March 21, 2009

Spintronic Versions of the Memristor

Yiran Chen and Xiaobin Wang, researchers at disk-drive manufacturer Seagate Technology, in Bloomington, Minn., described three examples of possible magnetic memristors this month in IEEE Electron Device Letters. In one of the three, resistance is caused by the spin of electrons in one section of the device pointing in a different direction than those in another section, creating a “domain wall,” a boundary between the two states. Electrons flowing into the device have a certain spin, which alters the magnetization state of the device. Changing the magnetization, in turn, moves the domain wall and changes the device’s resistance.

The different designs can be flipped between high- and low-resistance states at different rates, from picoseconds to microseconds, each preferable in different applications. For reading a hard drive, for instance, you’d want to sense changes in a magnetic field in a few picoseconds, whereas for something like a radiation sensor, you’d want a response time measured in microseconds.

And the devices are all relatively easy to construct. “We can easily integrate a magnetic device on top of a CMOS device,” says Chen.

Wang believes that a spin memristor can be more finely tuned and is more flexible than the device HP described, which was based on the movement of ions in a material. “It’s more broad in our opinion, more controllable,” he says. In part, that’s because of the variable switching rates, but it’s also because spin is not a binary condition—neither up nor down but rather existing along a continuum. So a device doesn’t need to make a complete change from magnetized to nonmagnetized to register a change in the resistance.

Stanley Williams, the HP resear who first described a memristor last May, says he’s glad to see other researchers getting into the area. “I am delighted that people are now playing the game of finding different physical representations of memristance,” he says. “In general, I think linking memristance and other phenomena such as spin transport is a very excellent path forward to putting a lot of functionality into a small package. The thing that really differentiates a memristor is the fact that it has and remembers a state. That is tremendously powerful for a passive device, and the implications of that have barely been explored.”

A University of Michigan electrical engineer has built a chip composed of nanoscale memristors that can store up to 1 kilobit of information.

Accelerated Bacterial Evolution

From MIT Technology Review, A genome-wide approach to genetic engineering greatly speeds the manufacture of bacteria for making drugs and biofuels. H/T Alfin

Rather than changing the genome letter by letter, as most genetic engineering is done, George Church and his colleagues have developed a new technology that can make 50 changes to a bacterial genome nearly simultaneously--an advance that could be used to greatly speed the creation of bacteria that are better at producing drugs, nutrients, or biofuels.

LS9 soon plans to use the technology--called multiplex-automated genomic engineering, or MAGE--to accelerate development of bacterial cells that can produce low-cost renewable fuels and chemicals.

Church and his collaborators attack the genome on a broad scale. They design numerous genetic changes targeting genes throughout the genome, and then implement them all at once, looking for the resulting bacterial strain that can best produce the desired product. "It allows you to make modifications to the genome much more rapidly than the traditional one-step processes we have," says Kristala Jones-Prather, a metabolic engineer at MIT who was not directly involved in the research.

Under the MAGE technology, scientists first generate 50 short strands of DNA, each containing a sequence similar to a gene or gene regulatory sequence in the target bacterial genome, but that has been updated in some way--incorporating a change that might make an enzyme more efficient, or boost production of a particular protein.

As a test run of the device, Church and his team created bacteria that could more efficiently produce lycopene, an antioxidant abundant in tomatoes. They designed DNA strands targeting genes known to be involved in lycopene production, and then monitored multiple tubes of engineered bacteria for production of the bright-red compound. In just three days, they had generated a strain that could produce five times more lycopene, according to findings presented at a conference at Harvard this month. The best lycopene producer had 24 genetic changes--four that completed blocked production of the gene's protein, and 20 that resulted in small or large changes in the expression of that gene.

LS9 The company behind Accelerated Bacterial Evolution - Bulk Genome Editing
LS9 Technology is described here

LS9 has developed a new means of efficiently converting fatty acid intermediates into petroleum replacement products via fermentation of renewable sugars. LS9 has also discovered and engineered a new class of enzymes and their associated genes to efficiently convert fatty acids into hydrocarbons. LS9 believes this pathway is the most cost, resource, and energy-efficient way to produce hydrocarbon biofuels and petroleum-replacement products.

