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Purdue University

Science

Simple, cheap microtweezers could be used to build new MEMS devices

In order to do things such as building microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) or grabbing individual stem cell spheres for analysis, scientists use extremely fine-tipped tools known as microtweezers. While such devices aren't a brand new innovation in and of themselves, researchers from Indiana's Purdue University have developed a new type of microtweezers that are said to be easier and cheaper to manufacture than their conventional counterparts. Not only that, but unlike most similar devices currently in use, they don't require heat, magnetism or electricity to operate.Read More

Science

Atom-tall silicon wires pave way for quantum computers

The world's narrowest silicon wires with a cross section of a mere four atoms by one atom have been created by a team of developers from the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne and Purdue University. The wires are fully functioning, with current-carrying capacity equivalent to that of a microprocessor's copper cable, despite being 20 times thinner - and 10,000 times narrower than a human hair. Read More

Aircraft

Controversial stealth aircraft canopy for sale on eBay?

Twenty-eight years ago, the United States Navy decided that it wanted a field replacement for its A-6 Intruder ground-attack aircraft. A team from McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics won the contract to design the plane, which would be an all-weather, aircraft carrier-based stealth bomber, known as the A-12 Avenger II. Its first flight was planned for December 1990, but technical difficulties and cost overruns kept the team from meeting that deadline. By January 1991, in fact, the Secretary of Defense cancelled the program due to breach of contract. A legal battle between the Navy and McDonnell Douglas ensued, and continues to this day. Now, however, it’s possible to own a literal “piece” of the story – a cockpit canopy reportedly made for the A-12 is for sale on eBay.Read More

Science

New diode promises to uncork optical computing bottleneck

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

Science

New 3D transistors could mean faster, lighter, cooler computers

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

Environment

University of Maryland takes 2011 Solar Decathlon crown

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

Computers

FeTRAM memory could be faster than SRAM and more energy efficient than flash

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

Mobile Technology

Travelers' app makes sense of foreign menus

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

Medical

Miniature oxygen generator implants to boost effectiveness of cancer treatments

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

Science

Termite guts could provide a way to produce biofuel from woody biomass

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

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