David Kirkpatrick

July 23, 2009

OLEDs hit the market …

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:37 pm

… at $100 per square inch for prototypes. Ouch.

From the link:

Someday, our ceilings and walls might radiate light, illuminating indoor spaces as brightly and evenly as natural daylight.

Though that possibility remains years off, the Dutch electronics company Philips is letting people tinker with the technology that would enable it.

The world’s biggest lighting maker has begun selling do-it-yourself kits with little glowing wafers called “Lumiblades.” They come in red, white, blue or green for anyone who wants to pay nearly $100 per square inch.

It’s one of the first chances people outside research labs have had to get their hands on lights made from organic light emitting diodes, or OLEDs.

The company’s aim is to get designers, architects and other creative types thinking about how these flat lights can be used, and to start collaborating on early products.

Head here for more blog posts on OLEDs.

June 18, 2009

Cheaper OLEDs

I haven’t had an opportunity to blog about OLEDs in a while, but this looks like a real cost breakthrough. OLEDs have the potential to revolutionize lighting and display technology.

From the link:

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) are steadily making their way into commercial devices like cell phones and flat-screen displays. They’re fabricated with layers of organic polymers, which make them flexible, and they use less power and less expensive materials than liquid crystal displays.

The downside is that because the polymers react easily with oxygen and water, OLEDs are expensive to produce–they have to be created in high-vacuum chambers–and they need extra protective packaging layers to make sure that once they’re integrated into display devices, they don’t degrade when exposed to air or moisture.

MIT chemical-engineering professor Karen Gleason and MIT postdoc Sreeram Vaddiraju have developed a process that aims to solve the problems of high fabrication costs and instability for OLEDs while still maintaining their flexibility. Gleason’s solution is a hybrid light-emitting diode, or HLED. The device would incorporate both organic and inorganic layers, combining the flexibility of an OLED with the stability of an inorganic light-emitting material. “The idea is to have a mixed bag and capture the qualities that allow inexpensive fabrication and stability,” Gleason says.

October 11, 2008

Flexible OLED offers new lighting options

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:28 pm

I’ve done a fair amount of blogging on OLEDs (hit this link for those posts and all my praise for the tech) so I do follow the developments and breakthroughs to a great extent. This application of Organic Light-Emitting Diodes is very exciting because it has the possibility of completely revolutionizing the concept of artificial lighting.

Plus it’s just plain cool.

From the second link:

On a bank of the Mohawk River, a windowless industrial building of corrugated steel hides something that could make floor lamps, bedside lamps, wall sconces and nearly every other household lamp obsolete. It’s a machine that prints lights.

The size of a semitrailer, it coats an 8-inch wide plastic film with chemicals, then seals them with a layer of metal foil. Apply electric current to the resulting sheet, and it lights up with a blue-white glow.

You could tack that sheet to a wall, wrap it around a pillar or even take a translucent version and tape it to your windows. Unlike practically every other source of lighting, you wouldn’t need a lamp or conventional fixture for these sheets, though you would need to plug them into an outlet.

The sheets owe their luminance to compounds known as organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs. While there are plenty of problems to be worked out with the technology, it’s not the dream of a wild-eyed startup.

OLEDs are beginning to be used in TVs and cell-phone displays, and big names like Siemens and Philips are throwing their weight behind the technology to make it a lighting source as well. The OLED printer was made by General Electric Co. on its sprawling research campus here in upstate New York. It’s not far from where a GE physicist figured out a practical way to use tungsten metal as the filament in a regular light bulb. That’s still used today, nearly a century later.

December 18, 2010

Science magazine’s breakthroughs of 2010

Number one is the first quantum machine.

From the link:

Physicists Andrew Cleland and John Martinis from the University of California at Santa Barbara and their colleagues designed the machine—a tiny metal paddle of semiconductor, visible to the naked eye—and coaxed it into dancing with a quantum groove. First, they cooled the paddle until it reached its “ground state,” or the lowest energy state permitted by the laws of quantum mechanics (a goal long-sought by). Then they raised the widget’s energy by a single quantum to produce a purely quantum-mechanical state of motion. They even managed to put the gadget in both states at once, so that it literally vibrated a little and a lot at the same time—a bizarre phenomenon allowed by the weird rules of quantum mechanics.

and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society, have recognized this first quantum machine as the 2010 Breakthrough of the Year. They have also compiled nine other important scientific accomplishments from this past year into a top ten list, appearing in a special news feature in the journal’s 17 December 2010 issue. Additionally, Science news writers and editors have chosen to spotlight 10 “Insights of the Decade” that have transformed the landscape of science in the 21st Century.

“This year’s Breakthrough of the Year represents the first time that scientists have demonstrated quantum effects in the motion of a human-made object,” said Adrian Cho, a news writer for Science. “On a conceptual level that’s cool because it extends quantum mechanics into a whole new realm. On a practical level, it opens up a variety of possibilities ranging from new experiments that meld quantum control over light, electrical currents and motion to, perhaps someday, tests of the bounds of quantum mechanics and our sense of reality.”

 

October 26, 2010

World’s largest solar installation coming to California

Via KurzweilAI.net — That’s some serious solar capacity.

US approves world’s biggest solar energy project in California

October 26, 2010 by Editor

The U.S. Department of Interior approved on Monday a permit for Solar Millennium, LLC to build the largest solar energy project in the world — four  plants at the cost of one billion dollars each — in southern California.

The project is expected to generate up to 1,000 Megawatts of energy, enough electricity to annually power more than 300,000 single-family homes, more than doubling the solar electricity production capacity of the U.S.

Once constructed, the Blythe facility will reduce CO2 emissions by nearly one million short tons per year, or the equivalent of removing more than 145,000 cars from the road. Additionally, because the facility is “dry-cooled,” it will use 90 percent less water than a traditional “wet-cooled” solar facility of this size. The Blythe facility will also help California take a major step toward achieving its goal of having one third of the state’s power come from renewable sources by the year 2020.

The entire Blythe Solar Power Project will generate a total of more than 7,500 jobs, including 1,000 direct jobs during the construction period, and thousands of additional indirect jobs in the community and throughout the supply chain. When the 1,000 MW facility is fully operational it will create more than 220 permanent jobs.

Adapted from materials provided by Solar Millennium, LLC.

 

 

 

July 12, 2010

Fibers that detect and produce sound

The latest in the world of smart textiles is sound detecting and producing fibers.

From the second link, the release:

MIT researchers create fibers that can detect and produce sound

Could lead to clothes that capture speech, tiny filaments to measure blood flow or pressure

IMAGE: MIT researchers have demonstrated that they can manufacture acoustic fibers with flat surfaces, like those shown here, as well as fibers with circular cross sections. The flat fibers could prove…

Click here for more information.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For centuries, “man-made fibers” meant the raw stuff of clothes and ropes; in the information age, it’s come to mean the filaments of glass that carry data in communications networks. But to Yoel Fink, an Associate professor of Materials Science and principal investigator at MIT’s Research Lab of Electronics, the threads used in textiles and even optical fibers are much too passive. For the past decade, his lab has been working to develop fibers with ever more sophisticated properties, to enable fabrics that can interact with their environment.

In the August issue of Nature Materials, Fink and his collaborators announce a new milestone on the path to functional fibers: fibers that can detect and produce sound. Applications could include clothes that are themselves sensitive microphones, for capturing speech or monitoring bodily functions, and tiny filaments that could measure blood flow in capillaries or pressure in the brain. The paper, whose authors also include Shunji Egusa, a former postdoc in Fink’s lab, and current lab members Noémie Chocat and Zheng Wang, appeared on Nature Materials‘ website on July 11.

Ordinary optical fibers are made from a “preform,” a large cylinder of a single material that is heated up, drawn out, and then cooled. The fibers developed in Fink’s lab, by contrast, derive their functionality from the elaborate geometrical arrangement of several different materials, which must survive the heating and drawing process intact.

The heart of the new acoustic fibers is a plastic commonly used in microphones. By playing with the plastic’s fluorine content, the researchers were able to ensure that its molecules remain lopsided — with fluorine atoms lined up on one side and hydrogen atoms on the other — even during heating and drawing. The asymmetry of the molecules is what makes the plastic “piezoelectric,” meaning that it changes shape when an electric field is applied to it.

In a conventional piezoelectric microphone, the electric field is generated by metal electrodes. But in a fiber microphone, the drawing process would cause metal electrodes to lose their shape. So the researchers instead used a conducting plastic that contains graphite, the material found in pencil lead. When heated, the conducting plastic maintains a higher viscosity — it yields a thicker fluid — than a metal would.

Not only did this prevent the mixing of materials, but, crucially, it also made for fibers with a regular thickness. After the fiber has been drawn, the researchers need to align all the piezoelectric molecules in the same direction. That requires the application of a powerful electric field — 20 times as powerful as the fields that cause lightning during a thunderstorm. Anywhere the fiber is too narrow, the field would generate a tiny lightning bolt, which could destroy the material around it.

Despite the delicate balance required by the manufacturing process, the researchers were able to build functioning fibers in the lab. “You can actually hear them, these fibers,” says Chocat, a graduate student in the materials science department. “If you connected them to a power supply and applied a sinusoidal current” — an alternating current whose period is very regular — “then it would vibrate. And if you make it vibrate at audible frequencies and put it close to your ear, you could actually hear different notes or sounds coming out of it.” For their Nature Materials paper, however, the researchers measured the fiber’s acoustic properties more rigorously. Since water conducts sound better than air, they placed it in a water tank opposite a standard acoustic transducer, a device that could alternately emit sound waves detected by the fiber and detect sound waves emitted by the fiber.

In addition to wearable microphones and biological sensors, applications of the fibers could include loose nets that monitor the flow of water in the ocean and large-area sonar imaging systems with much higher resolutions: A fabric woven from acoustic fibers would provide the equivalent of millions of tiny acoustic sensors.

Zheng, a research scientist in Fink’s lab, also points out that the same mechanism that allows piezoelectric devices to translate electricity into motion can work in reverse. “Imagine a thread that can generate electricity when stretched,” he says.

Ultimately, however, the researchers hope to combine the properties of their experimental fibers in a single fiber. Strong vibrations, for instance, could vary the optical properties of a reflecting fiber, enabling fabrics to communicate optically.

###

Source: “Multimaterial piezoelectric fibres.” S. Egusa, Z. Wang, N. Chocat, Z. M. Ruff, A. M. Stolyarov, D. Shemuly, F. Sorin, P. T. Rakich, J. D. Joannopoulos, and Y. Fink. Nature Materials, 11 July 2010.

February 7, 2010

Another step closer to quantum computers

Here’s the release from Friday:

Princeton scientist makes a leap in quantum computing

A major hurdle in the ambitious quest to design and construct a radically new kind of quantum computer has been finding a way to manipulate the single electrons that very likely will constitute the new machines’ processing components or “qubits.”

Princeton University’s Jason Petta has discovered how to do just that — demonstrating a method that alters the properties of a lone electron without disturbing the trillions of electrons in its immediate surroundings. The feat is essential to the development of future varieties of superfast computers with near-limitless capacities for data.

Petta, an assistant professor of physics, has fashioned a new method of trapping one or two electrons in microscopic corrals created by applying voltages to minuscule electrodes. Writing in the Feb. 5 edition of Science, he describes how electrons trapped in these corrals form “spin qubits,” quantum versions of classic computer information units known as bits. Other authors on the paper include Art Gossard and Hong Lu at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

Previous experiments used a technique in which electrons in a sample were exposed to microwave radiation. However, because it affected all the electrons uniformly, the technique could not be used to manipulate single electrons in spin qubits. It also was slow. Petta’s method not only achieves control of single electrons, but it does so extremely rapidly — in one-billionth of a second.

“If you can take a small enough object like a single electron and isolate it well enough from external perturbations, then it will behave quantum mechanically for a long period of time,” said Petta. “All we want is for the electron to just sit there and do what we tell it to do. But the outside world is sort of poking at it, and that process of the outside world poking at it causes it to lose its quantum mechanical nature.”

When the electrons in Petta’s experiment are in what he calls their quantum state, they are “coherent,” following rules that are radically different from the world seen by the naked eye. Living for fractions of a second in the realm of quantum physics before they are rattled by external forces, the electrons obey a unique set of physical laws that govern the behavior of ultra-small objects.

Scientists like Petta are working in a field known as quantum control where they are learning how to manipulate materials under the influence of quantum mechanics so they can exploit those properties to power advanced technologies like quantum computing. Quantum computers will be designed to take advantage of these characteristics to enrich their capacities in many ways.

In addition to electrical charge, electrons possess rotational properties. In the quantum world, objects can turn in ways that are at odds with common experience. The Austrian theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945, proposed that an electron in a quantum state can assume one of two states — “spin-up” or “spin-down.” It can be imagined as behaving like a tiny bar magnet with spin-up corresponding to the north pole pointing up and spin-down corresponding to the north pole pointing down.

