science + technology news

Materials could make for super LEDs, solar cells, computer chips

December 3, 2003

Engineers at Ohio State University have created special hybrid materials that are virtually defect-free — an important first step for making ultra-efficient electronics in the future.

They grow thin films of “III-V” semiconductors, which absorb and emit light much more efficiently than silicon, so these materials could bridge the gap between traditional silicon computer chips and light-related technologies, such as lasers, displays, and fiber optics.

The engineers have… read more

DNA-sorted carbon nanotubes allow for nanoelectronics building blocks

December 3, 2003

DuPont, MIT and University of Illinois scientists have discovered an innovative way to advance electronics applications through the use of DNA that sorts carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotubes possess excellent electrical properties that make them potential building blocks in a broad range of nanotechnology-related electronic applications, including highly sensitive medical diagnostic devices and transistors more than 100 times tinier than those found in today’s microchips. When they are fabricated, however,… read more

Reclaim Your Brain

December 2, 2003

More information has been produced and stored in the past five years than at any time in human history with e-mails, text messages, mobile phone calls, TV, and websites. This massive explosion in information has arguably empowered millions, transforming them from passive consumers of culture into active participants in a 24 hour global debate. But others claim that when the fog of new data has cleared, we will be left… read more

Intel scientists find wall for Moore’s Law

December 2, 2003

Moore’s Law is coming to an end, according to a recent research paper authored by Intel researchers. It theorizes that chipmakers will hit a wall at the 5-nanometer transistor gate length for chips made on a 16-nanometer technology process.

When the gate length gets below 5 nanometers, tunneling will begin to occur. Electrons will simply pass through the channel on their own, because the source and the drain will… read more

Drexler vs. Smalley on molecular assembly

December 1, 2003

Rice University Professor Richard Smalley has responded to a longstanding challenge by Dr. Eric Drexler to defend a controversial direction of U.S. nanotechnology policy that excludes molecular assembly. Their four-part exchange, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, is this week’s Chemical & Engineering News cover story.

The controversy centers on “a fundamental question that will dramatically affect the future development of this field,” says Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rudy… read more

When Cash Is Only Skin Deep

December 1, 2003

Applied Digital Solutions has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin. Micro-chipped customers would scan themselves using special readers.

Comin’ In on a Wheel and a Prayer

December 1, 2003

Snowmobile-maker Bombardier envisions a futuristic personal transport vehicle called Embrio. It would use gyroscope, electronic and fuel-cell technologies to whiz around in traffic on one wheel.

U.S. considers turning scooters into war robots

December 1, 2003

The Pentagon is drafting the Segway Human Transporter as part of a plan to develop battlefield robots that think on their own and communicate with troops.

Researchers say potential applications for the robots include performing search missions on the battlefield, transporting injured soldiers to safety, or following humans around while hauling their gear.

CRN analyzes Drexler-Smalley debate

December 1, 2003

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has published an analysis of the exchange between Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley in the December 1 Chemical & Engineering News.

“We have carefully examined the arguments presented by each side,” says Chris Phoenix, Director of Research at CRN. “We conclude that Smalley failed to show why MNT cannot work as Drexler asserts.”

“Failure to anticipate the development… read more

Blood could generate body repair kit

December 1, 2003

A small company in London, UK, says it can turn white blood cells into cells capable of regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. This could transform the treatment of everything from heart disease to Parkinson’s.

Its “miracle” hinges on an antibody that binds to a receptor on the cell surface and allegedly triggers “retrodifferentiation.”

Wireless World

November 26, 2003

In a few years, wireless will become the dominant form of communication service in the U.S. Already there are about 147 million cell phones in the country, compared with 187 million traditional phone lines, according to FCC figures.

New Use Found for Exotic Material

November 26, 2003

Black silicon (silicon bombarded with ultra-short laser pulses) has been found to hold amazing potential for efficiently converting sunlight to electricity, communicating by light, and monitoring the environmental pollution. When placed in a strong electric field, black silicon shows field emission (emits electrons) with surprising efficiency.

The Love Machine: Building computers that care

November 26, 2003

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab are trying to build computers that care about their users.

Affective computing proponents believe computers should be designed to recognize, express, and influence emotion in users.

Nanotech instruments allow for observing RNA ‘proofreading’

November 26, 2003

Stanford University researchers have discovered a “proofreading” step used to correct DNA transcription errors in expressing genes from DNA to RNA to proteins.

They made the discovery while observing the molecular process used by the RNA polymerase (RNAP) enzyme to copy individual bases from E. coli bacteria DNA onto strands of RNA.

Papers published in Nature and Cell “push the study of single proteins to new limits,” says… read more

Ultranet will link scientists and supercomputers at 40 Gbps

November 26, 2003

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory will design a high-speed network called Science Ultranet that operates at up to 40 gigabits per second, ORNL has announced.

With $4.5 million funding from the Department of Energy, Science UltraNet will allow for distributed collaborative visualization, remote instrument control, and remote computational steering, which allows scientists to control and guide computations being run on supercomputers from their offices. These tasks require high-speed transfer… read more

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