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07.09

Washington Technology Digest

Compiled By IEEE-USA Staff

The following is a roundup of news and notable developments in electrical engineering and computer or information technology reported during June 2009. Items are excerpted from news releases generated by research universities and government agencies. Highlighted topics include:

  1. Study Suggests Stereotypes Drive Engineering Students to Counterproductive Practices

  2. Study to Assess Service Learning Impacts for Engineering

  3. Argonne Technology Enables High-speed Data Transfer

  4. New Exotic Material Could Revolutionize Electronics

  5. Research on Ferroelectric Materials Promises Advances in Electronic Devices

  6. A Billion-Year Ultra-dense Memory Chip

  7. Tunable Semiconductors Possible with Graphene

  8. New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors

  9. Thinnest Superconducting Metal Created

  10. Florida Team Prototypes Light-driven Nanomotor

  11. Soccer Nanorobots to Square off at Nanogram 2009

  12. Research Show How Crystal Grain Boundaries Suppress High-Temperature Superconductivity

  13. NIST Issues Updated Guidelines for Teleworking Security

  14. NREL Seeks Proposals For Photovoltaic Technology Incubators

  15. Bio-engineered Device Measures Cellular Forces During Tissue Development

  16. New Java Programming Tools Employ Human-Centered Design Techniques

  17. Sunspots Revealed in Striking Detail By Supercomputers

  18. Report Assesses National and Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change

1. Study Suggests Stereotypes Drive Engineering Students to Counterproductive Practices

Research performed by Northwestern University Professor Paul Leonardi finds that bad practices that many students believe will make them become expert engineers are the ire of managers who hire recent engineering graduates.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/nu-se060809.php

2. Study to Assess Service Learning Impacts for Engineering

Tufts' School of Engineering researchers have launched a study to determine the extent to which service-learning might help engineering programs attract and retain students, particularly women. The research, which is funded by a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, will address prevailing, but unproven, beliefs about service-learning in the engineering classroom.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/tu-dsl060309.php

3. Argonne Technology Enables High-speed Data Transfer

GridFTP, a protocol developed by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, has been used to transfer unprecedented amounts of data over the Department of Energy's (DOE) Energy Sciences Network (ESnet), which provides a reliable, high-performance communications infrastructure to facilitate large-scale, collaborative science endeavors.

The Argonne-developed system enabled research groups at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in California to move large data sets between the facilities at a rate of 200 megabytes per second. The deployment of GridFTP is part of a major project to optimize wide-area network data transfers between sites hosting DOE leadership-class computers.

For more information, see: www.anl.gov/Media_Center/News/2009/news090617.html

4. New Exotic Material Could Revolutionize Electronics

Physicists at the Department of Energy's (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have confirmed the existence of a type of material that could one day provide dramatically faster, more efficient computer chips. Physicists Yulin Chen, Zhi-Xun Shen and their colleagues tested the behavior of electrons in the compound bismuth telluride. The results, published online 11 June in Science Express, show a clear signature of what is called a topological insulator, a material that enables the free flow of electrons across its surface with no loss of energy at room temperatures. The material can be fabricated using existing semiconductor technologies and could provide a leap in microchip speeds, and even become the bedrock of an entirely new kind of computing industry based on spintronics, the next evolution of electronics.

For more information, see: http://home.slac.stanford.edu/pressreleases/2009/20090615.htm

5. Research on Ferroelectric Materials Promises Advances in Electronic Devices

Electronic devices of the future could be smaller, faster, more powerful and consume less energy because of a discovery by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The key to the finding, published in Science, involves a method to measure intrinsic conducting properties of ferroelectric materials, which for decades have held tremendous promise but have eluded experimental proof. In the paper, the authors have demonstrated for the first time a giant intrinsic electroresistance in conventional ferroelectric films, where flipping of the spontaneous polarization increased conductance by up to 50,000 percent. Ferroelectric materials can retain their electrostatic polarization and are used for piezoactuators, memory devices and RFID (radio-frequency identification) cards.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/drnl-ofc061709.php

6. A Billion-Year Ultra-dense Memory Chip

Berkeley Lab researchers have created a unique new memory storage medium that can pack thousands of times more data into one square inch of space than conventional chips, and preserve this data for more than a billion years.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/dbnl-aby060309.php

7. Tunable Semiconductors Possible with Graphene

Transistors and LEDs are like radios that send and receive only one frequency. A new material called graphene is like a broadband receiver/transmitter, able to emit light across a wide range of infrared frequencies and with a tunable bandgap unheard of in today's semiconductors. UC Berkeley physicists have now demonstrated these properties in bilayer grapene — two sheets slapped together. A tunable bandgap means electronic and photonic devices whose properties can be switched on the fly.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uoc--tsp061009.php and www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/dbnl-bgg060809.php

