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February 06, 2010

Blocking interleukin-10 protein boosts Immune Memory and Could Enhance Vaccine Effectiveness

Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have discovered a potential new way to stimulate the immune system to prevent or clear a viral infection. By blocking the action of a key protein in the mouse immune system, they were able to boost immune "memory" in those mice—work that may one day help doctors increase the effectiveness of human vaccines designed to prevent viral infections.

Immune memory in humans (or mice) is what allows the body—after an initial exposure to a virus—to quickly recognize, respond to, and eliminate that same virus upon some later exposure. Viral vaccines basically work through this mechanism.

Not all vaccines are 100 percent effective, however, and doctors would like to have ways of enhancing the ability of vaccines to induce immune memory. As described in an advance online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on January 26, 2010, the Scripps Research scientists were able to do just that. They significantly boosted immune memory in mice by blocking a protein called interleukin-10 (IL-10).



It may be possible to achieve the same effect in humans, says Oldstone. If a chemical that blocks IL-10 could be formulated and administered with a vaccine, it may specifically enhance the effectiveness of that vaccine. However, even if such chemicals could be discovered, it would likely take years to develop and test their safety and effectiveness before they were ready for widespread commercial use.




Thermoelectic Updates


2009 Thermoelectrics Applications Workshop - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (DOE)

79 page pdf - The Growth Potential of Thermoelectrics

Why Use Thermoelectrics?
If the 220 M Personal Vehicles in the US had Thermoelectric Generators powering Thermoelectric Coolers/Heaters (HVAC)
* Save 4.5 Billion gals/year of fuel
* Reduce Greenhouse Gases by 69.5 Million Metric Tons of CO2 /year

27 page pdf - Can Thermoelectrics Help Energy Savings and Emission Reduction Goals in the United States?

* Solid-state cooling, heating and power generation
* Small, light-weight. Potentially very reliable and rugged
* Electrically powered with very few (or no) moving parts
* Distributed (and spot) cooling/heating/temperature control/heat pumping
* No gaseous pollutants/CO2 replacement for cooling/heating applications
* Interfaces well with electrified systems



Technical Details





36 page pdf - Overview of thermoelectrics in Japan

29 page pdf with overview of thermoelectrics in China


51 page pdf- An Overview of Thermoelectric Waste Heat Recovery Activities in Europe






Thermoelectrics for space RTGs




Qualcom chief Operating Officer Becomes CEO of Memjet - No products Yet

Wall Street Journal reports that Len Lauer has a reputation as a communications-industry heavyweight. After more than 10 years at IBM, he took jobs like chief executive of Bell Atlantic-New Jersey and COO of Sprint Nextel before joining Qualcomm in late 2006. In becoming CEO of Memjet, he is changing industries to lead an ambitious effort to shake up the printer market.

Memjet hopes to market it calls a “page wide” print head, which remains stationary and lays down ink across a page as the paper moves past it. That increases printing speeds by eight to 10 times, Lauer says. He estimates its technology will print 60 pages per minute; while some conventional inkjet printers advertise 30 to 32 pages per minute, they more often complete six pages or so in that time, he says. Lauer also estimates that Memjet’s ink costs will be 30% to 40% lower than current inkjet technology.

* Memjet has more than 600 employees, with about 400 of its engineers in Sydney
* Memjet has raised “hundreds and hundreds of millions” of dollars. Its biggest investor is Argonaut Private Equity.
* Memjet expects to start delivering products in the second half of this year, initially targeting office printers, label printers and other business applications
* Memjet has missed many deadlines before



Memjet website




China Indicates They Will Not be Locked to a Lower Economic Level by Taking Lower Per Capita Greenhouse Gases

China Daily - Do three errors mean breaking point for IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ) ?

I was impressed by the presentation of Dr Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist and founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service, who challenged the IPCC findings with his research data.

In the next few days, I talked with several scientists, including Dr Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chair, and asked them about Singer's data. All of these scientists brushed aside Singer's arguments, saying that the IPCC's primary finding is indisputable: "Warming in the climate system is unequivocal".

I believed the IPCC reports, which summarize the research of some 4,000 scientists, but I had some serious reservations. For one thing, the IPCC reports contained very little data from Chinese researchers. I was told the IPCC refused to consider Chinese data because the Chinese research was not peer-reviewed.

China is not a small country. Its landmass spans several climate zones and includes the roof of the world. I have to wonder how data from China would affect the IPCC's findings.

Several Chinese scientists who have gone over the IPCC report believe that the IPCC may have overstated the link between global temperature and CO2 in the atmosphere.

In a paper published in the December issue of the Chinese language Earth Science magazine, Ding Zhongli, an established environmental scientist, stated that the current temperatures on earth look normal if global climate changes over the past 10,000 years are considered.

Ding's paper highlighted the fact that in its policy suggestions, the IPCC offered solutions that would give people in rich countries the right to emit a much higher level of greenhouse gas per capita than people in developing countries. It in effect set limits on the economic growth of developing countries, which will result in furthering the gap between rich and poor countries."

Ancient Chinese considered three a breaking point. They could forgive two errors, but not a third. Now that the IPCC has admitted three "human" errors, isn't it time scientists gave its work a serious review?



Pajamas Media has coverage




Optical Resolution with 17 nanometer resolution

The upper panel shows the topographical measurement of a diindenoperylene film. Lighter shades stand for higher areas, darker ones for lower areas. In the lower panel the topographical and the optical measurements are superimposed – the latter one in the red and yellow colour range; the brighter the colour, the higher the luminescence intensity. (Image: Research Group of Prof. Meixner, University of Tübingen)

Physical Review Letters - Nanoscale Spectroscopic Imaging of Organic Semiconductor Films by Plasmon-Polariton Coupling

Tip-enhanced near-field optical images and correlated topographic images of an organic semiconductor film (diindenoperylene, DIP) on Si have been recorded with high optical contrast and high spatial resolution (17 nm) using a parabolic mirror with a high numerical aperture for tip illumination and signal collection. The DIP molecular domain boundaries being one to four molecular layers (1.5–6 nm) high are resolved topographically by a shear-force scanning tip and optically by simultaneously recording the 6×10^5 times enhanced photoluminescence (PL). The excitation is 4×10^4 times enhanced and the intrinsically weak PL-yield of the DIP-film is 15-fold enhanced by the tip. The Raman spectra indicate an upright orientation of the DIP molecules. The enhanced PL contrast results from the local film morphology via stronger coupling between the tip plasmon and the exciton-polariton in the DIP film.