An electron in a quantum state can simultaneously be partially in the spin-up state and partially in the spin-down state or anywhere in between, a quantum mechanical property called “superposition of states.” A qubit based on the spin of an electron could have nearly limitless potential because it can be neither strictly on nor strictly off.

New designs could take advantage of a rich set of possibilities offered by harnessing this property to enhance computing power. In the past decade, theorists and mathematicians have designed algorithms that exploit this mysterious superposition to perform intricate calculations at speeds unmatched by supercomputers today.

Petta’s work is using electron spin to advantage.

“In the quest to build a quantum computer with electron spin qubits, nuclear spins are typically a nuisance,” said Guido Burkard, a theoretical physicist at the University of Konstanz in Germany. “Petta and coworkers demonstrate a new method that utilizes the nuclear spins for performing fast quantum operations. For solid-state quantum computing, their result is a big step forward.”

Petta’s spin qubits, which he envisions as the core of future quantum logic elements, are cooled to temperatures near absolute zero and trapped in two tiny corrals known as quantum wells on the surface of a high-purity, gallium arsenide chip. The depth of each well is controlled by varying the voltage on tiny electrodes or gates. Like a juggler tossing two balls between his hands, Petta can move the electrons from one well to the other by selectively toggling the gate voltages.

Prior to this experiment, it was not clear how experimenters could manipulate the spin of one electron without disturbing the spin of another in a closely packed space, according to Phuan Ong, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton and director of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials.

Other experts agree.

“They have managed to create a very exotic transient condition, in which the spin state of a pair of electrons is in that moment entangled with an almost macroscopic degree of freedom,” said David DiVencenzo, a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Petta’s research also is part of the fledgling field of “spintronics” in which scientists are studying how to use an electron’s spin to create new types of electronic devices. Most electrical devices today operate on the basis of another key property of the electron — its charge.

There are many more challenges to face, Petta said.

“Our approach is really to look at the building blocks of the system, to think deeply about what the limitations are and what we can do to overcome them,” Petta said. “But we are still at the level of just manipulating one or two quantum bits, and you really need hundreds to do something useful.”

As excited as he is about present progress, long-term applications are still years away. “It’s a one-day-at-a-time approach,” Petta said.

###

February 5, 2010

Graphane the superconductor

Back-to-back single-atom layer sheets of carbon nanotech posts today. Graphene and now graphane. (Hit this link for all my graphene blogging and this one for graphane blogging.)

I’m just going to let this physics arXiv blog post do the explaining on this news:

New calculations reveal that p-doped graphane should superconduct at 90K, making possible an entirely new generation of devices cooled by liquid nitrogen.

There’s a problem with high temperature superconductors. It’s now more than two decades since the discovery that certain copper oxides can superconduct at temperatures above 30 K.

And:

The implications of all this are astounding. First up is the possibility of useful superconducting devices cooled only by liquid nitrogen. At last!

But there’s another, more exotic implication: by creating transistor-like gates out of graphane doped in different ways, it should be possible to create devices in which the superconductivity can be switched on and off. That’ll make possible an entirely new class of switch.

Before all of that, however, somebody has to make p-doped graphane. That will be hard. Graphane itself was made for the first time only last year at the University of Manchester. It should be entertaining to follow the race to make and test a p-doped version.

January 26, 2010

Four new asset bubbles to watch

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:15 pm

Oh, man.

From the link:

Less than two years after the housing market collapsed, the U.S. economy is threatened by a new bubble in asset prices. This time, four billowing balloons are hovering: two commodities — gold and oil — stocks, and government bonds.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that last week’s 5% drop in the S&P, and the recent sell-off in oil, remotely makes them fairly valued, let alone bargains. Equities and commodities, as well as Treasuries, which actually rallied as stocks dropped, still have a long way to fall. The reason: They’ve already seen huge run-ups that put their prices far above their historic averages, and far above the levels justified by fundamentals.

January 25, 2010

China doesn’t restrict internet freedom?

Filed under: Politics, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:31 pm

Could have fooled its citizens, and companies forced to comply with government censorship demands to operate in the nation, I guess.

This is a hole Chinese officials might as well stop digging.

From the link:

China on Friday slammed remarks made by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promoting Internet freedom worldwide, saying her words harmed U.S.-China relations.

China resolutely opposes Clinton’s remarks and it is not true that the country restricts online freedom, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on the ministry’s Web site.

Clinton’s speech and China’s response both come after Google (GOOG) last week said it planned to reverse its long-standing position in China by ending censorship of its Chinese search engine. Google cited increasingly tough censorship and recent cyberattacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists for its decision, which it said might force it to close its offices in China altogether.

Click here to find out more!China blocks Web sites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and has long forced domestic Internet companies to censor their own services. Blog providers, for instance, are expected to delete user posts that include pornographic content or talk of sensitive political issues.

December 4, 2009

Macro yarn from nano fibers

Step aside Kevlar, your replacement just clocked in.

This nanotech product looks to have immediate practical applications. Anyone who was a serious tennis player quite some ago ought to remember the Prince Boron racket. Outrageously priced at $500 in a time when cracking three figures was very, very expensive for tennis equipment. I wonder how much an updated version using this boron nitride nanofiber yarn would command?

From the first link, the release:

Visualization of helium-4 and beryllium nuclei.

A yarn spun of boron-nitride nanotubes suspends a quarter.

NEWPORT NEWS, VA, Dec. 2 –Researchers have used lasers to create the first practical macroscopic yarns from boron nitride fibers, opening the door for an array of applications, from radiation-shielded spacecraft to stronger body armor, according to a just-published study.

Researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center, the Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and the National Institute of Aerospace created a new technique to synthesize high-quality boron-nitride nanotubes (BNNTs). They are highly crystalline and have a small diameter. They also structurally contain few walls and are very long. Boron nitride is the white material found in clown make-up and face powder.

“Before, labs could make really good nanotubes that are are short or really crummy ones that are long. We’ve developed a technique that makes really good ones that are really long,” said Mike Smith, a staff scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center.

The synthesis technique, called the pressurized vapor/condenser (PVC) method, was developed with Jefferson Lab’s Free-Electron Laser and later perfected using a commercial welding laser. In this technique, the laser beam strikes a target inside a chamber filled with nitrogen gas. The beam vaporizes the target, forming a plume of boron gas. A condenser, a cooled metal wire, is inserted into the boron plume. The condenser cools the boron vapor as it passes by, causing liquid boron droplets to form. These droplets combine with the nitrogen to self-assemble into BNNTs.

Researchers used the PVC method to produce the first high-quality BNNTs that are long enough to be spun into macroscopic yarn, in this case centimeters long. A cotton-like mass of nanotubes was finger-twisted into a yarn about one millimeter wide, indicating that the nanotubes themselves are about one millimeter long.

Size of the EMC effect vs. average nuclear density.

Fibrils of boron-nitride nanotubes are formed through the pressurized vapor/condenser method. The nanotube fibrils are produced when the FEL laser beam strikes a target of pressed boron powder. The number indicates laser power level in arbitrary units; about 1.5 kW in actuality. The target rotates to distribute the laser heat evenly.
(click image to view the video)

“They’re big and fluffy, textile-like,” said Kevin Jordan, a staff electrical engineer at Jefferson Lab. “This means that you can use commercial textile manufacturing and handling techniques to blend them into things like body armor and solar cells and other applications.”

Transmission electron microscope images show that the nanotubes are very narrow, averaging a few microns in diameter. TEM images also revealed that the BNNTs tended to be few-walled, most commonly with two-five walls, although single-wall nanotubes were also present. Each wall is a layer of material, and fewer-walled nanotubes are the most sought after.

The researchers say the next step is to test the properties of the new boron-nitride nanotubes to determine the best potential uses for the new material. They are also attempting to improve and scale up the production process.

“Theory says these nanotubes have energy applications, medical applications and, obviously, aerospace applications,” said Jordan.

Smith agreed, “Some of these things are going to be dead ends and some are going to be worth pursuing, but we won’t know until we get material in people’s hands.”

The research will be published in the December 16 issue of the journal Nanotechnology. The article is available for a short time online. It will also be presented at the 2009 Materials Research Society Fall Meeting on December 3.

The research was supported by the NASA Langley Creativity and Innovation Program, the NASA Subsonic Fixed Wing program, DOE’s Jefferson Lab and the Commonwealth of Virginia. The experiments were hosted at Jefferson Lab.

November 27, 2009

Semiconducting nanowires are coming

With all the news about nanotechnology and wiring that’s been coming out over the last year or so, this release is no surprise.

The release:

November 26, 2009

Nanowires key to future transistors, electronics

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -

Nanowire formation
Download photo
caption below

A new generation of ultrasmall transistors and more powerful computer chips using tiny structures called semiconducting nanowires are closer to reality after a key discovery by researchers at IBM, Purdue University and the University of California at Los Angeles.The researchers have learned how to create nanowires with layers of different materials that are sharply defined at the atomic level, which is a critical requirement for making efficient transistors out of the structures.

 

“Having sharply defined layers of materials enables you to improve and control the flow of electrons and to switch this flow on and off,” said Eric Stach, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue.

Electronic devices are often made of “heterostructures,” meaning they contain sharply defined layers of different semiconducting materials, such as silicon and germanium. Until now, however, researchers have been unable to produce nanowires with sharply defined silicon and germanium layers. Instead, this transition from one layer to the next has been too gradual for the devices to perform optimally as transistors.

The new findings point to a method for creating nanowire transistors.

The findings are detailed in a research paper appearing Friday (Nov. 27) in the journal Science. The paper was written by Purdue postdoctoral researcher Cheng-Yen Wen, Stach, IBM materials scientists Frances Ross, Jerry Tersoff and Mark Reuter at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y, and Suneel Kodambaka, an assistant professor at UCLA’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

Whereas conventional transistors are made on flat, horizontal pieces of silicon, the silicon nanowires are “grown” vertically. Because of this vertical structure, they have a smaller footprint, which could make it possible to fit more transistors on an integrated circuit, or chip, Stach said.

“But first we need to learn how to manufacture nanowires to exacting standards before industry can start using them to produce transistors,” he said.

Nanowires might enable engineers to solve a problem threatening to derail the electronics industry. New technologies will be needed for industry to maintain Moore’s law, an unofficial rule stating that the number of transistors on a computer chip doubles about every 18 months, resulting in rapid progress in computers and telecommunications. Doubling the number of devices that can fit on a computer chip translates into a similar increase in performance. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue shrinking electronic devices made of conventional silicon-based semiconductors.

“In something like five to, at most, 10 years, silicon transistor dimensions will have been scaled to their limit,” Stach said.

Transistors made of nanowires represent one potential way to continue the tradition of Moore’s law.

The researchers used an instrument called a transmission electron microscope to observe the nanowire formation. Tiny particles of a gold-aluminum alloy were first heated and melted inside a vacuum chamber, and then silicon gas was introduced into the chamber. As the melted gold-aluminum bead absorbed the silicon, it became “supersaturated” with silicon, causing the silicon to precipitate and form wires. Each growing wire was topped with a liquid bead of gold-aluminum so that the structure resembled a mushroom.

Then, the researchers reduced the temperature inside the chamber enough to cause the gold-aluminum cap to solidify, allowing germanium to be deposited onto the silicon precisely and making it possible to create a heterostructure of silicon and germanium.

The cycle could be repeated, switching the gases from germanium to silicon as desired to make specific types of heterostructures, Stach said.

Having a heterostructure makes it possible to create a germanium “gate” in each transistor, which enables devices to switch on and off.

The work is based at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center in the university’s Discovery Park and is funded by the National Science Foundation through the NSF’s Electronic and Photonic Materials Program in the Division of Materials Research.

PHOTO CAPTION:
Researchers are closer to using tiny devices called semiconducting nanowires to create a new generation of ultrasmall transistors and more powerful computer chips. The researchers have grown the nanowires with sharply defined layers of silicon and germanium, offering better transistor performance. As depicted in this illustration, tiny particles of a gold-aluminum alloy were alternately heated and cooled inside a vacuum chamber, and then silicon and germanium gases were alternately introduced. As the gold-aluminum bead absorbed the gases, it became “supersaturated” with silicon and germanium, causing them to precipitate and form wires. (Purdue University, Birck Nanotechnology Center/Seyet LLC)

October 1, 2009

Preview of upcoming Frontiers in Optics meeting

Lasers, 3D television and other cool stuff. Sounds like a fun event.

The release:

Powerful lasers, futuristic digital cameras, 3-D television and more

Highlights of Frontiers in Optics Meeting in San Jose, Oct. 11-15

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1—The latest technology in optics and lasers will be on display at the Optical Society’s (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO), which takes place Oct. 11-15 at the Fairmont San Jose Hotel and the Sainte Claire Hotel in San Jose, Calif.

