The rumbling you feel driving along a bridge may soon serve a purpose beyond just waking you up behind the wheel. Researchers at MIT have developed a tiny energy-harvester that is able to harness low-frequency vibrations like those made by a bridge or pipeline and converting them to electricity for wireless sensors.
In a move that could remake the microchip industry, Intel announced Wednesday it will start mass-producing the first three-dimensional silicon transistors. The 3-D transistor design, which Intel says will improve efficiency by more than one-third, will be integrated into a 22-nanometer node in an Intel chip called Ivy Bridge.
The rapid pace of innovation and the relentless pressure of Moore’s Law means new and better gadgets are always coming to market, but it also means whatever you just bought for several hundred (or thousand) dollars will likely be obsolete in a matter of months (see: the iPhone through the iPhone 4). But a new kind of shape-shifting chip--if it can be tamed and perfected--could change all that, allowing device hardware to be reconfigured when updated designs become available.
By Benjamin Phelan
Posted 04.04.2011 at 5:33 pm 0 Comments
Nearly 150 hacker spaces have opened in the U.S. in the past three years. Rather than havens of illicit computing, these communal workshops are places for members, in exchange for monthly dues, to get together and share equipment too big and dangerous for a home or garage (oscilloscopes, welding rigs, laser-cutters) and collaborate on projects too audacious to undergo alone (thought-controlled helicopters, helium balloons with autonomous robot pilots).
New integrated circuits use photons to build fast and extremely power-efficient supercomputers
By Valerie Ross
Posted 03.24.2011 at 11:00 am 12 Comments
The speed of light is as fast as it gets, and IBM researchers are exploiting that fact to give supercomputers a boost. They’ve made the smallest-yet silicon chips that use light to transmit information.
This week at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (you didn’t forget about the International Solid-State Circuits Conference, did you?) a team of European researchers will unveil a 4,000-transistor, 8-bit logic microprocessor with processing power equivalent to a simple silicon chip circa 1977. But this chip is different. This chip is flexible. The world’s first organic microprocessor is here.
Physicists from the University of Bonn are looking at things in a whole new light, quite literally. Through the clever use of mirrors and some smart science, researchers there have created a wholly new source of light by cooling photons to the point that they condense into a “super photon.” The so-called Bose-Einstein condensate made up of photons was, until now, thought impossible.
Satellite dishes as we know them – both the huge ones that require a corner of the backyard and the more modern, compact variety that mount on rooftops – could be on their way out. A grad student at the Netherlands’ University of Twente has devised a new microchip that allows for an array of nearly flat antennas to pick up satellite signals, with no rounded, concave “dish” required.
Even with great strides being made regularly in the realms of nanotech and materials science, Moore’s Law – the notion that the number of transistors that can be placed on a given integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – has for several years been bearing down on engineers who have shrunk conventional chip technology about as far as material limitations will let them.
The world's tiniest chess board and a pea-sized barber shop are the winners of a microelectromechanical systems design contest at Sandia National Laboratories. The microbarbershop can cut a single hair, and the chess board -- about the diameter of four human hairs -- comes with a full set of minuscule chess pieces.
Following up on a 2007 world record for the fastest transistor speed, Northrop Grumman announced today that it has shattered the world record for integrated circuit performance. The new circuit layout operates at 0.67 terahertz, or 0.67 trillion cycles per second, more than doubling the frequency of the fastest known IC in the world.
Silicon chips are on the way out, at least if Duke University engineer Chris Dwyer has his way. The professor of electrical and computer engineering says a single grad student using the unique properties of DNA to coax circuits into assembling themselves could produce more logic circuits in a single day than the entire global silicon chip industry could produce in a month.
After a breathless race through the '80s and '90s, desktop computer clock speeds have spent the last decade languishing around the 3 gigahertz mark. That stagnation in processing speeds has prompted scientists to debate whether it's time to move beyond semiconductors -- and what better place to debate than in the journal Science?
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.