February 05, 2010

Nano-patterning Provides Large Boost for Solar Cells and Other Solar Improvements

1. Advanced Functional Materials - Poly(3-hexylthiophene) Nanorods with Aligned Chain Orientation for Organic Photovoltaics

A structured polymer solar cell architecture featuring a large interface between donor and acceptor with connecting paths to the respective electrodes is explored. To this end, poly-(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) nanorods oriented perpendicularly to indium tin oxide (ITO) glass are fabricated using an anodic aluminum oxide template. It is found that the P3HT chains in bulk films or nanorods are oriented differently; perpendicular or parallel to the ITO substrate, respectively. Such chain alignment of the P3HT nanorods enhanced the electrical conductivity up to tenfold compared with planar P3HT films. Furthermore, the donor/acceptor contact area could be maximised using P3HT nanorods as donor and C60 as acceptor. In a photovoltaic device employing this structure, remarkable photoluminescence quenching (88%) and a seven-fold efficiency increase (relative to a device with a planar bilayer) are achieved.

3 page pdf with supplemental information

Ars Technica has coverage

While the absolute efficiency of the new array—just 1.12 percent—is not cutting edge, the patterning technique is cheap and can be done on a large scale, and is unlikely to be limited to just this material system. Other recent polymer cells have claimed efficiencies of 5.5 percent, for example, and the micro- and nano-pillar approach works with traditional photovoltaic materials, too. There is still much work to be done in the optimization of the processing conditions, but this is yet another piece of the puzzle that may make polymer solar cells a viable option for power generation.


2. Nanowerk - Quantum dot polymer hybrids greatly improve the efficiency of organic solar cells

Researchers were able to attain an efficiency of 2 percent by using so-called quantum dots composed of cadmium selenide. These measurements, well above the previous efficiency ratings of 1 to 1.8 percent.

Organic solar cells belong to the so-called third generation of solar cells and are still in the developmental stage. The world record for purely organic solar cells, a type in which both components of the photoactive layer consist of organic materials, is currently at 7 percent for layers created through wet chemical methods. Organic solar cells have many advantages over the conventional silicon cells typically used for large-scale energy production: Not only are they are considerably thinner and more flexible, they are also less expensive and quicker to produce. They are thus better suited for powering everyday devices and systems which are not in constant use, such as sensors or electrical appliances. In the long run, organic solar cells could drastically reduce our dependence on batteries and cables.

The cost of solar power could be cut 30 percent without improving the performance of individual solar cells, says Daniel Alcombright, vice president for North America at Solon Corporation

* highly-paid electricians spend hours constructing assemblies for conduits, when such things could be built for less in a factory.
* Larger solar modules with quick mount frames could also reduce overall construction costs.
* standardized plans for solar farms, so that each new project doesn't have to be engineered anew.
*low cost tracking systems and software for optimizing their performance in different locations and from season to season could increase power output from the same solar panels.






Princeton scientist traps electrons to make spin qubits in a quantum computing advance

Princeton University's Jason Petta has demonstrated a method that alters the properties of a lone electron without disturbing the trillions of electrons in its immediate surroundings. The feat is essential to the development of future varieties of superfast computers with near-limitless capacities for data.

Petta, an assistant professor of physics, has fashioned a new method of trapping one or two electrons in microscopic corrals created by applying voltages to minuscule electrodes. Writing in the Feb. 5 edition of Science, he describes how electrons trapped in these corrals form "spin qubits," quantum versions of classic computer information units known as bits.


When the electrons in Petta's experiment are in what he calls their quantum state, they are "coherent," following rules that are radically different from the world seen by the naked eye. Living for fractions of a second in the realm of quantum physics before they are rattled by external forces, the electrons obey a unique set of physical laws that govern the behavior of ultra-small objects.

Scientists like Petta are working in a field known as quantum control where they are learning how to manipulate materials under the influence of quantum mechanics so they can exploit those properties to power advanced technologies like quantum computing. Quantum computers will be designed to take advantage of these characteristics to enrich their capacities in many ways.

In addition to electrical charge, electrons possess rotational properties. In the quantum world, objects can turn in ways that are at odds with common experience. The Austrian theoretical physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945, proposed that an electron in a quantum state can assume one of two states -- "spin-up" or "spin-down." It can be imagined as behaving like a tiny bar magnet with spin-up corresponding to the north pole pointing up and spin-down corresponding to the north pole pointing down.

An electron in a quantum state can simultaneously be partially in the spin-up state and partially in the spin-down state or anywhere in between, a quantum mechanical property called "superposition of states." A qubit based on the spin of an electron could have nearly limitless potential because it can be neither strictly on nor strictly off.

New designs could take advantage of a rich set of possibilities offered by harnessing this property to enhance computing power. In the past decade, theorists and mathematicians have designed algorithms that exploit this mysterious superposition to perform intricate calculations at speeds unmatched by supercomputers today.

Petta's work is using electron spin to advantage.

"In the quest to build a quantum computer with electron spin qubits, nuclear spins are typically a nuisance," said Guido Burkard, a theoretical physicist at the University of Konstanz in Germany. "Petta and coworkers demonstrate a new method that utilizes the nuclear spins for performing fast quantum operations. For solid-state quantum computing, their result is a big step forward."

Petta's spin qubits, which he envisions as the core of future quantum logic elements, are cooled to temperatures near absolute zero and trapped in two tiny corrals known as quantum wells on the surface of a high-purity, gallium arsenide chip. The depth of each well is controlled by varying the voltage on tiny electrodes or gates. Like a juggler tossing two balls between his hands, Petta can move the electrons from one well to the other by selectively toggling the gate voltages.


Spin qubits, which could be the core logic elements of quantum computers, are cooled in a device called a dilution refrigerator to temperatures near absolute zero in order to exploit the mysterious rules of quantum mechanics.



P doped Graphane Calculations Predict Will Superconduct at 90K


Graphane is graphene with a lot of hydrogen. Graphene is two dimensional sheet of carbon. Graphane was made for the first time only last year at the University of Manchester. P-doped diamond nanowires might have similar properties. Copper oxides superconduct in an entirely different way to conventional BCS superconductors (after Bardeen, Cooper and Schrieffer, who worked out the theory behind them). p-doped graphane should superconduct in the same way as the old fashioned BCS superconductors.

6 page pdf arxiv - Doped graphane: a prototype high-T
c electron-phonon superconductor


We show by first-principles calculations that p-doped graphane is a conventional superconductor with a critical temperature (Tc) above the boiling point of liquid nitrogen. The unique strength of the chemical bonds between carbon atoms and the large density of electronic states at the Fermi energy arising from the reduced dimensionality synergetically push Tc above 90K, and give rise to large Kohn anomalies in the optical phonon dispersions. As evidence of graphane was recently reported, and doping of related materials such as graphene, diamond and carbon nanostructures is well established, superconducting graphane may be feasible.

Technology Review arxiv blog has coverage

They calculate that p-doped graphane fits the bill exactly and should superconduct in the old-fashioned BCS way at 90K. What's more they say there are hints that p-doped diamond nanowires might have similar properties.

