Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Electronics

The die for CRISP's self-repairing chip (Image: CRISP)

As chips continue to get smaller, the technological possibilities just get larger. One of the trade-offs of miniaturization, however, is that smaller things are also often more fragile and less dependable. Anticipating a point at which chips will become too tiny to maintain their current level of resilience, a team of four companies and two universities in The Netherlands, Germany, and Finland have created what they say could be the solution – a chip that monitors its own performance, and redirects tasks as needed.  Read More

A die micrograph of the fully integrated DC-DC converter chip (Image: Wonyoung Kim, Harvar...

For decades, chipmakers strove to develop the fastest and most powerful chips possible and damn the amount of electricity needed to power them, but these days raw grunt isn't the only consideration. As more and more devices go mobile and these devices become more and more powerful, chipmakers must also take the energy efficiency into account. Harvard graduate student Wonyoung Kim has developed and demonstrated an on-chip, multi-core voltage regulator (MCVR) that he says could allow the creation of "smarter" smartphones, slimmer laptops and more energy efficient data centers by more closely matching the power supply to the demand of the chip.  Read More

NEC has now developed a system which is able to register the ridges of a fingerprint and t...

Biometric authentication technologies have been around for a while now and, if truth be told, vary considerably from the useless Flash drive at the bottom of my drawer that has only ever recognized my fingerprint once, to something a bit more dependable. NEC has now developed an identification system that is able to register the ridges of a fingerprint and the finger vein characteristics without any sort of physical contact.  Read More

The eye pressure-monitoring millimeter-scale computing system (Photo: University of Michig...

Researchers from the University of Michigan have created what they claim is the world’s first millimeter-scale complete computing system, designed as an implantable eye pressure monitor for glaucoma patients. Incorporating a microprocessor, pressure sensor, memory, thin-film battery, solar cell and wireless radio with an antenna that can transmit data to an external reader device, the device is just over one cubic millimeter in size. The scientists see it as the next step in the evolution of ever-smaller and more efficient computers.  Read More

Quantum dot solar cells could offer a cheaper, more efficient alternative to conventional ...

Developing solar cells that are cheaper to produce and can harness the sun’s energy more efficiently are both important factors in ensuring the widespread use of solar energy to provide a clean alternative to fossil fuels in the future. Stanford researchers have found that adding a single layer of organic molecules can achieve both these goals by increasing three-fold the efficiency of quantum dot solar cells, which are cheaper to produce than traditional solar cells.  Read More

Touchscape's Multi-Touch Table can register numerous simultaneous user touch points on its...

We've seen huge multi-touch tables and displays being used in medicine and for exhibitions, but now you could start seeing such things when you take a coffee break. With a 47-inch display, the Touchscape Multi-Touch Table uses the company's patented multi-touch technology to deliver full 1080p high definition touchscreen interactivity for cosy one-on-one business presentations, student/teacher learning collaboration, sharing photo or video collections or unique gaming applications.  Read More

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology have developed a...

As any reader of detective fiction will tell you, no two fingerprints are alike. The similarly unique physical structure of microchips could help manufacturers protect their products from piracy, thanks to research at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology. The team has developed technology that makes use of slight variations generated during manufacture to produce unique, clone-proof digital fingerprints.  Read More

Graphene is a one-atom-thick planar sheet of carbon atoms that are densely packed in a hon...

Graphene has already brought us the world’s smallest transistor, a triple-mode, single transistor amplifier and a supercapacitor that can store as much energy as a battery while recharging in seconds. And these are sure to just be the tip of the iceberg. The latest breakthrough from the wonderful world of graphene is a new graphene field effect transistor (GFET) that boasts a record high-switching performance. The device promises improved performance for future electronic devices and means graphene could potentially replace silicon, or at least be used side by side with silicon, in electronic devices.  Read More

Inside the Lexar clean room facility in Utah where memory chips are made. The clean room i...

Much of the world these days relies heavily on memory – not the human kind, but the manufactured variety. Many of us have a plethora of memory cards and sticks kicking around in devices like cameras, smart phones, USB thumb drives, etc., but have you ever wondered what goes into the manufacture of a memory chip. This "behind the scenes" promotional video from major manufacturer Lexar provides an interesting insight to the process – it takes the company one month and more than 800 processes to make a memory chip and the clean room in which they are produced is 100 times cleaner than a hospital operating room. That means in order to get in you have to do a lot more than just wash your hands.  Read More

Molybdenite could be used to make smaller and more energy efficient transistors

Researchers have uncovered a material that they say has distinct advantages over traditional silicon and even graphene for use in electronics. Called molybdenite (MoS2), this mineral is abundant in nature and is commonly used as an element in steel alloys or, thanks to its similarity in appearance and feel to graphite, as an additive in lubricant. But the mineral hadn’t been studied for use in electronics, which appears to have been an oversight with new research showing that molybdenite is a very effective semiconductor that could enable smaller and more energy efficient transistors, computer chips and solar cells.  Read More

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