Information on free registration for reporters is contained at the end of this release. Research highlights of the meeting include:

  • A Special Symposium: The Future of 3-D Television
  • Laser Fusion and Exawatt Lasers
  • 1,001 Cameras See in Gigapixels
  • All That Glitters is Now Gold
  • Prehistoric Bear Diet Revealed by Laser Archaeology
  • Illumination-Aware Imaging

SPECIAL SYMPOSIUM: THE FUTURE OF 3-D TELEVISION

With 3-D movies helping to drive record box office revenues this spring and companies like Sony and Panasonic rolling out the first 3-D-enabled televisions, a timely special symposium titled “The Future of 3-D Display: The Marketplace and the Technology” will feature presentations on current and future technologies driving the 3-D revolution. Some highlights:

  • Rod Archer, vice president of Cinema Products at RealD Inc., will offer in his keynote speech an overview of 3-D movie systems already in use in some 1,700 screens around the world. Archer will discuss the current state-of-the-art, the challenges and the opportunities of 3-D cinema technologies.
  • Martin Banks of the University of California, Berkeley will discuss the difficulties of creating 3-D images free of perceptual distortions that don’t cause headaches, as well as his own solution, a temporally multiplexed volumetric display, in which a high-speed lens is switched on and off rapidly in synch with the image being displayed to create nearly correct focus cues.
  • Kevin Thompson of Optical Research Associates will lay out the future for the coming generation of head-worn displays, based on his work with Jannick Rolland of the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics.
  • Masahiro Kawakita of NHK Science & Technology Research Labs, Japan will present an overview and a prototype of 3-D TV system based on integral photography technology.
  • Gregg Favalora of Acutality Systems will present an overview of one type of technology that moves away from glasses: volumetric displays, which project images onto high-speed rotating screens.
  • Brian Schowengerdt of the University of Washington will describe a volumetric display that scans multiple color-modulated light beams across the retina of the viewer to form images of virtual objects with correct focus cues.
  • Nasser Peyghambarian of the University of Arizona will present a prototype of a large-area 3-D updateable holographic display using photorefractive polymers. The rewritable polymer material is a significant breakthrough for holographic display technology.

The symposium is being organized by Hong Hua of the University of Arizona. For more information on the special symposium, see:http://www.frontiersinoptics.com/ConferenceProgram/SpecialSymposium/default.aspx#Futureof3DDisplay.


LASER FUSION AND EXAWATT LASERS

In the recent past, producing lasers with terawatt (a trillion watts) beams was impressive. Now petawatt (a thousand trillion watts, or 10^15 watts) lasers are the forefront of laser research. Some labs are even undertaking work toward achieving exawatt (10^18 watts) levels. Todd Ditmire at the University of Texas currently produces petawatt power through a process of chirping, in which a short light pulse (150 femtoseconds in duration) is stretched out in time. This longer pulse is amplified to higher energy and then re-compressed to its shorter duration, thus providing a modest amount of energy, 190 joules in a very tiny bundle.

Ditmire claims that his petawatt device has the highest power of any laser system now operating, even the one at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, owing to the very short pulse-compression he and his colleagues use.

The main research use for the Texas Petawatt Laser, as it is called, has been to produce thermonuclear fusion; the laser light strikes a target where fusion of light nuclei occurs, releasing neutrons into the vicinity. These neutrons can themselves be used for doing research. The first results of this fusion experiment will be presented at this meeting. Other applications include the study of hot dense plasmas at pressures billions of time higher than atmospheric pressure and the creation of conditions for accelerating electrons to energies of billions of electron-volts.

Another figure of merit for a laser, in addition to power, is power density. The Texas device is capable of producing power densities exceeding 10^21 watts per square centimeter. At this level many novel interactions might become possible.

To get to exawatt powers, Ditmire hopes to combine largely-existing laser technology and his already-tested 100-femtosecond pulses with new laser glass materials that would allow amplification up to energies of 100 kilo-joules. Ditmire’s current energy level, approximately 100 joules, is typical of laser labs at or near the petawatt level, such as those in Oxford, England, Osaka, Japan and Rochester, N.Y. With support from the government and the research community, building an exawatt laser might take 10 years to achieve, Ditmire estimates. (Paper FTuK2, “The Texas Petawatt Laser and Technology Development toward an Exawatt Laser” is at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13).


1,001 CAMERAS SEE IN GIGAPIXELS

As manufacturers of consumer digital cameras compete in increments, adding one or two megapixels to their latest models, David Brady of Duke University is thinking much bigger. Working with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, he is designing and building a camera that could achieve resolutions 1,000 or even 1 million times greater than the technology on the market today.

The goal of reaching giga- or terapixels, says Brady, is currently being held back by the difficulty of designing a spherical lens that will not distort small areas of a scene. His idea is not only to modify the shape of the camera lens — making it aspherical — but to link together thousands of microcameras behind the main lens. Each of these cameras would have its own lens optimized for a small portion of the field of view.

“Now, when you use a camera, you’re looking through a narrow soda straw,” says Brady. “These new cameras will be able to capture the full view of human vision.”

The final result of the three-year project should be a device about the size of a breadbox, though Brady hopes to scale the technology down to create a single-lens reflex camera with a resolution of 50 gigapixels. (Paper CWB2, “Multiscale Optical Systems” is at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14).


ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOW GOLD

In full sunlight at mid-day, gold objects are brilliant and richly colored. Put those same objects in a dark interior room with only fluorescent lamps, however, and they will look pale and slightly greenish — a problem arising from the inability of fluorescent lamps to render the optimal color temperature to reveal gold in its warmest light. That’s why museums and jewelry stores typically illuminate the gold objects in display cases with small incandescent bulbs, the only commercially-available lights that can emit soft yellow tones and warm color temperatures and render a true gold appearance.

Incandescent bulbs are a poor choice for other reasons, however. They are notoriously hot and can alter the temperature and humidity in display cases, potentially damaging priceless museum pieces. Besides that, the European Union is phasing out the sale of incandescent bulbs starting this fall (a similar phase-out will go into effect in the United States beginning in 2012).

Now Paul Michael Petersen and his colleagues at the Technical University of Denmark have designed an alternative, energy efficient and non-heating light source for gold objects. After they were contacted by curators at Rosenborg Castle in Copenhagen, which houses the Royal Danish Collection, Petersen and his colleagues created a novel LED designed specifically to illuminate gold. Combining commercially-available red, green, and blue LEDs with holographic diffusion, the new light can achieve a temperature and color rendering akin to incandescent bulbs — with 70 percent energy savings and without emitting excess heat. They have been tested in a few display cases, says Petersen, and the lights will soon be installed throughout the museum. (Paper JWC3, “A New LED Light Source for Display Cases” is at 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14).


PREHISTORIC BEAR DIET REVEALED BY LASER ARCHAEOLOGY

Twenty-six thousand years ago, a brown bear living in what is now the Czech Republic died, leaving behind a tooth that has since become a fossil. Now a team of engineers has developed a way to figure out not only what it ate but its migration patterns using a laser instrument that could be modified to take out into the field.

The technique, called laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), is able to identify the chemical composition of a material — such a tooth — by penetrating miniscule samples with high-energy pulses of laser light. This laser turns each sample into plasma many times hotter than the surface of the sun. In this experiment, the light released as the plasma cooled revealed the composition of each part of the tooth.

By checking the ratio of different elements in the root of the tooth, the team determined that the bear ate mostly plants during the hotter parts of the year. The changes in these ratios over time revealed the bear’s migration patterns and a gradual shift in its living territory in one direction.

It’s a simple and fast technique, say the authors, with an unusually high resolution and the ability to scan a wide area of a sample. “The device could be modified to be taken out into the field,” says Josef Kaiser of the Brno University of Technology in the Czech Republic.

Next, the team hopes to use LIBS to solve the mystery of a cave full of dead snakes that died more than 1 million years ago — possibly from a disease — by analyzing the vertebrae left behind. (Paper JWC18, “Multielemental Mapping of Archaeological Samples by Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS)” is at 12 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12).


ILLUMINATION-AWARE IMAGING

Conventional imaging systems incorporate a light source for illuminating an object and a separate sensing device for recording the light rays scattered by the object. By using lenses and software, the recorded information can be turned into a proper image. Human vision is an ordinary process: the use of two eyes (and a powerful brain that processes visual information) provides human observers with a sense of depth perception. But how does a video camera attached to a robot “see” in three dimensions? Carnegie Mellon scientist Srinivasa Narasimhan believes that efficiently producing 3-D images for computer vision can best be addressed by thinking of a light source and sensor device as being equivalent. That is, they are dual parts of a single vision process.

For example, when a light illuminates a complicated subject, such as a fully-branching tree, many views of the object must be captured. This requires the camera to be moved, making it hard to find corresponding locations in different views. In Narasimhan’s approach, the camera and light constitute a single system. Since the light source can be moved without changing the corresponding points in the images, complex reconstruction problems can be solved easily for the first time. Another approach is to use a pixilated mask interposed at the light or camera to selectively remove certain light rays from the imaging process. With proper software, the resulting series of images can more efficiently render detailed 3-D vision information, especially when the object itself is moving.

Narasimhan calls this process alternatively illumination-aware imaging or imaging-aware illumination. He predicts it will be valuable for producing better robotic vision and rendering 3-D shapes in computer graphics. (Paper CtuD5, “Illuminating Cameras” is at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 13).

###

ABOUT THE MEETING

FiO 2009 is OSA’s 93rd Annual Meeting and is being held together with Laser Science XXV, the annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS) Division of Laser Science (DLS). The two meetings unite the OSA and APS communities for five days of quality, cutting-edge presentations, fascinating invited speakers and a variety of special events spanning a broad range of topics in physics, biology and chemistry. The FiO 2009 conference will also offer a number of Short Courses designed to increase participants’ knowledge of a specific subject while offering the experience of insightful teachers. An exhibit floor featuring leading optics companies will further enhance the meeting.

Useful Links:

About OSA

Uniting more than 106,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit: www.osa.org.

September 18, 2009

The future of technology looks pretty bright

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 6:23 pm

I’ve blogged on all three of the technologies — OLEDs and nanowires pretty extensively — but this is a very nice thumbnail sketch of what’s at the edge of the real-world horizon, if not already here.

From the last link:

Have a look at just three technologies that have the ability to completely revolutionize IT from the ground up: memristors, nanowires and OLEDS.

Memristors are transistor-like devices made out of titanium dioxide that can remember voltage state information. They hold the potential for completely revolutionizing storage and processing technologies because they erase the distinction between processing and storage (you can do both/and on the same chip). More prosaically, they make it possible to create storage devices that require no power. How will that affect your data center?

Then there are nanowires: tiny wires no more than a single nanometer in width that can be conductors, insulators or semiconductors (albeit with weird quantum properties). These can form the basis for embedded intelligent networks — sensor and control networks that are actually built into the materials and devices they control. (Take that, smart grids!)

Finally, there are organic LEDs, which have the interesting property that they can be printed onto things such as wallpaper at relatively low cost. Sony has developed OLED monitors, and GE is looking into OLED wallpaper. So in a couple of years, your new office (or home office) may come equipped with wallpaper that, at the touch of a button, can turn into a floor-to-ceiling high-resolution display. (Think of the bandwidth requirements).

Each of these technologies holds the possibility of completely reshaping IT within the next few years. And the conjunction of all three could make the conjunction of the transistor and fiber optics look like a warm-up act.

August 21, 2009

New process lowers cost of LEDs

A lot of work has been done in the world of LEDs as a viable, cost-effective lighting source — particularly with OLEDs — and here’s some interesting news on inorganic LEDs and a new technique to help bring manufacuturing costs down for that lighting tech.

From the second link:

A new technique makes it possible to print flexible arrays of thin inorganic light-emitting diodes for displays and lighting. The new printing process is a hybrid between the methods currently used to make inorganic and organic LEDs, and it brings some of the advantages of each, combining the flexibility, thinness and ease of manufacturing organic polymers with the brightness and long-term stability of inorganic compounds. It could be used to make high-quality flexible displays and less expensive LED lighting systems.

Inorganic LEDs are bright and long lasting, but the expense of manufacturing them has led to them being used mainly in niche applications such as billboard-size displays for sports arenas. What’s more, the manufacturing process for making inorganic LED displays is complex, because each LED must be individually cut and placed, says John Rogers, a materials science professor in the Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. So display manufacturers have turned to organic materials, which can be printed and are cheaper. While LED-based lighting systems are attractive because of their low energy consumption, they remain expensive. The new printing process, developed by Rogers and described today in the journal Science, could bring down the cost of inorganic LEDs because it would require less material and simpler manufacturing techniques.