Various groups are already playing around with doped diamond nanowires.



p-doping at wikipedia

A P-type semiconductor (P for Positive) is obtained by carrying out a process of doping, that is adding a certain type of atoms to the semiconductor in order to increase the number of free charge carriers (in this case positive).

When the doping material is added, it takes away (accepts) weakly-bound outer electrons from the semiconductor atoms. This type of doping agent is also known as an acceptor material and the vacancy left behind by the electron is known as a hole.

The purpose of P-type doping is to create an abundance of holes.



A Critique of the Canadian Think Tank Report That Claims There Will be No Nuclear Energy Revival Before 2030

Centre for International Governance Innovation - The Future of Nuclear Energy to 2030 and its Implications for Safety, Security and Nonproliferation [40 page pdf]

The purpose of this project was three-fold:
• to investigate the likely size, shape and nature of the purported nuclear energy revival to 2030 – not to make a judgement on the merits of nuclear energy, but rather to predict its future;
• to consider the implications for global governance in the areas of nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation; and
• to make recommendations to policy makers in Canada and abroad on ways to strengthen global governance in these areas.

The report is broadly biased in what is included and how it is presented and the conclusions are wrong. The report can be summarized - "we think that nuclear power will develop slowly up to 2030 but then in case it does not let use push for legislation to make sure it does go even slower."

They say that there will be little net nuclear power added but do not
have a breakdown of which nuclear reactors will be shutdown and when. There will be no more German reactors shut down as the politics have shifted.

The report tries to also claim high prices for world nuclear build as the major factor in preventing more nuclear build. They also claim that lack of subsidies for nuclear will prevent it as well. The report does not look at prices for nuclear build in China and South Korea or Russia or India. Most of the future world nuclear build is on order for Asia. So any failure for world wide nuclear build has to look at the prices in Asia.

This is like saying there will be no growth in human population from now to 2030 and only looking at the birth rate of europeans and americans while ignoring African and asian birth rates.

They also say that maybe China will generate 5% of electricity from
nuclear power. They do not also then quantify that amount as 70GW in 2020 and 160-200 GW in 2030. Those would be significant additions.

They looked at nuclear energy in terms of number of reactors and nameplate Gigawatts in order to say that things have been flat from 2000 to 2008. In 2000, there was 2449.92 billion kwh generated by nuclear energy. The world total was 2601 billion kwh in 2008. So even in a time of no new nuclear reactors there was an increase of 5.8% in nuclear power generation. The nuclear revival is only starting to kick into gear this year in terms of significant nuclear reactor additions.

Here is the expected new nuclear power generation from 2010-2014

2010 9 new reactors, 6.2 GWe (shifted the two Canadian Reactors to 2011)
2011 11 new reactors, 9.3 GWe
2012 10 new reactors, 9.92 GWe
2013 12 new reactors, 13.08 GWe
2014 14 new reactors, 13.63 GWe

by 2014 the world generation should be about 3120 billion kwh.

500 billion kwh will be comparable to added generation from solar and wind power. Wind generated about 260 billion kwh in 2008.

China is expected to add 70GWe of nuclear power by 2020 and have about 300 GWe by 2030.



There will be significant conventional uprating of existing reactors and South Korea is developing annular fuel (dual cooled fuel) technology which can uprate existing reactors by up to 50%. The dual cooled fuel technology could begin implementation around 2020 and could be widespread for the legacy reactors by 2030. Also, existing reactors are getting operational extensions for have 70-80 year lives. This will mean there will be very few reactors shutdown by 2030.

* The report states that the thorium fuel cycle will not be viable by 2030.

Ironically, China was investigating the use of Thorium in CANDU reactors (from Canada)

Lightbridge formerly Thorium Power on Track for Thorium fuel Assemblies for 2021

Lightbridge is certifying thorium/uranium fuel assemblies in Russia which will be usable in existing and future pressure water reactors [40 page pdf]

Started construction of a 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor at Kalpakkam and this is now under construction by BHAVINI. The unit is expected to be operating in 2010, fuelled with uranium-plutonium oxide (the reactor-grade Pu being from its existing PHWRs). It will have a blanket with thorium and uranium to breed fissile U-233 and plutonium respectively. This will take India's ambitious thorium program to stage 2, and set the scene for eventual full utilization of the country's abundant thorium to fuel reactors. Four more such fast reactors have been announced for construction by 2020. Initial FBRs will be have mixed oxide fuel but these will be followed by metallic-fuelled ones to enable shorter doubling time.

* the CIGA report also dismissed breeder reactors

China has bought two of the Russian 880 MWe fast neutron reactors

The BN800 has a fuel burn-up of 70-100 GWd/t. Maximum fuel burn up is 950 GWd/t (Gigawatt days per ton) and current reactors have a burnup of 30-60 GWd/t. This will reduce the amount of nuclear waste or unburned fuel, which is also cited as an issue in the report. India should have five breeders by 2020.

There are factory mass produced small reactors under development by China, Russia, and Hyperion Power Generation. China's first 200 MWe pebble bed should be ready by 2013. Russia has plans for several 100 MWe SVBR-100 reactors. Hyperion Power Generation could have the first of its 25 MWe fast neutron reactors in 2013.

* the CIGA report also quotes Amory Lovins for its impact of nuclear power to offset carbon dioxide.

This site has noted the problems with Amory Lovins work before more than once

I also disagree with the CIGA take on proliferation and security, but wanted to focus on how their prediction for 2030 is wrong. Basically the CIGA point of view -we think that nuclear power will develop slowly up to 2030 but then in case it does not let use push for legislation to make sure it does go even slower. The position here is nuclear power will develop far more quickly than the CIGA position and CIGA is misguided on proliferation and security.

FURTHER READING
The Toronto Star has an article by Tyler Hamilton on the research report

Nextbigfuture discussed the issue of nuclear proliferation and incremental risk and lack of correlation in this article

Here is a discussion of nuclear costs analysis and wind energy costs

The project was delayed for more than a year partially due to bad weather (on second thought, that might not be just a first of a kind issue for off-shore wind farms). The projected total cost will be $357 million, approximately $85 million more than the initial estimate. Considering the size of the array and its capacity factor, that cost overrun is comparable to exceeding the budget for a 1600 MWe Areva EPR by more than $5 Billion dollars.

Assuming a generous 40% CF for the 60 MWe peak capacity wind farm, the total cost of $357 million is equivalent to paying $19 Billion for a single 1600 MWe nuclear power plant that can operate at a modest average capacity factor – for a nuclear plant – of 80%.

However, please do not cry for the investors in the project. Their profitability will be assured by the rules of Germany’s feed in tariff laws which will guarantee that the project owners will receive $0.18 per kilowatt hour for their generated power.

Observers of the political turmoil now underway in Ontario over the media reports that AECL bid $26 billion to build two new ACR1000 reactors (2,220 MW) are in good company trying to make sense of these figures.

