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Sep 17, 2015

The world’s first all-electric propulsion satellite is now operational

Posted by in categories: electronics, internet, space

Boeing has announced that the ABS–3A, the world’s first all-electric propulsion satellite, has commenced its tour of duty.

The communications satellite is being operated by ABS, a Bermuda-based satellite network that provides TV, Internet, and cellular services across the world. Unlike conventional satellites, which have mostly used propellant systems that burn chemicals of one kind or another to get about the place, the ABS–3A makes use of a xenon-ion propulsion system to achieve thrust.

Specifically, the all-electric propulsion system uses electron bombardment to create xenon ions, which are then expelled by the spacecraft, producing thrust in the opposite direction.

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Sep 16, 2015

MIT creates diode for light, makes photonic silicon chips possible

Posted by in categories: computing, electronics, mobile phones, transportation

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are a cornerstone of consumer tech. They make thin-and-light TVs and smartphones possible, provide efficient household, handheld, and automobile illumination, and, of course, without LEDs your router would not have blinkenlights. Thanks to some engineers from MIT, though, a new diode looks set to steal the humble LED’s thunder. Dubbed a diode for light, and crafted using standard silicon chip fabrication techniques, this is a key discovery that will pave the path to photonic (as opposed to electronic) pathways on computer chips and circuit boards.

In electronics, a diode is a gate that only allows electrons to pass in one direction (and with an LED, it also emits light at the same time). In this case, the diode for light — which is made from a thin layer of garnet — is transparent in one direction, but opaque in the other. Garnet is usually hard to deposit on a silicon wafer, but the MIT researchers found a way to do it — and that’s really the meat of this discovery.

Diode for light diagramBasically, it’s now possible, with regular chip-fab tools, to create an integrated silicon circuit with optical, rather than electronic, interconnects — both internally, and between other chips. Photons, moving through the kind of transparent metamaterials that would be required to make such a circuit, move a lot faster than electrons. Furthermore, optical channels, through wavelength-division multiplexing, can carry a lot more data than electric signals. At the moment, hundreds of copper wires connect the CPU, northbridge, and memory — with on-chip photonic controllers, a motherboard might only have 10 or 20 channels.

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Sep 16, 2015

The first 8K TV will go on sale soon for over $130,000

Posted by in categories: business, electronics

Sharp has demonstrated Super Hi-Vision 8K displays before (as seen above during CES 2015), but today in Japan it announced an 85-inch version is going on sale October 30th. Dubbed the LV-85001, it’s a monitor (it has a tuner so you could call it a TV, but that can’t actually receive 8K video) for professional use only, mostly since there aren’t really any broadcasts or content to watch in 8K. Coming in at 16 times the resolution of 1080p screens, the 7,680 × 4,320 pixel LCD panel uses Sharp’s IGZO technology. To actually watch any 8K video, you’ll need to plug into all four of its HDMI inputs at once just to have enough bandwidth. If you’re interested (and why wouldn’t you be, even though there’s almost nothing to watch), just contact Sharp’s business-to-business sales unit, and bring along a check for 16,000,000 yen, or about $133,034 US.

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Sep 16, 2015

Researchers model graphene/nanotube hybrids to test properties

Posted by in categories: electronics, materials

Rice University researchers discovered that putting nanotube pillars between sheets of graphene could create hybrid structures with a unique balance of strength, toughness and ductility throughout all three dimensions.

Carbon nanomaterials are common now as flat sheets, nanotubes and spheres, and they’re being eyed for use as building blocks in hybrid structures with unique for electronics, heat transport and strength. The Rice team is laying a theoretical foundation for such structures by analyzing how the blocks’ junctions influence the properties of the desired materials.

Rice materials scientist Rouzbeh Shahsavari and alumnus Navid Sakhavand calculated how various links, particularly between carbon nanotubes and graphene, would affect the final hybrid’s properties in all directions. They found that introducing junctions would add extra flexibility while maintaining almost the same strength when compared with materials made of layered graphene.

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Sep 14, 2015

LG will reportedly unveil a 55-inch ‘rollable TV’ prototype in 2016

Posted by in categories: drones, electronics

Never mind the 111-inch double-sided TV that LG showed off at IFA earlier this month; that’s so 2015.

A rollable TV, though — now that’s something I could see fitting in nicely to my pimped-out IoT living room of 2016.

Maybe I’ll unroll this rollable TV in bed each morning, and have a drone fly over the coffee that my smart, connected coffee machine poured ahead of time — after it was pinged by my Apple Watch that I was about to wake up.

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Sep 14, 2015

Physicists develop key component for terahertz wireless

Posted by in categories: electronics, internet, mobile phones, physics

Terahertz radiation could one day provide the backbone for wireless systems that can deliver data up to one hundred times faster than today’s cellular or Wi-Fi networks. But there remain many technical challenges to be solved before terahertz wireless is ready for prime time.

Researchers from Brown University have taken a major step toward addressing one of those challenges. They’ve developed what they believe to be the first system for multiplexing terahertz waves. Multiplexers are devices that enable separate streams of data to travel through a single medium. It’s the technology that makes it possible for a single cable to carry multiple TV channels or for a fiber optic line to carry thousands of phone calls at the same time.

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Sep 14, 2015

Paralyzed Man Successfully Given Prosthetic Hand That Can ‘Feel’

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, electronics, neuroscience

A 28 year old man who has been paralysed has been given a new sense of touch following a new breakthrough that saw electrodes places directly into the man’s brain.

The research and clinical trial has been carried out by DARPA, the US Military’s research agency. Essentially, the man (who has not been named) is now able to control his new hand and feel people touching it because of two sets of electrodes: one array on the motor cortex, the part of the brain which directs body movement, and one on the sensory cortex, which is the part of the brain which feels touch.

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Sep 14, 2015

Prosthetic hand restores a man’s sense of touch

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, cyborgs, electronics

DARPA promised prosthetic limbs that produce realistic sensations, and it’s making good on its word. The agency’s researchers have successfully tested an artificial hand that gave a man a “near-natural” level of touch. The patient could tell when scientists were pressing against specific fingers, even when they tried to ‘trick’ the man by touching two digits at once. The key was to augment the thought-controlled hand with a set of pressure-sensitive torque motors wired directly to the brain — any time the hand touched something, it sent electrical signals that felt much like flesh-and-bone contact.

There’s still a lot of work left to go before this hardware is truly realistic, of course. The sensors don’t cover the entire hand, and they don’t account for temperature or other factors you’ll likely worry about when grabbing objects. Still, this should represent a big step forward. Provided the technology takes off, both amputees and paralysis victims could regain some of the tactility they once had.

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Sep 12, 2015

Automakers Will Make Automatic Braking Systems Standard in New Cars

Posted by in categories: electronics, transportation

DETROIT — Federal regulators said on Friday that 10 automakers had agreed to install automatic braking systems, which use sensors to detect potential collisions, as standard equipment in new vehicles.

But the automakers have not set a timetable for the introduction of the systems, and regulators may still seek government rules that would require the equipment as a standard feature in all cars and trucks — just as airbags were mandated a generation ago.

Anthony Foxx, the transportation secretary, said in a prepared statement that emergency braking technology could reduce traffic deaths and injuries.

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Sep 12, 2015

This hand-held molecular scanner will tell you what any object is made of

Posted by in categories: electronics, mobile phones

And send the results to your smartphone.

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