January 19, 2017

Creating atomic scale graphene nanoribbons

Silicon crystals are the semiconductors most commonly used to make transistors, which are critical electronic components used to carry out logic operations in computing. However, as faster and more powerful processors are created, silicon has reached a performance limit: the faster it conducts electricity, the hotter it gets, leading to overheating.

Graphene, made of a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon, stays much cooler and can conduct much faster, but it must be into smaller pieces, called nanoribbons, in order to act as a semiconductor. Despite much progress in the fabrication and characterization of nanoribbons, cleanly transferring them onto surfaces used for chip manufacturing has been a significant challenge.

A recent study conducted by researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has demonstrated the first important step toward integrating atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (APGNRs) onto nonmetallic substrates. The paper, "Solution-Synthesized Chevron Graphene Nanoribbons Exfoliated onto H:Si(100)," was published in Nano Letters.

Researchers have made the first important step toward integrating atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (APGNRs) onto nonmetallic substrates.
CREDIT Adrian Radocea, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology

Nanoletters - Solution-Synthesized Chevron Graphene Nanoribbons Exfoliated onto H:Si(100)

Chip-sized, high-speed terahertz modulator raises possibility of faster data transmission

Tufts University engineers have invented a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at terahertz (THz) frequencies and at room temperature at low voltages without consuming DC power. The discovery could help fill the “THz gap” that is limiting development of new and more powerful wireless devices that could transmit data at significantly higher speeds than currently possible.

Measurements show the modulation cutoff frequency of the new device exceeded 14 gigahertz and has the potential to work above 1 THz, according to a paper published online today in Scientific Reports. By contrast, cellular networks occupy bands that are much lower on the spectrum where the amount of data that can be transmitted is limited.

The device works through the interaction of confined THz waves in a novel slot waveguide with tunable, two-dimensional electron gas. The prototype device operated within the frequency band of 0.22-0.325 THz, which was chosen because it corresponded to available experimental facilities. The researchers say the device would work within other bands as well.

Confined terahertz waves interact with tunable, two-dimensional electron gas in a novel slot waveguide. Credit: Nano Lab, Tufts University School of Engineering.

Nature Scientific Reports - High Speed Terahertz Modulator on the Chip Based on Tunable Terahertz Slot Waveguide

Now that climate scientists know that emissions will not be kept below what would be a less than 2 degree global change level will geoengineering get serious attention

In 2008 some climate scientiss said that the world had 100 months to enact drastic anti-global warming policies to avoid the environment warming by two degrees celsius compared to pre-industrial times. The 100 months have passed and only modest policies have been enacted and it seems likely that some of the policies will be reverse with more use of fossil fuels.

Global temperatures have already risen by 1 degree celsius compared to 1880.

What scale of change are we looking at to stay below 2C? Being optimistic about what might be achieved in terms of saving forests from being cut down and cleaning up industry, especially the production of steel and cement, Anderson estimates globally the world can afford to emit around 650 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in total from energy systems. Currently, the world pumps out about 36 billion tonnes every year alone. Starting from today, and assuming that poorer and industrialising nations see a peak in the emissions from energy use by 2025 and go zero carbon by 2050, Anderson calculates that this leaves a rich country such as the UK with the challenge of cutting its emissions by around 13% per year.

Emissions have been going up fairly constantly. There has not even been a flattening of emissions. It is likely that the 650 billion ton budget will be used in 15-20 years.

The climate scientists were merely asking for about $100 trillion to be spent on climate mitigation between now and 2100. It is amazing that they are shocked and disappointed that the world has not enacted that program.

Effective geoengineering could be performed at about 100-1000 times lower cost. This would be

Lightweight Car production with disruptive 3D print process

Engineers at The University of Nottingham are developing lightweight automotive components using new additive manufacturing processes to boost vehicle fuel efficiency, while cutting noise and CO2 emissions.

The components will be constructed using selective laser melting (SLM). SLM uses a 3-Dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) model to digitally reproduce the object in a number of layers.

Each layer is sequentially recreated by melting sections of a bed of aluminium alloy powder using a laser beam. Layer by layer, the melted particles fuse and solidify to form novel structures that can be made up from complex lattices to provide a light-weight component.