The news media, notably the Toronto Star, had a field day with the numbers sticking provincial politicians like they were morsels on a shish-ka-bob skewer. The problem with all the fire, smoke, and spit from the grill is that the numbers are undoubtedly wrong and wrongly reported in the news media.

First, $26 billion is an aggregate number that includes two reactors, turbines, transmission and distribution infrastructure (power lines or T&D), plant infrastructure, and nuclear fuel for 60 years as well as decommissioning costs. The most important number in the whole controversy has gone largely without notice and that is the delivered cost of electricity from the plants is in the range of five cents per kilowatt hour.


In a conference call with nuclear energy bloggers on July 17, a spokesman for Areva declined to provide exact numbers, but did not specifically dispute a report in the Toronto Star on July 14 which pegged the cost of two 1,650 EPR reactors at $7.8 billion. Doing the math, that comes out to just under $2,400/Kw which is a very competitive price.





Car Bodywork Could Double as Battery and T-Shirts Could Become Batteries

1. Imperial College of London- Parts of a car’s bodywork could one day double up as its battery, according to the scientists behind a new €3.4 million project announced today.

Researchers from Imperial College London and their European partners, including Volvo Car Corporation, are developing a prototype material which can store and discharge electrical energy and which is also strong and lightweight enough to be used for car parts.

The researchers believe the material, which has been patented by Imperial, could potentially be used for the casings of many everyday objects such as mobile phones and computers, so that they would not need a separate battery. This would make such devices smaller, more lightweight and more portable.

In the new project, the scientists are planning to develop the composite material so that it can be used to replace the metal flooring in the car boot, called the wheel well, which holds the spare wheel. Volvo is investigating the possibility of fitting this wheel well component into prototype cars for testing purposes.

The team says replacing a metal wheel well with a composite one could enable Volvo to reduce the number of batteries needed to power the electric motor. They believe this could lead to a 15 per cent reduction in the car’s overall weight, which should significantly improve the range of future hybrid cars.

The researchers say that the composite material that they are developing, which is made of carbon fibres and a polymer resin, will store and discharge large amounts of energy much more quickly than conventional batteries. In addition, the material does not use chemical processes, making it quicker to recharge than conventional batteries. Furthermore, this recharging process causes little degradation in the composite material, because it does not involve a chemical reaction, whereas conventional batteries degrade over time.



2. Stanford researchers have moved from making batteries from paper to making batteries from cloth. Your-T-shirt could become a lighted, moving display The material will enable a t-shirt battery to hold three times more power than a regular cellphone battery.

A team of Stanford researchers is producing batteries and simple capacitors from ordinary textiles dipped in nanoparticle-infused ink. The conductive textiles – dubbed "eTextiles" – represent a new class of integrated energy storage device, born from the synthesis of prehistoric technology with cutting-edge materials science.

"We have been developing all kinds of materials, trying to revolutionize battery performance," said Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford. "Recently, we started to think about how to make batteries in a very different way from before."

While conventional batteries are made by coating metallic foil in a particle slurry and rolling it into compact form – a capital-intensive process – the new energy textiles were manufactured using a simple "dipping and drying" procedure, whereby a strip of fabric is coated with a special ink formula and dehydrated in the oven.

The procedure works for manufacturing batteries or supercapacitors, depending on the contents of the ink – oxide particles such as LiCoO2 for batteries; conductive carbon molecules (single-walled carbon nanotubes, or SWNTs) for supercapacitors. Up to now, the team has only used black ink, but Cui said it is possible to produce a range of colors by adding different dyes to the carbon nanotubes.

Cui's team had previously developed paper batteries and supercapacitors using a similar process, but the new energy textiles exhibited some clear advantages over their paper predecessors. With a reported energy density of 20 Watt-hours per kilogram, a piece of eTextile weighing 0.3 0.030 [correction made here -error was in original press release] kilograms (about an ounce, the approximate weight of a T-shirt) could hold up to three times more energy than a cell phone battery

Stretchable, Porous, and Conductive Energy Textiles

Recently there is strong interest in lightweight, flexible, and wearable electronics to meet the technological demands of modern society. Integrated energy storage devices of this type are a key area that is still significantly underdeveloped. Here, we describe wearable power devices using everyday textiles as the platform. With an extremely simple “dipping and drying” process using single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) ink, we produced highly conductive textiles with conductivity of 125 S cm−1 and sheet resistance less than 1 Ω/sq. Such conductive textiles show outstanding flexibility and stretchability and demonstrate strong adhesion between the SWNTs and the textiles of interest. Supercapacitors made from these conductive textiles show high areal capacitance, up to 0.48F/cm2, and high specific energy. We demonstrate the loading of pseudocapacitor materials into these conductive textiles that leads to a 24-fold increase of the areal capacitance of the device. These highly conductive textiles can provide new design opportunities for wearable electronics and energy storage applications.



Kotura Announces Technology Breakthrough in Low Voltage, High Speed Silicon Photonic Modulator

Kotura, Inc., a leading provider of Silicon Photonics products, today announced demonstration of an industry leading modulator with two-volt, peak-to-peak driving voltage, and permitting the use of inexpensive CMOS drivers. Equally impressive, the Kotura modulator achieved speeds in excess of 11 GHz and an ultra-low energy consumption of 50 femtoJoules per bit. The on chip device loss of 2 dB is among the lowest ever demonstrated.



“This technology breakthrough will enable the development of silicon photonics circuits for optical interconnect,” commented Dr. Ashok Krishnamoorthy, Principal Investigator on this project and a Distinguished engineer and Director at Sun Microsystems. “This promises to significantly increase the penetration of optical interconnects within computing systems – starting with the high-end, where interconnect is a bottleneck, and working down into volume applications. This development opens the door for wavelength-multiplexed optical interconnects, which will reduce the complexity impact of connectors and cabling in such systems. Silicon photonics solves this problem by enabling high bandwidth connectivity over longer distances at lower power than copper wires. A high-speed, low-power modulator is a key component in these circuits.”

“WDM has the potential to lower the cabling complexity and cost of optical interconnects by orders of magnitude” added Mehdi Asghari, CTO of Kotura. “A single silicon photonics device will require 10’s to 100’s of modulators, one for each wavelength of light. Our modulator has the right combination of low drive voltage, low power consumption, small size and low insertion loss to integrate many of these into a single chip.”

The Kotura modulator was developed as part of the DAPRA’s Ultraperformance Nanophotonic Intrachip Communications (UNIC) program in conjunction with Sun Microsystems, under the leadership of Dr. Jagdeep Shah. A technical paper, “Low Vpp, ultralow-energy, compact, high-speed silicon electro-optic modulator,” by Dong et al. was recently published in Optics Express, The International Electronic Journal of Optics.


The power levels per bit are what are needed to achieve 80 terabit per second. More must be done to get the communication speed up.




