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How to Save the Troubled Graphene Transistor

Unlike conventional semiconductors, graphene cannot be switched off, a problem that threatens to scupper its use in future generations of transistors. Now physicists think they’ve found a solution.

The writing is on the wall for the silicon chip. Transistors have been shrinking for the last half a century but they cannot get smaller forever. Most industry pundits think that the downscaling of silicon chip technology cannot extend much beyond 2026. The big question, of course, is what will replace it.

One possibility is graphene, which various teams around the world have used to make hugely fast transistors. Last year, one team clocked a graphene transistor at a cool 427 GHz. So you could be forgiven for thinking that graphene is the perfect silicon replacement.

Not so fast. There is a significant problem with graphene that makes it difficult to use in transistors– it has no band gap.

That means there is no energy range in graphene in which electron states cannot exist. Or in other words, it’s impossible to switch off graphene. And for a transistor, that spells serious trouble…

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Satellite Built by UAH Students ’99 Percent’ Ready for October Launch on NASA Rocket

The spacecraft conceived and built in Huntsville is virtually ready for launch and blast-off is less than three months away.

No, the Space Launch System is not suddenly on an accelerated program. Instead, it’s a group of students at the University of Alabama in Huntsville who have been working for more than three years on a tiny satellite that is scheduled to be sent into space in October.

Members of the Space Hardware Club at UAH were in San Luis Obispo, Calif., last week on the campus of California Polytechnic State University. The Cal Poly visit was to put the ChargerSat1 through readiness tests as a final hurdle toward the scheduled Oct. 30 launch.

The satellite got a “good thumbs-up,” according to team member Mark Becnel.

“We’re well past 99 percent (ready),” he said.

The project began in 2010 when the club applied for a spot on a future NASA launch…

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Stretchable Conductor Grows Its Own Wires

Networks of spherical nanoparticles embedded in elastic materials may make the best stretchy conductors yet, engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have discovered.

Flexible electronics have a wide variety of possibilities, from bendable displays and batteries to medical implants that move with the body.

“Essentially the new nanoparticle materials behave as elastic metals,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Professor of Engineering. “It’s just the start of a new family of materials that can be made from a large variety of nanoparticles for a wide range of applications.”

Finding good conductors that still work when pulled to twice their length is a tall order—researchers have tried wires in tortuous zigzag or spring-like patterns, liquid metals, nanowire networks and more…

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Microscopic batteries created through 3D printing

Researchers at Harvard have created a 3D-printing nozzle smaller than the width of a human hair, to make microscopic lithium-ion batteries.

As our gadgets shrink ever smaller, the pressure is on to reduce the size of batteries as much as humanly possible. And we’re getting close to a workable solution: scientists have just used 3D printing to build the smallest lithium-ion battery in the world — the size of a grain of sand.

Together with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute, led by senior author Jennifer Lewis, have turned to 3D printing to create tiny stacks of electrodes, tightly interlaced.

The team created a custom 3D printer with a nozzle narrower than a human hair to lay down the ink — but it’s the ink itself that was the trickiest part. First, it had to be able to work as eletrochemically active materials in order to function…

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NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Team Assembles Final Observatory

On May 20, 2013, the Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., reached an unprecedented milestone. The team mated the instrument and spacecraft decks to form the fourth and final MMS observatory. This is the first time Goddard has simultaneously engineered this many observatories, or spacecraft, for a single mission.

“The logistics of building four of the same thing is a new challenge, one that really makes us push the boundaries of how we operate,” said Brent Robertson the MMS deputy project manager at Goddard. “These are first generation, new science observatories, and we’ve built them all at the same time. It’s been like a very intense game of musical chairs.”
The large Goddard MMS clean room can hold all four spacecraft at once, and a detailed schedule keeps track of how the team is moving from task to task. The MMS team has cause for pride in their work: building four observatories for a single mission, when many don’t have the chance to build four in an entire career…

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Atoms star in world’s smallest movie from IBM

Researchers at IBM have created the world’s smallest movie by manipulating single atoms on a copper surface.

The stop-motion animation uses dozens of carbon monoxide molecules, moved with the tiny tip of what is called a scanning tunnelling microscope (STM).

It would take about 1,000 of the frames of the film laid side by side to span a single human hair.

The extraordinary feat of atomic precision has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records.

It is a showpiece for IBM’s efforts to design next-generation data storage solutions based on single atoms.

IBM’s scientists have been behind a number of technologies that can peer into atomic and molecular systems – their recent efforts using a related machine called an atomic force microscope have yielded pictures of single molecules and even images that detail the atomic bonds within molecules.

Click Here to Read the Full Article and View A Boy and His Atom

 A Boy and His Atom

Bionic Eye is Now a Reality

Called the Argus II Retinal Prosthesis System, the device recently was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Second Sight, which has 100 employees, is allowed to sell the bionic eye system to patients in the U.S. with advanced retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease that can cause blindness.

“We are a far cry from restoring 20/20 vision,” said Brian V. Mech, Second Sight’s vice president of business development, who holds a doctorate in materials science and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management. “We are taking blind people back up to low vision, and that is pretty significant.”

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