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Electronic Hybridization of Large-Area Stacked Graphene Films

Electronic Hybridization of Large-Area Stacked Graphene Films | Research | Scoop.it

Direct, tunable coupling between individually assembled graphene layers is a next step toward designer two-dimensional (2D) crystal systems, with relevance for fundamental studies and technological applications. Here it is described the fabrication and characterization of large-area (>cm2), coupled bilayer graphene on SiO2/Si substrates. Stacking two graphene films leads to direct electronic interactions between layers, where the resulting film properties are determined by the local twist angle. Polycrystalline bilayer films have a “stained-glass window” appearance explained by the emergence of a narrow absorption band in the visible spectrum that depends on twist angle. Direct measurement of layer orientation via electron diffraction, together with Raman and optical spectroscopy, confirms the persistence of clean interfaces over large areas. Finally, it was demonstrated that interlayer coupling can be reversibly turned off through chemical modification, enabling optical-based chemical detection schemes. Together, these results suggest that 2D crystals can be individually assembled to form electronically coupled systems suitable for large-scale applications.

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At The Nanoscale, A 150 Year Old Law Of Crystal Growth Breaks Down

At The Nanoscale, A 150 Year Old Law Of Crystal Growth Breaks Down | Research | Scoop.it

The first direct observations of how facets form and develop on platinum nanocubes reveals that a nearly 150 year-old scientific law describing crystal growth breaks down at the nanoscale.

The researchers behind a new study used transmission electron microscopes and an advanced high-resolution, fast-detection camera to capture the physical mechanisms that control the evolution of facets – flat faces – on the surfaces of platinum nanocubes formed in liquids. 
Understanding how facets develop on a nanocrystal is critical to controlling the crystal's geometric shape, which in turn is critical to controlling the crystal's chemical and electronic properties.

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New Nano3 microscope will allow high-resolution look inside cells

New Nano3 microscope will allow high-resolution look inside cells | Research | Scoop.it

The University of California, San Diego's Nanofabrication Cleanroom Facility (Nano3) is the first institution to obtain a novel FEI Scios dual-beam microscope, with an adaptation for use at cryogenic temperatures. The new microscope will enable research among a highly diverse user base, ranging from materials science to structural and molecular biology.

As Nano3 Technical Director Bernd Fruhberger explains: "There is a tremendous interest in utilizing this instrument among faculty from multiple departments. The Departments of Nanoengineering, Materials and Aerospace Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, Physics and Biology at UC San Diego all have projects in need of this tool, and have been actively involved in making the procurement of the tool a reality.

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Researchers 3D Print Foldable Computer Memory on a Standard Sheet of Paper

Researchers 3D Print Foldable Computer Memory on a Standard Sheet of Paper | Research | Scoop.it

We have seen so many new applications and processes within the 3D printing space, over the last several months alone. Over the next several years, I believe that we will begin to see these various methods of printing, and 
technologies involved in the process all begin to converge upon one another. This could ultimately lead to major disruptions within dozens of markets throughout the world.

As new technologies are refined, over the next decade, we will begin noticing a merging of these technologies. We now have printers which can print in resins, plastics, metal alloys, sandstone, and several other materials. We also have printers which are capable of printing electronically conductive materials, and even makeshift lithium-ion batteries. These technologies will eventually converge, leading to a machine capable of printing all of these materials within a single process. At this point, the only major component missing in our quest to 3D print a portable computer, would be 3D printed memory.

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Startup Demonstrates Ultra-efficient Stacked Solar Cells

Startup Demonstrates Ultra-efficient Stacked Solar Cells | Research | Scoop.it

When experts talk about future solar cells, they usually bring up exotic materials and physical phenomena. In the short term, however, a much simpler approach—stacking different semiconducting materials that collect different frequencies of light—could provide nearly as much of an increase in efficiency as any radical new design. And a new manufacturing technique could soon make this approach practical.

