Tech

SALT LAKE CITY – University of Utah engineers devised a new way to slice thin wafers of the chemical element germanium for use in the most efficient type of solar power cells. They say the new method should lower the cost of such cells by reducing the waste and breakage of the brittle semiconductor.

Montreal, September 11, 2008 – When an electrical current passes through a wire it emanates heat – a principle that's found in toasters and incandescent light bulbs. Some materials, at low temperatures, violate this law and carry current without any heat loss. But this seemingly trivial property, superconductivity, is now at the forefront of our understanding of physics.

Older people could make better use of computers if icons, links and menu headings automatically grew bigger as the cursor moves towards them.

A new University of Reading study has shown that 'expanding targets' of this kind, which grow to twice their original size and provide a much larger area to click on, could deliver:

University of Chicago scientists have discovered how to make magnetic sensors capable of operating at the high temperatures that ceramic engines in cars and aircraft of the future will require.

The key to fabricating the sensors involves slightly degrading samples of a well-known semiconductor material, called indium antimonide, which is valued for its purity. Chicago's Thomas Rosenbaum and associate Jingshi Hu, now of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have published their formula in the September issue of the journal Nature Materials.

Troy, N.Y. – The emergence of electric lighting at night nearly a century ago has positively affected countless aspects of human life, ranging from improved safety and security to stronger economic development. But too much nighttime illumination can cause problems for stargazing, animal health, and may even compromise sleep, often leading some people to say "lights out."

The first images from Rosetta's OSIRIS imaging system and VIRTIS infrared spectrometer were derived from raw data this morning and have delivered spectacular results.

"Steins looks like a diamond in the sky," said Uwe Keller, Principal Investigator for the OSIRIS imaging system from the Max Planck Institut Fuer Sonnensystemforschung, Lindau.

Visible in the image are several small craters on the asteroid, and two huge ones, one of which is 2 km in diameter, indicating that the asteroid must be very old.

Blacksburg, Va. –– Technologies used today by companies, such as Direct TV, Iridium Satellite, Bluetooth, and Globalstar, are based on satellite communications efforts started at Virginia Tech four decades ago in its Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--MIT researchers may have found a way to overcome a key barrier to the advent of super-fast quantum computers, which could be powerful tools for applications such as code breaking.

Ever since Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman first proposed the theory of quantum computing more than two decades ago, researchers have been working to build such a device.

PASADENA, Calif.--Scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have developed a simple process for mass producing molecular tubes of identical--and precisely programmable--circumferences. The technological feat may allow the use of the molecular tubes in a number of nanotechnology applications.

Quicker microwave meals that use less energy may soon be possible with new ceramic microwave dishes and, according to the material scientists responsible, this same material could help with organic waste remediation.

"Currently, food heated in a microwave loses heat to the cold dish because the dishes are transparent to microwaves," says Sridhar Komarneni, distinguished professor of clay mineralogy, College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. "The plates are still cool when the cooking is completed."