July 23, 2009

Nanophotonics market may reach $40B in five years

A release from the inbox:

Global Nanophotonic Market Worth US$37.6 Billion by 2014

WILMINGTON, Delaware, July 23/PRNewswire/ –     According to a new market research report, ‘Nanophotonics – Advanced
Technologies and Global Market (2009-2014)’, published by MarketsandMarkets
(http://www.marketsandmarkets.com), the global nanophotonics market is
expected to be worth US$3.6 billion by 2014, out of which the Asian market
will account for nearly 74% of the total revenues. The global market is
expected to record a CAGR of 100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Browse 134 market data tables and in-depth TOC on nanophotonics market.
Early buyers will receive 10% customization of reports
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/nanophotonics-advanced-techno
logies-and-global-market-125.html

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    Nanophotonics (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/Market-Reports/
nanophotonics-advanced-technologies-and-global-market-125.html) is born out
of the combination of three major sciences:photonics, nanotechnology,
and optoelectronics. While photonics and optoelectronics have revolutionized
the electronics and semiconductors market, nanotechnology has the greatest
potential for further improvement, and hence has emerged as the most
sought-after technology by big companies and research laboratories. In spite
of it being in the nascent stage, nanophotonics is expected to make it to
the mainstream market owing to the higher power efficiency, thermal
resistivity, and operational life.

    (Due to the length of the URL in the above paragraph, it may be necessary
 to copy and paste this hyperlink into your Internet browser’s URL address
field. Remove the space if one exists.)

    The nanophotonic component market is growing at a robust rate for the
last few years and is expected to maintain a very high CAGR for the next few
years. The market is expected to reach US$3.6 billion in 2014 at a CAGR of
100.7% from 2009 to 2014.

    Asia holds a major share of the global nanophotonics market. However, the
U.S. and Europe represent very high growth rate of 161.1% and 160.0%,
respectively, from 2009 to 2014. The U.S. and Europe assume further
importance because of the large consumer base for the nanophotonic devices.
Extensive investment in research and development for the application of
nanophotonics in increasing number of application areas has become the main
driver for this market

    The LED market is the largest segment; and is expected to reach US$2.7
billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 91.3%. Optical amplifier and holographic memory
device markets are estimated to record growth rate of 239% and 234.6%
respectively from 2009 to 2014. The high growth rate of nanophotonics
products is mainly due to high demand from Asian countries.

    The Asian market is the largest geographical segment; and is expected to
be worth US$2.7 billion by 2014. The second largest segment is Europe, with a
CAGR of 160.0%. However, market size of the U.S. is expected to increase at
the highest CAGR of 161.1% from the year 2009 to 2014.

    The report is titled ‘Nanophotonics- Advanced Technologies and Global
Market (2009 – 2014)’ and was published in June 2009.

    Scope of the Report

    This report aims to identify and analyze products, applications and
ingredients for nanophotonics market. The report segments the nanophotonics
product market as follows:

    Nanophotonics components – products

    Nanophotonic LED, nanophotonic OLED, nanophotonic near field optics,
nanophotonic photovoltaic cells, nanophotonic optical amplifiers,
nanophotonic optical switches and nanophotonic holographic data storage
system.

    Nanophotonics – applications
    Indicators and signs, lighting, non-visual applications,
telecommunications, entertainment and consumer electronics

    Nanophotonics – ingredients

Photonic crystals, plasmonics, nanotubes, nanoribbons and quantum dots.

    About MarketsandMarkets

    MarketsandMarkets is a research and consulting firm that publishes 120
market research (http://www.marketsandmarkets.com/) reports per year. Each
strategically analyzed report contains 250 pages of valuable market data,
including more than 100 market data summary tables and in-depth, five-level
segmentation for each of the products, services, applications, technologies,
ingredients and stakeholders categories. Our reports also analyze about 200
patents, over 50 companies and micro markets that are mutually exclusive and
collectively exhaustive. Browse all our 120 titles at
http://www.marketsandmarkets.com.

Source: MarketsandMarkets

June 5, 2009

Lauding nuclear energy shutdown?

Not sure if this something to be proud of. I bet Sacramento wished Rancho Seco was still operating during those rolling blackouts a few years ago …

The release hot from the inbox:

Nuclear Reactor Shutdown Vote 20 Years Ago Reverberates Today in Actions by 900 Mayors and Renewable Portfolio Standards in 2 Dozen States

“Shot Heard Round the World” Echoes in Strong Local, State Opposition Across U.S. to New Nuclear Reactors

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Ahead of the 20th anniversary on Saturday of Sacramento voters going to the polls to shut down Rancho Seco, a nuclear reactor operated by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) about 25 miles southeast of the city, organizers held a news conference today to mark the event.

In his remarks at the news conference, Scott Denman, former executive director of the national Safe Energy Communication Council, emphasized that votes against nuclear power continue to this day.

Since the historic Rancho Seco shutdown vote, more than two dozen states have legislated or passed referenda requiring that utilities meet a specific target – usually ranging 10-30 percent of the electricity supply – for sustainable energy resources by a specific date, Denman said.  Power that will be available from these “renewable portfolio standards” (RPS) sources is now routinely cited as a reason not to pursue more nuclear reactors.

Additionally, Denman noted that more than 900 elected mayors of cities including Denver, Chicago, Portland, Austin, and Salt Lake City have signed the Mayor’s Initiative on Climate Change to use sustainable energy resources to power their jurisdictions to prosperity.

Denman’s prepared remarks for the news conference read as follows:

“Good morning.  I am a national energy policy consultant and the former executive director of the national coalition, Safe Energy Communication Council.  In 1988, and again in 1989, I coordinated the national environmental community in assisting the local sponsors of the ultimately successful ballot initiatives and campaigns to close the Rancho Seco reactor.

Twenty years ago, I hailed the victory as ‘a shot heard ’round the world.’ I said then that the intrepid organizers and those who voted to shutdown the reactor were ‘a new breed of American patriots’ and that this historic vote would spark the shift away from costly and dangerous reactors, and catalyze a movement for clean, affordable, safe, secure energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.  That is exactly what has happened.

Since this pioneering vote in 1989, more than two dozen states have legislated or passed referenda requiring that utilities provide a specific percentage – typically ranging between 10-30 percent of the electricity supply – to be generated by sustainable energy resources by a date certain.  More than 940 mayors of cities like Denver, Chicago, Portland, Austin, and Salt Lake City representing 84 million Americans have signed the Mayor’s Initiative on Climate Change to use sustainable energy resources to power their jurisdictions to prosperity.

By terminating the Rancho Seco reactor, Sacramento’s public power utility, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), today has significantly lower rates than PG&E, Southern California Edison, and many other U.S. utilities.  Indeed, SMUD’s innovative energy efficiency and conservation programs have been replicated with great success.  SMUD’s pioneering work to bring utility grade solar and other renewably produced electricity to the grid has been a viable model for communities and utilities.

Proposed new nuclear reactors would simply be too expensive and also take too long to build.  Since the vote (and some 15 years before it), not one new reactor has been licensed.  Sacramento’s voters were prescient as well as prudent managers of their own pocketbooks.  New reactors are now estimated cost customers about 15 cents per kilowatt-hour on monthly electric bills, more than two times more expensive than wind power. In comparison, energy efficiency improvements cost consumers zero to five cents per kilowatt hour.   One Pennsylvania utility (PPL) has just announced that its proposed reactor will cost ratepayers a staggering $15 billion dollars.  Thus, new reactors are a fiscal black hole and loom as a fool’s gold solution to the growing real threat of global greenhouse gases.

The nuclear and utility industries keep coming back to the public trough for more and more bailouts, handouts, tax breaks, and subsidies.  Now, nuclear cheerleaders in Congress are trying to force you and me, the taxpayers to give away more than $100 billion in dangerous loan guarantees and other financial shell games that shift responsibility for failed nuclear projects on to the backs of the American families and businesses.  The Congressional Budget Office has concluded that 50% of new nuclear reactor loans will default.  The nuclear industry and their lobbyists want us to take the risk while they pocket the profits.  This path is a sure way to repeat the disastrous failure of subprime mortgages and unregulated bad debt that nearly collapsed our entire financial system in the past 12 months.

It’s time to give wind, geothermal, solar and energy efficiency its first real chance.   New reactors would lead us to more lemons like Rancho Seco, deeper national financial debt, and further economic crisis.

We have sustainable energy resources today that we, our children, and our grandchildren can live with.  The bottom line lesson from Ranch Seco 20 years later:  Don’t get fooled by the same old promises of nuclear reactors.  We can’t pay the price.   Thank you.”

Other news event participants included former California State Senator Tom Hayden; former SMUD Board Member Ed Smeloff; and Bob Mulholland, campaign manager, No on Measure K.

Source: Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington, D.C.
   

Web Site:  http://www.psr.org/ranchoseco

May 30, 2009

Solar cells and lasers

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:15 pm

Here’s the latest news in solar — using lasers to improve solar cells.

The release:

Lasers are making solar cells competitive

Solar electricity has a future: It is renewable and available in unlimited quantities, and it does not produce any gases detrimental to the climate. Its only drawback right now is the price: the electric power currently being produced by solar cells in northern Europe must be subsidized if it is to compete against the household electricity generated by traditional power plants. At “Laser 2009″ in Munich, June 15 to 18, Fraunhofer researchers will be demonstrating how laser technology can contribute to optimizing the manufacturing costs and efficiency of solar cells. 

Cell phones, computers, MP3 players, kitchen stoves, and irons all have one thing in common: They need electricity. And in the future, more and more cars will also be fuelled by electric power. If the latest forecast from the World Energy Council WEC can be believed, global electricity requirements will double in the next 40 years. At the same time, prices for the dwindling resources of petroleum and natural gas are climbing.

“Rising energy prices are making alternative energy sources increasingly cost-effective. Sometime in the coming years, renewable energy sources, such as solar energy, will be competitive, even without subsidization,” explains Dr. Arnold Gillner, head of the microtechnology department at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen, Germany. “Experts predict that grid parity will be achieved in a few years. This means that the costs and opportunities in the grid will be equal for solar electricity and conventionally generated household electricity.” Together with his team at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, this researcher is developing technologies now that will allow faster, better, and cheaper production of solar cells in the future. “Lasers work quickly, precisely, and without contact. In other words, they are an ideal tool for manufacturing fragile solar cells. In fact, lasers are already being used in production today, but there is still considerable room for process optimization.” In addition to gradually improving the manufacturing technology, the physicists and engineers in Aachen are working with solar cell developers – for example, at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE in Freiburg – on new engineering and design alternatives.

New production technologies allow new design alternatives

At “Laser 2009” in Munich, the researchers will be demonstrating how lasers can drill holes into silicon cells at breathtaking speed: The ILT laser system drills more than 3,000 holes within one second. Because it is not possible to move the laser source at this speed, the experts have developed optimized manufacturing systems which guide and focuses the light beam at the required points. “We are currently experimenting with various laser sources and optical systems,” Gillner explains. “Our goal is to increase the performance to 10,000 holes a second. This is the speed that must be reached in order to drill 10,000 to 20,000 holes into a wafer within the cycle time of the production machines.”

The tiny holes in the wafer – their diameter is only 50 micrometers – open up undreamt-of possibilities for the solar cell developers.  “Previously, the electrical contacts were arranged on the top of the cells. The holes make it possible to move the contacts to the back, with the advantage that the electrodes, which currently act as a dark grid to absorb light, disappear. And so the energy yield increases. The goal is a degree of efficiency of 20 percent% in industrially-produced emitter wrap-through (EWT) cells, with a yield of one-third more than classic silicon cells,” Gillner explains. The design principle itself remains unchanged: In the semi-conductor layer, light particles, or photons, produce negative electrons and positive holes, each of which then wanders to the oppositely poled electrodes. The contacts for anodes and cathodes in the EWT cells are all on the back, there is no shading caused by the electrodes, and the degree of efficiency increases. With this technique, it may one day be possible to use unpurified “dirty” silicon to manufacture solar cells that have poorer electrical properties, but that are cheaper. 

Drilling holes into silicon cells is only one of many laser applications in solar cell manufacturing. In the EU project Solasys – Next Generation Solar Cell and Module Laser Processing Systems – an international research team is currently developing new technologies that will allow production to be optimized in the future. ILT in Aachen is coordinating the six million euro project. “We are working on new methods that make the doping of semiconductors, the drilling and the surface structuring of silicon, the edge isolation of the cells, and the soldering of the modules more economical,” project coordinator Gillner explains. For example, “selective laser soldering” makes it possible to improve the rejection rates and quality of the contacting, and so reduce manufacturing costs. Until now, the electrodes were mechanically pressed onto the cells, and then heated in an oven. “But silicon cells often break during this process,” Gillner knows. “Breakage is a primary cost factor in production.” On the other hand, however, with “selective laser soldering” the contacts are pressed on to the cells with compressed air and then soldered with the laser. The mechanical stress approaches zero and the temperature can be precisely regulated. The result: Optimal contacts and almost no rejects.