Breakthrough in Creating First Generation Artificial Pancreas

Using sophisticated computer software, researchers were able to coordinate the actions of a commercially available continuous glucose monitoring device and insulin pump to allow automatic insulin delivery in response to real-time glucose readings.

While using the artificial pancreas system, the children maintained blood sugar levels in the normal range 60% of the time, compared with 40% of the time while using a conventional insulin pump. Between 50% and 70% of hypoglycemic emergencies happen at night.

If that goes well, he says the artificial pancreas could be clinically available within three to five years for overnight use.

It will probably take longer to determine if the system can be used 24 hours a day. Daytime blood sugar control, especially around mealtimes, poses a special challenge



The system proved better than a conventional insulin pump for maintaining optimal blood sugar levels during the night in a study from the U.K.'s University of Cambridge.

The newly published study included 19 children and teens with type 1 diabetes who used the artificial pancreas system for 33 nights and a conventional insulin pump for 21 nights in a hospital setting.

During certain nights, the delivery systems were challenged by having the children eat a large meal or exercise before bedtime. Both of these activities increase the risk for nighttime hypoglycemia.

While using the artificial pancreas system, the children maintained blood sugar levels in the normal range 60% of the time, compared with 40% of the time while using a conventional insulin pump. Between 50% and 70% of hypoglycemic emergencies happen at night.





40% of cancers are potentially preventable and Magnetic Nanoparticles Could Combat Cancer

1. International Union Against Cancer - 40% of cancers are potentially preventable.

The risk of developing cancer can significantly be reduced through simple measures:

* Stop tobacco use and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke
* Limit alcohol consumption
* Avoid excessive sun exposure
* Maintain a healthy weight, through eating healthily and exercising regularly
* Protect against cancer-causing infections

2.
Scientists at Georgia Tech and the Ovarian Cancer Institute have further developed a potential new treatment against cancer that uses magnetic nanoparticles to attach to cancer cells, removing them from the body. The treatment, tested in mice in 2008, has now been tested using samples from human cancer patients. The results appear online in the journal Nanomedicine



“Often, the lethality of cancers is not attributed to the original tumor but to the establishment of distant tumors by cancer cells that exfoliate from the primary tumor,” said Scarberry. “Circulating tumor cells can implant at distant sites and give rise to secondary tumors. Our technique is designed to filter the peritoneal fluid or blood and remove these free floating cancer cells, which should increase longevity by preventing the continued metastatic spread of the cancer.”

In tests, they showed that their technique worked as well with at capturing cancer cells from human patient samples as it did previously in mice. The next step is to test how well the technique can increase survivorship in live animal models. If that goes well, they will then test it with humans.



Advancing to Human Wall Crawling

A palm-sized device invented at Cornell that uses water surface tension as an adhesive bond could enable humans to walk on walls like spiderman

The rapid adhesion mechanism could lead to such applications as shoes or gloves that stick and unstick to walls, or Post-it-like notes that can bear loads, according to Paul Steen, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, who invented the device with Michael Vogel, a former postdoctoral associate.

The device is the result of inspiration drawn from a beetle native to Florida, which can adhere to a leaf with a force 100 times its own weight, yet also instantly unstick itself. Research behind the device is published online Feb. 1 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences



The device consists of a flat plate patterned with holes, each on the order of microns (one-millionth of a meter). A bottom plate holds a liquid reservoir, and in the middle is another porous layer. An electric field applied by a common 9-volt battery pumps water through the device and causes droplets to squeeze through the top layer. The surface tension of the exposed droplets makes the device grip another surface -- much the way two wet glass slides stick together.

"In our everyday experience, these forces are relatively weak," Steen said. "But if you make a lot of them and can control them, like the beetle does, you can get strong adhesion forces."
The device is about to switched to lose adhesion

For example, one of the researchers' prototypes was made with about 1,000 300-micron-sized holes, and it can hold about 30 grams -- more than 70 paper clips. They found that as they scaled down the holes and packed more of them onto the device, the adhesion got stronger. They estimate, then, that a one-square-inch device with millions of 1-micron-sized holes could hold more than 15 pounds.

To turn the adhesion off, the electric field is simply reversed, and the water is pulled back through the pores, breaking the tiny "bridges" created between the device and the other surface by the individual droplets.

The research builds on previously published work that demonstrated the efficacy of what's called electro-osmotic pumping between surface tension-held interfaces, first by using just two larger water droplets.

One of the biggest challenges in making these devices work, Steen said, was keeping the droplets from coalescing, as water droplets tend to do when they get close together. To solve this, they designed their pump to resist water flow while it's turned off.

Steen envisions future prototypes on a grander scale, once the pump mechanism is perfected, and the adhesive bond can be made even stronger. He also imagines covering the droplets with thin membranes -- thin enough to be controlled by the pump but thick enough to eliminate wetting. The encapsulated liquid could exert simultaneous forces, like tiny punches.

"You can think about making a credit card-sized device that you can put in a rock fissure or a door, and break it open with very little voltage," Steen said. "It's a fun thing to think about."

There is a video through this link



Rewalk Exoskeleton for those now Needing Wheelchairs

ReWalk is a wearable, motorized quasi robotic suit from Argo Medical Technologies.

FAQ

* FDA approval is expected this year (2010).
* The price hasn’t been established yet. However, we’re targeting for an annual consumer (end-user) price comparable with typical average annual expenses of people confined to wheelchairs.
* Based on our surveys and on precedents, we strongly believe that the ReWalk™ will be partially or fully reimbursable, depending on the region (country). (for health insurance)

ReWalk provides user-initiated mobility - leveraging advanced motion sensors, sophisticated robotic control algorithms, on-board computers, real-time software, actuation motors, tailored rechargeable batteries and composite materials.

ReWalk™ works with users – not just for them. Users walk with the assistance of crutches, controlling suit movement through subtle changes in center of gravity and upper-body movements. In addition to simplifying suit control, this user participation in mobility brings tangible health and emotional benefits. ReWalk™ is not just a vertical wheelchair – ReWalk™ restores the element of control over mobility so lacking for wheelchair users.

By maintaining users upright on a daily basis, and exercising even paralyzed limbs in the course of movement, ReWalk™ alleviates many of the health-related problems associated with long-term wheelchair use. In addition to relieving suffering, this has a real impact on healthcare costs – cutting yearly expenses almost in half, and enabling both insurers and individuals to redirect funds to other avenues


Functionality:

* All day usage
* Mobility – walking, sit-to-stand, stand-to-sit, climb stairs, ascending/descending slopes, driving
* Training – replacing other training equipment at home and at rehabilitation center

Prerequisites:

* Ability to use hand and shoulders (walking with crutches)
* Healthy cardiovascular system and bone density

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Elder Care and Nurse Aid Robots

Gecko Systems is making elder care robots and mobile service robots (MSR) for other applications

They have a CareBot MSR that monitors the carereceiver.

