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ORNL's James Klett with his LED-cooling graphite foam

LED lamps may soon be able to go much longer between fixture replacements thanks to a new graphite foam cooling system developed at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The graphite foam works by passively wicking heat away from the lamp via its lightly-packed, open skeletal structure – and given that a ten-degree decrease in operating temperature can double the lifespan of LED lighting components, the benefits of keeping them cool are clear.  Read More

A homemade laser microscope has revealed the very lively, secret life of a drop of water

Some burning questions have just got to be answered, no matter the substantial costs involved. One such question demanding attention is: can a laser pointer be used to examine the microscopic contents of a drop of water? Happily, the answer is yes, and without the aforementioned prohibitive expense. In this home experiment, a laser pointer was shone through a drop of water collected from the base of a potted plant and the magnified image projected on an opposing wall. Read on to see a video showing a bemused-looking cat watching the resulting light show.  Read More

The spintronics breakthrough by Hui Zhao could lead the way to the development of superior...

Spin electronics, or “spintronics” promises to revolutionize computing. We’ve covered numerous breakthroughs in the field including controlling the spin of electrons, manipulating single electrons independently, and the first plastic spintronic computer memory device. However, one major hurdle for spintronics researchers has been the difficulty in detecting the flow of spinning electrons in real time. The discovery of a new way to recognize currents of spinning electrons within a semiconductor changes that and could lead the way to the development of superior computers and electronics.  Read More

Drexel University's Dr. Yury Gogotsi (right) and colleagues have developed an ultrahigh-po...

Supercapacitors, also called electric double layer capacitors (EDLCs) or ultracapacitors, are electrochemical capacitors that have an unusually high energy density when compared to common capacitors. They bridge the gap between batteries, which offer high energy densities but are slow, and “conventional” electrolytic capacitors, which are fast but have low energy densities. An international team of researchers are reporting the development of a mirco-supercapacitor with remarkable properties that has the potential to power mobile electronics, wireless sensor networks, biomedical implants, RFID tags and embedded microsensors, among other devices.  Read More

The iPADock provides a home for most, if not all, of your iDevices

Japanese company PhotoFast Co.,Ltd. is set to release the iPADock at the end of September, and if these first pictures (released this week) are any indication, it's quite possibly the most bad-ass iPad/iPhone charging dock we've seen to date. This docking station can accommodate various combinations of devices – you can connect two iPads at once, four iPhones at once, or you can mix it up with one iPad and two iPhones. You can also use iPADock to charge up your iPods, as it's compatible with the Touch, Nano, and Classic models as well.  Read More

Tiny flakes of lithium manganese phosphate can serve as electrodes for batteries (Image: D...

Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are used in everything from mobile phones to cars. Most of the batteries available today are designed with an oxide of metal such as cobalt, nickel, or manganese, which adds to their cost. Researchers looking for lower-priced alternatives to existing lithium ion-metal oxide batteries have discovered that a little wax and soap can help build electrodes and will allow battery developers to explore lower-priced alternatives to the lithium ion-metal oxide batteries currently on the market.  Read More

Motorola's new Bluetooth earpiece designed for secure communications

Motorola has launched three new "mission critical" communications devices aimed at law enforcement and first responder applications. The MVX1000 in-car digital video system and APX P25 two-way radio series are joined by the company's first encrypted Bluetooth earpiece designed for secure communications.  Read More

A first generation, self-calibratable MEMs that has been used to measure the Casimir force...

Micro electromechanical systems, or MEMs, are promising in an array of high-tech applications. However, the accuracy of conventional techniques to gauge the force and movement of tiny objects containing components so small they have to be measured on the scale of micrometers or nanometers are typically off by 10 percent or more because of their inherent uncertainties. A new technology enabling MEMs to "self-calibrate" could overcome this problem and make possible super-accurate and precise sensors for crime-scene forensics, environmental testing and medical diagnostics.  Read More

A chip is heated and cooled (left), made from silicon (right) supersaturated with copper, ...

You might think it was a simple law of physics that most solids melt as they get hotter, and harden as they get colder. A few materials, however, do just the opposite – they melt as they cool. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently discovered that by dissolving certain metals into silicon, they can add that silicon compound to the relatively short list of exotic substances that exhibit retrograde melting. Their accomplishment could ultimately result in less expensive solar cells and electronic devices.  Read More

Intel engineer, Dr. Mario Paniccia, holds the thin optical fiber used to carry data from o...

Today’s computer components are connected to each other using copper cables or traces on circuit boards. Due to the signal degradation that comes with using metals such as copper to transmit data, these cables have a limited maximum length. This limits the design of computers, forcing processors, memory and other components to be placed just inches from each other. Intel has announced an important breakthrough that could see light beams replace the use of electrons to carry data in and around computers, enabling data to move over much longer distances and at speeds many times faster than today’s copper technology.  Read More

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