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Researchers working out of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Tsukuba, Japan have developed a means for printing thin film transistors using InkJet technology. The team describes the process in their paper published in Nature.

To get around the problem of self-crystallization, inherent in other InkJet/transistor making processes, which result in spreading effects that make it difficult to print uniformly, the team instead chose to use a two step process, whereby one type of ink is sprayed first onto a substrate and is then followed by another immediately afterwards, directly on top of the first; the two then mix, creating an environment whereby one single crisp and sharp crystal grows and adheres to the material it is printed on.

The first ink applied is a liquid (anhydrous dimethylformamide) that holds a semiconductor but is not soluble. The second is comprised of an organic semiconductor in a solvent. After the first is sprayed onto the substrate, followed by a shot of the second, the two then mix naturally, and then, from a single point in the mixture a tiny crystal begins to grow, and keeps on growing until the entire pool of ink is consumed, resulting in a thin film (30-200nm thick) of C8BTBT affixed to the substrate. After printing a complete pattern with their new process onto a substrate, other components were added to complete the transistor.

Researchers are looking at InkJet sprayed transistor technologies in the hope that it could lead to a whole host of products that are based on bendable substrates, such as flexible displays, solar cells, large sheets of sensors, or true ePaper, and because it would offer a lowered cost of production compared to traditional silicon based products.

The authors say their new method offers exceptionally uniform creation of the crystals, a development that could lead InkJet sprayed technology out of the lab and into real world products. The team next plans to look into whether their new technique could also be used to create metal wires which would allow for a transistor to be made entirely from InkJet spraying technology.

Source: PhysOrg

 
By Admin (from 02/01/2012 @ 14:07:36, in en - Science and Society, read 1288 times)

Anyone who uses multithreaded computer programs -- and that's all of us, as these are the programs that power nearly all software applications including Office, Windows, MacOS, and Google Chrome Browser, and web services like Google Search, Microsoft Bing, and iCloud, -- knows well the frustration of computer crashes, bugs, and other aggravating problems. The most widely used method to harness the power we require from multicore processors, multithreaded programs can be difficult for programmers to get right and they often contain elusive bugs called races. Data races can cause very serious problems, like the software bug that set off the 2003 power blackout in the Northeast. Now there is a new system that will combat this problem.

Peregrine, a new software system developed by a team of researchers at Columbia Engineering School, led by Assistant Professor of Computer Science Junfeng Yang, will improve the reliability and security of multithreaded programs, benefiting virtually every computer user across the globe. Peregrine can be used by software vendors like Microsoft and Apple and web service providers like Google and Facebook, to provide reliable services to computer users. This new research was published in the 23rd ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles, considered to be the most prestigious systems conference held each year, and presented by Yang's graduate student Heming Cui at Cascais, Portugal, on Oct. 26. The paper can be found online.

"Multithreaded programs are becoming more and more critical and pervasive," says Professor Yang."But these programs are nondeterministic, so running them is like tossing a coin or rolling dice -- sometimes we get correct results, and sometimes we get wrong results or the program crashes. Our main finding in developing Peregrine is that we can make threads deterministic in an efficient and stable way: Peregrine can compute a plan for allowing when and where a thread can "change lanes" and can then place barriers between the lanes, allowing threads to change lanes only at fixed locations, following a fixed order. This prevents the random collisions that can occur in a nondeterministic system.

"Once Peregrine computes a good plan without collisions for one group of threads," adds Yang, "it can reuse the plan on subsequent groups to avoid the cost of computing a new plan for each new group. This approach matches our natural tendency to follow familiar routes so we can avoid both potential hazards in unknown routes and efforts to find a new route."

Yang notes that in contrast to many earlier systems that address only resultant problems but not the root cause, Peregrine addresses nondeterminism -- a system that is unpredictable as each input has multiple potential outcomes -- and thus simultaneously addresses all the problems that are caused by nondeterminism.

Peregrine also deals with data races or bugs, unlike most previous efforts that do not provide such fine-grained control over the execution of a program. And it's very fast -- many earlier systems may slow down the execution of a program by up to ten times. Peregrine is also a practical system that works with current hardware and programming languages -- it does not require new hardware or new languages, all of which can take years to develop. It reuses execution plans, whereas some previous work makes a different plan for each group of threads: as Yang points out, "The more plans one makes, the more likely some plans have errors and will lead to collisions."