Laser technology means more efficient thin film cells

Laser technology is also helping to optimize the manufacture of thin film solar cells. The extremely thin film packages made of semiconducting oxide, amorphous silicon, and metal that are deposited onto the glass panels still have a market share of only ten percent. But as Gillner knows, “This could be higher, because thin film solar cells can be used anywhere that non-transparent glass panels can be mounted, for example, on house facades or sound-insulating walls. But the degrees of efficiency are comparable low at five to eight percent, and the production costs are comparatively high.” The laser researchers are working to improve these costs. Until now, the manufacturers have used mechanical methods or solid-state lasers in the nanosecond range in order to structure the active layers on the glass panels. In order to produce electric connections between the semiconductor and the metal, grooves only a few micrometers wide must be created. At the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft booth at “Laser 2009” the ILT researchers will be demonstrating a 400-watt ultrashort pulse laser that processes thin-film solar modules ten times faster than conventional diode-pumped solid-state lasers. “The ultrashort pulse laser is an ideal tool for ablating thin layers: It works very precisely, does not heat the material and, working with a pulse frequency of 80 MHz, can process a 2-by-3 meter glass panel in under two minutes,” Gillner reports. “The technology is still very new, and high-performance scanning systems and optical systems adapted to the process must be developed first. In the medium term, however, this technology will be able to reduce production costs.”

The rise of laser technology in solar technology is just taking off, and it still has a long way to go. “Lasers simplify and optimize the manufacture of classic silicon and thin-film cells, and they allow the development of new design alternatives,” Gillner continues. “And so laser technology is making an important contribution towards allowing renewable energy sources to penetrate further into the energy market.”

March 27, 2009

Humor research and pattern recognition theory

Filed under: Science — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:03 am

When teh funny meets academia, things aren’t so funny.

The (not funny) release:

Clarke clarifies pattern recognition theory

Recent commentary has suggested that the extent to which anomaly theories have become ingrained in the minds of academics and popular commentators alike has led to certain common assumptions and misconceptions about Clarke’s pattern recognition theory of humour.

“There are two major misconceptions that have arisen,” says Clarke. “First there is the assumption that this theory suggests that the deviation from a pattern is rewarded in humour; second there is the idea that the eight patterns identified correspond to categories of jokes or types of comedy in some way, as if there were eight types of humour. Both are entirely untrue.

“In all circumstances,” states Clarke, “it is the recognition of simple repetition that is being rewarded in humour, not any form of anomaly, aberration or deviation. It is the recognition of this repetition in increasingly difficult or unlikely circumstances, despite any altered context or associated problems of perception, which is valuable to the individual.

“This is a major departure from prior theories and turns the whole received wisdom about both the mechanism and function of humour on its head. When we talk of pattern recognition, this does not include the recognition of deviation from a pattern, which is not a cognitive process rewarded by the faculty of humour. While this may seem counter-intuitive it is fundamental to an understanding of humour that such aberrations and deviations are discounted from the range of humorous causality.”

The apparent simplicity of the theory and the information-processing system it suggests has also fooled many into believing Clarke’s analysis has grouped different stimuli into certain categories of humour. “The eight patterns don’t correspond to eight types of humour,” clarifies the author. “Rather, they are cognitive processes by which the brain identifies and analyses information unconsciously. Since this necessarily involves perceptual subjectivity, the same stimulus may lead to the recognition of completely different patterns by different individuals.

“What we haven’t done is to produce a literary survey of eight types of joke. This couldn’t be further from the nature of our research and I feel it requires clarification. What we’re looking at is the importance of pattern recognition to the brain and the processes by which that recognition is effected. The eight patterns, far from being categories of joke formation, are therefore flexible processes of apprehension. When those processes occur in surprising circumstances, the brain rewards the individual for their achievement. What this also means is that we aren’t just concerned here with comedic entertainment, but also situations such as when you turn up to work wearing the same tie as a colleague and find yourself laughing. Humour is therefore a faculty for the apprehension of any information, not just a social diversion.

“On an evolutionary level the recognition of patterns provides a remarkable survival advantage. The power of patterns includes the recognition of environmental and climatic trends, behavioural patterns in predators, prey and competing species or conspecifics, providing an insight into information that would produce significant survival advantages.

“Further, pattern recognition doesn’t just mean that the brain can easily recognize an entity in the same or a different context, it also means that the same quality, the same valuable property, can be recognized in a different entity. This provides the brain with a built-in capacity for adaptation to changing environments. Some researchers suggest that a contributory factor in the extinction of the Neanderthals was their inability to vary their diet. Humans, on the other hand, could recognize the same properties of ‘good to eat’ or ‘nutritious’ (or any number of other properties regarding texture, form or smell) in different foodstuffs (such as fish) not yet part of their staple diets.

“It is fundamentally the recognition of similarity that facilitates adaptability, not, as is often presumed, dissimilarity or deviation, which could lead to the adoption of entirely inappropriate new qualities or entities.”

Clarke is keen to clarify the scope and nature of the theory further. “Humour is effectively an information-processing system, and is consequently applicable to any data, whether externally perceived or internally stored. Having recognized this, and having identified the details of what it is the brain wishes to process, we finally have a system that is truly universal.”

Clarke is also keen to point out that the theory explains why other theories exist by describing the cognitive basis of the types of humour they identify, unifying all previous interpretations as it does so by the concept of pattern recognition. “Previous attempts at unification have failed since they have relied on combining smaller theories into a larger whole, quoting multiple mechanisms and functions as the basis of humour, rather than analysing their common elements and synthesizing a new interpretation with global relevance. Cutting and pasting doesn’t make a universal theory,” says Clarke. “It just makes a scrap book of other theories.”

“All major interpretations of the last hundred years are explained by the activity of pattern recognition. For example, anomaly theories have generally identified humour based on qualitative or applicative recontextualization, while mock-aggression theories have recognized opposition and interpretative recontextualization. Bergsonian roboticism was founded on the identification of positive repetition and applicative recontextualization, and broader incongruity theories on the recognition of patterns of scale or locational recontextualization, often alongside those identified in anomaly. Superiority and anti-dominance theories have tended to recognize positive repetition and patterns of scale, and even the popular theory that ‘It’s funny because it’s true’ (recently given scientific credibility by Robert Lynch of Rutgers University) exists because of the recognition of positive repetition.

“By examining humour through patterns it becomes clear why theorists and researchers have identified certain traits as humorous, although each has been restricted by attempting to identify a constituent element of that single type as the source of all humour. This has been impossible since thematic and perceptual issues relating to different media or formats of humour get in the way until humour is looked at as a whole. By removing content and culture from our analyses we have been able to achieve a distance from the material that has made this possible at last. As a consequence humour can finally be studied as a single faculty rather than a phenomenon caused by an ever-changing range of stimuli.”

Details of the patterns recognized in humour and how they relate to more than a hundred sources of laughter are published in The Eight Patterns Of Humour, which is available as a free eBook from the publisher’s website at www.pyrrhichouse.co.uk/eightpatterns until April 20th.

“Patterns are simple things constructed from any information, which has confused analysts for hundreds of years,” says Clarke. “Unfortunately that confusion shows no signs of abating.”

 

###

March 9, 2009

NanoMarkets report on organic photovoltaics sector

News from the inbox today.

The release:

NanoMarkets Issues New Report on Materials for Organic Photovoltaics Sector

GLEN ALLEN, Va., March 9 /PRNewswire/ — NanoMarkets, a leading industry analyst firm based here, today announced the release of its newest report, “Organic Photovoltaic Materials Markets: 2009 – 2016″.  The report projects that sales of materials for both “pure” organic solar cells (OPV) and hybrid organic/inorganic dye-sensitized solar cells (DSC), are expected to reach almost $600 million ($US) by 2016. The report goes on to note that the willingness of materials firms to meet the small demands from organic PV manufacturers today stands a good chance of being rewarded with substantial orders today. Details about the report are available at www.nanomarkets.net.

The firm will also be holding a webinar to present findings from the report on Tuesday, March 17th at 10:00 EDT.  See the NanoMarkets website for details.

Other Findings from the Report:

As there are no settled architectures or materials structures for organic PV there is considerable potential for materials firms of all sizes to set industry standards. According to NanoMarkets’ new report, three areas of special opportunity are (1) more efficient organic absorber materials, (2) improved electrode materials, (3) new layers for OPV cells that enable these cells to leap to greater energy conversion efficiencies. With regard to new materials, the new NanoMarkets report discusses in depth the role of nanomaterials and new dye types for DSCs. It notes in the latter case that today’s DSCs use ruthenium, one of the rarest metals on the planet.

New materials and architectures will similarly spell opportunities for equipment makers. Today, OPV/DSC cell manufacturers require production equipment that is good enough for prototype production. The next step will be to create production equipment that is optimized for production runs of working devices.  NanoMarkets believes that OPV may eventually be helped from the development of large scale manufacturing of OLED lighting applications, which are likely to be very similar to those required for OPV and DSC fabrication, so there may be some synergistic opportunities in providing R2R production equipment for both applications.

About the Report:

Organic Photovoltaic Materials Markets: 2009 – 2016 analyzes and quantifies the markets for OPV/DSC materials of all kinds. Coverage includes the latest R&D and commercialization efforts in the area of the core absorber layers for pure OPV and DSC solar cells, as well as the materials used for electrodes, encapsulation and substrates. The report discusses the materials products and strategies of the key players and companies, including both firms that are specifically focused on OPV materials (e.g., Plextronics) and those that develop materials for their own solar panels (e.g., Konarka). The new NanoMarkets study also provides a roadmap for improvements in OPV lifetimes, materials prices, efficiencies and other factors, along with a detailed eight-year forecast of OPV/DSC materials in both volume and value terms.

This report focuses on developments at the materials level that are impacting the commercialization of OPV/DSC and will be invaluable to strategic planners and marketing managers at materials and solar panel firms of all kinds, as well as electronics companies and investors.

About NanoMarkets:

NanoMarkets tracks and analyzes emerging market opportunities in electronics created by developments in advanced materials. The firm has published numerous reports related to organic, thin film and printable electronics materials and applications and maintains a blog at www.nanotopblog.com that comments on industry trends and events. NanoMarkets research database is the industry’s most extensive source of information on thin film, organic and printable (TOP) electronics. Visit www.nanomarkets.net for a full listing of NanoMarkets’ reports and other services.

Source: NanoMarkets

Web Site:  http://www.nanomarkets.net/

February 25, 2009

Text of Obama’s address to joint session of Congress

Filed under: Business, Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:54 am

The text as prepared for delivery:

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:

I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has—a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. (more…)

January 7, 2009

“The Oldest Member” — a work of short fiction

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media, Sports — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:52 am

This story is an homage to P.G. Wodehouse’s “A Golf Omnibus.” That story collection featured The Oldest Member as a narrator for each tale. If you play golf, go find a copy — you will love it. If you just like good fiction, do likewise. Hit this link – The Golf Omnibus – to find the book at Amazon.

In case Wodehouse doesn’t ring a bell, he’s the guy who wrote a series of novels featuring “Jeeves” the butler. Jeeves does not feature in “A Golf Omnibus.”

And now, the tale …

*********

The Oldest Member

(A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse’s “A Golf Omnibus”)

by David Kirkpatrick

The Oldest Member sat on the terrace, well, rather he dozed on the terrace, and well, technically he wasn’t a member because it was a municipal course. A quite nice muni, but no membership required. At any rate the Oldest Member dozed on a terrace just off the ninth green and was startled awake by the cleats of a young golfer clearly in some sort of distress.

“What’s the matter old chap, if I may ask?” said the sage.

The youngster replied, “My game’s all off.”

“Have you been playing much lately?” the white whiskered one asked.

“Plenty. The problem is it’s been mostly wii golf,” answered the young man.

“Oui? Like the magazine?’

“No, no – wii, the videogame console from Nintendo. I play that darned thing all the time and it’s totally put my real game right off. Couldn’t hit a fairway wood, or chip, all day,” said the troubled one.

“Ah yes,” began the Oldest Member, “The brassie and niblick. I remember my playing days and both clubs gave me fits on occasion …”

“Huh?” said the youngster.

“And those Oui’s. I can see how that could be distracting. Reminds me of old Finnegan McHoots and the burlesque queen..”