Elderly people in nursing homes receive attention from nurses an average of nine minutes per day. These places are expensive ($45,000 to $60,000 per year) and not always easy or convenient for family members to physically visit. There is a crisis for cost effective assistance. Concern for their parents is one of the main reasons for adult children to purchase an elder care enabled CareBot MSR.

Benefits
Cost Effective Monitoring
Virtual Visits
Automatic Reminders
Companionship
Automatic Emergency Notification



Nurse Aidbot

Nurse Aid robot

Benefits
Nurse's Aide
Carrying Supplies
Errand Running
Telemedicine/Telehealth
Nurse's Aide
The CareBot™ MSR will assist medical personnel. It can contain on board a Blood Pressure monitor, Pulse monitor, or Oxygen. It is a cost effective assistant. It is able to follow the nurse while responding to commands.

Carrying Supplies
The CareBot™ MSR will carry specialized supplies , such as those for IV’s or Blood work. In addition any bandages or equipment such as a fibrillater.

Errand Running
The CareBot™ MSR will not have a problem in taking bed pans or other items to a particular patient. It can carry loads of up to 200 lbs.

Telemedicine/Telehealth
The Company's Mobile Security Robots (MSRs) augmented for TeleMedicine allow health professionals and medical experts to remotely consult with patients and health care providers giving vital, cost effective, confidential medical services to virtually any location, rural or urban, national or international. Using high quality cameras and data transfer, medical data, radiological images, sounds and patient records can be transferred from one site to another permitting physicians to consult with colleagues and specialized experts despite geographical separation











February 04, 2010

Second ‘Quantum Logic Clock’ Based on Aluminum Ion twice as precise as previous best mercury atom

The ion trap where the main action takes place in the NIST aluminum ion clock. The aluminum ion and partner magnesium ion sit in the slit running down the center of the device between the electrodes. Credit: J. Koelemeij/NIST
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have built an enhanced version of an experimental atomic clock based on a single aluminum atom that is now the world’s most precise clock, more than twice as precise as the previous pacesetter based on a mercury atom.

The new aluminum clock would neither gain nor lose one second in about 3.7 billion years.

The new clock is the second version of NIST’s “quantum logic clock,” so called because it borrows the logical processing used for atoms storing data in experimental quantum computing.

The logic clock is based on a single aluminum ion (electrically charged atom) trapped by electric fields and vibrating at ultraviolet light frequencies, which are 100,000 times higher than microwave frequencies used in NIST-F1 and other similar time standards around the world. Optical clocks thus divide time into smaller units, and could someday lead to time standards more than 100 times as accurate as today’s microwave standards. Higher frequency is one of a variety of factors that enables improved precision and accuracy.



NIST postdoctoral researcher James
Chin-wen Chou with the world’s most precise clock, based on the vibrations of a single aluminum ion (electrically charged atom). The ion is trapped inside the metal cylinder (center right). Credit: J. Burrus/NIST


Aluminum is one contender for a future time standard to be selected by the international community. NIST scientists are working on five different types of experimental optical clocks, each based on different atoms and offering its own advantages. NIST’s construction of a second, independent version of the logic clock proves it can be replicated, making it one of the first optical clocks to achieve that distinction. Any future time standard will need to be reproduced in many laboratories.

FURTHER READING

from Arxiv 4 page pdf - Frequency Comparison of Two High-Accuracy Al+ Optical Clocks

We have constructed an optical clock with a fractional frequency inaccuracy of 8.6 × 10^−18, based on quantum logic spectroscopy of an Al+ ion. A simultaneously trapped Mg+ ion serves to sympathetically laser-cool the Al+ ion and detect its quantum state. The frequency of the 1S0$3P0 clock transition is compared to that of a previously constructed Al+ optical clock with a statistical measurement uncertainty of 7.0 × 10^−18. The two clocks exhibit a relative stability of 2.8×10^−15 −1/2, and a fractional frequency difference of −1.8×10^−17, consistent with the accuracy limit of the older clock.


IBM Makes Graphene at 30 GHz and Potential of 100 Ghz to 1 Terahertz Graphene

MIT Technology Review - IBM has created prototype graphene transistors made from atom-thick sheets of carbon, operate at 100 gigahertz--meaning they can switch on and off 100 billion times each second, about 10 times as fast as the speediest silicon transistors.

IBM has created graphene transistors that leave silicon ones in the dust. The prototype devices, made from atom-thick sheets of carbon, operate at 100 gigahertz--meaning they can switch on and off 100 billion times each second, about 10 times as fast as the speediest silicon transistors.

The first applications of graphene transistors will likely be as switches and amplifiers in analog military electronics. But the researchers say it will be years before the company begins commercial development on carbon electronics.

Walter de Heer, a professor of physics at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, by carefully controlling the growing conditions, has made graphene that conducts electrons 10 times faster than the material used by the IBM team. This higher-quality graphene could, in theory, be used to make transistors that reach terahertz speeds, though de Heer says many things could go wrong during scale-up.

Avouris says the IBM team will work to improve its transistors' speed by miniaturizing them. The ones it has made so far are 240 nanometers long, which is relatively large--silicon electronic components are down to about 20 nanometers. Avouris also believes that their performance could be improved by making the insulating layer thinner. "The next step is to try and integrate these transistors into a truly operational circuit," he says.



Arstechnica had coverage.
The graphene FETs in this work were tested up to 30GHz and, extrapolating those results, the authors showed that the FETs would operate, albeit poorly, up to 100GHz. Similarly sized Si devices are limited to 30GHz operation. Assuming these devices can be scaled, they will undoubtedly present a dramatic speed increase over current generation Si.

Science - 100-GHz Transistors from Wafer-Scale Epitaxial Graphene
The high carrier mobility of graphene has been exploited in field-effect transistors that operate at high frequencies. Transistors were fabricated on epitaxial graphene synthesized on the silicon face of a silicon carbide wafer, achieving a cutoff frequency of 100 gigahertz for a gate length of 240 nanometers. The high-frequency performance of these epitaxial graphene transistors exceeds that of state-of-the-art silicon transistors of the same gate length

11 page pdf of supplemental material





BIOFAB Project To Lower cost and Shorten Development Time of Synthetic Biology

H+ Magazine provides coverage of Synthetic Biology and a new Biofab project.

The new BIOFAB: International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology (BIOFAB), with two years of funding from NSF and matching support from founding partners, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the BioBricks Foundation (BBF), aims to produce thousands of free standardized DNA parts to shorten the development time and lower the cost of synthetic biology for academic or biotech laboratories.

Of the estimated 3,500 critical control elements in an E. coli bacterium, fewer than 100 have been seriously studied and characterized. Of the 500-plus promoters listed in current registries, for example, fewer than 50 have been measured.