Russia developing hypersonic weapons expects breakthroughs in combat laser and electromagneticweapons

Russia is developing hypersonic weapons by using new materials, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said on Thursday.

"Coming next are hypersonic weapons, which require the use of principally new materials and control systems that operate in a completely different medium, in plasma," the deputy defense minister said.

Today the Army is at the stage of a new scientific and technical revolution and principally new armament systems based on physical principles never used before in this field are coming to replace existing systems, the deputy defense minister said.

Russia expects a serious breakthrough in the field of laser and electromagnetic weapons.

The United States is currently leading in race to develop combat lasers and electromagnetic railguns.

The USA had a lead in developing hypersonic missiles but Russia and China may be closer to deploying weapons.

Graphene superconductivity activated which could enable new electronic devices and faster computers

Researchers have found a way to trigger the innate, but previously hidden, ability of graphene to act as a superconductor - meaning that it can be made to carry an electrical current with zero resistance.

The finding, reported in Nature Communications, further enhances the potential of graphene, which is already widely seen as a material that could revolutionise industries such as healthcare and electronics. Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms and combines several remarkable properties; for example, it is very strong, but also light and flexible, and highly conductive.

Since its discovery in 2004, scientists have speculated that graphene may also have the capacity to be a superconductor. Until now, superconductivity in graphene has only been achieved by doping it with, or by placing it on, a superconducting material - a process which can compromise some of its other properties.

But in the new study, researchers at the University of Cambridge managed to activate the dormant potential for graphene to superconduct in its own right. This was achieved by coupling it with a material called praseodymium cerium copper oxide (PCCO).

Superconductors are already used in numerous applications. Because they generate large magnetic fields they are an essential component in MRI scanners and levitating trains. They could also be used to make energy-efficient power lines and devices capable of storing energy for millions of years.

Superconducting graphene opens up yet more possibilities. The researchers suggest, for example, that graphene could now be used to create new types of superconducting quantum devices for high-speed computing. Intriguingly, it might also be used to prove the existence of a mysterious form of superconductivity known as "p-wave" superconductivity, which academics have been struggling to verify for more than 20 years.

Nature Communications - p-wave triggered superconductivity in single-layer graphene on an electron-doped oxide superconductor

Tri-Alpha Fusion spending $500 million to develop commercial fusion by 2027

Michl Binderbauer is chief technology officer for a startup called Tri Alpha Energy that is making a $500 million bet on fusion. Tri Alpha is the largest of about a dozen startups trying to make it work.

Tri Alpha is taking a different approach than the International Tokomak. TriAlpha will not a huge structure. The idea is to fire two football-shaped plasma clouds at each other at supersonic speeds.

At the center of the chamber, they collide violently, fusing into a larger football. Additional particles are fired at right angles, making the plasma ball spin like a well-thrown pass.

They are testing constantly, sometimes 50 times a day. Each shot requires about 20 megawatts of electricity, enough to power all the lights and appliances in 5,000 homes, but for only a few-thousandths-of-a-second.

Gleaning data from a hot ball of nothing that lasts for much, much less than the blink of an eye requires a lot of clever testing tools.

Binderbauer believes a commercial fusion system will be available in a decade.

The funding was known back when Nextbigfuture covered Tri-alpha back in 9 months ago. 2027 as a commercialization target is a slip from prior plans

Tri Alpha Energy, nuclear fusion startup, has raised $500 million. Tri Alpha’s setup borrows some of the principles of high-energy particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider, to fire beams of plasma into a central vessel where the fusion reaction takes place. Last August the company said it had succeeded in keeping a high-energy plasma stable in the vessel for five milliseconds—an infinitesimal instant of time, but enough to show that it could be done indefinitely. Since then that time has been upped to 11.5 milliseconds.

The next challenge is to make the plasma hot enough for the fusion reaction to generate more energy than is needed to run it. How hot? Something like 3 billion °C, or 200 times the temperature of the sun’s core. No metal on Earth could withstand such a temperature. But because the roiling ball of gas is confined by a powerful electromagnetic field, it doesn’t touch the interior of the machine.

The photos seen here were taken a few days before Tri Alpha began dismantling the machine to build a much larger and more powerful version that will fully demonstrate the concept. That could lead to a prototype reactor sometime in the 2020s.