At this point the youngster, who actually wasn’t all that young being well into his thirties – the Oldest Member considered anyone who didn’t require the use of a cane and ear horn a youngster – remembered the Oldest Member was known for trapping unsuspecting casual golfers with long-winded stories about days gone past full of references to clubs no longer used and players long forgotten. He immediately began to rise and said, “Oh dear, I may be late for an important meeting …”

And with this the Oldest Member deftly snagged the man’s arm with the crook of a cane held him in the adjacent chair and once again said, “Yep, reminds right on about the story of Finnegan McHoots and the burlesque queen.”

Here the man knew he was trapped and the Oldest Member began his story …

*****

You see (began the Oldest Member), old Finnegan was a scratch golfer and was coming off a narrow tournament loss to the great George Duncan and all the boys took him to a burlesque show to ease the pain. It was there he met Charlotte. I’ll have to admit her sobriquet had a rhyming addendum, but I’ll leave that to your imagination. As the night wore on this Charlotte captured every bit of McHoots attention and later his fancy. He even visited the very same show the following night and even one more evening. You could fairly say the boy was smitten beyond belief.

It just so happened his play against Duncan in that open tournament caught the eye of a tycoon of industry who, although he wasn’t a bad golfer, was still a solid ten handicapper. To the delight of local scratch men, he thought of himself as more of the five and would wager a round with them taking only those five strokes. The scratch men worked it out amongst themselves to throw the odd game or two to keep the cigar-and-belly man interested and pooled the winnings evenly. Those who were forced to toss the round were chosen by drawing a short straw at a monthly business meeting and earnings disbursal.

Of course as a true golfer, Finnegan McHoots never deigned to join this group as it just would not do for an honorable man of the links to play less than his top game every time out. The other scratch men had approached him more than once hoping to draw some new blood into the racket, but McHoots just snorted and turned away every time.

McHoots problems arose because of the aforementioned Charlotte. Finnegan found himself in a tough way after the third trip to the specialty revue and really couldn’t justify the monetary outlay to return once again. At the same time the siren’s call beckoned to him day and night. He finally broke down and approached the group of scratch men to see what it was really all about. All he knew up to this point was all honorable golfers and men among men looked down on the entire operation. As a matter of fact, several threatened to expose the whole operation – I was amongst this group – but were gently dissuaded.

The group happily took McHoots’ call and eagerly explained the process to him. “All it takes,” they said, “Is we trade off playing the captain of industry around two rounds a week giving five stokes. We all play for the same figure and pool the winnings to be disbursed monthly. We also maintain a bank so each member has the wager on hand in the rare occurrence one of us takes a loss on the day. And of course the short man takes the losing wager from the bank.”

McHoots asked about the losing wager and “short man.” He knew rounds were thrown, but he didn’t understand the whole game. The group further explained, “Well, we make the businessman’s patsy a random act of drawing straws at the disbursal meeting. The scratch man with the short straw loses his round that month. If the tycoon wants extra rounds for some reason, we draw for two short men and the first is left out of that pool to avoid suspicion and so no reputations are too sullied by losing to this character.”

Finnegan thought it over, didn’t like the concept, but he did like the figure offered up at the monthly disbursal. With this game, he thought, he could keep things as they were and have this tidy little sum of additional money to help him dote on his Charlotte. Little did he know the true cost of his burlesque queen and abandoning his days as an honorable golfer and man on the links.

As it were, the night he met with the cabal of scratch men was the disbursal and straw-drawing night. He signed on with the group right then – with visions of Charlotte dancing in his head – and immediately drew the short straw. I don’t know because I don’t associate with the kind, but I’ve heard through various channels the gang conspired for McHoots to get the little reed.

At any rate, he drew the short straw and sighed. The group told him not to fret. They’ve all been there so he should, “Suck it up old chap.” They also told him his first round with Vandersnatch, the tycoon, was the coming Tuesday at seven a.m. sharp at Marshy Maples, beginning on the front nine.

Now Finnegan’s dreams were haunted by two goblins – visions of his Charlotte coupled with the dread and shame of his coming round, and loss, to Vandersnatch. He tossed and turned so much in the nights leading up to the match he feared he would lose outright from exhaustion alone. Of course as a golfer he kept up his daily 54 hole regime and proudly noticed he maintained his scratch game.

The fateful Tuesday arrived and McHoots was a good twenty minutes early to make sure he had time for the standard two scotches before his round began. At five ’til seven a large, but not fat, man with bountiful side whiskers and three caddies strode purposefully up to the first tee. “McHoots, I presume,” said Vandersnatch with a booming voice that echoed in the early morning mist.

“Yes sir, Mr. Vandersnatch. I’m pleased to make your acquaintance,” returned McHoots.

“Rot that Vandersnatch business my man. Call me Sidney, and I trust I may call you Finnegan? It is I who is pleased to make your acquaintance. I’ve been following your career for a good while and have long dreamt of this match.”

“Sidney it is,” croaked McHoots. “Funny you should mention that about the reveries of slumber. I’ve done some dreaming about this round as well.”

With this the men tossed a coin for the honor and McHoots won. For the first three holes he couldn’t contain his game and was playing one under. Vandersnatch, getting five over the entire eighteen was already up three. At this point Finnegan realized he didn’t have any instructions on how to lose this match? Lose without the handicap added to Vandersnatch’s score? He decided that wouldn’t be possible, but he did begin to work to closely monitor the tycoon and make certain he was in the margin of losing after eighteen.

And then panic struck him. What if the old boy had say an eight on a three par? How could he make up that sort of difference without sticking out like a sore thumb. He also realized he neither sought, nor was given, any pointers on this whole game. Vandersnatch was a ten-handicapper – my heavens, thought McHoots – his game could be terrible and I have to match it stroke for stroke.

As fate would have it, the match did go as poorly as Finnegan feared it might. Vandersnatch fought the course mightily and ended up a solid twelve over. McHoots fought himself mightily and came in at ten over. Within the margin, but a scorecard that pained both heart and head.

The captain of industry didn’t notice a thing, of course, and clapped Finnegan on the back over a glass of scotch and said, “Tough luck, old boy. I got you today, but I bet you come roaring back next time. Seems all scratch men have an off day here and there, but I never can get the best your whole lot.”

With that the game was over. McHoots went home sick at heart. He hadn’t shot a ten over since he began wearing plus fours on the links. He thought to himself, at least after the month of play is over I’ll get my reward and go visit sweet, sweet, Charlotte. His dreams that night eased the pain a mighty bit and by the end of the month the game, Vandersnatch and his loss of honor was completely forgotten. After that horrid day he kept his card under par on every round of his customary 54 daily.

The night of the meeting of the scratch men cabal finally arrived, Finnegan eagerly went, collected his ill-begotten gains and drew a long straw this time. He rushed to the burlesque show to see his vision of beauty and grace, Charlotte. After the first hour there was neither hide nor hair of his angel. Finnegan finally went to the barman to enquire when she might appear. The barman looked confused until Finnegan provided a quick description of his beloved. It was then Finnegan’s turn to be confused when the tender said, “Oh, that broad? She took off a couple of weeks ago and hasn’t come back. Happens all the time around here buddy. You want another scotch?”

Finnegan went home broken-hearted. He had lost Charlotte and he had lost his golfing honor. He was a broken man. But he still had his game on the links, and it had been better than ever.

The next morning on the opening tee of his customary 54, McHoots teed up a four par, let rip with his driver and immediately sliced into a small group of trees. After getting out of that trouble with a niblick, he drew out his trusted brassie to get to the green. His swing topped the ball, which did a couple of little hops and landed about four feet closer to the pin.

The next hole went the same. And the next. And from that day forward poor Finnegan McHoots was never better than a ten-handicap man.


Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

January 4, 2009

3D DNA nantubes

Pretty cool research here.

The release:

The gold standard: Biodesign Institute researchers use nanoparticles to make 3-D DNA nanotubes

DNA nanotubes may soon find their way into a new generation of ultra-tiny electronic and biomedical innovations

VIDEO: 5-nm size gold nanoparticles wrap around the perimeter of a DNA nanotube in a spiral pattern. The 3-D structures have been recreated from cryoelectron tomographic imaging.

Click here for more information. 

Arizona State University researchers Hao Yan and Yan Liu imagine and assemble intricate structures on a scale almost unfathomably small. Their medium is the double-helical DNA molecule, a versatile building material offering near limitless construction potential.

In the January 2, 2009 issue of Science, Yan and Liu, researchers at ASU’s Biodesign Institute and faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, reveal for the first time the three-dimensional character of DNA nanotubules, rings and spirals, each a few hundred thousandths the diameter of a human hair. These DNA nanotubes and other synthetic nanostructures may soon find their way into a new generation of ultra-tiny electronic and biomedical innovations.

Yan and Liu are working in the rapidly proliferating field of structural DNA nanotechnology. By copying a page from nature’s guidebook, they capitalize on the DNA molecule’s remarkable properties of self-assembly. When ribbonlike strands of the molecule are brought together, they fasten to each other like strips of Velcro, according to simple rules governing the pairing of their four chemical bases, (labeled A, C, T and G). From this meager alphabet, nature has wrung a mind-bending multiplicity of forms. DNA accomplishes this through the cellular synthesis of structural proteins, coded for by specific sequences of the bases. Such proteins are fundamental constituents of living matter, forming cell walls, vessels, tissues and organs. But DNA itself can also form stable architectural structures, and may be artificially cajoled into doing so.

VIDEO: In this DNA nanotube configuration, again using 5-nm size gold nanoparticles, the nanoparticles form stacked rings around the DNA.

Click here for more information. 

In his research, Yan has been much inspired by nanoscale ingenuity in the natural world: “Unicellular creatures like oceanic diatoms,” he points out, “contain self-assembled protein architectures.” These diverse forms of enormous delicacy and organismic practicality are frequently the result of the orchestrated self-assembly of both organic and inorganic material.

Scientists in the field of structural DNA nanotechnology, including Dr. Yan’s team, have previously demonstrated that pre-fab DNA elements could be induced to self-assemble, forming useful nanostructural platforms or “tiles.” Such tiles are able to snap together—with jigsaw puzzle-piece specificity—through base pairing, forming larger arrays.

Yan and Liu’s work in Science responds to one of the fundamental challenges in nanotechnology and materials science, the construction of molecular-level forms in three dimensions. To do so, the team uses gold nanoparticles, which can be placed on single-stranded DNA, compelling these flexible molecular tile arrays to bend away from the nanoparticles, curling into closed loops or forming spring-like spirals or nested rings, roughly 30 to 180 nanometers in diameter.

The gold nanoparticles, which coerce DNA strands to arc back on themselves, produce a force known as “steric hindrance,” whose magnitude depends on the size of particle used. Using this steric hindrance, Yan and Liu have shown for the first time that DNA nanotubules can be specifically directed to curl into closed rings with high yield.

When 5 nanometer gold particles were used, a milder steric hindrance directed the DNA tiles to curl up and join complementary neighboring segments, often forming spirals of varying diameter in addition to closed rings. A 10 nanometer gold particle however, exerted greater steric hindrance, directing a more tightly constrained curling which, produced mostly closed tubules. Yan stresses that the particle not only participates in the self-assembly process as the directed material, but also as an active agent, inducing and guiding formation of the nanotube.

VIDEO: Using 10-nm-size gold nanoparticles, the DNA nanotubes form a split branch structure, with both the spiral tube splitting into two smaller stacked rings.

Click here for more information. 

With the assistance of Anchi Cheng and Jonanthan Brownell at the Scripps Research Institute, they have used an imaging technique known as electron cryotomography to provide the first glimpses of the elusive 3-D architecture of DNA nanotubules. “You quickly freeze the sample in vitreous ice,” he explains, describing the process. “This will preserve the native conformation of the structure.” Subsequent imaging at various tilted angles allows the reconstruction of the three-dimensional nanostructure, with the gold particles providing enough electron density for crisp visualization. (see movies)

DNA nanotubules will soon be ready to join their carbon nanotube cousins, providing flexible, resilient and manipulatable structures at the molecular level. Extending control over 3-D architectures will lay the foundation for future applications in photometry, photovoltaics, touch screen and flexible displays, as well as for far-reaching biomedical advancements.

“The ability to build three-dimensional structures through self-assembly is really exciting, ” Yan says. “It’s massively parallel. You can simultaneously produce millions or trillions of copies.”

Yan and Liu believe that controlled tubular nanostructures bearing nanoparticles may be applied to the design of electrical channels for cell-cell communication or used in the construction of various nanoelectrical devices.

 

###

 

About the Biodesign Institute at ASU

The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University pursues research to create personalized medical diagnostics and treatments, outpace infectious disease, clean the environment, develop alternative energy sources, and secure a safer world. Using a team approach that fuses the biosciences with nanoscale engineering and advanced computing, the Biodesign Institute collaborates with academic, industrial and governmental organizations globally to accelerate these discoveries to market. For more information, go to: www.biodesign.asu.edu

December 10, 2008

James Webb Telescope news

The latest on the James Webb Telescope from NASA.