"Today's software systems are large, complex, and plagued with errors, some of which have caused critical system failures and exploits," adds Yang. "My research is focused on creating effective tools to improve the reliability and security of real software systems. I'm excited about this area because it has the potential to make the cyberspace a better place and benefit every government, business, and individual who uses computers."

Source: PhysOrg

 
By Admin (from 06/01/2012 @ 08:04:23, in en - Science and Society, read 1719 times)

Lighting has today announced the launch of a new, complete and innovative water disinfection solution, Philips InstantTrust. This solution is based on cutting-edge disinfection technology optimized for point-of-use applications. For the first time water can be disinfected instantly, efficiently and independent of water temperature.

Many consumers are concerned about the quality of drinking water, because the microorganisms present in water can make them ill. In emerging countries these concerns may be due to the water infrastructure, but also in western countries incidents can cause contamination with microorganisms. In North America alone 85% of child sickness and 65% of adult diseases are a result of water borne viruses and bacteria.

The new Philips InstantTrust solution can be integrated into any point-of use application including taps, water pitchers, under-the-sink water filters and portable counter-top systems. It solves many of the limitations of current UV disinfection technology and enables equipment manufacturers to provide consumers with access to safe drinking water: anytime, anywhere.

Philips InstantTrust is so compact in its size that it allows manufacturers to integrate the solution into smaller equipment than ever before and gives them stylistic freedom to design sleek products ideal for the small and modern home. Furthermore, the revolutionary solution works instantly to produce safe water from the first second onwards, eliminating waiting time. It is unique due to its ability to work independently of water temperature and because it can be used for integration into both hot and cold water systems. Philips InstantTrust is ideal for instant disinfection of small quantities of cold water (up to flows of approximately 4 liters/minute).

Frank Kauffmann, General Manager Special Lighting said: “We are very proud to be launching this unique, state-of-the-art UV disinfection technology today: It is a testament to our continued commitment to developing innovative technologies that help enhance the health and quality of people’s lives.”

Ernest Sanderse, Marketing Manager UV Purification: “Thanks to this innovation safe water is now always within reach: anytime, anywhere. We are dedicated to working with leading equipment manufacturers of end-use products to make this technology available for people around the world.”

Philips Lighting has been at the forefront of UV technology for many years and has helped equipment manufacturers across different sectors including residential water, municipal drinking and waste water, industrial water, swimming pools and fish ponds to design effective water purification equipment by developing innovative and reliable UV solutions.

via PhysOrg - Source: Philips

 

A new device that combines two microimaging technologies can reveal both the detailed anatomy of arterial linings and biological activities that, in coronary arteries, could indicate the risk of heart attacks or the formation of clots in arterial stents. In their report receiving early online release in Nature Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators describe using an intra-arterial catheter combining both optical frequency-domain imaging (OFDI) and near-infrared fluorescence (NIRF) imaging to obtain simultaneous structural and molecular images of internal arterial surfaces in rabbits.

"The ability to measure both microstructural and molecular information from the same location in the artery wall could provide a much better diagnostic tool for assessing vascular pathology, information that is highly relevant for diagnosingcoronary artery disease, vulnerable plaque and evaluating stent healing," says Gary Tearney, MD, PhD, of the Wellman Center for Photomedicine and the MGH Pathology Department, co-senior author of the article.

Developed at the Wellman Center, OFDI utilizes a fiberoptic probe with a constantly rotating laser tip to create detailed molecular images of interior surfaces such as arterial walls. While OFDI can be used to guide procedures like coronary artery angioplasty and to confirm the correct positioning of metal stents inserted to keep cleared arteries open, its ability to determine important details of stent healing is limited. Properly healed stents become covered with endothelium, the same tissue that normally coats the arterial surface; but stents can become coated with the clot-inducing protein fibrin, which may put patients at risk for stent thrombosis – a clot that blocks bloodflow through the stent – and OFDI cannot determine the molecular composition of tissue covering a stent.

