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Smaller and more energy-efficient electronic chips could be made using molybdenite. EPFL's Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) published a study showing that this material has distinct advantages over traditional silicon or graphene for use in electronics applications. This mineral, which is abundant in nature, is often used as an element in steel alloys or as an additive in lubricants. But it had not yet been extensively studied for use in electronics. One of molybdenite's advantages is that it is less voluminous than silicon, which is a three-dimensional material. Another advantage of molybdenite is that it can be used to make transistors that consume 100,000 times less energy in standby state than traditional silicon transistors. A semi-conductor with a ‘gap’ must be used to turn a transistor on and off, and molybdenite's 1.8 electron-volt gap is ideal for this purpose. In solid-state physics, band theory is a way of representing the energy of electrons in a given material. In semi-conductors, electron-free spaces exist between these bands, the so-called ‘band gaps’. If the gap is not too small or too large, certain electrons can hop across the gap. It thus offers a greater level of control over the electrical behavior of the material, which can be turned on and off easily. The existence of this gap in molybdenite also gives it an advantage over graphene. Considered today by many scientists as the electronics material of the future, the ‘semi-metal’ graphene doesn't have a gap, and it is very difficult to artificially reproduce one in the material.




Computer engineers at North Carolina State University have developed hardware that allows programs to operate more efficiently by significantly boosting the speed at which the ‘cores’ on a computer chip communicate with each other. The core, or CPU, is the brain of a computer chip; most chips currently contain between four and eight cores. In order to perform a task more quickly using multiple cores on a single chip, those cores need to communicate with each other. But there are no direct ways for cores to communicate. Instead, one core sends data to memory and another core retrieves it using software algorithms. “Our technology is more efficient because it provides a single instruction to send data to another core, which is six times faster than the best state-of-the-art software we could find,” said Dr. James Tuck, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. Tuck goes on to explain the new technology, called HAQu, “It’s not hardware designed to communicate data on its own, but is hardware that expedites data-sharing using existing data paths on a computer chip.” Because HAQu uses these existing data paths, the research team compared it to software communication tools – even though it is a piece of hardware. HAQu is also more energy efficient. “It actually consumes more power when operating but, because it runs so much more quickly, the overall energy consumption of the chip actually decreases,” said Tuck. The next step for the research team is to incorporate the hardware into a prototype system to demonstrate its utility in a complex software environment.



In what could only be described as ‘fervent scientist madness’, researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a transistor with excellent stability and performance for use on plastic electronics. In addition, it can be manufactured at relatively low temperatures in a regular atmosphere. In the quest to develop flexible plastic electronics, one of the stumbling blocks has been creating transistors with enough stability for them to function in a variety of environments while still maintaining the current needed to power the devices. The researchers describe a new method of combining top-gate organic field-effect transistors with a bilayer gate insulator. This allows the transistor to perform with incredible stability while exhibiting good current performance. The team used an existing semiconductor and changed the gate dielectric because transistor performance depends not only on the semiconductor itself, but also on the interface between the semiconductor and the gate dielectric. Instead of using a single dielectric materia, the team developed a bilayer gate dielectric. The bilayer dielectric is made of a fluorinated polymer known as CYTOP and a high-k metal-oxide layer created by atomic layer deposition. Used alone, each substance has its benefits and its drawbacks. CYTOP is known to form few defects at the interface of the organic semiconductor, but it also has a very low dielectric constant, which requires an increase in drive voltage. The high-k metal-oxide uses low voltage, but doesn't have good stability because of a high number of defects on the interface. So the team decided to combine the two to see what would happen. They cycled the transistors 20,000 times. There was no degradation. They tested it under a continuous biostress where they ran the highest possible current through it. There was no degradation. They even stuck it in a plasma chamber for five minutes. There was still no degradation. “By having the bilayer gate insulator we have two different degradation mechanisms that happen at the same time, but the effects are such that they compensate for one another. So if you use one it leads to a decrease of the current, if you use the other it leads to a shift of the thereshold voltage and over time to an increase of the current. But if you combine them, their effects cancel out,” said Bernard Kippelen, director of the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics and professor in Georgia Tech's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.



