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The new diode is made from two silicon rings that measure just 10 microns in diameter and ...

When it comes to speed, photons leave electrons for dead and have a higher bandwidth, which means optical computers will be much faster than their current electron-based cousins. While optical diodes for use in optical information processing systems already exist, these require external assistance to transmit signals so cannot be readily integrated into computer chips. Now researchers at Purdue University have developed a “passive optical diode” that not only doesn’t require any outside help to transmit signals, but is also so small that millions would fit on a computer chip, potentially leading to faster, more powerful information processing and supercomputers.  Read More

A diagram of a three-dimensional indium-gallium-arsenide transistor (Image: Peter Ye, Purd...

Starting next year, computers will be available with three-dimensional transistors – these will incorporate vertical components, unlike the flat chips that we’re used to seeing. This structure will allow them to have shorter gates, which are the components that allow the transistors to switch the electrical current on and off, and to direct its flow. The shorter the gate, the faster the computer can operate. While the new 3D transistors will have a gate length of 22 nanometers, as opposed to the present length of about 45, the use of silicon as a construction material limits how much shorter they could ultimately get. That’s why scientists from Purdue and Harvard universities have created prototype 3D transistors made out of indium-gallium-arsenide – the same compound recently used in a record-breaking solar cell.  Read More

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu with the winners of the 2011 Solar Decathlon - Team Unive...

On the last two occasions, the overall winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon has gone to Germany's Technische Universität Darmstadt but this year the top honor has stayed with one of the home teams. As the name might suggest, the University of Maryland's winning WaterShed project features some novel innovations to make the best use of water, in addition to an intriguing internal waterfall that helps reduce the load on the structure's air conditioning system. Read on for a brief look at the top five winning projects, as well as the People's Choice.  Read More

Layout of FeTRAM, which combines silicon nanowires with a 'ferroelectric' polymer to creat...

Researchers at Purdue University are developing a new type of computer memory that they claim could be faster than SRAM and use 99 percent less energy than flash memory. Called FeTRAM, for ferroelectric transistor random access memory, the new technology fulfills the three basic functions of computer memory; writing, reading and storing information for a long time. It is also a nonvolatile form of memory, meaning that it retains its data after the computer has been turned off. Its creators claim it has the potential to replace conventional memory systems.  Read More

Purdue University's new app could keep unsuspecting travelers from ordering dishes such as...

Once when I was visiting Montreal, I went into a restaurant and discovered that the menu was entirely in French. Not wanting to admit that I couldn’t read the language, I was instead forced to order the only two things I recognized the names of: Caesar salad and calamari. Had smartphones been around at the time, I definitely could have used Purdue University’s new food translator app. It not only translates the names of foreign-language dishes, but it also tells you what they are and what’s in them.  Read More

The miniature device (right) that fits inside a tube (left) and can then be inserted into ...

Some cancers, such as pancreatic and cervical cancers, are notoriously hypoxic, which means they contain low oxygen levels. Because radiation therapy needs oxygen to be effective, hypoxic areas of a tumor can be difficult to kill. To combat this, researchers at Purdue University have developed and tested a miniature electronic device that is designed to be implanted into solid tumors to generate oxygen and boost the effectiveness of radiation and chemotherapy treatments.  Read More

Mike Scharf's work with termites has shown that the insects' digestive systems may help br...

Ethanol is the most commonly used biofuel worldwide and is made by fermenting the sugar components of plant materials, usually sugar and starch crops such as sugar cane, corn and wheat. The difficulty in accessing the sugars contained in woody biomass, coupled with criticism that the use of food crops for biofuel production has a detrimental effect on the food supply has prompted research into biofuels that can be made from cellulosic biomass, such as trees and grasses. By looking at the digestive system of termites, researchers have now discovered a cocktail of enzymes that unlocks access to the sugars stored within the cells of woody biomass that could help make it a more viable source of biofuels, such as ethanol.  Read More

A 'heat mean signature' of a human hand is used to perceive the six segments of the overal...

When we see a hand, regardless of whether it's open, in a fist, or pointing a finger, we still recognize it as a hand. If a computer has only been taught to recognize an open hand, however, it will probably have no idea what a fisted hand is. Getting computer vision systems to interpret images more like people do - to realize that a fist is a hand, for instance - has been one of the aims of artificial intelligence researchers for some time now. Things in that field may be about to take a step forward, however, as scientists from Indiana's Purdue University have just announced two new methods of three-dimensional object recognition, both based around heat diffusion.  Read More

A microchannel created using the laser scribing technique (Photo: Purdue University School...

A new manufacturing method that incorporates laser technology may result in thin film solar panels that are less expensive and more efficient than anything presently on the market. Currently, a stylus is used to mechanically etch microchannels into such panels, which electrically connect the individual solar cells and allow them to form an array. Researchers from Indiana’s Purdue University, however, are developing a technique in which an ultrafast pulsing laser is used to do the etching. Not only will it hopefully be quicker and cheaper than mechanical “scribing,” but it should also produce cleaner, sharper microchannels that offer superior performance.  Read More

Purdue mechanical engineering student Yaguo Wang works with a high-speed laser at the Birc...

The energy crisis has certainly catalyzed a great deal of thought about how we harvest all that energy we previously wasted. The petroleum-burning internal combustion engine has traditionally leaked energy from the exhaust system in the form of heat, but new ThermoElectric Generator (TEG) research at Purdue University aims to yield as much as a ten percent reduction in fuel consumption by converting heat from the exhaust into electricity. It is hoped that the thermoelectric research will eventually lead to other methods of turning waste heat into electricity in homes and power plants, new and more efficient solar cells and perhaps even a solid-state refrigerator.  Read More

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