Apr 20, 2012Science and Technology
High-Tech Nova Weekly: Top trends for 4/16-4/20

This week's high-tech headlines and trends ...

Cellphones may soon be able to see through walls.New research could create cellphones that see through walls


Researchers at the University of Texas, Dallas have designed an imager chip that could turn mobile phones into devices that can see through walls, wood, plastics, paper and other objects. The team’s research linked two scientific advances. One involves tapping into an unused range in the electromagnetic spectrum. The other is a new microchip technology. The electromagnetic spectrum characterizes wavelengths of energy. For example, radio waves for AM and FM signals or microwaves used for cell phones or the infrared wavelength that makes night vision devices possible. But the terahertz band of the electromagnetic spectrum, one of the wavelength ranges that falls between microwave and infrared, has not been accessible for most consumer devices.

A new microchip design is inspired by the internet.Microchips as micro Internets: Clock speeds make a quantum leap over cooling boundaries


Some of the best ideas in technology borrow from other technologies. A new design for computer chips recently announced at MIT will borrow from one of the primary technology designs in use today: the Internet. MIT researchers have developed a chip that moves data internally in much the same way data moves along the Internet, using packets. This new design could greatly enhance the way the chips are able to move data, leading to chips that are able to work faster and more efficiently from a power standpoint, without generating additional heat.


New 3-D nanostructures fold themselvesVIDEO - New 3-D nanostructures assemble themselves


Building a box seems easy, but it is very challenging when the box is only supposed to be a nanometer wide. At that size, 3D structures are too small to be assembled by any machine and they must be guided to assemble on their own. And now, interdisciplinary research from Johns Hopkins University and Brown University has led to a breakthrough showing that higher order polyhedra can indeed fold up and assemble themselves, creating nanostructures that may be used in drug delivery and other applications.


MEMs are changing tech manufacturing. MEMs next in line for new manufacturing technology


In the past decade the miniaturization of personal technology has irreversibly changed the way we live our lives. This dramatic technological change has largely come from a reduction in size of the various components that go into making these devices. This class of device is generally referred to as micro-electromechanical (MEM), and comprises devices that interact both electronically and mechanically on roughly micrometer-sized scales (1-100 micrometers, or 0.001-0.1 millimeters). Conceptually, devices on this size scale have been in the minds of ambitious inventors for the better part of the last century, but only since the invention of silicon manufacturing technologies for computer chips has MEMs manufacturing come to make economic sense. Now, as MEMs technology seeks to expand beyond the limitations of silicon-based manufacturing, manufacturers struggle with markets that are too small to support high production costs.

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