Intravascular NIRF technology was developed in the MGH Cardiovascular Research Center (CVRC), in collaboration with colleagues at the TechnicalUniversity of Munich, and uses special imaging agents to detect cells and molecules involved in vascular processes like clotting and inflammation. Recognizing the potential advantage of combining both technologies, the Wellman researchers worked with the MGH-CVRC team, led by Farouc Jaffer, MD, PhD, of the MGH Heart Center to develop an integrated OFDI-NIRF imaging system incorporated in the same intravascular probe used for OFDI alone.

The team first confirmed that the system could provide detailed structural images of a stent implanted in a cadaveric human coronary artery and could accurately identify the presence of fibrin on the stent. In a series of experiments in living rabbits, the OFDI-NIRF system was able to detect fibrin on implanted stents – including areas where it was not detected by OFDI alone – and to identify the presence of both atherosclerotic plaques and enzymatic activity associated with inflammation and plaque rupture. The enzyme signal detected by NIRF was not uniform throughout the imaged plaques, indicating biological differences that could be relevant to prognosis and treatment planning.

"At present we are not able to predict which patients may develop stent thrombosis, but integrated OFDI-NIRF can assess many key factors linked to the risk of clot formation," says Jaffer, co-senior author of the Nature Medicinereport. "If OFDI-NIRF is validated in clinical studies, patients at risk for stent thrombosis could undergo a 'stent checkup' to determine how well the stent is healing. Patients with unhealed stents could be advised to take or continue taking specific anti-clotting medications. Patients with well-healed stents, on the other hand, could potentially discontinue anti-clotting medications, which can cause excess bleeding." Clinical adoption of the integrated technology will require FDA approval of the molecular contrast agents used in NIRF.

Source: Medical Xpress

 

This raises the possibility that patients' own stem cells may one day be rescued and banked to treat their age-related diseases.

Stem cells are immature cells that have the potential to convert into bone, muscle, blood vessels, nerve fibers, and other body cells and tissues. It's no wonder medical science seeks to utilize these versatile cells to restore tissues deteriorated by age, disease or injury.

Older stem cells are not as robust as young ones, however — a challenge to clinicians who seek to use patients' own stem cells to treat age-relateddiseases.

"The number and quality of those cells decline with age, that is very clear," said Xiao-Dong Chen, M.D., Ph.D., a stem cell researcher at the UT Health ScienceCenter. "And, using the patient's own cells can impact results."

Dr. Chen's team recently made a discovery in mice that, if translated to humans, could solve this predicament.


Old cells expand when grown on a young scaffold of tissue
Dr. Chen suspected that giving stem cells a youthful environment for growth would cause them to regenerate faster. His team extracted mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow of 3-month-old mice and 18-month-old mice. The group also obtained extracellular matrix (ECM) from mice of both ages. ECM is a scaffold of connective tissue, such as collagen, which constitutes a majority of the body's structure.

The lab team seeded half of the older stem cells on ECM from the 3-month-old mice and half on ECM from the 18-month-old mice. Likewise, half of the young stem cells were seeded on the young ECM and half were seeded on the old ECM.
Young and old cells showed a 16.1-fold and 17.1-fold expansion, respectively, when grown on ECM from young mice, compared to a 4.1-fold and 3.8-fold expansion when grown on ECM from old mice.

Finding confirmed in rodent implants
Next, under the skin of mice, Dr. Chen's group implanted artificial scaffolds seeded with stem cells of both ages that had been grown on young or old ECM. These were left to grow for eight weeks. The researchers targeted bone formation. When the implants were removed, the team found that old cells that had been grown on a young ECM produced just as much bone as young cells, while old cells grown on an old ECM produced no bone. The results were published in the FASEB Journal earlier this year.

"If this research transfers successfully to clinical application in humans, we could establish personal stem cell banks," Dr. Chen said. "We would collect a small number of older stem cells from patients, put those into our young microenvironment to rescue them — increasing their number and quality — then deliver them back into the patient."
This stem cell rescue and infusion could be done as often as disease treatment requires it, he said. The next step is to repeat the study in human stem cells and ECM.

Dr. Chen, an associate professor of comprehensive dentistry in the Health Science Center Dental School, discussed the finding at the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence conference

(SENS, http://www.sens.org/conferences/sens5) held at Queens' College in Cambridge, U.K.
Source: Medical Xpress

 

They could lead to "superlenses" able to image proteins, viruses and DNA, and perhaps even make a "Star Trek" cloaking device.

Other metamaterials offer unique magnetic properties that could have applications in microelectronics or data storage.

