January 30, 2015

New family of light-converting materials points to cheaper, more efficient solar power and LEDs

Engineers are shining new light on an emerging family of solar-absorbing materials that could clear the way for cheaper and more efficient solar panels and LEDs.

The materials, called perovskites, are particularly good at absorbing visible light, but had never been studied in their purest form: as perfect single crystals.

Using a new technique, researchers grew large, pure perovskite crystals and studied how electrons move through the material as light is converted to electricity.

The team used a combination of laser-based techniques to measure selected properties of the perovskite crystals. By tracking down the ultrafast motion of electrons in the material, they have been able to measure the diffusion length—how far electrons can travel without getting trapped by imperfections in the material—as well as mobility—how fast the electrons can move through the material.

Science - Low trap-state density and long carrier diffusion in organolead trihalide perovskite single crystals

Los Alamos growing high-efficiency perovskite solar cells

Researchers revealed a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystal.

The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%, among the highest reported in the field of perovskite-based light-to-energy conversion devices. The cells demonstrate little cell-to-cell variability, resulting in devices showing hysteresis-free photovoltaic response, which had been a fundamental bottleneck for stable operation of perovskite devices.

Example of perovskite solar cells from another maker

Science - High Efficiency Solution-Processed Perovskite Solar Cells with Millimeter-Scale Grains

Diamond can replace silicon for computer chips for faster, lighter and simpler devices

Diamond can run 5 times hotter than Silicon without degrading in performance and is more easily cooled (with 22 times the heat transfer efficiency of silicon), can tolerate higher voltages before breaking down, and electrons (and electron-holes) can move faster through them. Already, semiconductor devices with diamond material are available that deliver one million times more electrical current than silicon or previous attempts using diamond.

Diamond-based semiconductors are capable of increasing power density as well as create faster, lighter, and simpler devices.

Akhan Semi, in collaboration with Argonne National Laboratory, has developed a series of advancements that allows us to manufacture standalone diamond materials, deposit diamond directly on processed silicon, fabricate complete diamond semiconductor devices, as well as attach diamond material to other electronics materials.

Diamond wafer technology is producing thinner and cheaper devices already in use in information technology, the military and aerospace applications. In addition, diamond semiconductor will have a major impact on the consumer electronics, telecommunications and health industries, among many others, starting as early as 2015.

Thin diamond film materials are able to alter the electronic properties and form device structures that are over a thousand times thinner than the leading silicon counterpart in addition to the previous state-of-the-art in diamond but with also increased performance, allowing the trend of smaller, faster, and more functional to continue.

The Miraj Diamond™ platform resulted from the marriage of two scientific breakthroughs: the ability to deposit nanocrystalline diamond films at relatively low temperatures and a doping process that makes NCD into a good semiconducting materia

Israel armored personnel carrier has more armor than Merkava Tank

Israel designs its tanks and armored carriers with a high focus on soldier survivability. Namer is an Israeli armored personnel carrier based on a Merkava tank chassis. They weigh 60 tons. They have a crew of 3 and can carry 12 soldiers. Top speed is 40 mph and it has a range of 310 miles.

The US armored personnel carriers are typically 13 to 27 tons (M113, Stryker, Bradley fighting vehicle).

Namer has been designed for survivability and rapid repair, with modular armor, V-shaped belly armor pack, and NBC protection.

According to Brigadier general Yaron Livnat, they are more heavily armored than the Merkava IV: "The weight saved by eliminating the turret was 'reinvested' in beefing up the armor."

From 2015 onwards, it is planned for them to begin to be equipped with a Trophy active protection system. The Trophy system is an automatic shotgun like system that can defeat rocket propelled grenades.

January 29, 2015

China stole the F35 stealth but did not make a compromised fighter

At least twice since 2007 Chinese hackers have stolen data on the F-35 from the developers’ poorly-guarded computer servers.

China's J-31 jet lacks many of the features that were included in the F-35 that were made for the US Marines obsession with jumpjets. War is Boring also explains why the history of the Harrier and why it was also terrible.

Compromised fighters are not built for maximum speed, acceleration and maneuverability

The J-31 does not have a lift fan or even a space for a lift fan. This allowed Chinese engineers to optimize the new plane for speed, acceleration, maneuverability and flying range — and to add good pilot visibility and a second rearward engine — instead of having to build the plane around a pretty much useless vertical-takeoff capability that slows it down, limits it to one motor and blocks the pilot’s view.

The F35 fighter is the aerodynamic equivalent of a lobbed brick, totally outclassed by the latest Russian- and Chinese-made jets.

The F35 has failed in a 2008 RAND battle simulation.

Fighter bombers were a dumb compromise but the Marine jump jet obsession is nuts

The trend toward merging functions began with fighter bombers. This might make some sense in rare missions or for some small air forces. Dedicated fighters are better in dog fights than fighter bombers. Pure bombers are better for bombing than fighter bombers.

Don't mix functions and requirements just because it can barely work. Specialization and a fleet of pure fighters and pure bombers allows for superior optimization

You want cheaper smartphones so Foxconn will use robots to make them

Foxconn makes many of the worlds smartphones and tablets. They make Apple iPhones and iPads. They also make some android smartphones. The CEO of Foxconn has indicated that he wants to make a lot of robots to reduce the hiring of workers. Currently Foxconn has 1.3 million workers. They are one of the largest private employers in the world.