The release:

James Webb Telescope Mirrors Chill Out at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

HUNSTVILLE, Ala., Dec. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The first of 18 mirror segments that will fly on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope arrived this week at the Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., to prepare it to meet the extreme temperatures it will encounter in space.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO)

The X-ray & Cryogenic Facility (XRCF) at the Marshall Center is the world’s largest X-ray telescope test facility and a unique, cryogenic, clean room optical test facility. Cryogenic testing will take place in a 7,600 cubic foot helium cooled vacuum chamber, chilling the Webb flight mirror from room temperature down to frigid -414 degrees Fahrenheit. While the mirrors change temperature, test engineers will precisely measure their structural stability to ensure they will perform as designed once they are operating in the extreme temperatures of space.

“Getting the best performance requires conditioning and testing the mirrors in the XRCF at temperatures just as cold as in space,” said Helen Cole, project manager for Webb Telescope mirror activities at XRCF. “Optical measurements of the 18 mirror segments at cold temperatures will be made and used to create mirrors that will focus crisply in space. This will allow us to see new wonders in our Universe.”

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is a large, infrared-optimized space telescope that will be the premier observatory of the next decade. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. Its instruments will be designed to work primarily in the infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, with some capability in the visible range.

The Webb Telescope will have a large mirror, 6.5 meters (21.3 feet) in diameter, made up of 18 segments about 1.5 meters (4.9 feet) in size. The telescope’s home in space will be about one million miles from Earth. The completed primary mirror will be over 2.5 times larger than the diameter of the Hubble Space Telescope’s primary mirror, which is 2.4 meters (7.8 feet) in diameter, but will weigh roughly half as much because it is made of beryllium, one of the lightest applicable metals known to man.

The amount of detail a space telescope can see is directly related to the size of the mirror area that collects light from the universe. A larger area collects more light and can see deeper into space and at a much higher resolution than a smaller mirror. That’s why the telescope’s primary mirror is made up of 18 mirror segments that form a total area of 25 square-meters (almost 30 square yards) when they all come together.

What’s unique about the large primary mirror is that each of the 18 mirrors will have the ability to be moved individually, so that they can be aligned together to act as a single large mirror. Scientists and engineers can also correct for imperfections after the telescope opens in space, or if any changes occur in the mirror during the life of the mission. Precision testing, like this test cycle in the X-ray & Cryogenic Facility, provides detailed measurements to fabricate and deliver a high resolution mirror.

“Beginning today, we kick off exclusive testing of the James Webb Space Telescope mirrors which will run though 2011. Our one-of-a-kind facility can provide the environment which allows us to optically measure infinitesimally small changes in the mirrors as they cool,” said Jeff Kegley, XRCF testing manager.

The James Webb Space Telescope is expected to launch in 2013. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., is managing the overall development effort for the Webb telescope. The telescope is a joint project of NASA and many U.S. partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.

  For related images to this story, please visit:

  http://www.nasa.gov/topics/universe/features/mirror_chill.html

  For more information about the James Webb Space Telescope, please visit:

  http://jwst.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20081007/38461LOGO
AP Archive:  http://photoarchive.ap.org/
PRN Photo Desk photodesk@prnewswire.com
Source: NASA
   
Web Site:  http://www.nasa.gov/

December 7, 2008

Making headway toward quantum networks

Quantum computing is coming. Get ready.

The release:

New record for information storage and retrieval lifetime advances quantum networks

Quantum memory boost

IMAGE: Ran Zhao and Yaroslav Dudin, graduate students in the Georgia Tech School of Physics, adjust optics in a system used to study quantum memory.

Click here for more information. 

Physicists have taken a significant step toward creation of quantum networks by establishing a new record for the length of time that quantum information can be stored in and retrieved from an ensemble of very cold atoms. Though the information remains usable for just milliseconds, even that short lifetime should be enough to allow transmission of data from one quantum repeater to another on an optical network.

The new record – 7 milliseconds for rubidium atoms stored in a dipole optical trap – is scheduled to reported December 7 in the online version of the journal Nature Physics by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The previous record for storage time was 32 microseconds, a difference of more than two orders of magnitude.

“This is a really significant step for us, because conceptually it allows long memory times necessary for long-distance quantum networking,” said Alex Kuzmich, associate professor in the Georgia Tech School of Physics and a co-author of the paper. “For multiple architectures with many memory elements, several milliseconds would allow the movement of light across a thousand kilometers.”

The keys to extending the storage time included the use of a one-dimensional optical lattice to help confine the atoms and selection of an atomic phase that is insensitive to magnetic effects. The research was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the A.P. Sloan Foundation and the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

IMAGE: A research group from the Georgia Institute of Technology poses with optical equipment used to study quantum memory.

Click here for more information. 

The general purpose of quantum networking or quantum computing is to distribute entangled qubits – two correlated data bits that are either “0″ or “1″ – over long distances. The qubits would travel as photons across existing optical networks that are part of the global telecommunications system.

Because of loss in the optical fiber that makes up networks, repeaters must be installed at regular intervals – about every 100 kilometers – to boost the signal. Those repeaters will need quantum memory to receive the photonic signal, store it briefly and then produce a photonic signal that will carry the information to the next node, and on to its final destination.

For their memory, the Georgia Tech researchers used an ensemble of rubidium-87 atoms that is cooled to almost absolute zero to minimize atomic motion. To store information, the entire atomic ensemble is exposed to laser light carrying a signal, which allows each atom to participate in the storage as part of a “collective excitation.”

In simple terms, each atom “sees” the incoming signal – which is a rapidly oscillating electromagnetic field – slightly differently. Each atom is therefore imprinted with phase information that can later be “read” from the ensemble with another laser.

IMAGE: Associate professor Alex Kuzmich and research scientist Stewart Jenkins, both from the Georgia Tech School of Physics, adjust optics in a system used to study quantum memory.

Click here for more information. 

Even though they are very cold, the atoms of the ensemble are free to move in a random way. Because each atom stores a portion of the quantum information and that data’s usefulness depends on each atom’s location in reference to other atoms, significant movement of the atoms could destroy the information.

“The challenge for us in implementing these long-lived quantum memories is to preserve the phase imprinting in the atomic ensemble for as long as possible,” explained Stewart Jenkins, a School of Physics research scientist who participated in the research. “It turns out that is difficult to do experimentally.”

To extend the lifetime of their memory, the Georgia Tech researchers took two approaches. The first was to confine the atoms using an optical lattice composed of laser beams. Because of the laser frequencies chosen, the atoms are attracted to specific locations within the lattice, though they are not held tightly in place.

Because the ensemble atoms are affected by environmental conditions such as magnetism, the second strategy was to use atoms that had been pumped to the so-called “clock transition state” that is relatively insensitive to magnetic fields.

“The most critical aspect to getting these long coherence times was the optical lattice,” Jenkins explained. “Although atoms had been confined in optical lattices before, what we did was to use this tool in the context of implementing quantum memory.”

Other research teams have stored quantum information in single atoms or ions. This simpler approach allows longer storage periods, but has limitations, he said.

“The advantage of using these ensembles as opposed to single atoms is that if we shine into them a ‘read’ laser field, because these atoms have a particular phase imprinted on them, we know with a high degree of probability that we are going to get a second photon – the idler photon – coming out in a particular direction,” Jenkins explained. “That allows us to put a detector in the right location to read the photon.”

Though the work significantly advances quantum memories, practical quantum networks probably are at least a decade away, Kuzmich believes.

“In practice, you will need to make robust repeater nodes with hundreds of memory elements that can be quickly manipulated and coupled to the fiber,” he said. “There is likely to be slow progress in this area with researchers gaining better and better control of quantum systems. Eventually, they will get good enough so we can make a jump to having systems that can work outside the laboratory environment.”

 

###

 

In addition to Kuzmich and Jenkins, the research team included Ran Zhao, Yaroslav Dudin, Corey Campbell, Dzmitry Matsukevich, and Brian Kennedy, a professor in the School of Physics.

November 21, 2008

Los Alamos announces superconductivity news

The release:

Los Alamos Scientists See New Mechanism for Superconductivity

When materials are tuned to a critical point at absolute zero temperature, quantum effects dictate universal behavior in material properties. The presence of a singular point is revealed through its unusual electronic properties outside a new form of matter that hides the singularity.

Quantum Blackhole (in condensed matter): When materials are tuned to a critical point at absolute zero temperature, quantum effects dictate universal behavior in material properties. The presence of a singular point is revealed through its unusual electronic properties outside a new form of matter that hides the singularity.   enlarge image

Quantum

Quantum “Alchemy”: Formation of superconductivity in the vicinity of a singular critical point defies the conventional belief that turbulent electronic fluctuations are not beneficial to form the macroscopic quantum state. The unheralded source of superconductivity holds promise for the design of a room temperature superconductor.   enlarge image

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., November 24, 2008 — Laboratory researchers have posited an explanation for superconductivity that may open the door to the discovery of new, unconventional forms of superconductivity.

In a November 20 Nature letter, research led by Tuson Park and Joe D. Thompson describes a new explanation for superconductivity in non-traditional materials—one that describes a potentially new state of matter in which the superconducting material behaves simultaneously as a nonmagnetic material and a magnetic material.

Superconducting materials carry a current without resistance, usually when cooled to temperatures nearing the liquid point of helium (nearly 452 degrees below zero Fahrenheit). Superconductors are extremely important materials because they hold promise for carrying electricity from one place to another without current loss or providing indefinite electric storage capacity. However, the cost of cooling materials to such extremely low temperatures currently limits the practicality of superconductors. If superconductors could be designed to operate at temperatures closer to room temperature, the results would be revolutionary.

Traditional theories of superconductivity hold that electrons within certain nonmagnetic materials can pair up when jostled together by atomic vibrations known as phonons. In other words, phonons provide the “glue” that makes superconductivity possible.

Park and his colleagues now describe a different type of “glue” giving rise to superconducting behavior.

Park and his colleagues cooled a compound of Cerium, Rhodium and Indium to just above absolute zero, nearly minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, the material exhibits superconducting behavior. However, they also subjected the crystal to pressure changes and a magnetic field to perturb the alignment of electrons within the material.

“We introduced very high quantum fluctuations in the material,” Park said. “In other words, we made the electrons like a traffic jam, where it would be very difficult for them to move.”

This electronic traffic jam would discourage electron pairing by phonons; nevertheless, the material continued to exhibit superconducting behavior.

Based on the material’s behavior under different pressures and temperatures, researchers believe that the material reaches a quantum critical point near absolute zero. At this quantum critical point, the material retained properties of a metal with highly ordered electrons and highly disordered ones—a previously undescribed state of matter.

Park and his colleagues believe that this quantum critical point provides a mechanism to pair electrons into a quantum state that gives rise to superconducting behavior. In other words, the research helps explain a mechanism for superconductivity without phonons.

“This quantum critical point could be analogous to a black hole,” said Park. “We can see what is happening at or near the event horizon—superconductivity—but we cannot yet see inside to understand why.”

A new mechanism for the electron-pairing glue that gives rise to superconductivity could allow researchers to design new materials that exhibit superconducting materials at higher temperatures, perhaps even opening the door to the “Holy Grail” of superconducting materials—one that works at room temperature.

Park’s colleagues include: Vladimir Sidorov, Filip Ronning, Jian-Xin Zhu, Yoshifumi Tokiwa, Hanoh Lee, Eric Bauer, Roman Movshovich, John Sarrao and Joe D. Thompson.

The research was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and Office of Basic Energy Science and funded in part by Los Alamos National Laboratory.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, a team composed of Bechtel National, the University of California, The Babcock & Wilcox Company, and Washington Group International for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.

October 18, 2008

Buckypaper sounds like a wild tech

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 5:26 pm

Check out this artcle from PhysOrg. Wow.

From the link:

It’s called “buckypaper” and looks a lot like ordinary carbon paper, but don’t be fooled by the cute name or flimsy appearance. It could revolutionize the way everything from airplanes to TVs are made.

Buckypaper is 10 times lighter but potentially 500 times stronger than steel when sheets of it are stacked and pressed together to form a composite. Unlike conventional composite materials, though, it conducts electricity like copper or silicon and disperses heat like steel or brass.

“All those things are what a lot of people in nanotechnology have been working toward as sort of Holy Grails,” said Wade Adams, a scientist at Rice University.

That idea – that there is great future promise for buckypaper and other derivatives of the ultra-tiny cylinders known as carbon nanotubes – has been floated for years now. However, researchers at Florida State University say they have made important progress that may soon turn hype into reality.

Buckypaper is made from tube-shaped carbon molecules 50,000 times thinner than a human hair. Due to its unique properties, it is envisioned as a wondrous new material for light, energy-efficient aircraft and automobiles, more powerful computers, improved TV screens and many other products

October 16, 2008

NanoMarkets news

I know, another release dump. There’s just a lot of good stuff out there and I’d rather give it to you raw than recraft the info. Plus I’m a lazy blogger half the time.

