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Photonics: Integrated laser on silicon is looking good

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(Mar. 28, 2012) — A unique 'micro-loop mirror' design may enhance the performance of integrated laser on silicon.

Active optical fibers with silicon photonic chips can carry a lot more information for data interconnect than copper cables. Silicon photonics can also be the material of choice for wiring 'lab-on-a-chip' devices -- however, the construction of such devices is not without its challenges. One of the greatest difficulties is the implementation of lasers because silicon is a poor light emitter, but is commonly required for a photonic system on chip.

Doris Keh-Ting Ng at the A*STAR Data Storage Institute and co-workers have now successfully fabricated a laser on top of a silicon chip1. The III-V semiconductor...

Electronics: A faster model for speedier circuits

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(Mar. 28, 2012) — Faster computational methods could simulate the power and signal integrity of next-generation electronic systems.

The overall performance of modern computers and communications networks is dependent on the speed of electronic components, such as transistors and optical switches, as well as the quality of the wire network that powers and relays signals between these electronic components. Power and signal integrity are two important parameters for gauging the...

Nanotechnology: Feel the pressure

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(Mar. 28, 2012) — Nanowires have superior electrical and mechanical properties and can be put to good use in pressure sensors, new research shows.

Miniaturized pressure sensors are widely used in mechanical and biomedical applications, for example, in gauging fuel pressure in cars or in monitoring blood pressure in patients. Woo-Tae Park and co-workers at the A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics1 have now developed a nanowire-based sensor that is so sensitive it can detect even...

Molecular Braille created to identify DNA molecules

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — Researchers at UCLA and New York University have developed a method to detect sequence differences in individual DNA molecules by taking nanoscopic pictures of the molecules themselves.

The work is reported in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Using the approach they call "Direct Molecular Recognition," the UCLA and NYU researchers used nanoparticles to turn the DNA molecules into a form of molecular braille that can be read in the scale of...

Capsule for removing radioactive contamination from milk, fruit juices, other beverages

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — Amid concerns about possible terrorist attacks with nuclear materials, and fresh memories of environmental contamination from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, scientists have described the development of a capsule that can be dropped into water, milk, fruit juices and other foods to remove more than a dozen radioactive substances.

In a presentation at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they...

Transparent, flexible '3-D' memory chips may be the next big thing in small memory devices

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — New memory chips that are transparent, flexible enough to be folded like a sheet of paper, shrug off 1,000-degree Fahrenheit temperatures -- twice as hot as the max in a kitchen oven -- and survive other hostile conditions could usher in the development of next-generation flash-competitive memory for tomorrow's keychain drives, cell phones and computers, a scientist reported March 27.

Speaking at the 243rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American...

Nanostarfruits are pure gold for research

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — They look like fruit, and indeed the nanoscale stars of new research at Rice University have tasty implications for medical imaging and chemical sensing.

Starfruit-shaped gold nanorods synthesized by chemist Eugene Zubarev and Leonid Vigderman, a graduate student in his lab at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative, could nourish applications that rely on surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS).

The research appeared online this month in the...

35,000 gallons of prevention: Containing a tunnel flood with an inflatable stopper

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — Twenty years ago in Chicago, a small leak in an unused freight tunnel expanded beneath the Windy City and started a flood which eventually gushed through the entire tunnel system. A quarter-million people were evacuated from the buildings above, nearly $2 billion in damages accrued, and it took 6 weeks to pump the tunnels dry. How much more costly -- in lives and infrastructure -- would a flood in a heavily used, underwater subway tunnel be today?

In January...

Writing graphene circuitry with ion 'pens'

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(Mar. 27, 2012) — The unique electrical properties of graphene have enticed researchers to envision a future of fast integrated circuits made with the one-carbon-atom-thick sheets, but many challenges remain on the path to commercialization. Scientists from the University of Florida have recently tackled one of these challenges -- how to reliably manufacture graphene on a large scale.

The team has developed a promising new technique for creating graphene patterns on top of...