $8.1 million this year—and then surge to $27.9 million in 2011...By 2014, revenue will reach a whopping $223.2 million.

Arrays of tuning capacitors that can by dynamically switched in and out of circuits tune a cell phone's antenna in realtime to improve reception and mitigate dropped calls.

Although other technologies will address antenna issues, including SoS FETs and BST varactors, MEMS deliver the best performance in terms of insertion loss...Seven firms are sampling RF MEMS...California-based WiSpry Inc. and Japan’s TDK-Epcos are offering RF MEMS for high-volume cell phone applications. On another front, U.S. firms Analog Devices Inc., Radant Technologies Inc. and XCOM Wireless Inc.—in cooperation with relay manufacturer Teledyne Technologies Inc.—as well as Japanese supplier Omron Corp. are targeting high-end applications for testing and instrumentation such as ATE and RF test. U.S. startups Radant MEMS and MEMtronics focus on defense applications...In particular, interest is growing among mobile handset manufacturers on how RF MEMS can be used for the front-end tuning of cell phones to improve antenna performance, given the advent of new wireless standards like LTE for 4G technology. WiSpry—which has garnered several design wins for its MEMS varactors...
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#Apple #iPhone Prompts Back-Side Illumination (BSI) for AlI #Smartphones

Back-side illumination (BSI) enables the iPhone 4's superior video and still camera images, prompting the other smartphone makers to follow suit. Look for skyrocketing sales at OmniVision--who supplies the iPhone BSI imager--as well as at other vendors playing BSI catch-up ball, including Sony, over the next three years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

iSuppli’s image sensor forecast from 2009 to the end of the forecast period in 2014.

Here is what iSuppli says about BSI: Backside Illumination (BSI) sensors—the sort used in the mobile camera of Apple Inc.’s iPhone 4—are leading the charge in a newly resurgent market for image sensors in general, and other handset manufacturers are likely to follow Apple’s bold move to boost image-capture possibilities in smart phones, according to market research firm iSuppli Corp. Shipments of BSI sensors for mid- to high-end smart handsets are projected to reach 33.4 million units in 2010, up from virtually nil last year. The market will continue to post sizable increases during the next four years and rise almost tenfold to over 300 million units by 2014, consumer electronics research from iSuppli indicates.

Back-side illumination (BSI) eliminates the need for light to penetrate deeply into chips like front-side illuminations requires

The startling growth of BSI sensors is completely in line with the robust, double-digit expansion projected this year for the overall area image sensor market as it recovers from the economic downturn and also penetrate new applications. Area image sensor shipments in 2010 will hit 1.7 billion units, up 20 percent from 1.4 billion units in 2009, with revenue during the same period climbing to $6.9 billion, up from $5.9 billion...iPhone 4 employs a 1.75-micron-pixel sensor that improves light absorption, resulting in better image quality in low-light conditions. The bigger pixel size, compared to traditional Frontside Illumination (FSI) sensors, is also ideal for high-definition video recording...By 2014, approximately 75 percent of mid- to higher-end smart phones will include BSI sensors—a huge leap from the 14 percent projected for the end of this year...
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Monday, September 06, 2010

#Piezotronics Defines new #Semiconductor-Device Category

Piezoelectric materials generate electricity from mechanical motion, or visa versa, but these researchers for the first time have created transistors and logic gates from piezoelectronic devices dubbing their invention "peizotronics." Look for piezotronic devices for applications in sensing and actuating motion over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

A Georgia Tech researcher manipulates and measures nanodevices based on zinc oxide nanowires fabricated on a flexible polymer substrate. (Credit: Gary Meek)

Here is what EETimes says about piezotronics: Piezotronic transistors harness the piezoelectric effect in zinc-oxide nanowires to transform mechanical motion into a signal that controls arithmetic—logic operations. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology recently demonstrated their new breed of piezotronic circuits performing standard digital circuit functions.
Piezotronics marks a new class electronic device that uses a MEMS-like moving part to create an electric field which controls a field-effect transistors (FET). Its inventor, professor Zhong Lin Wang, claims that such strain-gated transistors work like a traditional FET—with the current flowing from source to drain being gated by an electric field--but the field is generated by bending a piezoelectric nanowire—called strain—rather than by storing charge on the gate. The resulting strain-gated transistor could have direct uses for nanobots, microfluidics and other applications of micro-electro-mechanical systems...
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Friday, September 03, 2010

#MEMS tackle #HVAC, Automotive Transmission Markets

Pioneering new markets in MEMS actuators a new breed of micro-valves is aiming to microminiaturize control of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). Look for MEMS actuators to tackle both new applications like microfluidic labs-on-a-chip as well as pioneer their use in existing applications like automatic car transmissions over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Freescale Technology Forum demonstration features Microstaq MEMS valve controlling a conventional HVAC system.

Here is what EETimes says about micro-valves: MEMS startup Microstaq Inc. is pioneering promising new markets, using its micro-valve as a pilot to control the large flows necessary to tackle the lucrative heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) markets—valued at over $60 billion worldwide by market research firm The Freedonia Group—with MEMS-control of automotive transmissions on the horizon...MEMS microfluidic devices, such as the micro-pumps being designed by Debiotech S.A. (Lausanne, Switzerland) and the micro-valves being hawked by MultusMEMS AB (Uppsala, Sweden) can control micro-liters of fluid- and gas-flows, making them suitable for emerging applications such as medical labs-on-a-chip. Microstaq (Austin, Texas), on the other hand, uses its MEMS micro-valve technology to control conventional flow applications including HVAC and automatic transmissions on cars...
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

#Robot Climbs Sheer Faces Using Apelike Gait

Most robots designed for climbing concentrate on adhering to sheer faces, rather than on energy efficiency, but by mimicking biological climbing strategies the rocking-climbing-oscillating robot (ROCR) from the University of Utah is changing priorities. Look for autonomous robots that walk, crawl and climb for every thing from emergency rescues to surveillance over the next five years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Rocking-climbing-oscillating robot (ROCR) uses a pendulum-like tail (using its battery as balast) to gain height which it uses to ratchet upward claw-over-claw style.

Here is what Smarter Technology says about climbing robots: Apelike swinging motions achieve unprecedented energy efficiency for a climbing robot that combines mechanical ratcheting with precise electronic control algorithms to navigate vertical ascents...Scientists designed the bot from the ground up for energy efficiency by mimicking biologically adept climbers, such as swinging apes...
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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Rice's Silicon Memristor Aims to Beat HP

HP announced it had begun licensing its titanium-oxide based memristor to memory-chip makers, Hynix being the first, but now Rice University is offering a competing license using a simpler silicon-oxide formulation. Look for HP to compete with researchers worldwide on competing memristor materials, including Samsung, Elpida and Micron Technology working on ReRAM at IMEC over the next three years. RColinJohnson @NextGenLog

Silicon oxide memory chip fabricated by Rice and a commercial partner as a proof-of-concept. Silicon nanowire forms when charge is pumped through the silicon oxide, creating a two-terminal resistive switch. (Images courtesy Jun Yao/Rice University)

Here is what EETimes says about memristors: Memristors made from pure silicon could enable resistive random access memory (ReRAM) that are simpler and cheaper to manufacture than Hewlett-Packard Co.'s titanium-based formulation, according to researchers at Rice University. In collaboration with fabless chip design house PrivaTran Inc. the team demonstrated a proof-of-concept ReRAM that packs only 1-kbit, but which they claim can be scaled beyond the densities of flash...
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