8. New 'Electronic Glue' Promises Less Expensive Semiconductors

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed an "electronic glue" that could accelerate advances in semiconductor-based technologies, including solar cells and thermoelectric devices that convert sun light and waste heat, respectively, into useful electrical energy.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uoc-ng060909.php

9. Thinnest Superconducting Metal Created

A superconducting sheet of lead only two atoms thick, the thinnest superconducting metal layer ever created, has been developed by physicists at the University of Texas at Austin.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uota-tsm060809.php

10. Florida Team Prototypes Light-driven Nanomotor

In a paper expected to appear soon in the online edition of the journal Nano Letters, the UF team reports building a new type of "molecular nanomotor" driven only by photons, or particles of light. While it is not the first photon-driven nanomotor, the almost infinitesimal device is the first built entirely with a single molecule of DNA — giving it a simplicity that increases its potential for development, manufacture and real-world applications in areas ranging from medicine to manufacturing, the scientists say.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uof-nln060409.php

11. Soccer Nanorobots to Square off at Nanogram 2009

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be serving up “soccer under glass”—the glass of a microscope lens—when nanosoccer makes its second appearance at the RoboCup games at the international competition in Graz, Austria, from 29 June to July 5 2009.

Nanosoccer is a Lilliputian event where computer-driven “nanobots” the size of dust mites challenge one another on fields no bigger than a grain of rice. The Nanogram 2009 demonstration will consist of two qualifier events and one competition event: the two-millimeter dash in which nanobots seek fast times for a goal-to-goal sprint across the playing field; a slalom course where the path between goals is blocked by “defenders” (polymer posts); and a ball handling “shootout” exercise that requires robots to move “nanoballs” (spheres about the diameter of a human hair) into the goal

For more information, see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2009_0616.htm#soccer

12. Research Show How Crystal Grain Boundaries Suppress High-Temperature Superconductivity

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have discovered that a reduction in mechanical strain at the boundaries of crystal grains can significantly improve the performance of high-temperature superconductors (HTS). Their results addresses one of the challenges in developing long-length, high-quality HTS wires and could lead to lower cost and significantly improved performance of superconductors in a wide variety of applications, such as power transmission, power grid reliability and advanced physics research.

For more information, see: www.nist.gov/public_affairs/techbeat/tb2009_0616.htm#htc

13. NIST Issues Updated Guidelines for Teleworking Security

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has released the final version of an updated publication to help organizations and employees secure their computer systems for telecommuters. The Guide to Enterprise Telework and Remote Access Security (Special Publication 800-46 Revision 1) is intended to help organizations mitigate risks associated with the enterprise technologies they use for telework—working by computer from home or locations other than the office—including remote access solutions and client devices such as laptops and smart phones.

A copy of the report can be downloaded at http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/800-46-rev1/sp800-46r1.pdf

14. NREL Seeks Proposals For Photovoltaic Technology Incubators

The US Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is seeking project proposals as part of recently announced DOE funding to accelerate commercialization of solar energy technologies. The primary objective of the PV Incubator program is to shorten the timeline for companies to transition prototype and pre-commercial PV technologies into pilot and full-scale manufacture.

For more information, see: www.nrel.gov/news/press/2009/696.html

15. Bio-engineered Device Measures Cellular Forces During Tissue Development

A Penn-led collaboration studying the physical forces generated by cells has created a tiny micron-sized device that measures and manipulates cellular forces as assemblies of living cells reorganize themselves into tissues.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/uop-bda062209.php

16. New Java Programming Tools Employ Human-Centered Design Techniques

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science have developed two new tools to help computer programmers select from among thousands of options within the application programming interfaces that are used to write applications in Java, today's most popular programming language.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/cmu-cmd061709.php

17. Sunspots Revealed in Striking Detail By Supercomputers

In a breakthrough that will help scientists unlock mysteries of the Sun and its impacts on Earth, an international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research has created the first-ever comprehensive computer model of sunspots. The resulting visuals capture both scientific detail and remarkable beauty.

For more information, see: www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2009-06/ncfa-sri061609.php

18. Report Assesses National and Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change

Climate change is already having visible impacts in the United States, and the choices we make now will determine the severity of its impacts in the future, according to an interagency federal study released in June assessing the current and anticipated domestic impacts of climate change.

For more information, see: www.globalchange.gov/usimpacts

 

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