The startup Semprius, based in Durham, North Carolina, says it can produce very efficient stacked solar cells quickly and cheaply, opening the door to efficiencies as high as 50 percent. (Conventional solar cells convert less than 25 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity.)

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The perfect atom sandwich requires an extra layer

The perfect atom sandwich requires an extra layer | Research | Scoop.it

Like the perfect sandwich, a perfectly engineered thin film for electronics requires not only the right ingredients, but also just the right thickness of each ingredient in the desired order, down to individual layers of atoms.

Cornell researchers have discovered that sometimes, layer-by-layer atomic assembly – a powerful technology capable of making new materials for electronics – requires some unconventional "sandwich making" techniques.

The team, led by thin-films expert Darrell Schlom, the Herbert Fisk Johnson Professor of Industrial Chemistry in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, describes the trick of growing perfect films of oxides called Ruddlesden-Poppers in Nature Communications Aug. 4.  

These oxides are widely studied for their electronically enticing properties, among them superconductivity, magnetoresistance and ferromagnetism. Their layered structure is like a double Big Mac with alternating double and single layers of meat patties – strontium oxide – and bread – titanium oxide – in the case of the Ruddlesden-Poppers studied.

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A new way to make microstructured surfaces

A new way to make microstructured surfaces | Research | Scoop.it

A team of researchers has created a new way of manufacturing microstructured surfaces that have novel three-dimensional textures. These surfaces, made by self-assembly of carbon nanotubes, could exhibit a variety of useful properties — including controllable mechanical stiffness and strength, or the ability to repel water in a certain direction.

“We have demonstrated that mechanical forces can be used to direct nanostructures to form complex three-dimensional microstructures, and that we can independently control … the mechanical properties of the microstructures,” says A. John Hart, the Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and senior author of a paper describing the new technique in the journal Nature Communications.

 

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Technique simplifies the creation of high-tech crystals

Technique simplifies the creation of high-tech crystals | Research | Scoop.it

Highly purified crystals that split light with uncanny precision are key parts of high-powered lenses, specialized optics and, potentially, computers that manipulate light instead of electricity. But producing these crystals by current techniques, such as etching them with a precise beam of electrons, is often extremely difficult and expensive.

Now, researchers at Princeton and Columbia universities have proposed a new method that could allow scientists to customize and grow these specialized materials, known asphotonic crystals, with relative ease.

"Our results point to a previously unexplored path for making defect-free crystals using inexpensive ingredients," said Athanassios Panagiotopoulos, the Susan Dod Brown Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and one of the paper's authors. "Current methods for making such systems rely on using difficult-to-synthesize particles with narrowly tailored directional interactions."

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New etching process builds custom nanostructures for X-ray optics

New etching process builds custom nanostructures for X-ray optics | Research | Scoop.it

Scientists at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have invented a customizable chemical etching process that can be used to manufacture high-performance focusing devices for the brightest X-ray sources on the planet, as well as to make other nanoscale structures such as biosensors and battery electrodes.

"The tools researchers use to manipulate X-rays today are very limited," said Anne Sakdinawat, an associate staff scientist at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) who developed the new "V-MACE" process with Chieh Chang, an SSRL research associate.

"Our new technique for fabricating high performance X-ray optics involves just a few chemicals in a simple, easy-to-implement, one-step technology," Sakdinawat said. "It offers significant advantages in many far-ranging applications." The patent-pending technique is detailed in the June 27 edition of Nature Communications.

Focusing X-rays, particularly higher-energy or "hard" X-rays, is particularly challenging at the nanoscale, though it is key to the success of many scientific studies at two of SLAC's DOE Office of Science user facilities, SSRL and the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray laser.

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Liquid bits could brim with data in future computers

Liquid bits could brim with data in future computers | Research | Scoop.it

Don't drink that, it's my hard drive! A future form of computing could see information stored on clusters of microscopic particles suspended in liquid.