Lab-Grown Nerves Promote Nerve Regeneration After Injury, Penn Study Finds

A surviving cluster of transplanted neurons at the graft extremity (top) with axons in the center (bottom). In both images, transplanted nerve cells are labeled green and axons are stained red. These axons are a mix of the transplanted axons and host axons, which intertwined as regeneration occurred directly across the transplanted tissue.

– Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have engineered transplantable living nerve tissue that encourages and guides regeneration in an animal model.

“We have created a three-dimensional neural network, a living conduit in culture, which can be transplanted en masse to an injury site,” explains senior author Douglas H. Smith, MD, Professor, Department of Neurosurgery and Director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at Penn. Smith and colleagues have successfully grown, transplanted, and integrated axon bundles that act as ‘jumper cables’ to the host tissue in order to bridge a damaged section of nerve.

These nerves were elongated to over 1 cm over seven days, after which they were embedded in a protein matrix (with growth factors), rolled into a tube, and then implanted to bridge a section of nerve that was removed in a rat.

“That creates what we call a ‘nervous-tissue construct’,” says Smith. “We have designed a cylinder that looks similar to the longitudinal arrangement of the nerve axon bundles before it was damaged. The long bundles of axons span two populations of neurons, and these neurons can have axons growing in two directions - toward each other and into the host tissue at each side."

The constructs were transplanted to bridge an excised segment of the sciatic nerve in rats. Up to 16 weeks post-transplantation, the constructs still had their pre-transplant shape, with surviving transplanted neurons at the extremities of the constructs spanned by tracts of axons.

Remarkably, the host axons appeared to use the transplanted axons as a living scaffold to regenerate across the injury.

The researchers suspect that the living nerve-tissue construct encourages the survival of the supporting cells left in the nerve sheath away from the injury site. These are cells that further guide regeneration and provide the overall structure of the nerve.

“This may be a new way to promote nerve regeneration where it may not have been possible before,” says co-first author D. Kacy Cullen, PhD, a post doctoral fellow in the Smith lab. “It’s a race against time - if nerve regeneration happens too slowly, as may be the case for major injuries, the support cells in the extremities can degenerate, blunting complete repair. Because our living axonal constructs actually grow into the host nerve sheath, they may ‘babysit’ these support cells to give the host more time to regenerate.”

Journal of Tissue Engineering (which has the article)

Most Commonly Used Chemical Building Blocks

March 20, 2009

Quantum Computer Update: Tuneable qubits, molecular qubits, 128 qubit Chip Close to Commercial Sales

1. Multi qubit synchronization of compound Josephson junction rf-SQUIDs is discussed in a research paper. It is one of the key components of Dwave Systems adiabatic quantum computer.

In the comments, CTO Geordie Rose reveals that after - another rev (some tweaks) of the 128 qubit design, they will 95% likely be selling the 128 qubit chip and service.

It is almost certain >95% that this is going to be the design included in the first 128-qubit systems we will be selling, based on the results we are seeing from device performance on Rainier chips. That being said there will be new wafer runs with slightly modified designs (parameter variations) between now and shipping, so the actual chips we have in Vancouver now will probably not be the ones included in the sold systems. Our total focus now is on building and selling access to our technology at the 128-qubit level.

If they do start selling a 128 qubit quantum computer this will fulfill the Long Bets Prediction made in 2006

“There will be a quantum computer with over 100 qubits of processing capability sold either as a hardware system or whose use is made available as a commercial service by Dec 31, 2010”

2. Quantum computer annealing

Implementation of a Quantum Annealing Algorithm Using a Superconducting Circuit

A circuit consisting of a network of coupled compound Josephson junction rf-SQUID flux qubits has been used to implement an adiabatic quantum optimization algorithm. It is shown that detailed knowledge of the magnitude of the persistent current as a function of annealing parameters is key to implementation of the algorithm on this particular type of hardware. Experimental results contrasting two annealing protocols, one with and one without active compensation for the growth of the qubit persistent current during annealing, are presented in order to illustrate this point.

3. Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh (Scotland) and Manchester (England) have created a molecular device they suggest could act as a building block for super-fast quantum computers.

The scientists achieved the breakthrough by combining tiny magnets with molecular machines that can shuttle between two locations without the use of external force. The manoeuvrable magnets could one day be used as the basic component in quantum computers.

Conventional computers work by storing information in the form of bits, which can represent information in binary code - either as zero or one.

