October 20, 2014

World’s Thinnest Electric Generator

Researchers from Columbia Engineering and the Georgia Institute of Technology report today that they have made the first experimental observation of piezoelectricity and the piezotronic effect in an atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), resulting in a unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretcha

Piezoelectricity is a well-known effect in which stretching or compressing a material causes it to generate an electrical voltage (or the reverse, in which an applied voltage causes it to expand or contract). But for materials of only a few atomic thicknesses, no experimental observation of piezoelectricity has been made, until now. The observation reported today provides a new property for two-dimensional materials such as molybdenum disulfide, opening the potential for new types of mechanically controlled electronic devices.

Ultimately, Zhong Lin Wang notes, the research could lead to complete atomic-thick nanosystems that are self-powered by harvesting mechanical energy from the environment. This study also reveals the piezotronic effect in two-dimensional materials for the first time, which greatly expands the application of layered materials for human-machine interfacing, robotics, MEMS, and active flexible electronics.

An atomically thin material, molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), shown, could be the basis for unique electric generator and mechanosensation devices that are optically transparent, extremely light, and very bendable and stretchable.—Image courtesy of Rob Felt/Georgia Tech

Nature - Piezoelectricity of single-atomic-layer MoS2 for energy conversion and piezotronics

Conference Board Forecasts China's annual GDP growth will be 5.5% for 5 years and then 3.9% for five. Other economists think this is overly pessimistic

The Wall Street Journal reports on a Conference Board forecast of China's GDP growth over the next ten years.

The Conference Board forecasts that China’s annual growth will slow to an average of 5.5% between 2015 and 2019, compared with last year’s 7.7%. It will downshift further to an average of 3.9% between 2020 and 2025, according to the report.

Tomorrow China will reports their third quarter GDP growth. China's economy is forecast to have grown 7.2 percent in the July-September period, according to a Reuters poll.

Lightbridge will test their metallic nuclear fuel in Canada

Lightbridge on Monday announced a pact with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to carry out a key test for the McLean-based company's nuclear fuel technology.

The initial agreement with Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) entails fabricating samples of the fuel and irradiating them in a research reactor. The work represents "the most critical phase of fuel testing and demonstration" prior to testing in a commercial reactor.

Work at AECL's Chalk River, Ontario, facility is slated to begin later this year.

China ready for Thursday unmanned sample return mission from the moon

The Chang'e 5-T1 mission is set to blast off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan, China, on 23 October. It will fly around the back of the moon and return to Earth on October 31st.

It's a precursor to a more advanced mission planned for 2017. This future mission will send a lunar orbiter that will release a lander to touch down on the moon's surface and collect 2 kilograms of soil and rock.

Chang'e 5-T1 will test China's heat-shield technology

China's 2017 target is to land on the moon, scoop up some rocks and soil, and bring it all back to Earth (Image: CNSA)

Isaac Asimov described How People Get New Ideas

Technology Review printed a 1959 essay that Isaac Asimov contributed to research project. The original essay was published with permission of Asimov Holdings.

How do people get new ideas ? How are can productive creativity be maximized ?

What is needed is not only people with a good background in a particular field, but also people capable of making a connection between item 1 and item 2 which might not ordinarily seem connected.

The history of human thought would make it seem that there is difficulty in thinking of an idea even when all the facts are on the table. Making the cross-connection requires a certain daring. Any non-daring cross connection becomes merely “corollary of an old idea.”

It is only afterward that a new idea seems reasonable. To begin with, it usually seems unreasonable. It seems the height of unreason to suppose the earth was round instead of flat, or that it moved instead of the sun, or that objects required a force to stop them when in motion, instead of a force to keep them moving, and so on.

Eccentric but not a crackpot

A person willing to fly in the face of reason, authority, and common sense must be a person of considerable self-assurance. Since he occurs only rarely, he must seem eccentric (in at least that respect) to the rest of us. A person eccentric in one respect is often eccentric in others.

Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)

October 19, 2014

Updated Prospects for Commercial Nuclear Fusion

Commercialization Targets for Nuclear Fusion Projects

LPP Fusion (Lawrenceville Plasma Physics) - the target is to make LPP Fusion with a commercial system 4 years after net energy gain is proved. The hop is two years to prove net energy gain. Then 2019-2022 for a commercial reactor (2022 if we allow for 3 years of slippage). They could lower energy costs by ten times.

Lockheed Compact Fusion has a target date of 2024 and made big news recently with some technical details and an effort to get partners.

Helion Energy 2023 (about 5 cents per kwh and able to burn nuclear fission waste)

Tri-Alpha Energy (previously talked about 2015-2020, but now likely 2020-2025)

General Fusion 2023 (targeting 4 cents per kwh)

EMC2 Fusion (Released some proven physics results, raising $30 million)

October 18, 2014

Personalized Cellular Therapy Achieves Complete Remission in 90 Percent of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Ninety percent of children and adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) who had relapsed multiple times or failed to respond to standard therapies went into remission after receiving an investigational personalized cellular therapy, CTL019, developed at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Twenty-seven of the 30 patients in the studies achieved a complete remission after receiving an infusion of these engineered “hunter” cells, and 78 percent of the patients were alive six months after treatment.

New York Times reports that other hospitals around the country will soon test the experimental treatment in children with advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Similar research, also with encouraging results, is being done at the National Cancer Institute and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Each year in the United States, acute lymphoblastic leukemia affects about 2,400 people older than 20, and 3,600 younger. It has a cure rate in adults of only about 40 percent, compared with 80 percent to 90 percent in children. About 1,170 adults die from the disease each year, compared with 270 people under age 20.

The New England Journal of Medicine - Chimeric Antigen Receptor T Cells for Sustained Remissions in Leukemia