Clusters of spheres can arrange themselves around a central sphere in a limited number of ways, similar to how a Rubik's cube can only be twisted in certain ways around the central point. Sharon Glotzer at the University of Michigan and her team realised these states could represent information.

To test the idea, the team created a cluster of five spheres in a liquid and watched them naturally switch between two states, like the 0s and 1s of traditional computing bits. "It's really just the first baby steps," says Glotzer. Next, they plan to create clusters that can be locked into a particular state to store a bit of data, and unlocked again to rewrite it, using a central sphere made from gel that can swell and shrink.

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Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity | Research | Scoop.it

New technology under development at the University of California, Berkeley, could soon give bomb-sniffing dogs some serious competition.

A team of researchers led by Xiang Zhang, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering, has found a way to dramatically increase the sensitivity of a light-based plasmon sensor to detect incredibly minute concentrations of explosives. They noted that it could potentially be used to sniff out a hard-to-detect explosive popular among terrorists.

Their findings are to be published Sunday, July 20, in the advanced online publication of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

They put the sensor to the test with various explosives – 2,4-dinitrotoluene (DNT), ammonium nitrate and nitrobenzene – and found that the device successfully detected the airborne chemicals at concentrations of 0.67 parts per billion, 0.4 parts per billion and 7.2 parts per million, respectively. One part per billion would be akin to a blade of grass on a football field.

The researchers noted that this is much more sensitive than the published results to date for other optical sensors.

"Optical explosive sensors are very sensitive and compact," said Zhang, who is also director of the Materials Science Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and director of the National Science Foundation Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at UC Berkeley. "The ability to magnify such a small trace of an explosive to create a detectable signal is a major development in plasmon sensor technology, which is one of the most powerful tools we have today."

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New material puts a twist in light

New material puts a twist in light | Research | Scoop.it

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have uncovered the secret to twisting light at will. It is the latest step in the development of photonics, the faster, more compact and less carbon-hungry successor to electronics.

A random find in the washing basket led the team to create the latest in a new breed of materials known as metamaterials. These artificial materials show extraordinary properties quite unlike natural materials.

The work is published in Nature Communications.

"Our material can put a twist into light – that is, rotate its polarisation – orders of magnitude more strongly than natural materials," said lead author Mingkai Liu, a PhD student at the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).

"And we can switch the effect on and off directly with light," said Mr Liu .

Electronics is estimated to account for two per cent of the global carbon footprint, a figure which photonics has the potential to reduce significantly. Already light carried by fibre optics, has replaced electricity for carrying signals over long distances. The next step is to develop photonic analogues of electronic computer chips, by actively controlling the properties of light, such as its polarisation.

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First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers

First ab initio method for characterizing hot carriers | Research | Scoop.it

One of the major road blocks to the design and development of new, more efficient solar cells may have been cleared. Researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed the first ab initio method – meaning a theoretical model free of adjustable or empirical parameters – for characterizing the properties of "hot carriers" in semiconductors. Hot carriers are electrical charge carriers - electrons and holes – with significantly higher energy than charge carriers at thermal equilibrium.

"Hot carrier thermalization is a major source of efficiency loss in solar cells, but because of the sub-picosecond time scale and complex physics involved, characterization of hot carriers has long been a challenge even for the simplest materials," says Steven Louie, a theoretical physicist and senior faculty scientist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD). "Our work is the first ab initio calculation of the key quantities of interest for hot carriers - lifetime, which tells us how long it takes for hot carriers to lose energy, and the mean free path, which tells us how far the hot carriers can travel before losing their energy."

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'Nanocamera' takes pictures at distances smaller than light's own wavelength

'Nanocamera' takes pictures at distances smaller than light's own wavelength | Research | Scoop.it

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated that an array of novel gold, pillar-bowtie nanoantennas (pBNAs) can be used like traditional photographic film to record light for distances that are much smaller than the wavelength of light (for example, distances less than ~600 nm for red light). A standard optical microscope acts as a "nanocamera" whereas the pBNAs are the analogous film.