Quantum computers would use quantum binary digits, or qubits, which are far more sophisticated as they are capable of representing not only zero and one, but a range of values simultaneously.

According to Professor Richard Winpenny, of the University of Manchester's School of Chemistry: "To perform computation we have to have states where the qubits speak to each other and others where they don't - rather like having light switches on and off.

"Here we have shown we can bring the qubits together, control how far apart they are, and potentially switch the device between two or more states. The remaining challenge is to learn how to do the switching, and that's what we're trying to do now."

Professor David Leigh, of Edinburgh University's school of chemistry, added: "This development brings super-fast, non-silicon based computing a step closer."

4. Tunable qubits

Mooij says that it is possible to strongly couple the qubits to a resonator. “We choose to make the qubits the same frequency of the resonator. We tune this gap of the superconducting qubit to a harmonic oscillator. The qubit communicates with the oscillator while they are at the same frequency.” After a set amount of time, it is possible to then decouple the qubit from the oscillator and tune a new qubit to the frequency. Tuning is done by means of the addition of another flux loop in order to control the energy splitting. The Netherlands group found that it is possible to do this within nanoseconds - making the process very fast.

The next step, Mooij explains, is to transfer information from the resonator to another qubit. So far, the group has only shown that gap tuning is possible with one qubit, and no transfer of information has taken place. However, it should be possible for a qubit to communicate with the resonator, and then for the resonator to communicate that information to another qubit. “Any pair of qubits can be chosen for the interaction,” he points out. “If we can do it with one, as we have demonstrated, we can do it with many. But we still have not gotten any information from the resonator, and we need to take the next step.”

Tunable qubits are applicable in a number of circumstances. Being able to control the qubits’ frequencies has practical applications in terms of quantum optics and physics, as well as for quantum gates. Being able to control qubits and their coupling is a potentially large step forward in terms of technological and scientific development.

Michael Sargent Co-blogger at the Speculist Died

March 19, 2009

Graphene Chips May Enable 1 Terahertz Communication Starting in 2011

MIT researchers built an experimental graphene chip known as a frequency multiplier, meaning it is capable of taking an incoming electrical signal of a certain frequency -- for example, the clock speed that determines how fast a computer chip can carry out its computations -- and producing an output signal that is a multiple of that frequency. In this case, the MIT graphene chip can double the frequency of an electromagnetic signal.

Frequency multipliers are widely used in radio communications and other applications. But existing systems require multiple components, produce "noisy" signals that require filtering and consume large power, whereas the new graphene system has just a single transistor and produces, in a highly efficient manner, a clean output that needs no filtering.

In order to make "faster and faster computers" and cellphones that can send data at higher rates, for example. "It's very difficult to generate high frequencies above 4 or 5 gigahertz," he says, but the new graphene technology could lead to practical systems in the 500 to 1,000 gigahertz range.

Running several of the frequency-doubling chips in series, it should be possible to attain frequencies many times higher than are now feasible.

While the work is still at the laboratory stage, Palacios says, because it is mostly based on relatively standard chip processing technology he thinks developing it to a stage that could become a commercial product "may take a year of work, maximum two." This project is currently being partially funded by the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology and by the Interconnect Focus Center program, and it has already attracted the interest of "many other offices in the federal government and major chip-making companies," according to Palacios.

Kong has been developing a method for growing entire wafers of graphene directly, which could make the material practical for electronics. Kong and Palacios' groups are currently working to transfer the frequency multipliers to these new graphene wafers.

"Graphene will play a key role in future of electronics," Palacios says. "We just need to identify the right devices to take full advantage of its outstanding properties. Frequency multipliers could be one of these devices."

Carbon nanotube Artificial Muscle Getting Stronger and Could Enable Shaping Changing Aircraft, Build Space Structures and More

Ray Baughman, director of the Nanotech Institute at UT Dallas, is developing various kinds of carbon-nanotube-based "artificial muscles" for prosthetics and robotics. These materials change shape and size in response to electrical or chemical signals; some expand by up to 1 percent and exert 100 times more force than natural human muscle over the same area.

New carbon nanotube artificial muscle material could be a good candidate for shape-changing aircraft wings. Pei has developed polymer actuators that expand by up to 400 percent and work between -40 and 200 °C.