The release:

NanoMarkets Releases New Report on Dielectric Materials for Thin-Film, Organic and Printable Electronics

GLEN ALLEN, Va., Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ — According to a new report from NanoMarkets LC, an industry analyst firm based here, the market for dielectric materials for thin-film, organic and printable (TOP) electronics will reach more than US $635 million by 2015.  The firm claims that offering the right dielectric materials will be critical to the future success of materials firms supplying the TOP electronics sector.  Additional details about the report can be found on the firm’s website at www.nanomarkets.net.

Key Findings:

– NanoMarkets predicts that 2010 is when the TOP dielectrics business will begin to take shape.  The firm believes that in order for TOP electronics to reach its full commercial potential, materials firm will need to deliver novel dielectrics.  These dielectrics will play a key role in enabling flexible backplanes to support more than just low-refresh rate e-paper displays and will also be critical to creating thin-film solar on metal foil substrates.  In the future, OTFT-based UHF RFID may also depend on a better match between the semiconductor and dielectric materials used.

– Dielectrics are more than just a revenue source; they also provide leverage for sales of other types of materials.  NanoMarkets believes that those firms which plan to offer dielectrics matched to the conductor and semiconductor materials in their portfolio will have a distinct market advantage over those that do not.  BASF, Evonik, Merck/EMD and Polyera are well positioned in this regard.  Customers will come to companies such as these to buy complete materials sets to ensure high performance of new thin-film transistor (TFT), memory and sensor devices.

– Today’s most common dielectrics require high temperature deposition and are therefore not well matched with next-generation TOP electronics with its emphasis on solution processing on flexible substrates.  As a result, there are intense development efforts for solution-processable dielectrics.  This work involves highly novel materials such as water-based silicon oxides, barium titanate nanocomposites, and “hybrimers,” and its importance is emphasized by the involvement of major firms such as DuPont, Dow Corning, and Honeywell.

About the Report:

The new NanoMarkets report, “Thin-Film, Organic and Printable Dielectrics” provides a complete analysis of the commercial opportunities for dielectric materials in TOP electronics.  Materials covered include silicon dioxide, silicon nitride, metal oxides, organic materials, and a wide range of hybrid materials, nanomaterials and self-assembled materials.  Applications covered include conventional TFT backplanes, various OTFT products (backplanes, RFID and smartcards), printed silicon devices, OLEDs, sensors and thin-film solar panels. In addition to the companies mentioned above other firms mentioned in this report include Dow Chemical, Elantas Beck, Fuji Electric, Hewlett Packard, Hitachi Chemical, Infineon, Kovio, Nanoident, NanoMas, Novaled, OrganicID, Philips, Plastic Logic, PolyIC, Polymer Vision, Samsung, ScanDisk, Siemens, Sigma-Aldrich, Sun Chemical, Thin Film Electronics.  The activities of private and university research institutes are also discussed. This worldwide study also includes detailed eight-year forecasts of dielectric markets broken out by material type and application.

About NanoMarkets:

NanoMarkets tracks and analyzes emerging market opportunities in electronics created by developments in advanced materials. The firm has published numerous reports related to organic, thin film and printable electronics materials and applications. The firm also publishes a blog found at www.nanotopblog.com.

Source: NanoMarkets LC
  

Web site:  http://www.nanotopblog.com/
http://www.nanomarkets.net/

October 14, 2008

SemiLEDs orders Ultratech’s manufacturing systems

Filed under: Business, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:37 pm

Anyone who’s read this blog for any amount of time know how I feel about LEDs and their eventual impact on home lighting.

Industry news like this is music to my ears.

The release:

SemiLEDs Orders Multiple Ultratech Lithography Systems for Advanced LED Manufacturing

SAN JOSE, Calif., Oct. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Ultratech, Inc. (NASDAQ:UTEK), a leading supplier of lithography and laser-processing systems used to manufacture semiconductor devices, today announced it received a multiple-system order from U.S.-based SemiLEDs Corp.  A leading supplier of high-brightness, laser-emitting diodes (HBLEDs), SemiLEDs will use Ultratech’s Star 100 lithography tools for its white light, HBLED, high-power, UVC LED and other advanced lighting applications at its manufacturing facility in Hsinchu, Taiwan.  Ultratech’s advanced lithography expertise is enabling SemiLEDs to grow its position in this burgeoning market as the industry shifts from conventional lithography to projection stepper lithography technology for advanced LED production.

SemiLEDs Corporation Chairman and CEO Trung Tri Doan explained, “With improved alignment and resolution of the Star 100 Ultratech stepper system, we will start volume production of our advanced UVA high-power LED product family (365nm/395nm/405nm), with output optical power as high as 350mW per mm2.  This new family of UVC high-power LED products will enable new LED applications that could only be dreamed of — polymer curing such as inkjet printers, sanitation, semiconductor processes, medical applications such as dental, cancer treatment, tanning, etc.  The MvPLED blue product family has seen a 15 percent improvement in performance; the new class of SemiLEDs Solid State Lighting devices (SL-SSL) 120lumens/watt will help accelerate the adoption of solid-state lighting.  We selected Ultratech’s lithography steppers based on the tools’ high reliability and low cost of ownership.  In addition to being a leader in advanced lithography solutions, Ultratech combines technology expertise and outstanding customer service to support our LED manufacturing requirements.  As a valued partner, Ultratech will continue to play an integral role as advanced LED device volumes grow, and we continue to expand our worldwide leadership position.”

“While this multi-system order demonstrates our ability to provide lithography systems that enable greater economic value to emerging markets, it also reinforces Ultratech’s focus on energy conservation,” noted Ultratech Chairman and CEO Arthur W. Zafiropoulo.  “Today, lighting utilizes approximately 20 percent of global energy.  As a result, the industry is transitioning to HBLEDs, which have a long life and use only a fraction of energy compared to incandescent and fluorescent lighting.  With energy conservation driving up demand, HBLED leaders such as SemiLEDs are increasingly turning to stepper-based projection lithography due to its cost and yield advantages.  We look forward to furthering our relationship with SemiLEDs and delivering lithography solutions that advance our customers’ competitive advantage in this growing market.”

The Star 100

The Star 100 lithography system is used by the leading HBLED and laser diode manufacturers and is designed to be easily integrated into a broad range of fabs with varying equipment types and wafer sizes.  The tool’s resolution, depth of focus, proprietary alignment system, and substrate handling capability combine to provide high productivity, reliability, flexibility, and cost-of-ownership advantages critical for advanced and emerging markets as they move toward high-volume production.

Certain of the statements contained herein, which are not historical facts and which can generally be identified by words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “intends,” “will,” “could,” “believes,” “estimates,” “continue,” and similar expressions, are forward-looking statements under Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, that involve risks and uncertainties, such as risks related to our dependence on new product introductions and market acceptance of new products and enhanced versions of our existing products; lengthy sales cycles, including the timing of system installations and acceptances; lengthy and costly development cycles for laser-processing and lithography technologies and applications; integration, development and associated expenses of the laser processing operation; delays, deferrals and cancellations of orders by customers; cyclicality in the semiconductor and nanotechnology industries; general economic and financial market conditions including impact on capital spending; pricing pressures and product discounts; high degree of industry competition; intellectual property matters; changes to financial accounting standards; changes in pricing by us, our competitors or suppliers; customer concentration; international sales; timing of new product announcements and releases by us or our competitors; ability to volume produce systems and meet customer requirements; sole or limited sources of supply; ability and resulting costs to attract or retain sufficient personnel to achieve our targets for a particular period; dilutive effect of employee stock option grants on net income per share, which is largely dependent upon us achieving and maintaining profitability and the market price of our stock; mix of products sold; rapid technological change and the importance of timely product introductions; outcome of litigation; manufacturing variances and production levels; timing and degree of success of technologies licensed to outside parties; product concentration and lack of product revenue diversification; inventory obsolescence; asset impairment; effects of certain anti-takeover provisions; future acquisitions; volatility of stock price; foreign government regulations and restrictions; business interruptions due to natural disasters or utility failures; environmental regulations; and any adverse effects of terrorist attacks in the United States or elsewhere, or government responses thereto, or military actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, on the economy, in general, or on our business in particular. Such risks and uncertainties are described in Ultratech’s SEC reports including its Annual Report on Form 10-K filed for the year ended December 31, 2007 and Quarterly Report on Form 10Q for the quarter ended June 28, 2008. Due to these and additional factors, the statements, historical results and percentage relationships set forth herein are not necessarily indicative of the results of operations for any future period. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current beliefs and expectations, some or all of which may prove to be inaccurate, and which may change. We undertake no obligation to revise or update any forward-looking statements to affect any event or circumstance that may arise after the date of this release.

About SemiLEDs:  SemiLEDs Corporation is the only mass producer of metal-base LED chips in the world.  It designs, develops, manufactures and sells high brightness light emitting diodes (HBLED) using proprietary technologies to enable high-performance, (120lumens/watt) and cost-effective, solid-state lighting solutions; it also manufactures UVA HBLED products (365nm, 395nm, 405nm) at optical power output up to 350mW per mm2. SemiLEDs is a U.S. corporation, with offices in Boise, Idaho and manufacturing operations in Hsinchu Science Park, Taiwan.  For additional information, please visit http://www.semileds.com/.

About Ultratech: Ultratech, Inc. (NasdaqGM: UTEK) designs, manufactures and markets photolithography and laser processing equipment.  Founded in 1979, Ultratech is a market leader in gold and solder bump lithography, in addition to being a pioneer of laser processing.  Its advanced-packaging lithography systems deliver strong cost-of-ownership, repeatability and throughput advantages, and are widely used worldwide in the fabrication of semiconductors and FPDs.  Ultratech’s advanced laser processing technology is designed to enhance yields, while enabling a cost-effective transfer to 65-nm and below production, and is being integrated into the manufacturing lines of leading-edge semiconductor manufacturers.  Ultratech’s home page on the World Wide Web is located at http://www.ultratech.com/.

(UTEK-G)

Source: Ultratech, Inc.
   
Web site: http://www.ultratech.com/
http://www.semileds.com/

October 2, 2008

The time has come for flexi display tech

I’ve blogged on flexible display technology before (such as here in the middle of three news bits) and this is some exciting news from researchers at Sony and the Max Planck Institute.

The release:

Flexi display technology is now

Rigid television screens, bulky laptops and still image posters are to be a thing of the past as new research, published today, Thursday, 2 October, in the New Journal of Physics, heralds the beginning of a technological revolution for screen displays.

Screen display technology is taking a significant step forward as researchers from Sony and the Max Planck Institute demonstrate the possibility of bendable optically assessed organic light emitting displays for the first time, based on red or IR-A light upconversion.

The paper, ‘Annihilation Assisted Upconversion: All-Organic, Flexible and Transparent Multicolour Display’, makes feasible the design of computers that can be folded up and put in your pocket, the mass-production of moving image posters for display advertising, televisions which can be bended to view or, even, newspaper display technology which allows readers to upload daily news to an easy-to-carry display contraption.

All organic, upconversion multicolour displays have significant advantages when compared to the traditional technology used for projection displays and televisions. Namely UC displays are:

 

  • All-organic − transparent and flexible
  • Ultra low excitation intensity (red or IR)– less than 15 mWcm-2
  • Emissive display – no speckles
  • Coherent or non-coherent excitation allowed
  • High efficiency – at the moment ca. 6 %
  • Fast response times – ca. 1 µs up to 500 µs on request (LCDs have ms)
  • Almost unlimited viewing angle – up to the total internal reflection angle
  • Tailoring of emitted colours realised even when using the same excitation source
  • Multilayer Displays
  • Size limited only by the size of the substrates

 

With LCD-based projection displays, the liquid crystal acts as a filter for the light being shone through so when coherent excitation is used (e.g. laser diodes) the problems with speckles are serious. For this organic emissive UC displays, the organic molecules themselves emit non-coherent light in 4 (all directions) to produce an image.

Sony announced the development of flexible OLED display screens in 2006 but glitches such as size and resolution limitations, and the difficulty of structuring the organic compounds so as not to be distorted when bent, have stopped designs coming to market. This new technology for optically excited organic emissive displays hasn’t got this problem and gives further opportunities for new applications.

The research published today concludes through the use of a new structure and unique combinations for the organic compounds within viscous polymeric matrix, that there need be no size or resolution limitations for the new screens.

The researchers conclude, “To the best of our knowledge we demonstrate for the first time a versatile colour all-organic and transparent UC-display. The reported displays are also flexible and have excellent brightness.”

 

###

 

There is a small film of a prototype screen in action available.

Update — Technology Review covers this story here.

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