BIOFAB is raising additional funds to hire 29 full-time staff who will systematically refine, standardize and characterize the activity of each genetic control element in E. coli, so that large-scale collections of genetic parts can be treated more like standardized components. What the researchers learn will be applied to parts collections in other microbes and used to assemble engineered biological systems.



BioFab projects will be designed to produce broadly useful collections of standard biological parts that can be made freely available to both academic and commercial users, while also enabling the rapid design and prototyping of genetic constructs needed to support specific needs of partner efforts such as SynBERC Testbeds. The BioFab will thus also represent the first significant focused investment in the development of open technology platforms underlying and supporting the next generation of biotechnology. Once fully operational the BioFab facility will be capable of producing tens of thousands of professionally engineered, high quality standard biological parts each year.

C-dog

The Central Dogma (C-dog) project aims to design, build, and characterize a collection of ~6,000 standard biological parts necessary to control key aspects of genetic expression in a select number of organisms. This parts collection, to be known as the “C. dog.” collection, will support the scaleable rational engineering of the central dogma in E. coli and S. cerevisiae. More specifically, we will design, build, and test a collection of engineered genetic components that control DNA replication, constitutive RNA production, RNA processing and degradation, translation initiation, and protein degradation. For each class of functional genetic element, we will engineer and validate a full suite of specific elements.

As one example, in the case of bacterial transcription terminators, we will develop a set of terminators at each decade of termination efficiency (i.e., 0, 10, 20, 30 … 80, 90, 100% termination efficiency) using a combination of semi-rational library design and experimental screening. For each termination efficiency level, we will validate and document 10 sequence distinct terminators (i.e., ten different DNA sequences each encoding a transcriptional terminator that operates at 50% efficiency, et cetera). Being able to provide for multiple sequence distinct instances of specific genetic functions is essential in order to obtain reliable performance of integrated genetic systems across evolutionary times scales; frequent reuse of identical sequences in early synthetic biological systems leads to unintentional instability of many component genetic constructs due to direct sequence repeats.

SynBERC parts on demand

The BIOFAB is working closely with the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC) to develop parts and devices as requested for SynBERC testbed applications. We will make available a standing rapid prototyping service to all SynBERC researchers so that any needed engineered genetic systems can be quickly and effectively designed, assembled, and tested.

Bio-Fabrication and Human Practices

The BIOFAB -- along with the field of synthetic biology as a whole -- promises significant engineering advances in the design and composition of living systems. It also represents a practical exercise in the capacities and limits of a parts-based approach to biological engineering—organizationally, commercially, and biologically. In this way, the BIOFAB is an ideal testing ground for a range of human practices questions currently in circulation. Many of the security analysts, bioethicists, science studies practitioners and others studying synthetic biology have calibrated their work to the promises and dangers of making biology easier to engineer and making materials and know-how more widely available. To the extent that the BIOFAB successfully achieves its goals it is likely, in short, to ramify across multiple domains. In such a case, as its developers have recognized, the question of how the BIOFAB is organized and orchestrated becomes all the more pressing.

FURTHER READING

H+ magazine interview of Drew Endy




More DARPA Project Highlights for 2011

There are 522 pages of unclassified DARPA projects for 2010-2011. This is a second look at more of the projects.

The first look at DARPA 2010-2011 projects is here

Transformer (TX) Vehicle AKA flying car
($12 million) The Transformer (TX) Vehicle program will examine the feasibility and approaches for developing vertical take-off and landing, road-worthy vehicles that carry a 4-person payload >250 NM on one tank of fuel, can safely travel on roads, and can be operated by a typical soldier.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Conduct trade studies of vehicle designs, lift motors, flight dynamics and control, energy conversion
and storage, vehicle architectures, and concepts of operation.
- Initiate preliminary design studies.
- Conduct risk reduction experiments and modeling to validate designs.

JOULE AKA Ten times Higher Density Batteries
($4 million) The JOULE program will exploit new architectures, reversible electrode structures, materials, and chemistries for the development of rechargeable, high energy density batteries that match or exceed
energy density of hydrocarbon fuels (e.g. gasoline, JP8, etc.). Three-dimensional structures with very high surface areas for electrodes will
increase the power density of these batteries. The program will develop new chemistries for positive electrodes to demonstrate reversibility in the graphite fluorite (a high-voltage, high-capacity material) class of positive electrode materials in reversible batteries for the first time. The energy density will increase over ten-fold current lithium ion batteries commonly in use.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Investigate chemistry and materials to enable rechargeable high energy density batteries.



Blood Pharming
($4.1 million) The overall Blood Pharming program objective is to develop an automated culture and packaging system that yields transfusable levels of universal donor red blood cells (RBCs) from progenitor cell sources. The goal of the Phase II effort is to produce 100 units of universal donor (Type O negative) RBCs per week for eight weeks in an automated closed culture system using a renewing progenitor population.

FY 2009 Accomplishments:
- Demonstrated greater than or equal to two million-fold expansion from progenitor source to mature RBC.
- Demonstrated characteristic functions of RBC (oxygen binding/release, enzyme content, size, deformability) in vitro.
- Developed strategies for production of ten RBC units per week for four weeks in an automated closed culture system using a non-renewing (replaceable) progenitor cell population.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Demonstrate production of 10 RBC units per week for four weeks in an automated closed culture system using a renewable progenitor cell population.
- Demonstrate one billion-fold expansion of progenitor population to mature RBCs.
- Demonstrate magnetic isolation of mature enucleated RBCs at a rate greater than one million cells per second.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Demonstrate immunogenicity of bioreactor-developed RBCs in an in vivo model.
- Demonstrate efficacy of bioreactor-developed RBCs as a transfusion product in an in vivo trauma model.

Tactical Biomedical Technologies
($19.6 million) The Tactical Biomedical Technologies thrust will develop new approaches to deliver life-saving medical care on the battlefield.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Demonstrate in vivo induction of restorative skeletal muscle repair by transplant of induced pluripotent cells.
- Determine transition kinetics from joint formation to bone morphogenic protein-2 (BMP-2)-induced long bone restoration.
- Develop a material that can be delivered to a closed, intracavity space and binds specifically to damaged tissue as demonstrated in situ by immunohistology.
- Demonstrate that hemostatic material does not induce intracavity scar formation within 28 days when left at the wound site.
- Build and demonstrate an automated laboratory prototype DBAC system.
- Optimize automated algorithms for bleeder detection, localization, coagulation, and cuff control with in vivo models.
FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Demonstrate compatibility with FDA-approved agents that control pain, infection, and inflammation.
- Achieve wound treatment system unit specs including coverage of at least 0.20 square meters of tissue area, mass of less than 200 grams, and a volume less than 150 ml.
- Demonstrate hemostasis in less than four minutes on a high-pressure non-compressible injury model.
- Maintain hemostasis in high pressure model for three hours.
Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET)
($20 million) The goal of the Reliable Neural-Interface Technology (RE-NET) program is to develop technology needed to reliably extract information from the nervous system, and to do so at a scale and rate necessary to control many degree-of-freedom (DOF) machines, such as high-performance prosthetic limbs.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Advance peripheral nervous system (PNS) interface technology to increase the channel count and hence neural information content, while not compromising the existing long-term reliability capability.
- Perform fundamental tissue-response-assessment experiments using both existing and new central nervous system (CNS) interface technology.
- Develop statistically validated models of electrode channel loss as well as methods to predict longterm interface failure.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Advance CNS interface technology to increase its functional lifetime, while not compromising their ability to obtain large amounts of neural information.
- Demonstrate advanced Reliable CNS Interface (RCI) technology in models with systems that have at least 100 channels and do not lose more than 1% of the channels per year.