Baughman and his colleagues are focusing on optical applications for the material. Because carbon nanotubes are highly conductive, the flexible sheets could perhaps be used to make electrodes for solar cells and organic light-emitting diodes with controllable transparency and conductivity.

Electrical engineer John Madden at the University of British Columbia, who was not involved in developing the material, says that resilience and low density could make it a good material for building structures in space – its lightness keeping down the cost of sending a payload into orbit.

A metre long ribbon of a carbon nanotube 'aerogel' that could make a robust artificial muscle. This ribbon more than trebles its width when a voltage is applied (Image: Ray Baughman)

The Singularity as Wave After Wave of Outsourcing

J Storrs Hall, President of the Foresight Institute, posited that a technological singularity where artificial human or greater than human intelligence becomes very cheap would mean an early retirement for all people. I propose that although some people may early retire others would be running corporations that take advantage of wave after wave of outsourcing.

Even if an AI costs a million dollars in, say, 2020, it’ll be a thousand in 2030 and one dollar in 2040 (give or take a decade). Why hire a human when you can buy the equivalent for a dollar? One way or the other, the human race is going to take an early retirement in the next few decades.

We already have seen what happens when a large amount of human equivalent intelligence (inside human equivalent bodies) becomes available at a vastly lower price. This is what happened over the last few decades with China and India's workforce becoming strongly connected to the developed world economy. It led to manufacturing outsourcing and information and service outsourcing. The caliber and capabilities of the Chinese and Indian people has been growing as well.

This has also been seen for certain tasks or jobs for automation. Vending machines, automated teller machines, automated telephone dialers, spam advertising email and other machine and software automation.

Most of the benefits accrued to the shareholders and owners of companies that were able to take advantage of the cost savings and other benefits. However, other companies were also able to make the business shift. So margins did not permanently expand.

So the Singularity will be a constant series of waves of more powerful robotic outsourcing. It will not all hit at once. Certain things will be more difficult to outsource. Just as making an expert player of the game of Go is harder and is taking over ten years longer than making an expert player of Chess.

Some tasks have a maximum amount of intelligence that can be applied.

The game of Checkers was solved in 2007. That is all the useful moves were placed into a database and computer software. An analysis of the great checker player Marion Tinsley who only lost 9 games over 45 years shows that he only made about 20 mistakes over decades of play.

So even with super AI a human especially a human that is using a computer aid would be able to perform perfectly. But if the AI is so much cheaper then why ? The reason is that many of the consumers (who are generating the demand) are people. They can choose to want the human interaction. The choice is seen with the use of ATMs or human tellers.

There would also be the situation of prostitution versus super virtual reality.

Another factor effecting how the situation will play out is that people start off (the initial state) with all of the money and controlling everything. So any control that is ceded has to move from people to any artificial systems one project or transaction at a time.

End Game
It will be up to people to adapt and ride the waves of change to gather control of more and more resources as the resources become cheaper and stay relevant to the economy of civilization.

Physical labor partially made this transition. The top level physical labor tasks/jobs are where people are paid to operate machines with thousands of horse power. Fly large jets, large ships, trains, trucks, taxis etc... People also operate machines in non-paying situations. However, people can still choose to not use machinery in a perfectly adequate scaled situation. A private gardener does not need to use a tractor.

A possible end state is where a galactic civilization uses all of its stellar energy to support 10^50 human equivalent minds. A non-virtual galaxy could have 10^30 human equivalent minds (every solar system full of people). Deeper into a post-singularity world each person would need to be running their own regular galactic empire equivalent to have their share of per capita real person income.

China's Political Shift Accelerating A Bit During the Crisis

The Economist reviews how China is handling the current crisis.

China is taking advantage of some opportunities to gain some more influence at an affordable cost by trading investment and money for more influence. China is being a bit more forward in various international dealings, but is avoiding the generation of unnecessary conflict and tensions.

Two weeks after Mrs Clinton’s departure, Chinese boats (according to the Pentagon) harassed an unarmed American ship, the Impeccable, in the South China Sea. The ship was a mere 75 miles (120km) off China’s coast and was probably on the lookout for Chinese submarines. But much as China objects, the American navy frequently deploys in international waters off China to monitor military activities. In this case Chinese responded more aggressively than usual, surrounding the American ship and trying to stop it from withdrawing. America later sent a guided-missile destroyer to protect the Impeccable.

