The incredible stretch ... circuit?

Subject: General Tech | February 19, 2019 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: nifty, stretchable, nanotubes

There have been several foldable screens shown off at CES and other shows, though no prototypes have made it into our hands as of yet.  For the most part they seem to rely on rigid structures linked by stretchable or foldable materials, which is what makes the research PhysicsWorld is reporting so interesting.  Researchers from the University of Houston have developed a semiconductor which is able to retain its performance even when stretched up to 50% from it's original size.  The prototype, with integrated electronics and logic circuits, relies on a rubbery semiconductor composite doped with carbon nanotubes which carry the charge from component to component even when the material is deformed or stretched.  They also suggest that this manufacturing is relatively inexpensive, which is perhaps the largest hurdle when developing this type of product.

Jump over to their report and take a look.

 

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"Their low-cost semiconductor material retained its high charge carrier mobility, even when subjected to 50% stretching. The team’s work could lead to the development of practical new technologies including robotic skins and wearable electronics."

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Source: PhysicsWorld

Look ma, no keyboard!

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2019 - 12:34 PM |
Tagged: DIY, dual screen, nifty

Anitomicals C is a inventive computer enthusiast who has built his own version of Microsoft's large PixelSense workspace (once called Surface); a dual touchscreen desktop machine.  It looks like a laptop in that it folds closed but packs desktop components, with graphics handled by a proper GTX 1080 and with a server PSU hidden inside.  At 10kg (22lbs) it is a bit heavy to carry around daily but certainly portable. He has designed it in such a way that input peripherals are superfluous, for those who do not need them or cannot use them.

Check out the quick overview at Hackaday and click through to the build video if you are so inclined.

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"He freely admits that it is a prototype and proof of concept, and that is obvious from its large size and extensive use of desktop components. But he has brought it together in a very tidy Perspex case serving as an interesting class in creating a portable computer with well-chosen desktop components, even though with no battery it does not pretend to fit the same niche as a laptop."

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Source: Hackaday

Come on let's go Space Garbage Truckin'

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2018 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: sapcex, RemoveDEBRIS, nifty, Falcon 9

Kessler syndrome, aka the Kessler effect, describes a critical point that space garbage in low earth orbit could reach which would effectively trap us on the planet.  Not only that, it would turn orbiting satellites into even more space garbage, which would be a bad thing for the modern world.  As you can see in the picture below, there is already a large amount of fair sized junk in our orbit. 

The RemoveDEBRIS spaceship was designed to help ensure this never happens, and it was launched into orbit and delivered to the ISS on the most recent Falcon 9 flight.  Hackaday reports that the first test was successful, and the test target was successfully tracked and captured in the net that RemoveDEBRIS launched at it.   This is just the first step, the next test would involve attaching a drag sail to the netted debris so it can be deorbited, in a manner that would more or less ensure the debris doesn't land in your bathroom or otherwise inconvenience us sitting at the bottom of the gravity well. 

Check it out here.

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"To that end, RemoveDEBRIS deployed a CubeSat target and allowed it to drift approximately seven meters away. Once the target had moved to the prescribed distance, a net developed by Airbus was fired at it. When the center of the net struck the CubeSat, weights along its edges wrapped around the target, completely ensnaring it."

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Source: Hackaday

Boron arsenide; cool as diamonds but somewhat less expensive

Subject: General Tech | July 10, 2018 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: Boron arsenide, nifty

Thermal interface material boffins will expound the benefits of using diamond to improve the thermal conductivity of pastes and would go so far as to suggest they should be included in chip design as a way to move heat around.  They are not wrong, as diamond does offer the best thermal conductivity but it has some drawbacks; namely the price of the high quality crystal required to cool effectively.  Flaws in the diamond will prevent heat being conducted efficiently and strangely the less flaws the more expensive the diamond.

Researchers have come up with a new way to create boron arsenide crystals and have found that the thermal conductivity of these crystals approaches that of diamond and could theoretically cost significantly less.  The conductivity of the crystals they have fabricated are roughly twice that of the copper or silicon carbide commonly used now.  Even more interesting is that it is a semiconductor with a bandgap comparable to silicon, around 1.5 eV as well as having comparable thermal expansion coefficients. 

Perhaps this material might see us being to consider larger 3D wafer designs?  Check out more at Physics World.

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"Researchers predicted that BAs should have a theoretical thermal conductivity as high as that of diamond (2200 W/m/K), which is the best heat conductor known, back in 2013. However, to reach this high value, high quality crystals are needed since defects and impurities dramatically degrade thermal properties."

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Computers can now read that poker face you are so proud of

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2018 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: AlterEgo, nifty

AlterEgo is a project from MIT to allow you to interface with a computer via neuromuscular face twitches, translating subtle movements into text.  You need to wear a sensor which looks a little like a confused facehugger that attached to your hear from the rear.  The headset uses bone conduction to detect sub-vocalized speach, you do not even need to move your mouth in order for your words to register.  The Register reports that AlterEgo has an an impressive 92% accuracy rate, good enough for use but with the possibility of some humorous results.  This will be a huge boon for those who lack the ability to speak as well as offering a way to interface with VR by removing the need for a keyboard to enter text.  Check it out here.

