David Kirkpatrick

December 23, 2009

Digital quantum batteries

Via KurzweilAI.net — This could be revolutionary. Wonder what a realistic time-to-market is for this concept.

A Quantum Leap in Battery Design
Technology Review, Dec. 21, 2009

A “digital quantum battery” concept proposed by a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could provide orders-of- magnitude-greater energy storage capacity.

The concept calls for billions of nanoscale capacitors and would rely on quantum effects to suppress arcing, which wastes stored power.

The digital part of the concept derives from the fact that each nanovacuum tube would be individually addressable. Because of this, the devices could perhaps be used to store data, too.
Read Original Article>>

September 11, 2009

Carbon nanotubes and electronics

Via KurzweilAI — This post is a two-fer on nanotech and carbon nanotubes.

From the “two” link:

Using Nanotubes in Computer Chips

PhysOrg.com, Sep. 10, 2009

A simple enough manufacturing process developed by MITresearchers could enable carbon nanotubes to replace the vertical wires in chips, permitting denser packing ofcircuits.

Read Original Article>>

And from the “fer” link:

Capsules for Self-Healing Circuits

Technology Review, Sept. 11, 2009

Nanotube-filled capsules could restore conductivity to damaged electronics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have found.

Read Original Article>>

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.

November 20, 2008

Twisting electronics

One step closer to wearables.

The release:

Researchers make new electronics — with a twist

They’ve made electronics that can bend. They’ve made electronics that can stretch.

And now, they’ve reached the ultimate goal — electronics that can be subjected to any complex deformation, including twisting.

Yonggang Huang, Joseph Cummings Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and John Rogers, the Flory-Founder Chair Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have improved their so-called “pop-up” technology to create circuits that can be twisted. Such electronics could be used in places where flat, unbending electronics would fail, like on the human body.

Their research is published online by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Electronic components historically have been flat and unbendable because silicon, the principal component of all electronics, is brittle and inflexible. Any significant bending or stretching renders an electronic device useless.

Huang and Rogers developed a method to fabricate stretchable electronics that increases the stretching range (as much as 140 percent) and allows the user to subject circuits to extreme twisting. This emerging technology promises new flexible sensors, transmitters, new photovoltaic and microfluidic devices, and other applications for medical and athletic use.

The partnership — where Huang focuses on theory, and Rogers focuses on experiments — has been fruitful for the past several years. Back in 2005, the pair developed a one-dimensional, stretchable form of single-crystal silicon that could be stretched in one direction without altering its electrical properties; the results were published by the journal Science in 2006. Earlier this year they made stretchable integrated circuits, work also published in Science.

Next, the researchers developed a new kind of technology that allowed circuits to be placed on a curved surface. That technology used an array of circuit elements approximately 100 micrometers square that were connected by metal “pop-up bridges.”

The circuit elements were so small that when placed on a curved surface, they didn’t bend — similar to how buildings don’t bend on the curved Earth. The system worked because these elements were connected by metal wires that popped up when bent or stretched. The research was the cover article in Nature in early August.

In the research reported in PNAS, Huang and Rogers took their pop-up bridges and made them into an “S” shape, which, in addition to bending and stretching, have enough give that they can be twisted as well.

“For a lot of applications related to the human body — like placing a sensor on the body — an electronic device needs not only to bend and stretch but also to twist,” said Huang. “So we improved our pop-up technology to accommodate this. Now it can accommodate any deformation.”

Huang and Rogers now are focusing their research on another important application of this technology: solar panels. The pair published a cover article in Nature Materials this month describing a new process of creating very thin silicon solar cells that can be combined in flexible and transparent arrays.

 

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