China clearly does not want to push this too far, mindful perhaps of the huge crisis in relations that occurred in 2001 when a Chinese fighter jet crashed into an American spyplane.

Though China may be unwilling to give America more than a cautious poke, it is a different story with Europe. Its abrupt decision to cancel a summit with the European Union scheduled for last December showed that, even amid the global crisis, it was prepared to deliver a powerful snub to leaders of its biggest trading partner.

China stole the limelight at the last G20 summit by announcing a 4 trillion yuan ($565 billion) stimulus package just before it. Rumours continue to circulate that it has another up its sleeve. That would please everyone.

But China is not (yet, anyway) seeking to knock America off its perch. It is pushing for a greater say for itself and other developing countries in the IMF, over which the Americans, in effect, wield a veto. But it is not demanding a veto of its own.

A recent article in Economic Reference, a journal published by a government think-tank, said the crisis would severely weaken the economic, political, military and diplomatic power of developed countries. This would create an “historic opportunity” for China to strengthen its position. China should export capital to South-East Asian countries to strengthen their economies. By so doing, it would help prevent political turmoil and win strategic influence in the region.

In America, the article suggested, China should buy up businesses in order to acquire sophisticated know-how. If the American government balks at this, “the Chinese government absolutely can use its American dollar savings as a bargaining chip to force the American government to agree to China’s acquisitions.”

The China Institute for Reform and Development, a prominent liberal think-tank, has just published a 171-page report entitled “The International Financial Crisis Challenges Reforms in China”.

The report says that, without further market-oriented reforms, the stimulus package will not only fail to achieve its goal but will also store up long-term problems. In need of change, it says, are government controls on prices of water and power and government monopolies in industries such as telecoms, railways and aviation. It calls for faster financial reforms such as encouraging the development of non-state financial institutions, freeing controls on interest rates and allowing the yuan to float.

On March 13th, at the end of the parliamentary session, Mr Wen said that to counter the crisis China “would rather speed up reforms”. He said it should “give full play to market forces in allocating resources” and encourage the development of the private sector.

Flight Tests for Terrafugia Flying Car

On March 5th, 2009 the Terrafugia Transition achieved first flight at Plattsburgh International Airport.

Soon people can stop complaining that there is no flying car so the future we have is inferior to what was promised, but instead just complain that they cannot afford the future.

* The Transition® is only 6'9" tall and 80" wide with wings folded.
* The Transition® offers true door-to-door transportation for pilots.
* The Transition® uses high-octane unleaded [Premium unleaded] auto gas.
* The Transition® has front wheel drive on the road.
* Become a Sport Pilot in as little as 20 hours of flight time in a Transition®-specific course. For existing pilots, get comfortable quickly with the familiarization training included with every Transition® delivery.
* You can order today: Place your fully refundable $10,000 airframe reservation deposit here. Anticipated purchase price: $194,000.
* It's a Plane... That Drives


Terrafugia Transition specs

Cruise: 100 kts (115 mph)
Rotate: 70 kts (80 mph)
Stall: 45 kts (51 mph)
Range: 400nm (460 mi)
Takeoff over 50' obstacle: 1700' Fuel burn: 5 gph
Fuel tank: 20 gallons
Useful Load: 430 lbs
On road: 30 mpg, highway speeds
Light Sport Aircraft (LSA)

March 18, 2009

Universities of Miami, Tokyo and Tohoku Create Spin Battery

a, Schematic structure of our magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs), comprising hexagonal (Hex.) NiAs-structure MnAs (20 nm)/GaAs (1 nm)/AlAs (2.1 nm)/GaAs:MnAs (10 nm) thin films grown on a p+GaAs(001) substrate. The GaAs:MnAs film contains zinc-blende-structure (ZB) MnAs nanoparticles. , diameter. b, Transmission electron microscopy lattice image of an MTJ. White circles indicate the areas of zinc-blende MnAs nanoparticles.

Researchers at the University of Miami and at the Universities of Tokyo and Tohoku, Japan, have been able to prove the existence of a “spin battery,” a battery that is "charged" by applying a large magnetic field to nano-magnets in a device called a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ). The new technology is a step towards the creation of computer hard drives with no moving parts, which would be much faster, less expensive and use less energy than current ones. In the future, the new battery could be developed to power cars.