Researchers have invented a technique that uses inexpensive paper to make ‘microfluidic’ devices for rapid medical diagnostics and chemical analysis. Current lab-on-a-chip technology is relatively expensive because chips must be specifically designed to perform certain types of chemical analyses, with channels created in glass or plastic and tiny pumps and valves directing the flow of fluids for testing. But the chips, which are roughly palm-size or smaller, are difficult to design and manufacture. The new technique is simpler because the testing platform will be contained on a disposable paper strip containing patterns created by a laser. The researchers start with paper having a hydrophobic (or water-repellant) coating, such as parchment paper or wax paper used for cooking. A laser is used to burn off the hydrophobic coatings in lines, dots and patterns, exposing the underlying water-absorbing paper only where the patterns are formed. “Our process is much easier because we just use a laser to create patterns on paper you can purchase commercially and it is already impregnated with hydrophobic materia. It's a one-step process that could be used to manufacture an inexpensive diagnostic tool for the developing world where people can't afford more expensive analytical technologies,” said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue University professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering. More information can be found here:



Taiwan-based handset ODM Compal Communications recently unveiled Robii, its first smart robot designed to accompany children aged 5-10, for sale under its own brand UrRobot, according to the company. Robii integrates image/voice recognition, sensors and projection technologies and features interactive learning and gamest based on multi-touch controls. Robii looks like a small monkey and can make more than 100 facial expressions using 170 LED chips and talks, and can track moving objects using built-in cameras and ambient sensors. Through finger-touch controls, Robii can project interactive games and learning content from its screen. Additional content is available online for download, Compal Communications indicated. “This industry-leading robot uses Himax's proprietary Color Filter microdisplay which we feel is a perfect fit for the toy market. We are very excited by the application of our pico-projector technology into the Robii. Up until now the educational toys with interactive features have largely required either a separate television/monitor display or featured small screens on a hand held device. The Robii incorporates projection to eliminate these obstacles and allows for a fun, dynamic and interactive experience right out of the box,” said HC Tsai, Vice President of Himax Display. The monkey robot Robii will sell for about $582, but there is no word as of yet when it will be available.


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The world of computing is in transition. As chips become smaller and faster, they dissipate more heat, which is energy that is entirely wasted. By some estimates the difference between the amount of energy required to carry out a computation and the amount that today's computers actually use, is some eight orders of magnitude. Clearly, there is room for improvement. One of the outside runners in the race to take the world of logic by storm is reversible computing. By that, computer scientists mean computation that takes place in steps that are time reversible. These requirements for reversibility place tight constraints on the types of physical systems that can do this kind of work, not to mention on their design and manufacture. Ordinary computer chips do not qualify--their logic gates are not reversible and they also suffer from another problem. When conventional logic gates produce several outputs, some of these are not used and the energy required to generate them is simply lost. These are known as garbage states. Himanshu Thapliyal and Nagarajan Ranganathan at the University of South Florida propose a new way of detecting errors in computations and say that their method is ideally applicable to reversible computing and, what's more, naturally reduces the number of garbage states that a computation produces. If a reversible computation produces a series of outputs, then the inverse computation on these outputs should reproduce the original states. So their idea is to perform the inverse computation on the output states and if this reproduces the original states, then the computation is error free. And because this relies on reversible logic steps, it naturally minimizes the amount of garbage states that are produced in between. The beauty of this approach is that it has the potential to be dissipation-free. So not only would it use far less energy than conventional computing, it needn't lose any energy at all. At least in theory. More information can be found here:




Semiconductor Research Corporation and researchers from Stanford University have developed a novel combination of elements that yields a unique nanostructure material for packaging. This advance should allow longer life for semiconductor devices while costing less than current state-of-the-art materials. For semiconductors, the improvement will come in the form of packaging for devices. Presently, manufacturers must rely on tiny pins or thick solder to bond sections of the semiconductor in order for the device to perform. However, current solder materials tend to degrade and fail due to heat and mechanical stress. In order to continue the scaling of integrated circuits, SRC and Stanford have researched materials that provide a high thermal connectivity, comparable to copper, with the flexible compliance of foam. The answer has been created through a nanostructured thermal tape that conducts heat like a metal while allowing the neighboring materials to expand and contract with temperature changes (metals are too stiff to allow this). This ability to reduce chip temperatures while remaining compliant is a key breakthrough for electronic packaging. In addressing the challenges of miniaturization, the first line of defense for hot spots is the interface material. Incorporating nearly two decades of advanced research and simulations for problems at the packaging level, much of it funded by SRC, the Stanford team ultimately arrived at their unique combination of binder materials surrounding carbon nanotubes. This innovation is expected to facilitate the highest thermal conduction and the most desirable level of elasticity of any known packaging solutions. For more information please visit:



The quantum computers of tomorrow might use photons to move data according to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology). The new NIST papers address one of the many challenges to a practical quantum computer: the need for a device that produces photons in ready quantities, but only one at a time, and only when the computer's processor is ready to receive them. The first paper addresses the need to be certain that a photon is indeed coming when the processor is expecting it, and that none show up unexpected. Many kinds of single-photon sources create a pair of photons and send one of them to a detector, which tips off the processor to the fact that the second, information-bearing photon is on its way. The second paper describes a photon source to address two other requirements. Quantum computers will need many such sources working in parallel, so sources must be able to be built in large numbers and operate reliably; and so that the computer can tell the photons apart, the sources must create multiple individual photons, but all at different wavelengths. “Ordinarily a particular material can produce only pairs in a specific pair of wavelengths, but our design allows production of photons at a number of regular and distinct wavelengths simultaneously, all from one source. Because the design is compatible with microfabrication techniques, this accomplishment is the first step in the process of creating sources that are part of integrated circuits, not just prototype computers that work in the hothouse of the lab,” said Alan Migdall of NIST's Optical Technology Division.



United Microelectronics Corporation has recently announced that the company has produced customer Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) sensor products, with volume production scheduled for this year. As MEMS sensor applications become increasingly popular, demand for CMOS-MEMS foundry services is also rapidly on the rise. One such product is a microphone that uses UMC's CMOS-MEMS technology has achieved successful function verification, with highly competitive specifications of above 56dBA for signal-to-noise (S/N) ratio. Engineering samples are scheduled for the first half of this year, with volume production to begin thereafter. Development of the CMOS-MEMS accelerometer has also met consumer electronics application specifications (1g - 16g) and achieved readiness for volume production. “Our success with MEMS, a challenging technology, underscores UMC's commitment to offer customers a full range of innovative, high-performance, and compact solutions. UMC is delighted to make major strides in the timely delivery of CMOS-MEMS solutions that enable customers to meet the demanding requirements of today's cutting-edge applications,” said Anchor Chen, senior director of Special Technology Development at UMC. UMC will make this CMOS-MEMS technology available to industry and academia for new component development, with the goals of lowering the barriers of entry for IC design companies and increasing the global competitiveness of Taiwan's MEMS industry.




Later this year, Hewlett-Packard researchers say, they expect to deliver to the U.S. Army a working prototype of what they're calling a "Dick Tracy wristwatch" — a lightweight, wearable device that soldiers in the field can use to view digital maps and other data on a flexible plastic screen that won't shatter or crack like glass. Though it will be spartan by design, researchers say HP's prototype could be one of the first in a new wave of products incorporating flexible electronic displays. Freed from the constraints of a rigid glass screen, designers could one day build flexible plastic displays into clothing, wall coverings and perhaps even e-readers or tablets that can roll up like a newspaper. The process starts with rolls of plastic that has been treated with thin layers of metal and other material. The plastic is run through a press that imprints a microscopic, three-dimensional pattern, which can then be etched to create transistors on the film. These can transmit instructions to electrically charged particles or diodes contained in a second layer of plastic, which then displays text or images. Other groups in Taiwan and elsewhere are developing manufacturing processes in which layers of transistors are laid down on sheets of plastic temporarily bonded to a pane of glass. For more information please visit:



One hundred years after superconductivity was first observed in 1911, a research team from Oxford, Germany and Japan observed conclusive signatures of superconductivity after hitting a non-superconductor with a strong burst of laser light. The material the researchers used is closely related to high-temperature copper oxide superconductors, but the arrangement of electrons and atoms normally act to frustrate any electronic current. In the journal ‘Science’, they describe how a strong infrared laser pulse was used to perturb the positions of some of the atoms in the material. The compound, held at a temperature just 20 degrees above absolute zero, almost instantaneously became a superconductor for a fraction of a second, before relaxing back to its normal state. The advance immediately offers a new way to probe with great control how superconductivity arises in this class of materials, a puzzle ever since high-temperature superconductors were first discovered in 1986. The researchers however, are hopeful it could also offer a new route to obtaining superconductivity at higher temperatures. If superconductors that work at room temperature could be achieved, it would open up many more technological applications. “There is a school of thought that it should be possible to achieve superconductivity at much higher temperatures, but that some competing type of order in the material gets in the way, we should be able to explore this idea and see if we can disrupt the competing order to reveal superconductivity at higher temperatures. It’s certainly worth trying,” said Professor Andrea Cavalleri of the Department of Physics at Oxford University, who led the experiment.




Quantum applications, from cryptography to computation, all benefit from the use of entangled particles, (photons.) Creating and manipulating these photons is generally pretty straightforward, but storing them is not, which makes the issue of providing memory for a quantum computer a significant hurdle. It has been possible to successfully store some photons, but the media involved—single atoms or cold atomic gasses—aren't necessarily the most practical things to work with. In today's issue of Nature, researchers demonstrate that it's possible to keep two photons entangled even as one of them is held in a crystal. With the crystal properly prepared, it's all just a matter of preparation. By matching the photon and crystal, it's possible to arrange things so that the photon can only be absorbed when the crystal is in its fast transition state. Once it's absorbed, however, the crystal can be shifted to its slow transition state. Once that shift occurs, the photon is trapped. It'll either be released at the slow rate (which takes seconds), or will stick around until the next time the crystal is switched to the fast state. In the intervening time, the photon remains in the crystal in the form of an excited state that is diffused throughout all the doped atoms present. In essence, it occupies the entire crystal, which can be up to a centimeter long. That said, these things still aren't exactly practical. As noted above, the crystals need to sit within a few Kelvin of absolute zero, so they're not quite ready for deployment in a typical computing environment. Although the entanglement could be demonstrated at several standard deviations, the efficiency of putting the photon into the actual crystal wasn't all that great; 21 percent in one case, a fraction of a percent in the other. Still it’s a good step towards bringing quantum memory into reality.




British defense tech firm BAE Systems is developing an active ‘e-camouflage’ system that will employ a form of electronic ink to project imagery of a vehicles surrounding terrain, rendering the vehicle somewhat invisible to potential attackers. Unlike conventional forms of camouflage, the images on the hull would change in concert with the changing environment always insuring that the vehicle remains disguised. The concept was developed as part of the Future Protected Vehicle program, which scientists believe, will transform the way in which future conflicts will be fought. The system exists only on paper currently, but BAE scientists are confident they can make the technology work, with hopes of getting it to British troops serving in Afghanistan in coming years. In fact, the idea was born partially of a problem the troops in Helmand province are having disguising their hardware. All armored units there are painted for desert environs, making them unmistakable even at a distance when they roll into cultivated, green parts of the region. I would say that e-camouflage would have come into existence sooner if we had captured a ‘Predator’ rather than terminate them.




A few unassuming drops of liquid locked in a very precise game of “follow the leader” could one day be found in mobile phone cameras, medical imaging equipment, implantable drug delivery devices, and even implantable eye lenses. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute embedded drops of ferrofluid, a liquid infused with magnetic nanoparticles, into a thin substrate that was submerged in water. Then they exposed the device to a magnetic field to make one of the droplets vibrate back and forth (up or down in the image above), which caused its partner to oscillate in a mirror pattern. This ballet displaces teeny amounts of liquid, moving it from one chamber to another, according to Amir H. Hirsa, a mechanical engineering professor at Rensselaer. The piston is superfast, allowing micro-scale devices with cycling speeds in the kilohertz range. These liquid pistons are highly tunable, scalable, and — because they lack any solid moving parts — suffer no wear and tear. The research team, led by Rensselaer Professor Amir H. Hirsa, is confident this new discovery can be exploited to create a host of new devices ranging from micro displacement pumps and liquid switches, to adaptive lenses and advanced drug delivery systems. For more information please visit:




It was only a matter of time before science and alcohol were combined to create something great. Who knew that drinking and finding new ways to create superconductors would go hand-in-hand? It turns out a Japanese scientist took the time to conduct such an experiment, and it worked! Dr. Yoshihiko Takano of the National Institute for Materials Science in Tsukuba, Japan, made the discovery after a party, soaking samples of a potential superconductor in hot alcoholic drinks (I’m gonna guess sake) before testing them next day for superconductivity. The commercial alcoholic beverages, especially wine, were much more effective than either water or pure alcohol. The researchers created the samples of FeTe0.8S0.2 by sealing iron, tellurium and tellurium sulfide powders into an evacuate quartz tube and heating the mixture at 600°C for 10 hours. This material is not normally a superconductor but can become one if exposed to oxygen or if soaked in water. After a party for a visiting researcher, Takano wondered if the drinks they were consuming would work as well as pure water.


To find out, they tested the FeTe0.8S0.2 samples with beer, red and white wine, Japanese sake, Shochu clear distilled liquor) and whisky, and with various concentrations of ethanol and water. The samples were all heated and kept at 70°C for 24 hours. The results were that the ethanol-water samples showed increased superconductivity that was not dependant on the ethanol concentration. The samples heated in alcoholic drinks all showed greater superconductivity, but again not dependant on the alcohol content. Red wine was the most effective. The research team calculated the superconducting volume fraction of the samples and found they ranged from 23.1% for Sochu up to 62.4% for red wine, but none of the ethanol samples were over 15%. Does that mean that grapes are the key for superconductivity at ambient room temperatures? We’ll just have to wait and see if Dr. Takano and his partying researchers find that answer, however it will probably be after happy hour.




Bi-focals have been around since the dawn of mankind and haven’t changed much since they were invented by Benjamin Franklin. However a company called PixelOptics has gone ahead and re-invented them with state of the art technology. Their new emPower line of glass lenses change prescription faster than in the blink of an eye. There are no moving parts and the change is virtually instantaneous. An invisible electronic add zone located about a half inch below the center of each lens changes the prescription in that portion of the lens so that vision goes from being clear at fingertip distance to clear up-close for reading. When the electronic add zone is activated, it will blink on and when deactivated, it will blink off. emPower! lenses have two modes of operation: automatic and manual. In automatic mode, the switch between full or partial reading prescription depends on where the wearer looks. The wearer looks down and the full reading prescription turns on; the wearer looks straight ahead and the emPower! lens returns to the partial reading prescription in manual mode the person decides when to adjust the glasses to a reading prescription. Control of the manual mode as well as switching to automatic mode is performed on the right temple of the eyeglasses. Manual mode is the default mode and activating the full reading prescription (turning emPower! ON) simply requires a touch of a finger. Switching to partial reading prescription (turning emPower! OFF) simply requires another touch of the finger. A swipe in either direction activates the automatic mode. Once activated emPower! automatically detects whether the viewer is looking up or down. These new glasses will be available in April for the low price of $1200.00. For more information on PixelOptics emPower glasses please visit:




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Les modules RN4870 / RN4871 (BLE) ou RN4678 (DUAL MODE) permettent d'implementer rapidement une solution bluetooth grace à leurs commandes ASCII : http://www.microchip/bluetooth







Vous êtes possesseur d'une carte EXPLORER16 ?


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Ces 2 liens montrent comment :


1/ Programmer le PIC18F4550/LF4550 qui se trouve sur la carte EXPLORER16 pour intégrer la fonction Pickit2


2/ Modifier la carte EXPLORER16 pour s'auto-alimenter à partir de la liaison USB



Autre version du firmware développé par la communauté Microchip pour le PIC18F4550/LF4550 se trouvant sur l'EXPLORER16 :



et aussi des dizaines de liens pour maximiser l'utilisation de cette carte :



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