The limitation, so far, is that techniques like electron-beam lithography or atomic sputtering can only create these materials in thin layers. Now Cornell researchers propose an approach from chemistry to self-assemble metamaterials in three dimensions.

Nanomanufacturing technology has enabled scientists to create metamaterials - stuff that never existed in nature - with unusual optical properties. Two polymer molecules linked together will self-assemble into a complex shape, in this case a convoluted "gyroid." One of the polymers is chemically removed, leaving a mold that can be filled with metal. Finally the other polymer is removed, leaving a metal gyroid with features measured in nanometers. Credit: Wiesner Lab

Uli Wiesner, the Spencer T. Olin Professor of Engineering, and colleagues present their idea in the online edition of the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Wiesner's research group offers a method they have pioneered in other fields, using block copolymers to self-assemble 3-D structures with nanoscale features.

A polymer is made up of molecules that chain together to form a solid or semisolid material. A block copolymer is made by joining two polymer molecules at the ends so that when each end chains up with others like itself, the two solids form an interconnected pattern of repeating geometric shapes -- planes, spheres, cylinders or a twisty network called a gyroid. Elements of the repeating pattern can be as small as a few nanometers across. Sometimes tri-polymers can be used to create even more complex shapes.

After the structure has formed, one of the two polymers can be dissolved away, leaving a 3-D mold that can be filled with a metal -- often gold or silver. Then the second polymer is burned away, leaving a porous metal structure.

In their paper the researchers propose to create metal gyroids that allow light to pass through, but are made up of nanoscale features that interact with light, just as the atoms in glass or plastic do. In this way, they say, it should be possible to design materials with a negative index of refraction, that is, materials that bend light in the opposite direction than in an ordinary transparent material.

Special lenses made of such a material could image objects smaller than the wavelength of visible light, including proteins, viruses and DNA. Some experimenters have made such superlenses, but so far none that work in the visible light range. Negative refraction materials might also be configured to bend light around an object -- at least a small one -- and make it invisible.

The Cornell researchers created computer simulations of several different metal gyroids that could be made by copolymer self-assembly, then calculated how light would behave when passing through these materials. They concluded that such materials could have a negative refractive index in the visible and near-infrared range. They noted that the amount of refraction could be controlled by adjusting the size of the repeating features of the metamaterial, which can be done by modifying the chemistry used in self-assembly.

They tried their calculations assuming the metal structures might be made of gold, silver or aluminum, and found that only silver produced satisfactory results.

Could these materials actually be made? According to graduate student Kahyun Hur, lead author on the paper, "We're working on it."

Source: Cornell University

 

Researchers reversed their age-related wrinkles, muscle wasting and cataracts, and it could lead to a fountain of youth for humans, too.

It sounds too wonderful to be true, but it's not science fiction. The researchers, who published their work today in Nature, made the mice youthful by manipulating their "senescent cells," which have retired and stopped dividing. That helps prevent tumors from forming, but they were also suspected of contributing to the ugly side of aging.

To find out whether removing the cells might keep us pretty and healthy as we grow old, the researchers genetically engineered mice to give them the ability to flush away all their senescent cells. And what do you know? Without them, the critters lost their age-related wrinkles (actually loss of skin fat that causes wrinkles, mice don't really get them), cataracts and muscle wasting.

The immune system clears out some of our senescent cells automatically, but not all of them, and they accumulate over time. Up to 10 percent of all cells in really old people are senescent.

It sounds so simple: all we have to do is get rid of our senescent cells for forever youth! But it's not that easy, of course. The scientists suggest developing a drug that could clear the cells, or an immune booster to make the natural process more efficient. But either would take years to develop.

One other caveat: the youthful mice didn't live longer than normal. So if a treatment for humans ever does come to fruition you might not live forever, but at least you'll look marvelous!

Source: GIZMODO

 

In addition to its renewable energy generating capabilities, the landmark tower would provide an observation deck, meeting space, office space, a museum, and parking. The lace-like skyscraper combines practical mixed use space with the ability to produce an impressive amount of clean power for the city.

Inspiration for the Taiwan tower’s design came from woven bamboo or bamboo scaffolding – a meshed exterior encases all the programmatic elements. The weaving of the structure creates an intricate pattern and a series of voids that offer views of the city.