Like a winding up toy car, the spin battery is "wound up" by applying a large magnetic field --no chemistry involved. The device is potentially better than anything found so far, said Barnes.

“We had anticipated the effect, but the device produced a voltage over a hundred times too big and for tens of minutes, rather than for milliseconds as we had expected,” Barnes said. “That this was counterintuitive is what lead to our theoretical understanding of what was really going on.”

The secret behind this technology is the use of nano-magnets to induce an electromotive force. It uses the same principles as those in a conventional battery, except in a more direct fashion. The energy stored in a battery, be it in an iPod or an electric car, is in the form of chemical energy. When something is turned "on" there is a chemical reaction which occurs and produces an electric current. The new technology converts the magnetic energy directly into electrical energy, without a chemical reaction. The electrical current made in this process is called a spin polarized current and finds use in a new technology called "spintronics.”

The new discovery advances our understanding of the way magnets work and its immediate application is to use the MTJs as electronic elements which work in different ways to conventional transistors. Although the actual device has a diameter about that of a human hair and cannot even light up an LED (light-emitting diode--a light source used as electronic component), the energy that might be stored in this way could potentially run a car for miles. The possibilities are endless, Barnes said.

Abstract: "Electromotive force and huge magnetoresistance in magnetic tunnel junctions"

The electromotive force (e.m.f.) predicted by Faraday's law reflects the forces acting on the charge, –e, of an electron moving through a device or circuit, and is proportional to the time derivative of the magnetic field. This conventional e.m.f. is usually absent for stationary circuits and static magnetic fields. There are also forces that act on the spin of an electron; it has been recently predicted that, for circuits that are in part composed of ferromagnetic materials, there arises an e.m.f. of spin origin even for a static magnetic field. This e.m.f. can be attributed to a time-varying magnetization of the host material, such as the motion of magnetic domains in a static magnetic field, and reflects the conversion of magnetic to electrical energy. Here we show that such an e.m.f. can indeed be induced by a static magnetic field in magnetic tunnel junctions containing zinc-blende-structured MnAs quantum nanomagnets. The observed e.m.f. operates on a timescale of approximately 10^2–10^3 seconds and results from the conversion of the magnetic energy of the superparamagnetic MnAs nanomagnets into electrical energy when these magnets undergo magnetic quantum tunnelling. As a consequence, a huge magnetoresistance of up to 100,000 per cent is observed for certain bias voltages. Our results strongly support the contention that, in magnetic nanostructures, Faraday's law of induction must be generalized to account for forces of purely spin origin. The huge magnetoresistance and e.m.f. may find potential applications in high sensitivity magnetic sensors, as well as in new active devices such as 'spin batteries'.

11 page supplemental information.

More pictures and charts

Northrop Grumman has a 105 kilowatt solid state laser

Northrop Grumman's has a 105 kilowatt solid state laser. 100 kilowatts is considered the minimum for a battlefield laser

The achievements included turn-on time of less than one second and continuous operating time of five minutes, with very good efficiency and beam quality.

Jay Marmo, Northrop Grumman's JHPSSL program manager, pointed out how the company's scalable, building block approach also readily enables more challenging missions that require well above 100 kW of good beam quality laser power.

"Getting to 100 kW with replicated building blocks proves we can scale to these higher power levels if required for a given mission. This watershed development, coupled with our FIRESTRIKE(tm) laser ruggedization work, unequivocally demonstrates that Northrop Grumman is ready to bring high-power, solid state lasers to the defense of our deployed forces

The seven-chain JHPSSL laser demonstrator ran for more than five minutes, achieved electro-optical efficiency of 19.3 percent, reaching full power in less than 0.6 seconds, all with beam quality of better than 3.0.

"It is notable that we were able to meet the power demonstration goal with only seven laser chains, rather than the full eight chains we can accommodate. This shows the robustness of our industry-unique approach and the ability of our lasers to deliver predicted performance," Marmo emphasized. "Adding the eighth chain will increase laser power to 120kW."

Boeing mounted one of its lasers on a Humvee and shot down a UAV.

General Fusion Research Update

General Fusion is using the MTF (Magnetized Target Fusion) approach but with a new, patent pending and cost-effective compression system to collapse the plasma. They describe the injectors at the top and bottom of the above image in the new research paper. The goal is to build small fusion reactors that can produce around 100 megawatts of power. The company claims plants would cost around US$50 million, allowing them to generate electricity at about four cents per kilowatt hour.