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"Boffins at MIT have developed a silent speech interface called AlterEgo that allows wearers to communicate via text translated from neuromuscular signals – tiny face twitches – without a visible tell."

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Source: The Register

Design a thing, win a prize; change the world?

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2018 - 01:29 PM |
Tagged: hack, DIY, nifty, hackaday prize

Last years grand prize winner of the Hack a Day prize picked up $50,000 for creating the Open Source Underwater Glider, an autonomous underwater vehicle which uses a buoyancy engine instead of screws to travel underwater.  That makes it silent and able to roam around for a week or more before returning home and the plans and materials are readily available for anyone who wants to build one.

Today the 2018 Hackaday Prize launches, commencing with the Open Hardware Design Challenge.  For this challenge you need only to provide detailed plans of your project and the theory behind it, if your plans are among the best 20 and fit into one of the next four challenges you might just pick up $1000 and move onto the next stage.  The four specific challenges are Robotics, Power Harvesting, Human Computer Interface and Musical Instruments; so if you have an existing project or an idea just burning around in your brain, then here is your chance to shine!  Check out the full rules and details here.

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"The Hackaday Prize begins with 5 themed challenges which run in nonstop series (one directly after the other). Each challenge lasts 6 weeks long, with the first challenge beginning on March 12th and the last ending October 8th. The top 20 projects from each round win $1000 and advance to the finals."

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Source: Hack a Day

The winners of the first stage of The HackaDay Prize

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: hack, DIY, nifty

The first of the five rounds of The Hackaday Prize has completed and the winners announced.  This stage is the Design Your Concept stage, often the most important factor in determining the success of the build project you intend to sit out on.  The winners are an eclectic bunch, from heart monitoring devices to printing bones on a 3D printer to a hand portable braille printing press.  It is worth taking a look at these, even if the project does not strike your fancy you can learn a lot on how the create an effective design of a concept for your own projects.  There are still four more rounds to go so expect even more interesting designs over the coming weeks,

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"Today we’re excited to announce the winners of the Design Your Concept phase of The Hackaday Prize. These projects just won $1000 USD, and will move on to the final round this fall."

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Source: Hack a Day

DRAM just doesn't have the torque to compete in the future

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2016 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: STT-MRAM, nifty

Good news has arrived for those watching the development of the next type of storage medium, there has been new information about Spin Transfer Torque MRAM published.  One of the major hurdles in the development of the new type of memory, apart from yields, has been predicting the performance of MRAM cells.  The Register have linked to an article on IEEE, jointly published by IBM and Samsung, which details how new STT-MRAM materials fabbed at the 11nm behave.  We are still a while off of STT-MRAM hitting the market but it continues to draw closer as researchers try to bring us the next generation of storage media.

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"IBM and Samsung scientists have published an IEEE paper demonstrating switching MRAM cells for 655 devices with diameters ranging from 50 down to 11 nanometers in just 10 nanoseconds using only 7.5 microamperes. They say it is a significant achievement towards the development of Spin Torque MRAM."

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Source: The Register

Have some happy news for a change; aerogel made from recycled paper

Subject: General Tech | February 10, 2016 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: aerogel, nifty

With the depressing news about security holes below the fold it seemed appropriate to post something positive before you get depressed about PDFs, fonts and other such things.  This morning Slashdot posted just such a story, researchers have managed to turn recycled paper into an aerogel.  Aerogels are a relatively new substance, usually created with silica, metals or polymers and are incredibly light, amazing insulators and often have other arcane usages.  Recycled paper might not seem a likely substance to form an insulator, however the polymer resin coated cellulose aerogel still retains that common property.  It is also capable of absorbing up to 90 times its dry weight in spilled oil while completely excluding water, and to allow for the recovery of 99% of that oil for use again. 

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"A team of scientists have successfully turned paper waste into aerogel. Aerogels are used in insulation, and they are usually made out of polymers and silica. But a research team at the National University of Singapore managed to make the highly sought-after product using recycled paper ..."

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Source: Slashdot

On-die watercooling

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2015 - 01:06 PM |
Tagged: watercooling, nifty

These researchers are skipping the waterblock altogether and have made channels in surface of the die its self for de-ionized water to flow through and cool the chip.  The 28-nanometer Altera FPGA they tested this cooling method on had numerous channels cut into it which were then sealed up with a layer of silicon.  With a flow rate of 147 ml/minute they kept the chip to a comfortable 24C, a mere 4C higher than the temperature of the water and significantly lower than the 60C the chip would run at using air cooling.  Neither Hack a Day nor PCPer encourage you to try to cut micron sized channels in your brand new processor, however we all hope to see this cooling technique incorporated into heatspreaders in future generations of processors.

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"Researchers at Georgia Tech have been working on cutting fluid channels directly into the back of commercial silicon die (an Altera FPGA, to be exact). The tiny channels measure about 100 micron and are resealed with another layer of silicon. Water is pumped into the channels to cool the device efficiently."

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Source: Hack a Day