The gaps between the mesh also provide space to install 600 wind turbines for a total of 6 MW. These small vertical axis wind turbines are quiet and sculptural – as opposed to large, noisy turbines. The landmark tower’s Eddy turbine-studded facade doubles as a power plant that generates energy for the city. Visitors to the landmark tower will enjoy views of the city and cultural events from a building wrapped with renewable energy-generating turbines.

Source: NL Architects & InHabitat

 
By Admin (from 15/01/2012 @ 08:09:12, in en - Science and Society, read 1657 times)

The team of Professor Keon Jae Lee (Department of Materials Science and Engineering, KAIST) has developed fully functional flexible non-volatile resistive random access memory (RRAM) where a memory cell can be randomly accessed, written, and erased on a plastic substrate.

Memory is an essential part in electronic systems, as it is used for data processing, information storage and communication with external devices. Therefore, the development of flexible memory has been a challenge to the realization of flexible electronics.

Although several flexible memory materials have been reported, these devices could not overcome cell-to-cell interference due to their structural and material limitations. In order to solve this problem, switching elements such as transistors must be integrated with the memory elements. Unfortunately, most transistors built on plastic substrates (e.g., organic/oxide transistors) are not capable of achieving the sufficient performance level with which to drive conventional memory. For this reason, random access memory operation on a flexible substrate has not been realized thus far.

Recently, Prof. Lee's research team developed a fully functional flexible memory that is not affected by cell-to-cell interference. They solved the cell-to-cell interference issue by integrating a memristor (a recently spotlighted memory material as next-generation memory elements) with a high-performance single-crystal silicon transistor on flexible substrates. Utilizing these two advanced technologies, they successfully demonstrated that all memory functions in a matrix memory array (writing/reading/erasing) worked perfectly.

Prof. Lee said, "This result represents an exciting technology with the strong potential to realize all flexible electronic systems for the development of a freely bendable and attachable computer in the near future."

This result was published in the October online issue of the Nano Letters ACS journal.

Source: PhysOrg

 

Oliver Brunt, a Design for Industry student, is competing in London against five fellow finalists hoping to win the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award 2011 – an annual competition that aims to identify, support and develop automotive talent of the future.

The 21-year-old has designed the Social Heads Up Display (SHUD) System. The concept uses the 3G phone network and Bluetooth to enable cars to share information about speed, direction and location in order to give other road users prior knowledge of incoming traffic and accident hotspots. The information is displayed on the windscreen, rather than as a potentially distracting dashboard alert, using Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) technology sandwiched between the windscreen glass to display the information on the screen.

Satnav instructions would appear directly on the windscreen with speed zone information highlighted. Music players or mobile phone calling facilitators would be activated via voice command. The aim is to ensure that the driver does not have to take their eyes away from the road at any point in their journey, thus improving safety.

Oliver, originally from Scunthorpe, is currently in contact with various car manufacturers and a German independent OLED screen specialist in the hope of developing the idea into a working prototype. He said: “Combining the SHUD system with the OLED technology could save lives, reduce traffic and decrease in-car driver distractions by eradicating the need to look anywhere else in the car apart from the windows and mirrors.

“The whole idea is built upon existing technology and infrastructure but merges key elements to create a whole new concept that could save lives, time and our environment.”

The Next Generation Award offers entrants a unique chance to launch a coveted industry career and is run in partnership with Courland Automotive and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. The 2011 award is backed by McLaren Automotive, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Peugeot and Skoda.

Open to transportation design students across the country, the competition asked entrants to submit a proposal suggesting some improvement that would be a worthwhile benefit to the automotive business on a small or large scale. Entries were narrowed down to 12 candidates who were selected to attend an assessment day to present their idea to a panel of senior industry executives. Oliver and five other candidates impressed the judges following a series of interviews, professional personality profiling and psychometric tests. A final presentation to a panel of industry insiders will determine the award winner, who will win a placement with a car manufacturer as well as a cash prize.

Kevin Gaskell, Chairman of Courland Automotive Practice, is leading the assessment panel in the competition. He said: “The high calibre of the students we interviewed at the assessment days were very impressive. It was great to see such enthusiastic raw talent and I have no doubt that they all have great careers ahead of them.”

Source: PhysOrg

Provided by Northumbria University

 
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