If there are no funding delays, then in 2010-2011 for completion of the tests and work for an almost full scale version (2 meters instead of 3 meter diameter).

The third phase for General Fusion is to raise $50 million for a net energy gain device with a target date of 2013 if the second/third phase are roughly on schedule.

If they get $300-500 million for commercialization, the first commercial scale unit could be 2016-2018.

Note: Any fusion power system would have applications for space. Lowering energy costs helps with space. Better and lighter power systems are good for space colonies and industrialization.

General Fusion will build a ~3 meter diameter spherical tank filled with liquid metal (lead-lithium mixture). The liquid is spun to open up a vertical cylindrical cavity in the center of the sphere (vortex). This vortex flow is established and maintained by an external pumping system; the liquid flows into the sphere through tangentially directed ports at the equator and is pumped out radially through ports near the poles of the sphere. Two spheromaks (self confined magnetized plasma rings) composed of the deuterium-tritium fuel are then injected from each end of the cavity. They merge in the center to form a single magnetized plasma target. The outside of the sphere is covered with pneumatic rams. The rams use compressed gas to accelerate pistons to ~50 m/s. These pistons simultaneously impact a set of stationary anvil pistons at the surface of the sphere, which collectively launch a high pressure spherical compression wave into the liquid metal. As the wave travels and focuses towards the center, it becomes stronger and evolves into a strong shock wave. When the shock arrives in the center, it rapidly collapses the cavity with the plasma in it. At maximum compression the conditions for fusion are briefly met and a fusion burst occurs releasing its energy in fast neutrons. The neutrons are slowed down by the liquid metal causing it to heat up. A heat exchanger transfers that heat to a standard steam cycle turbo-alternator to produce electricity for the grid. Some of the steam is used to run the rams. The lithium in the liquid metal finally absorbs the neutrons and produces tritium that is extracted and used as fuel for subsequent shots. This cycle is repeated about one time per second.

General Fusion report on the development of compact toroid (CT) accelerators to create the target plasma for magnetized target fusion (MTF) devices. Due to the requirements of high initial density of *10^17 cm-3, strong internal fields of 5–10 T, and base temperatures of [100 eV, a design based on conical compression electrodes is an effective avenue to pursue. Progress is being made at General Fusion Inc, (Vancouver, Canada) to develop a pair of large CT accelerators for generating an MTF target plasma. In this design, tungsten coated conical electrodes (with a formation diameter of 1.9 m, a radial compression factor of 4, and overall accelerator length of 5 m) will be used to achieve ohmic heating and acceleration of the CT, yet with low wall sputtering rates. A pair of these accelerators can be synchronized and shot at one another, producing a collision and reconnection of the two CTs within the center of an MTF chamber. Depending on the choice of relative helicities, the two CTs will merge to form either a spheromak-like or an FRC-like plasma. [FRC is field reversed configuration.

An FRC (field reversed configuration) is an elongated plasma ellipsoid conducting an azimuthal current which reverses the direction of an externally applied magnetic field. The resultant field provides for toroidal plasma confinement without requiring a toroidal vacuum vessel or coil set.

Experimental Results from the First Proof of Concept System

General Fusion proposes a new MTF concept requiring precise pneumatic impact drivers. We have built one such driver and achieved so far an open loop impact velocity of 17 m/s. Impact velocity approaching 100 m/s with precise close loop control will be required

General fusion had raised $7 million out of a needed $10 million for the second round.

General Fusion pictures and Video

Underground Burning Variations for Oilsand Recovery and Gasifying Coal Underground

Alberta has several large scale pilot projects to perform many more oil refining and combustion steps underground and coal gasification underground. The advantages can be significantly lower costs and improved environmental effects.

This site has covered the work of Petrobank to develop the THAI (Toe-to-Heel Air Injection)and CAPRI processes for upgrading oilsand bitumen underground for increased recovery rates and lower costs. There are other projects to lower the cost and increase the recovery rate of the oilsands.

Combustion Overhead Gravity Drainage
Excelsior Energy Limited now plans to deploy a proprietary in situ combustion bitumen-recovery process called Combustion Overhead Gravity Drainage at its Hangingstone oilsands property.

