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— Automotive

IBM looking to put lithium-air batteries on the road

One of the main challenges faced by the Electric Vehicle (EV) industry is so-called “range anxiety.” Current lithium-ion batteries will provide a range of about 100 miles (161 km), limiting the commercial adoption of EVs in a market accustomed to the range and supporting infrastructure of gasoline-powered vehicles. If existing lithium-ion batteries were scaled up to match the range capacity of gas-powered vehicles, they would be unfeasibly large and heavy. Lithium-air batteries, which have the potential to provide energy densities that rivals traditional gasoline-powered engines, are seen as a possible solution. IBM has been researching such batteries and recently announced that it's bringing two companies with experience in electric vehicle materials onboard to aid in their development. Read More
— Science

IBM looks to new technologies for unprecedented data processing challenge

When completed in 2024, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the largest, most sensitive radio telescope ever created. It will consist of 3,000 individual ground-based dish antennas, linked to act as one big telescope – an arrangement known as an interferometer. While their combined total surface area will be about one square kilometer (0.39 sq mile), they will be spread out across a geographical area approximately 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) in width. They will be gathering about one exabyte of astronomical data per day, which is twice the amount of data that is handled by the World Wide Web on a daily basis. Today, IBM announced that it has partnered with ASTRON (the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy), in an effort to develop computer systems that will be able read, analyze and store all of that data, and do so in an energy-efficient manner. Read More
— Electronics

IBM unveils one trillion bit-per-second optical chip

Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named “Holey Optochip.” The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour. Stated another way, the Optochip is eight times faster than any other parallel optical components currently available, with a speed that’s equivalent to the bandwidth consumed by 100,000 users, if they were using regular 10 Mb/s high-speed internet. Read More
— Science

Microfluidic silicon probe could improve disease diagnostics

IBM scientists in Zurich have created a proof-of-concept device, that could change the way that human tissue samples are analyzed. Presently, samples must be stained with a biomarker solution in order to detect the presence of a disease. The staining process can be quite involved, however, plus it is subject to error – too much of the solution can cause inaccurate results, for instance. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to perform enough tests using the small amount of tissue extracted in most biopsies. The IBM technology, though it still involves staining, is said to offer a potential solution to these shortcomings. Read More
— Science

World's smallest magnetic data storage unit created

If you’re impressed with how much data can be stored on your portable hard drive, well ... that’s nothing. Scientists have now created a functioning magnetic data storage unit that measures just 4 by 16 nanometers, uses 12 atoms per bit, and can store an entire byte (8 bits) on as little as 96 atoms – by contrast, a regular hard drive requires half a billion atoms for each byte. It was created by a team of scientists from IBM and the German Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), which is a joint venture of the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY research center in Hamburg, the Max-Planck-Society and the University of Hamburg. Read More
— Computers

IBM experimental chips emulate the human brain

In April, the University of Southern California made the headlines when it announced that researchers there had created a functioning synthetic synapse circuit using carbon nanotubes. Well, today IBM unveiled a new class of experimental computer chips that are designed to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. According to the company, “The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.” Read More
— Mobile Technology

IBM files patent application for morphing touchscreen keyboard interface

While most people prefer using physical keyboards and only tolerate virtual keyboards on their mobile devices for the sake of portability, onscreen keyboards do potentially offer a flexibility that can’t be matched by physical keyboards. It’s this flexibility that IBM is looking to take advantage of with the company recently filing a U.S. patent application for a morphing touchscreen keyboard interface that would automatically resize, reshape and reposition keys based on a user’s typing style. Read More
— Science

IBM demonstrates multi-bit phase-change memory chip

Scientists from IBM Research – Zurich are claiming a world-first, for their recent demonstration of “reliable multi-bit phase-change memory [PCM] technology.” PCM involves the use of materials that change between crystalline and amorphous states, the two states having different levels of electrical resistance – data is stored in a binary fashion, using one level to represent a 0, and the other to represent a 1. By applying new techniques to existing PCM technology, the researchers were reportedly able to write and retrieve data 100 times faster than is possible with Flash. Read More