Tri-alpha energy was in stealth mode for many years but now has their own website.

Compact Toroidal injector test stand

The C2U is the world's largest compact toroid device. 20 meters in length and 1.4 meters in diameter. Magnetic fields of 3.5 tesla deliver 1 megajoule in microseconds forming and accelerating compact toroids to 600,000 kilometers per hour.

Tri Alpha’s machine produces a doughnut of plasma, but in it the flow of particles in the plasma produces all of the magnetic field holding the plasma together. This approach, known as a field-reversed configuration (FRC), has been known since the 1960s. But despite decades of work, researchers could get the blobs of plasma to last only about 0.3 milliseconds before they broke up or melted away. In 1997, the Canadian-born physicist Norman Rostoker of the University of California, Irvine, and colleagues proposed a new approach. The following year, they set up Tri Alpha, now based in an unremarkable—and unlabeled—industrial unit here. Building up from tabletop devices, by last year the company was employing 150 people and was working with C-2, a 23-meter-long tube ringed by magnets and bristling with control devices, diagnostic instruments, and particle beam generators. The machine forms two smoke rings of plasma, one near each end, by a proprietary process and fires them toward the middle at nearly a million kilometers per hour. At the center they merge into a bigger FRC, transforming their kinetic energy into heat.

Previous attempts to create long-lasting FRCs were plagued by the twin demons that torment all fusion reactor designers. The first is turbulence in the plasma that allows hot particles to reach the edge and so lets heat escape. Second is instability: the fact that hot plasma doesn’t like being confined and so wriggles and bulges in attempts to get free, eventually breaking up altogether. Rostoker, a theorist who had worked in many branches of physics including particle physics, believed the solution lay in firing high-speed particles tangentially into the edge of the plasma. The fast-moving incomers would follow much wider orbits in the plasma’s magnetic field than native particles do; those wide orbits would act as a protective shell, stiffening the plasma against both heat-leaking turbulence and instability.

SOURCES - PBS, Technology Review, Physics of Plasmas, Trialpha Energy, Youtube, Science

We only stop or reduce the use of materials when we swap in something better or something that is toxic is banned

While some scientists believe that the world can achieve significant dematerialization through improvements in technology, a new MIT-led study finds that technological advances alone will not bring about dematerialization and, ultimately, a sustainable world.

Researchers found that no matter how much more efficient and compact a product is made, consumers will only demand more of that product and in the long run increase the total amount of materials used in making that product.

Take, for instance, one of the world’s fastest-improving technologies: silicon-based semiconductors.

Over the last few decades, technological improvements in the efficiency of semiconductors have greatly reduced the amount of material needed to make a single transistor. As a result, today’s smartphones, tablets, and computers are far more powerful and compact than computers built in the 1970s.

Nonetheless, the researchers find that consumers’ demand for silicon has outpaced the rate of its technological change, and that the world’s consumption of silicon has grown by 345 percent over the last four decades. As others have found, by 2005, there were more transistors used than printed text characters.

“Despite how fast technology is racing, there’s actually more silicon used today, because we now just put more stuff on, like movies, and photos, and things we couldn’t even think of 20 years ago,” says Christopher Magee, a professor of the practice of engineering systems in MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.
“So we’re still using a little more material all the time.”

The researchers found similar trends in 56 other materials, goods, and services, from basic resources such as aluminum and formaldehyde to hardware and energy technologies such as hard disk drives, transistors, wind energy, and photovoltaics. In all cases, they found no evidence of dematerialization, or an overall reduction in their use, despite technological improvements to their performance.

“There is a techno-optimist’s position that says technological change will fix the environment,” Magee observes. “This says, probably not.”

In their research, Magee and Devezas examined whether the world’s use of materials has been swayed by an effect known as Jevons’ Paradox. In 1865, the English economist William Stanley Jevons observed that as improvements to coal-fired steam engines reduced the price of coal, England’s consumption of coal actually increased.

While experts believed technological improvements would reduce coal consumption, Jevons countered the opposite was true: Improving coal-fired power’s efficiency would only increase consumer demand for electricity and further deplete coal reserves.

