December 09, 2005

pre-molecular manufacturing: imaging chip breakthrough 100 times better in multiple factors

Imaging chip breakthrough: 50 times less power, 100 times better dynamic range, 1% of the computing power to compress the images, more energy efficient.

The next advance in cameras is becoming a reality at the University of Rochester. First tests on the chip show that at video rates of 30 frames per second it uses just 0.88 nanowatts per pixel--50 times less than the industry's previous best. It also trounces conventional chips in dynamic range, which is the difference between the dimmest and brightest light it can record. Existing CMOS sensors can record light 1,000 times brighter than their dimmest detectable light, a dynamic range of 1:1,000, while the Rochester technology already demonstrates a dynamic range of 1:100,000.Imaging chips revolutionized the photography industry, and now the chips themselves are being revolutionized. A pair of newly patented technologies may soon enable power-hungry imaging chips to use just a fraction of the energy used today and capture better images to boot--all while enabling cameras to shrink to the size of a shirt button and run for years on a single battery. Placed in a home, they could wirelessly provide images to a security company when an alarm is tripped, or even allow mapping software like Google's to zoom in to real-time images at street level. The enormous reduction in power consumption and increase in computing power can also bring cell-phone video calls closer to fruition. The second advance has taken many researchers by surprise. Called "Focal Plane Image Compression," Bocko and Ignjatovic have figured out a way to arrange photodiodes on an imaging chip so that compressing the resulting image demands as little as 1 percent of the computing power usually needed.

Normally, the light-detecting diodes on a chip are arranged in a regular grid--say 1,000 pixels by 1,000 pixels. A picture is snapped and each diode records the light hitting it. A computer in the camera then runs complex computations to compress the image so that instead of taking up 10 hefty megabytes, it might only take up 100 kilobytes. The common picture type "JPEG," used on the Web and on many cameras and phones, is an example of this. This compression, unfortunately, takes a tremendous amount of computing power, and hence battery power.

New tool - grows carbon nanotubes at room temperature

CEVP has developed a fabrication tool to commercialise the revolutionary low temperature carbon nanotube growth process developed by the University of Surrey's (UniS) Advanced Technology Institute (ATI). The new tool - NanoGrowth - is currently being trialled and characterised by UniS, and the two partners anticipate releasing the technology for commercial use in March 2006. The exploitation of the incredible mechanical and electrical properties of carbon nanotubes in precision applications such as integrated circuits and flat panel displays has been hindered by current growth techniques, which can elevate substrate temperatures to 1000 degrees C or more, resulting in damage or material compatibility issues. In contrast, the NanoGrowth tool, which is designed to deliver nanomaterial growth across areas up to three inches in diameter, employs a unique thermal control system to maintain the growth substrate at room temperature.

Bulk nanotechnology: New material twice as impact resistant as any other armor

An Israeli company, Apnano materials, has recently tested one of the most shock-resistant materials known to man. Five times stronger than steel and at least twice as strong as any impact-resistant material currently in use as protective gear, the new nano-based material is on its way to becoming the armor of the future. A sample of the material was subjected to severe shocks generated by a steel projectile traveling at velocities of up to 1.5 km/second. The material withstood the shock pressures generated by the impacts of up to 250 tons per square centimeter. This is approximately equivalent to dropping four diesel locomotives onto an area the size of one’s fingernail. During the test the material proved to be so strong that after the impact the samples remained essentially identical compared to the original material. Additionally, a recent study by Prof. J. M. Martin from Ecole Central de Lyon in France tested the new material under isostatic pressure and found it to be stable up to at least 350 tons/cm2. The group had found that certain inorganic compounds such as WS2, MoS2, TiS2 and NbS2 that normally occur as large flat platelets can be synthesized into much smaller nano-spheres and nano-tubes which they named inorganic fullerene-like nanostructures or IF for short. The new IF material produced by the Weizmann Group was made of Tungsten Disulfide (WS2). In contrast to organic Fullerenes, IF is easier and much less expensive to produce, it is chemically stable and is less reactive and consequently less flammable. Tungsten Disulfide is relatively heavy and for that reason ApNano is currently experimenting with other materials such as Titanium Disulfide which is at least four times lighter and is expected to perform even better than Tungsten Disulfide against shock waves. the company is moving into semi-industrial manufacturing within the next six months producing between 100-200 kilograms of the material per day, gradually moving to full-scale industrial production by 2007, creating several tons each day.

December 04, 2005

Polyyne : background info on triple bonded carbon

Polyyne-containing carbon has attracted attention as a new type of carbon material for its unique triple-bond linear structure. It is recognized not only as a new carbon but also as a precursor for the preparation of new types of carbon materials. The polyyne-containing carbon was prepared by electrochemical reduction of a polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film with a reactive anode 1).

Material 40 times harder than diamond discovered

Scientists from Bar-Ilan University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology say that using nanotechnology, they have discovered a material 40 times harder. Professors Eli Altus, Harold Basch and Shmaryahu Hoz, with doctoral student Lior Itzhaki have published their findings in the Internet edition of the world's most influential chemistry journal, Angewdte Chemie. The team broke the world hardness record by combining quantum mechanics, chemistry and mechanical engineering. They synthesized polyyne, a superhard molecular rod comprised of acetylene units - that resists 40 times more longitudinal compression than a diamond. Polyyne has the strongest bonds in carbon chemistry.