Pricing pressure on their smartphone products means they will be a leader in automating manufacturing. There would be more room for human manufacturing jobs if people did not want cheaper products. Also, there is the competition to deliver less expensive products.

There is overall competition to provide cheaper goods and services and a big part of providing it will be with robotic automation and process improvement. In other decades lower costs were provides were provided with innovations like assembly lines and outsourcing of work.

Labor costs had more than doubled since 2010, when the company faced intense media scrutiny following a spate of worker suicides.

Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, will cut its massive workforce.

"We've basically stabilized (our workforce) in the last three years," Special assistant to the chairman and group spokesman Louis Woo said. When asked if the company plans to reduce overall headcount, he responded "yes".

Revenue growth at the conglomerate tumbled to 1.3 percent in 2013 and only partially recovered to 6.5 percent last year after a long string of double-digit increases from 2003 to 2012.

In 3 more months Apple will have enough cash to buy Chevron

Apple has $178 billion in cash and cash equivalents.
Apple made $18 billion in profit in the 3 months of 2014.

Chevron is trading at $196 billion.

Apple seems on track to continue massive iPhone sales in China through 2015. Apple 74.5 million iPhones in the 4th quarter of 2014 worldwide.

By the end of the year, Apple is on track to being able to purchase Walmart ($239 billion) for all cash.

Samsung only has a market valuation of $227 billion. Of course South Korea would never permit that purchase and anti-trust laws would also block it.

Currently there are only sixteen of the top US companies that are too expensive for Apple to buy for cash If Apple keeps up the profit pace and maintains margins then by the end of 2016 all companies below $340 billion in valuation would be a possible cash purchase.

Former Bank of China Advisor expects China GDP growth to rebound to 7.5% in 2017 or 2018

Li Daokui, professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Economics and Management and a former adviser to the People’s Bank of China, said he believes growth in China's economy is now nearing its low point, adding that he expects growth rates to pick up within a year or two.

“I believe we’re now at the bottom of a u-shape,” Mr. Li said at a Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefing for journalists. He said his forecast was for 7.2% year-over-year annual growth in 2015, rising to 7.5% by 2017 or 2018.

Most economists expect Beijing to set an annual-growth target for 2015 of 7.0% during its annual legislative session in March, when the government lays out policies for the year.

Spacex Heavy Animation Video showing reuse

When Falcon Heavy lifts off later this year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. Thrust at liftoff is equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft operating simultaneously.

Animation shows the Spacex heavy boosters returning

USA unable to keep secrets, it should sell military tech to China and come out ahead

Recently it was confirmed that a data breach of 50 terabytes (data of five Libraries of Congress) already took place in 2007 at the prime subcontractor Lockheed Martin. Chinese hackers have successfully obtained data on the B-2 stealth bomber, the F35 jet, the F-22 jet, space-based lasers, missile navigation and tracking systems, as well as nuclear submarine/anti-air missile designs.

China will eventually perfect the J-20 and J-31, however—it is just a matter of time. “They are going get there one day, make no mistake,” the senior official said. “It won’t be tomorrow or the next day, but the fact this place is debuting now should tell you something about China’s commitment.”

The US has had problems keeping military and other secrets as seen by the Snowden and Wikileaks cases.

If the USA sold military planes to China, then China would of course reverse engineer them and fully utilize them in their own planes. However, the US makers could also arrange for China to be a primary source of parts for the planes.

The F35 is on top in the picture and J31 is on bottom

China's airplanes and airplanes parts are less than half the cost of US manufacturers.

$400 billion has already been spent developing the F35 and it is expected to cost another $600 billion to $1 trillion to buy more F35 planes and operate them.

Arranging for China to buy the planes would also increase the market size for US production.

January 28, 2015

USA SM-3 and Russia S500 Deployment of Continental Range Anti-ICBM systems

The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is a ship-based missile system used by the US Navy to intercept short-to intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although primarily designed as an anti-ballistic missile, the SM-3 has also been employed in an anti-satellite capacity against a satellite at the lower end of low Earth orbit. The SM-3 is primarily used and tested by the United States Navy and also operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

On 13 June 2002, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and recommenced developing missile defense systems that would have formerly been prohibited by the bilateral treaty. The action was rationalized under the need to defend against the possibility of a missile attack conducted by a rogue state. The next day, the Russian Federation promptly dropped the START II agreement, intended to completely ban MIRVs.

The new SM-3 capabilities are :
Operational range Block IIA ~2500 km (1350 nautical miles)
Flight ceiling Block IIA ~1500 km (933 miles)
Speed Block IIA ~4.5 km/s

Lockheed is pushing for funding for the development of an ER (extended range) version of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) to counter maturing threats posed by hypersonic glide vehicles adversaries may employ, namely the Chinese WU-14, to penetrate the gap between low and high-altitude missile defenses.

US hit another post-1973 oil production record and oil storage space is shrinking worldwide

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