"Unlike conventional photographic film, the effect (writing and curing) is seen in real time," explained Kimani Toussaint, an associate professor of mechanical science and engineering, who led the research. "We have demonstrated that this multifunctional plasmonic film can be used to create optofluidic channels without walls. Because simple diode lasers and low-input power densities are sufficient to record near-field optical information in the pBNAs, this increases the potential for optical data storageapplications using off-the-shelf, low-cost, read-write laser systems."

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New microhairs bend in magnetic field, directing water against gravity

New microhairs bend in magnetic field, directing water against gravity | Research | Scoop.it

RMIT engineers have fabricated a new elastic material coated with microscopic, hairlike structures that tilt in response to a magnetic field.

Depending on the field’s orientation, the microhairs can tilt to form a path through which fluid can flow; the material can even direct water upward, against gravity.

Each microhair, made of nickel, is about 70 microns high and 25 microns wide — about one-fourth the diameter of a human hair. The researchers fabricated an array of the microhairs onto an elastic, transparent layer of silicone.

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Optalysys will launch prototype optical processor

Optalysys will launch prototype optical processor | Research | Scoop.it

UK-based startup Optalysys is moving ahead to deliver exascale levels of processing power on a standard-sized desktop computer within the next few years, reported HPCwire earlier this week. The company itself announced on August 1 that it is "only months away from launching a prototype optical processor with the potential to deliver exascale levels of processing power on a standard-sized desktop computer." The company will demo its prototype, which meets NASA Technology Readiness Level 4, in January next year. Though the January date represents only a proof-of-concept stage, the processor is expected to run at over 340 gigaFLOPS , which will enable it to analyze large data sets, and produce complex model simulations in a laboratory environment. Engadget commented that those numbers were not bad for a proof of concept. HPCwire pointed at the potential significance of this work in its article's headline, "IsThis the Exascale Breakthrough We've Been Waiting For?" Optalysys' technology uses light for compute-intensive mathematical functions at speeds that exceed what can be achieved with electronics, at a fraction of the cost and power consumption.

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Diamonds are a quantum computer's best friend

Diamonds are a quantum computer's best friend | Research | Scoop.it

#researchA new kind of quantum computer is being proposed by scientists from the TU Wien (Vienna) and Japan (National Institute of Informatics and NTT Basic Research Labs).

The Quantum Computer is the Holy Grail of quantum technology. Its computing power would eclipse even the fastest classical computers we have today. A team of researchers from TU Wien (Vienna) the National Institute for Informatics (Tokyo) and NTT Basic Research Labs in Japan has now proposed a new architecture for quantum computing, based on microscopic defects in diamond. A reliable quantum computer capable of solving complex problems would have to consist of billions of quantum systems, and such a device is still out of reach. But the researchers are convinced that the basic elements of their newly proposed architecture are better suited to be miniaturized, mass-produced and integrated on a chip than previously suggested quantum computing concepts. Experiments towards the new quantum computing architecture are already being undertaken at TU Wien.

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The next graphene? Engineers to study new class of ultra-thin film materials

The next graphene? Engineers to study new class of ultra-thin film materials | Research | Scoop.it

Three University of California, Riverside engineers are part of team recently awarded a nearly $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to characterize, analyze and synthesize a new class of ultra-thin film materials that could improve the performance of personal electronics, optoelectronic devices and energy conversion systems.

The team is led by Alexander Balandin, University of California Presidential Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering and founding chair of the materials science and engineering program at UC Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering. Other members of the team are Roger Lake, a UC Riverside professor, Alexander Khitun, a UC Riverside research professor, and Tina Salguero, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia.

The project targets a new class of materials, termed van der Waals materials, and heterostructures implemented with such materials. The ultra-thin materials may consist of just one atomic plane, which explains the term "two-dimensional" materials. The project will investigate novel electrical, optical, and thermal phenomena in such materials and heterostructures.

