Alkaline Batteries… Now Rechargeable

By Vireak sc (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A, AA (double-A), AAA (triple-A), C (R14), and D (D-cell or R20) – all common types of alkaline batteries – batteries that commonly have a zinc electrode and potassium hydroxide (caustic base) electrolyte. The vast majority are not rechargeable. When you do see a rechargeable battery of the types listed they are not likely to… Continue reading Alkaline Batteries… Now Rechargeable

BSOD from SPACE

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

Pretty much everyone knows what the blue screen of death is. That dreaded complete system failure that happens every so often. Sometimes for no reason at all. It can happen on any device – PC, Mac, Android, iOS/iPhone… most of the time the device just reboots. Any number of issues can cause them – software… Continue reading BSOD from SPACE

Everything is Duplexing

By felixion / Gonzalo Pineda ZunigaWikidenizen at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

When you talk to someone on the phone typically someone makes a statement or asks a question then the other party responds. We take turns. You talk then I talk, then you talk then I talk – back and forth. That is also how many internet services and wireless communications work as well — they… Continue reading Everything is Duplexing

Inkless Paper Developed

By Anakin101 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Phys.org reports on a breakthrough in printing: paper that uses ultraviolet light to print on coated paper. The paper can be heated to 250°F to erase what was printed and re-written to it up to 80 times (re-writable paper).  The researchers believe that this paper, which uses ultraviolet light to speed up chemical reactions between titanium… Continue reading Inkless Paper Developed

Fiber Picks Up Speed

By felixion / Gonzalo Pineda ZunigaWikidenizen at en.wikipedia [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Our demand for data continues to grow and so to does the amount of data fiber optic networks can transmit. Phys.org reports on research completed by NTT Access Network Service Systems Laboratories in Japan where they were able to fit 12 individual cores inside a standard diameter for fiber optics. Since the amount of data we… Continue reading Fiber Picks Up Speed

Intel Pushes Moore’s Law Along: 10 nm

Intel Logo

Moore’s Law (which states the number of transistors per square inch doubles roughly every twelve {12} to eighteen {18} months) has had repeated claims that it would end as the limits of silicon are hit and the size approaches that where quantum effects take over, yet it keeps proving the naysayers wrong. IEEE Spectrum reports… Continue reading Intel Pushes Moore’s Law Along: 10 nm

Mass Manufacturing Graphene: New Method

The ideal crystalline structure of graphene is a hexagonal grid. By AlexanderAlUS on Wikimedia Commons.

Graphene has been expected to be the next big idea in electronics, medical, and many other fields for quite some time. The properties of graphene outpace that of traditional materials used today. However, mass-manufacturing the single-molecule-layers of graphite (yes, “pencil lead”) has proven difficult, complex, and costly. But new methods are being worked on… Reported… Continue reading Mass Manufacturing Graphene: New Method

Canon Global Advancement: Read the Side of an Airplane!

Canon's Corporate Logo

Canon, a leader in technology for digital cameras has made an amazing breakthrough in complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology. Phys.org reports that Canon has developed a CMOS with the highest pixel density ever for a 35 mm full-frame sensor and simultaneously overcome the major hurdles to getting there. At 250 megapixels, or roughly 250 million… Continue reading Canon Global Advancement: Read the Side of an Airplane!

Towards Affordable Transparent Aluminum

Molecular diagram of transparent aluminum on an old Apple computer screen.
[dc]C[/dc]ontrary to popular belief, transparent aluminum is real… It’s just prohibitively expensive (or at least it was). It is known in the scientific world as magnesium aluminate or spinel. It is a mineral ceramic that is capable of allowing the visible and infrared spectrum to pass through (which is why it is often used in military applications). It is significantly stronger and harder than glass.

The U.S. Navel Research Laboratory (NRL) has discovered a cheaper method of producing the material that also requires less energy. The new method discovered uses a low-temperature hot-press that limits the size of the spinel only to the size of the press used to form it. The laboratory team, lead by Dr. Jas Sanghera, has agreed to hand over the method to the commercial industry to allow businesses to fully utilize the promising material. Because of it’s previously high cost it was primarily used in military and police armor.

Application

What can this material be used for now? A wide range of things. Lets start with cell phones. A phone screen made of transparent aluminum would be very difficult to scratch and would not shatter if you dropped the phone onto concrete. Since this material is easily bullet-resistant it could also be used to lower the cost and weight of armor for vehicles. Bullet-resistant glass for vehicles used to protect high-profile individuals such as celebrities, business persons, and politicians could be reduced in thickness while still providing the same ballistics protection. Current bullet-resistant material of choice is thick Plexiglas but to prevent most bullets from penetrating the material has to be very thick and therefore very heavy. Transparent aluminum could be used instead which would reduce weight, be easier to install, and reduce the amount of fuel the vehicle used. Because of the optical properties it is also likely to be used by the solar power industry in the future as well. It could provide better protection for solar cells with the possibility of even enhancing efficiency if the optical properties could be tuned.

The video below is from the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home where Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (played by the late James Doohan) along with Doctor Leonard “Bones” McCoy (played by the late Jackson DeForest Kelley) have traveled back in time and are in need of a container to hold two humpback whales and the water needed for them to survive. Scotty pulls up the chemical structure of transparent aluminum on the computer for the manager of Plexicorp, a ceramics manufacturer, and offers the deal of a lifetime.

Carbon Nanotube Filtering Breakthrough

Carbon nanotubes, microscopically-thin wires of carbon atoms, can be produced in sufficient quantity but not sufficient quality for electronics. They often include a bundle of wires where some are conductive, like the power wires going from your computer to the wall outlet, and some are semiconducting — the kind needed for processing information. Science Daily reports on a carbon nanotube purification breakthrough by a research team at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, lead by professor John Rogers. Efforts to purify or sort conducting from semiconducting nanotubes have been expensive and require many steps. The new method discovered can be explained easily.

Imaging you have a stick of butter and you lay two thin metal wires — one a standard metal wire and the other a semiconducting wire — over top of the butter then attach the positive and negative electrodes of a battery to each end of wire. After a few seconds what happens? The conductive metal wire heats up and sinks into the butter stick. The semiconducting wire does not heat up nearly as much due to restricting the electron flow — so it does not sink into the butter as deeply. Instead the semiconducting wire stays nearly on the surface of the butter. Once the process is complete you can easily separate the conductive and semiconducting wire since the conductive one is at the bottom of the butter stick. Image edited to show example:

Yellow stick of butter with two lines - one drawn across the top to represent a semiconducting wire that has not melted through the butter and another that has sunk to the bottom of the butter representing a conducting wire. The example shows a way to purify - or sort - carbon nanotubes with different properties.

WARNING: DO NOT try the experiment described above! It is dangerous and could lead to burns or even an explosion — the battery and wires will heat up and can remain hot and the battery may even explode!

This new method of using current-induced heat to separate nanotubes of different properties is easy to do and is compatible with current manufacturing methods.