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Electronics

Cool Runnings: Lockheed using microscopic drops of water to chill chips from the inside

Every year, electronic components shrink a bit more, allowing engineers to create more powerful and sophisticated chips. Unfortunately, these chips also generate a lot of heat, so novel cooling systems are needed to keep them running. As part of DARPA's ICECool-Applications research program, Lockheed Martin is developing a way of cooling high-powered microchips from the inside using microscopic drops of water.Read More

Miniature fuel cell to keep drones aloft for over an hour and phones charged for a week

Drones are being utilized in everything from parcel delivery to search and rescue, but their limited flight times are restricting their ability to travel great distances or stay for extended periods of time in the field. Simply adding more batteries, however, affects flight characteristics and reduces the load the drone can carry. To help solve this problem, researchers at the Pohang University of Science and Technology (Postech) have created a miniature fuel cell they claim not only provides enough energy to keep a drone in the sky for over an hour, but may well find applications in powering everything from smartphones to cars in the not-too-distant future.Read More

Liquid metal runs through new flexible circuits

Before things like touch-sensitive robot skin or prosthetics skin can become commonplace, we first need to develop robust and reliable flexible electronics. Researchers from Switzerland's EPFL research institute have taken a big step toward that goal, by developing circuits that remain functioning while being stretched by up to four times their original length.Read More

Thinnest, lightest, solar cells ever created outperform their bulky glass brethren

Using gossamer-like layers of flexible polymers, researchers at MIT have created the thinnest and lightest solar cells ever made. Just one-fiftieth the thickness of a human hair, and capable of producing up to 6 watts of power per gram, these cells are so thin and light that they can be supported on the surface of a soap bubble without breaking it. With such impressive credentials, the prototype cells have the potential to add solar power to everything from paper-based electronics through to all manner of mobile devices and exceptionally lightweight wearables. Read More

Passive Wi-Fi more energy efficient than conventional Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Bluetooth LE

While it's become a necessity of modern life, Wi-Fi is also an energy hog, draining the batteries of all those connected devices surrounding us. That may change with the recent demonstration by University of Washington researchers of Wi-Fi transmissions generated using 10,000 times less power than conventional methods. Known as Passive Wi-Fi, the system also uses 1,000 times less power than current energy-efficient wireless communication platforms, like ZigBee and Bluetooth LE.Read More

Intelligent speaker tunes in to your emotions

Moodbox mightn't offer the same fully-fledged humanoid companionship as some "emotionally intelligent" robots, but it does bring elements of this into the home in the form of a voice-controlled omnidirectional speaker that plays tunes in response to your emotions. Read More

Micro-supercapacitors store energy directly inside a chip

Batteries are getting better at a steady pace, but the technology is far from perfect – they are still quite short-lived, and have real trouble delivering bursts of power. Now, researchers at Drexel and the Paul Sabatier universities have managed to embed mini supercapacitors directly inside a microchip to enable electronics that are even smaller, last longer, and have more power to feed on.Read More

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