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Neutron tomography technique reveals phase fractions of crystalline materials in 3-dimensions

Neutron tomography technique reveals phase fractions of crystalline materials in 3-dimensions | Research | Scoop.it

"For many engineering applications it is of major importance to characterize the bulk of materials spatially, instead of only probing selected locations. The new method provides exactly that capability, and the HZB-UTK team has demonstrated it by using samples made from stainless steel that undergo a phase transformation after being subjected to tensile and torsional deformation.", said Prof. Dayakar Penumadu from UTK. He and UTK Ph.D. student Robin Woracek collaborated with the researchers Ingo Manke, Nikolay Kardjilov and André Hilger from the Imaging Group at the Institute of Applied Materials (F-IAM) at HZB on establishing new quantitative imaging methods by making use of diffraction contrast due to Bragg scattering in polycrystalline materials. Since the measurement method uses neutrons of selected wavelengths, the current work will also pave the way to implement such methods at Spallation Neutron Sources. The investigations were performed at the recently upgraded neutron imaging beamline CONRAD at BERII, which provides optimal instrumentation conditions for such measurements.

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Graphene and related materials promise cheap, flexible printed cameras

Graphene and related materials promise cheap, flexible printed cameras | Research | Scoop.it

The vision is to create a technology for cheap flexible cameras that can be printed or stamped on plastic or paper. "For example it might eventually be possible to embed these printed, flexible optoelectronic devices into clothes, packaging, wall papers, posters, touch screens or even buildings. Everybody with a printer at home will be able to print their own "artificial eye" and physically stick it to a flexible mobile phone" Felice said.

The goal of the 18 month project is to design, develop and characterize inkjet printed 2D crystal-based flexible photodetectors and study their integration with commercial electronics.

“Photodetectors are needed in cameras, automotive applications, sensing and telecommunications, medical devices and security” he says. “If these could be made flexible they could be integrated in clothes, rolled up or printed over any irregular surface substantially increasing the quality of printed and flexible electronics.”

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Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer

Self-cooling solar cells boost power, last longer | Research | Scoop.it

Scientists may have overcome one of the major hurdles in developing high-efficiency, long-lasting solar cells—keeping them cool, even in the blistering heat of the noonday Sun.

By adding a specially patterned layer of silica glass to the surface of ordinary solar cells, a team of researchers led by Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University in California has found a way to let solar cells cool themselves by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation. The researchers describe their innovative design in the premiere issue of The Optical Society's (OSA) new open-access journal Optica.

Solar cells are among the most promising and widely used renewable energy technologies on the market today. Though readily available and easily manufactured, even the best designs convert only a fraction of the energy they receive from the Sun into usable electricity.

Part of this loss is the unavoidable consequence of converting sunlight into electricity. A surprisingly vexing amount, however, is due to solar cells overheating.

Under normal operating conditions, solar cells can easily reach temperatures of 130 degrees Fahrenheit (55 degrees Celsius) or more. These harsh conditions quickly sap efficiency and can markedly shorten the lifespan of a solar cell. Actively cooling solar cells, however—either by ventilation or coolants—would be prohibitively expensive and at odds with the need to optimize exposure to the Sun.

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The Next Big Thing in Computer Memory

The Next Big Thing in Computer Memory | Research | Scoop.it

A novel type of computer memory could, in theory, let you to store tens or even hundreds of times as much data on your smartphone. Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated a more practical way to manufacture it.

The type of memory in question, resistive random access memory (RRAM), is being developed by several companies, but fabrication usually requires high-temperatures or voltages, making production difficult and expensive. The Rice researchers have shown a way to make RRAM at room temperature and with far lower voltages.

Like flash memory, RRAM can store data without a constant supply of power. Whereas flash memory stores bits of information in the form of charge in transistors, RRAM stores bits using resistance. Each bit requires less space, increasing the amount of information that can be stored in a given area.