The researchers’ model indicates that dematerialization is more likely when demand elasticity for a product is relatively low and the rate of its technological improvement is high. But when they applied the equation to common goods and services used today, they found that demand elasticity and technological change worked against each other — the better a product was made to perform, the more consumers wanted it.

“It seems we haven’t seen a saturation in demand,” Magee says. “People haven’t said, ‘That’s enough,’ at least in anything that we can get data to test for.”

In follow-up work, the researchers were eventually able to identify six cases in which an absolute decline in materials usage has occurred. However, these cases mostly include toxic chemicals such as asbestos and thallium, whose dematerialization was due not to technological advances, but to government intervention.

There was one other case in which researchers observed dematerialization: wool. The material’s usage has significantly fallen, due to innovations in synthetic alternatives, such as nylon and polyester fabrics. In this case, Magee argues that substitution, and not dematerialization, has occurred. In other words, wool has simply been replaced by another material to fill the same function.

Trillions were wasted but what could we buy instead

Jack Ma of Alibaba and many others have pointed out that the USA wasted over $14 trillion in fighting wars over the past 30 years rather than investing in infrastructure at home. Others point out that the US spends double the GDP of other developed countries on medical plans while having lower overall life expectancy.

Federal spending has increased on a % of GDP basis or on a per capita inflation adjusted basis but value has not increased.

Even cutting the $1.4 trillion F35 program is somehow controversial. 25 years and over $300 billion later the F35s are still years from being declared fully operational.

Russia is weak economically and other than nuclear weapons is 3 to 5 times weaker than the USA. China economy is coming up but is also far weaker than the US. China is 10-20 years from being remotely competitive with the US militarily.

Social security balancing could follow Canada with a slowly increasing age for government retirement benefits.
Medical programs could pick from any one of the models in other developed countries. Basic services fully covered with something like universal medicare (no age limit) but with various markets for medicare advantage like paid suppplements. Some studies estimate a 25-31% cost savings from universal medicare

Where could better investments be made that re-allocate some of the $1 trillion on military related spending and after savings adjusting social security and medical programs from the $4 trillion annual US federal budget ?

Rapid debt repayment is one option or at least balancing budgets.

Elon Musk has said his global Internet satellite project will take more than five years and $10 billion to complete. Some calculate it could cost twice as much. Analysts once forecast that Google’s plans to build out fiber optics to U.S. cities could also cost $10 billion. Google wants to offer cheap access to support its ad-centric business, but has been scaling back its Fiber plans. Satellite Internet could offer a more cost-effective alternative.

The Elon Musk program could be subsidized to provide multi-gigabit internet across every inch of the planet.

This would provide a boost to economic growth.

January 18, 2017

Single soap bubble made on earth that is 11 meters across but low earth orbit space bubbles could be hundreds of kilometers across

A Czech performer of bubble art surrounded 275 high school students and a car with a single soap-bubble screen on Wednesday, breaking the national record.

Matej Kodes raised the screen around a rectangular 11 meter-by-7.5 meter area, enclosing those inside for a few seconds.

In 2007 Devon Crowe of PSI corporation created a study for NASA Advanced Innovative conceps for making large space structures from bubbles that are made rigid using metals or UV curing

A single bubble can be 10 meters in earth gravity, 1000 kilometer in low earth orbit or 10000 kilometers in deep space. Foams made of many bubbles could be far larger in size.

The size of a 1000 kilometer bubble is nearly the size of Charon, the moon of Pluto. Charon is 1200 kilometers in diameter. Saturn's moon Tethys is 1050-1080 kilometers in diameter Ceres the largest object in the asteroid belt is 970 kilometers in diameter. A single tesselation foam (like in the picture) of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be about the size of Earth's moon. A Penrose tesselation like the one in the picture of 1000 kilometer bubbles would be in between the size of Neptune or Saturn. A Tesselation foam of 100 kilometer bubbles in earth orbit could form an object the size our existing moon or larger.

Metal can be evaporated to coat the inside of the bubble for reflective sails and telescopes.

BAE wants to enhance the reflective properties of the atmosphere which make desert mirages to create massive lens or shields

Atmospheric lens could revolutionize the future of battlefield observation. BAE Systems has been working on a way to use lasers to actively reshape the atmosphere to turn it into a variety of optical tools. The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens system (LDAL) uses powerful laser pulses to make air itself into lenses, mirrors, and even protective deflector shields.

