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Colin Jeffrey

Space

Three newly discovered exoplanets prime candidates in search for life elsewhere in the Universe

Using a telescope especially designed to hunt exoplanets, a team of astronomers working at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) have discovered three planets orbiting a dwarf sun, just 40 light-years from Earth. According to the researchers, all three worlds are potentially habitable given their sizes and temperatures, and may be the best possibilities yet in the search for life beyond our solar system.
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Science

Inexpensive 3D-printed lens gives terahertz imaging a boost

Terahertz radiation is a growing field of technology that enables faster materials analysis than X-ray examination, and provides non-destructive, internal analysis of a raft of different types of materials. Now researchers have developed a way of manufacturing lenses operating at this frequency that are simple and inexpensive, but are claimed to produce near-flawless images which could vastly improve biomedical imaging as well as biological and explosive security scanning.Read More

Electronics

High performance transistors created on flexible plastic sheets

Using a technique known as nanoimprint lithography, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and partners have created a breakthrough method to allow the simple manufacture of inexpensive, high-performance, wireless-capable, flexible Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors that overcome many of the operation problems encountered in devices manufactured using standard techniques. Created on large rolls of pliable plastic, these MOSFETs could be used to make a host of devices ranging from wearable electronics to bendable sensors.
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Environment

Increased CO2 levels are greening the Earth

Researchers studying NASA satellite data on the Earth's vegetation coverage have discovered that plants have significantly increased their leaf cover over the last 35 years to the point that new growth across the planet is equivalent to an area twice as large as the continental United States. According to the study, the largest contributor to this greening is the growing level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.Read More

Energy

Power dense zinc-manganese power unit as cheap as a car battery

A team of scientists working on analyzing energy flows in prototype zinc-manganese batteries have stumbled upon a new way to make these power cells much more reliable, with many more recharge cycles than the humble lead-acid car battery, but costing around the same to produce. The creators claim that the new battery could become an inexpensive, ecologically-sound alternative for storing energy from renewable sources and a high-density solution for storing excess energy from the power grid.Read More

Electronics

Circuit Classics revive a golden age of electronics design

Aside from being a treasure trove of information for budding electronics engineers from the 1980s on, the down-to-earth style of Forrest M. Mims' Engineers' Notebook and Getting Started in Electronics series of books was a large part of their appeal. Now a crowdfunding project is looking to bring back some of that original charm by producing a limited set of working circuit boards in the Mims' style, replete with accompanying explanations and a wooden stand to display these electronic works of art.Read More

Materials

Coal-based electronics: A potential usurper to silicon's throne?

Graphene may be the poster child of thin film electronics, and silicon the current king of materials for semiconductors, but if scientists from MIT get their way, graphene's humble cousin, coal, could soon be giving them both a run for their money. For the first time, electronic devices have been created from thin films of coal and the research points to a range of uses that this cheap and abundant material could have in electronic devices, solar panels, and batteries.Read More

Materials

Metamaterial paves way for thermophotovoltaic cells that generate electricity in the dark

Using a new optical magnetic metamaterial claimed to have revolutionary properties, physicists from the Australian National University (ANU) and the University of California Berkeley (UC Berkeley) have produced a prototype device that could be used in super-efficient thermophotovoltaic cells. These cells do not need direct sunlight to generate electricity, but instead absorb infrared radiation to convert to electric current and, unlike conventional photovoltaic cells, can do so even in the dark.Read More

Physics

World's smallest engine powered by a single atom

A team of German physicists has just created the world's smallest working engine. Powered by a single electrically-charged calcium atom, the new device is claimed to have the equivalent thermodynamic efficiency (if scaled to size) of an average automobile engine. Basically a heat-exchange engine, its single-atom acts as both fuel and powerplant and is heated by electrical noise and cooled by laser beam.Read More

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