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Nano-scale gold particles are good candidates for drug delivery

Nano-scale gold particles are good candidates for drug delivery | Research | Scoop.it

A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells.

A new study from MIT materials scientists reveals that these nanoparticles enter cellsby taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons. In the July 21 issue of Nature Communications, the researchers describe in detail the mechanism by which these nanoparticles are able to fuse with a membrane.

The findings suggest possible strategies for designing nanoparticles—made from gold or other materials—that could get into cells even more easily.

"We've identified a type of mechanism that might be more prevalent than is currently known," says Reid Van Lehn, an MIT graduate student in materials science and engineering and one of the paper's lead authors. "By identifying this pathway for the first time it also suggests not only how to engineer this particular class of nanoparticles, but that this pathway might be active in other systems as well."

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So It Begins: Darpa Sets Out to Make Computers That Can Teach Themselves

So It Begins: Darpa Sets Out to Make Computers That Can Teach Themselves | Research | Scoop.it

The Pentagon’s blue-sky research agency is readying a nearly four-year project to boost artificial intelligence systems by building machines that can teach themselves — while making it easier for ordinary schlubs like us to build them, too.

When Darpa talks about artificial intelligence, it’s not talking about modeling computers after the human brain. That path fell out of favor among computer scientists years ago as a means of creating artificial intelligence; we’d have to understand our own brains first before building a working artificial version of one. But the agency thinks we can build machines that learn and evolve, using algorithms — “probabilistic programming” — to parse through vast amounts of data and select the best of it. After that, the machine learns to repeat the process and do it better.

But building such machines remains really, really hard: The agency calls it “Herculean.” There are scarce development tools, which means “even a team of specially-trained machine learning experts makes only painfully slow progress.” So on April 10, Darpa is inviting scientists to a Virginia conference to brainstorm. What will follow are 46 months of development, along with annual “Summer Schools,” bringing in the scientists together with “potential customers” from the private sector and the government.

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Spin Memory Shows Its Might

Spin Memory Shows Its Might | Research | Scoop.it

The read head of a hard-disk drive might seem an unlikely place to hunt for the future of memory technology. But TDK-Headway Technologies, in Milpitas, Calif., is betting that the lowly magnetic tunnel junction—the device it makes to read data off hard-disk platters—could be redesigned and repackaged to create a new way of storing information.

Magnetoresistive random-access memory, or MRAM, has undergone a few incarnations already. But TDK-Headway and a number of other companies are now converging on a scheme they say could upend the memory business. Dubbed spin-transfer torque (STT) MRAM, it promises speed and reliability comparable to that of static random-access memory, or SRAM—the quick-access memory embedded inside microprocessors—along with the “nonvolatility” of flash, the storage of smartphones and other portables.

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An anti-glare, anti-reflective display for mobile devices

An anti-glare, anti-reflective display for mobile devices | Research | Scoop.it

If you’ve ever tried to watch a video on a tablet on a sunny day, you know you have to tilt it at just the right angle to get rid of glare or invest in a special filter. But now scientists are reporting in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that they’ve developed a novel glass surface that reduces both glare and reflection, which continue to plague even the best mobile displays today.

Valerio Pruneri and colleagues note that much effort has been poured into anti-reflective and anti-glare technology. In the highly competitive digital age, any bonus feature on a device gives it an edge. But for the most part, that hasn’t included an integrated anti-glare, anti-reflective display. Users still typically have to dish out extra cash for a filter or film — some of questionable effectiveness — to lay on top of their glass screens so they can use the devices in bright light. One of the most promising developments involves layering anti-reflective nano-structures on top of an anti-glare surface. But the existing technique doesn’t work well with glass, the material of choice for many electronic displays, so Pruneri’s team at ICFO (The Institute of Photonic Sciences) in collaboration with Prantik Mazumder’s team at Corning Incorporated set out to find a new method.

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