Within the next fifty years, scientists at BAE Systems believe that battlefield commanders could deploy a new type of directed energy laser and lens system, called a Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens which is capable of enhancing commanders’ ability to observe adversaries’ activities over much greater distances than existing sensors.

At the same time, the lens could be used as a form of ‘deflector shield’ to protect friendly aircraft, ships, land vehicles and troops from incoming attacks by high power laser weapons that could also become a reality in the same time period.

The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL) concept, developed by technologists at the Company’s military aircraft facility in Warton, Lancashire, has been evaluated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and specialist optical sensors company LumOptica and is based on known science. It works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena and temporarily - and reversibly - changes the Earth’s atmosphere into lens-like structures to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals.

LDAL is a complex and innovative concept that copies two existing effects in nature; the reflective properties of the ionosphere and desert mirages. The ionosphere occurs at a very high altitude and is a naturally occurring layer of the Earth’s atmosphere which can be reflective to radio waves – for example it results in listeners being able to tune in to radio stations that are many thousands of miles away. The radio signals bounce off the ionosphere allowing them to travel very long distances through the air and over the Earth’s surface. The desert mirage provides the illusion of a distant lake in the hot desert. This is because the light from the blue sky is ‘bent’ or refracted by the hot air near the surface and into the vision of the person looking into the distance.

NASA sending robot mission to arrive in 2030 at largest metallic asteroid in solar system

NASA has selected two missions that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest eras in the history of our solar system - a time less than 10 million years after the birth of our sun. The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

The Psyche asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core

Psyche, a robotic mission, is targeted to launch in October of 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, following an Earth gravity assist spacecraft maneuver in 2024 and a Mars flyby in 2025.

16 Psyche is one of the ten most-massive asteroids in the asteroid belt. It contains a little less than 1% of the mass of the entire asteroid belt. Some astronomers believe it may be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet. It is the most massive metallic M-type asteroid.

Radar observations indicate that Psyche has a fairly pure iron–nickel composition. Psyche seems to have a surface that is 90% metallic (iron), with small amounts of pyroxene.

Psyche appears to be an exposed metallic core from a larger differentiated parent body some 310 miles (500 km) in diameter.

186 km (Geometric mean diameter)
Mass 2.27×10^16 tons (22.7 quadrillion tons)
Mean density 3.3 ± 0.7 g/cm³

Nickel has spot price of $4.60 per pound.
2204 pounds in a ton
So 5% nickel would be 1.1 quadrillion tons X 2204 pounds X $4.6 per pound.

This would be about $10,000 quadrillion, which is the estimate for the value of 16 Psyche by NASA if the price of nickel would not crash because of an assumed limitless demand for a simple calculation.

Iron has a value of $80 per tonne.

Life-Saving Device Could Transform The Medical Market in 2017

A little-known biotech company is poised to potentially earn millions in revenue with the planned upcoming release of a breakthrough technology that could prevent massive numbers of strokes with a simple test that is affordable and accessible to the average American.

A Multi-Billion- Dollar Problem with a $49,000 Answer

Stroke statistics are shocking: Globally, every year 15 million people suffer a stroke. Of these, some 6 million are killed, while 5 million are rendered permanently disabled. In the U.S. alone, nearly 800,000 people suffer from strokes annually—and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes.

Until now, there has been no cost-effective way to screen for Ischemia, the leading indicator of a stroke, which cost the U.S. government alone tens of billions of dollars a year. That could be about to change, thanks to a breakthrough technology from CVR Medical (TSX:CVM.V ; OTC:CRRVF. The company’s debut, game-changing medical device has been quietly in development for 10 years, and now it’s about to charge out of the gate, hoping to take the market by storm upon FDA market clearance.

What 3D seismic imagery did for super quick discoveries in the oil and gas industry, CVR’s sensory system could do for the medical industry.

CVR’s Carotid Stenotic Scan (CSS) is a tool to detect stenosis within the Carotid Arteries, potentially offering patients and caregivers a device for early detection in a quick and repeatable manner. Unlike other comparative modalities, the CSS was designed to function without the assistance of a certified technician. These three facts combine to create one of the potentially biggest—and most lucrative-- phenomena in recent medical equipment market history.

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