The Tek Pulse: The latest and greatest engineering and science posts


Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

  1. Study opens route to ultra-low-power microchips, David L. Chandler, November 12, 2018, MIT -- Researchers have developed a new way to control magnetism in microchips, which could open doors to memory and sensing devices that consume less power than existing versions. The breakthrough could also overcome some of the physical limitations that have been slowing progress in this area. The team showed that they can control the magnetic properties of a thin-film material by applying a small voltage. Changes in magnetic orientation conducted with this approach stay in their new state without the need for ongoing power, unlike today’s memory chips. The new devices have low power consumption and high switching speeds, which could be useful for devices like mobile computing. According to the team, lab-based protypes could be available within a few years. For the full article visit MIT.
  2. Scientists Develop New Liquid That Can Store Solar Energy For More Than A Decade, Aniqa Ajmal, November 11, 2018, Wonderful Engineering -- Scientists have developed a specialized fluid called a solar thermal fuel. This fuel is like a rechargeable battery, but instead of electricity, users put sunlight in and get heat out. This special fuel is a liquid molecule comprised of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. When sunlight meets the liquid, the bonds between its atoms rearrange and transform into an energized version of itself – an isomer. The sun’s energy is then captured between the isomer. The power from the sun is caught between the isomer’s chemical bonds, where it stays trapped even when the molecules cool to room temperature. To use this power, the liquid is put through a catalyst, which returns the molecules to their original form and releases the energy in the form of heat. The energy in the isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. The researchers have so far successfully performed the process over 125 times. For more information check out Wonderful Engineering.  
  3. Graphene on the way to superconductivity, November 12, 2018, Evaluation Engineering -- A new study has shown that graphene could be used as a superconductor. Graphene is an exotic, 2D material that is also an excellent conductor of electricity. In April of this year, a group showed that it’s possible to generate a form of superconductivity in a system of two layers of graphene under specific conditions; however, it is not suitable for mass production. Now, a team of researchers have shown that there is a simpler way. The team used a process that is suitable for the production of larger areas and in large quantities: A silicon carbide crystal was heated until the silicon atoms evaporated from the surface. This left a single-layer of graphene and then a second layer of graphene. Unlike the previous technique, the two graphene layers were not twisted against each other, but laid on top of each other. This flat area is necessary for superconductivity. For the full story visit Evaluation Engineering.
  4. Transmitting HD video in near real time from the moon, Jennifer DeLaOsa, November 12, 2018, ECN -- A new optical modem is slated to join NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The modem will be able to transmit high-definition videos from the moon in real time. The modem is significantly more advanced than conventional radio frequency system speeds. Radio communications from space to ground stations on Earth are subject to delays. Laser communication could help in this area by transmitting data over long distances and at rates 100 times faster. The modem will have the task of converting data into an optical signal. When in the general vicinity of the moon, the signal will be beamed to an Earth-based receiver. Future missions, manned and unmanned, will require high bandwidth communication links to ground stations to support scientific instruments, high definition video and high-resolution imagery. This is one of NASA’s three  optical communication projects to help the agency meet the bandwidth requirements. For more information check out ECN.
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to – The Basics of Optical Physical Layer Testing Using a Communication Signal Analyzer. With our latest application note you will learn how to perform eye mask testing for high-speed SONET standards.

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