Revolution in Fiber Lasers (RIFL)
($5.4 million) The goal of the Revolution in Fiber Lasers (RIFL) program is to develop multi-kilowatt, singlemode, narrow line fiber laser amplifiers using efficient, high brightness laser diode pump arrays. These narrowline fiber laser amplifiers can then be coherently combined to develop ultra-high power

FY 2010 Plans:
- Demonstrate and test 15% efficient, single mode, single polarization, coherently combinable fiber laser amplifiers with near diffraction-limited beam quality at 1kW power level.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Demonstrate and test 30% efficient, single mode, single polarization, coherently combinable fiber laser amplifiers with near diffraction-limited beam quality at 3kW power level.

Training Superiority
($8.4 million) The Training Superiority program will change the paradigm for military training by creating new approaches to increase technical competence.

FY 2010 Plans:
- Develop the underlying engine and the hardware/software architecture necessary to create large
scale Digital Tutor system, with focus on scaling, capacity and performance.
- Elaborate intrinsic, instrumental and extrinsic motivation models in order to maintain student motivation over two months of instruction demonstrated over one week.
- Port two months of Navy IT-School content from a human-tutored course to the Digital Tutor.
- Create an automatic capability to identify students requiring remediation.
- Develop methodology for establishing correspondence between Digital Tutor content/training and existing Navy curriculum, to facilitate transition of Digital Tutor to Navy Schoolhouse.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Extend Natural Language Understanding to encompass the full range of the IT domain.
- Create a semantic model, abstractions, and Application Program Interface (API) that allows Socratic dialogs capable of handling large number of semantic responses rather than a predefined set of answers.
- Complete full sixteen weeks of content and integrate results of theoretical work.
- Demonstrate deployment to pier-side and harden the system (full course).
- Establish effectiveness of Digital Tutor system in creating Mastery-level students by conductingsecond IWARs competition between Digital Tutor trained students and Navy-selected Fleet experts.

High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS)
($11.5 + $25 million) The goal of the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program is to develop a high-energy laser weapon system (150 kW) with an order of magnitude reduction in weight compared to existing laser systems. With a weight goal of <5 kg/kW, HELLADS will enable high energy lasers (HELs) to be integrated onto tactical aircraft. FY 2010 Plans: - Complete a unit cell laser module with integrated power and thermal management subsystems and demonstrate power, beam quality, run-time, weight, and volume. - Complete the detailed design of a ground-based 150kW laser weapons system demonstrator. FY 2011 Base Plans: - Integrate the 150 kW laser with the ground-based demonstrator laser weapon system. - Complete low power and high power testing of the ground-based demonstrator laser weapon system. - Conduct a ground-based field demonstration and analyze initial results of the performance of the demonstrator laser weapon system against tactical targets of interest to the Air Force and other users. Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA)
($7 million) The Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA) program will develop a wafer-scale graphene (2-Dimensional carbon monolayer) synthesis process resulting in films with excellent mobility, uniformity and layer control (down to single monolayer films).

FY 2009 Accomplishments:
- Developed synthesis process for wafer-scale graphene thin films.
- Demonstrated feasibility of graphene channel based FETs.
FY 2010 Plans:
- Optimize synthesis process for wafer-scale graphene thin films.
Optimize RF-FETs based on graphene channels.

FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Increase area of graphene synthesis to wafer-scale dimensions.
- Demonstrate film thickness control down to single monolayer.
- Demonstrate low power, high performance RF-FETs with graphene.
- Demonstrate initial wide-band LNA using graphene channel based RF-FETs.



MIT Makes Room Temperature Germanium Laser Which Can Enable Onchip Photonics for Faster, Lower Power Computers

MIT researchers have demonstrated the first room temperatur laser built from germanium that can produce wavelengths of light useful for optical communication. Germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data — and maybe even perform calculations — using light instead of electricity.

Onchip photonics is a key to increasing the speed and lowering the power usage of computer chips to enable zettaflop computing (one million times faster than petaflop supercomputers that exist now).

Optics Letters - A Ge-on-Si laser operating at room temperature



The researchers describe how they coaxed excited germanium electrons into the higher-energy, photon-emitting state.

Their first strategy is a technique, common in chip manufacturing, called “doping,” in which atoms of some other element are added to a semiconductor crystal. The group doped its germanium with phosphorous, which has five outer electrons. Germanium has only four outer electrons, “so each phosphorous gives us an extra electron,” Kimerling says. The extra electron fills up the lower-energy state in the conduction band, causing excited electrons to, effectively, spill over into the higher-energy, photon-emitting state.

According to the group’s theoretical work, phosphorous doping “works best at 10^20 atoms per cubic centimeter” of germanium, Kimerling explains. So far, the group has developed a technique that can add 10^19 phosphorous atoms to each cubic centimeter of germanium, “and we already begin to see lasing,” Kimerling says.

The second strategy was to lower the energy difference between the two conduction-band states so that excited electrons would be more likely to spill over into the photon-emitting state. The researchers did that by adapting another technique common in the chip industry: they “strained” the germanium — or pried its atoms slightly farther apart than they would be naturally — by growing it directly on top of a layer of silicon. Both the silicon and the germanium were deposited at high temperatures. But silicon doesn’t contract as much as germanium when it cools. The atoms of the cooling germanium tried to maintain their alignment with the silicon atoms, so they ended up farther apart than they would ordinarily be. Changing the angle and length of the bonds between germanium atoms also changed the energies required to kick their electrons into the conduction band. “The ability to grow germanium on silicon is a discovery of this group,” says Kimerling, “and the ability to control the strain of those germanium films on silicon is a discovery of this group.”

“High-speed optical circuits like germanium in general,” says Miao. “That’s a good marriage and a good combination. So their laser research is very, very promising.” Miao points out that the germanium lasers need to become more power-efficient before they’re a practical source of light for optical communications systems. “But on the other hand,” he says, “the promise is exciting, and the fact that they got germanium to lase at all is very exciting.”

Optics Letters website