Excelsior has developed the COGD process in cooperation with Hot-Tec Energy Inc., a private company affiliated with members of the In-situ Combustion Research Group from the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary.

COGD employs an array of vertical air injector ignition wells above a horizontal production well located at the base of the bitumen pay zone. A short initial period of steaming prepares the cold bitumen for ignition and develops enhanced bitumen mobility in the reservoir. Upon ignition a combustion chamber develops above and along the length of the horizontal well with combustion gases segregated in the upper part of the reservoir and hot bitumen flowing by gravity into the horizontal production well.

The COGD process is expected to bring a significant reduction in water usage for steam generation by up to 80% compared to a similar sized SAGD process. It is expected to yield a significant reduction in fuel gas consumption for steam generation by up to 80% compared to a similar sized SAGD process, as COGD uses the in situ energy of the bitumen which would otherwise be unrecoverable.

It also involves a reduction in diluent demand as a result of potential in situ bitumen upgrading and a reduced environmental impact through decreased water draw and water recycling, decreased fuel gas and diluent demand.

All of these should significantly improve project economics as COGD recoveries are estimated to be as much as 50% greater than SAGD recoveries, and capital and operating costs are estimated to be considerably lower than comparable SAGD projects.

Underground Coal Gasification

Underground coal gasification has been used commercially outside of North America for close to 40 years with minimal surface impact when compared to traditional coal mining and production.

The syngas produced by underground coal gasification is amenable to efficient pre-combustion carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, producing a high-purity CO2 byproduct. It may also be feasible to sequester captured CO2 in coal seams depleted by underground coal gasification.

The project with Swan Hills Synfuels LP is the first of its kind in North America to demonstrate coal gasification at depths greater than 1,000 meters below the surface.

Underground coal gasification does not use fresh water in its operation and is significantly different than other in situ processes, such as those used in oil sands development. Underground coal gasification is used at depths where conventional coal mining is not economic or currently possible.

DIY Segways

There are Do It Yourself (DIY) Segway projects where people can spend about $1000-1200 and build their own Segway vehicle.

Now University of Louisiana Students have made a crawling version of a DIY Segway that is more stable but has a top speed of 3 mph.

One of the more advanced DIY Segways is the balanced scooter which is on version 2 and has a proposed monster segway version.

Version 1 Segway i-Series Version 2 Proposed
Speed 9 MPH 12.5 MPH 15 MPH 30 MPH
Weight 90 lb 80 lb 70 lb
Steering touch pads twist grip handlebars

Version 2 of the Balanced Scooter

How fast can a scooter like this go? There's no fundamental limit. A bigger, heavier one could go highway speed. The danger, of course, is that if something fails it'd be a serious accident. Under 10 mph the rider can probably land on his feet if it falls over, but at higher speed you'd want more protection. Also, the differential steering might be iffy at high speed, and hitting a pothole without any suspension might be hazardous. Someone else with no fear of death should experiment with this.

There are many other DIY Segway projects

March 17, 2009

Could the Economy be Super-charged With an Inflation Safety Valve

Dr. James Albus considers whether an effort like mobilizing for World War II could be done to create a fully productive society that targets the enduring problems of poverty and unaccomplished grand goals instead of the defeat of an enemy nation. Ramp up investment and have mandatory savings to prevent inflation.

NOTE: Flaws with the Albus (People's Capitalism and Alternative)
As a commenter rightly points out a lot of Dr Albus' plan details are socialist in nature. So any plan would want to avoid creating inefficient state supported enterprises. There could be ways to achieve some aspects of the plan without screwing up the regular economy of the US or the World. There are also other completely different suggestions.

From Comments: Natural Economic Order.
This appears to boil down to:
* Lower interest rates are stimulative to the economy
* instead of having a zero to 0.5% federal funds (interest rate) like now, create a -5% interest rate via taxation on "idle money". You have to invest it, lend it or spend it.
* At the same time greatly contract the monetary supply to prevent inflation
* the goal would be to greatly increase the velocity of money. Use it or lose it.

The Albus plan has five parts:

1. A National Mutual Fund would be established to invest in private industry
2. These investments would be financed by loans from the Federal Reserve Bank
3. Every adult U.S. citizen would be given a share of the National Mutual Fund
4. Profits from National Mutual Fund investments would be distributed as dividends to the share holders. Everyone would receive dividends
5. In order to control inflation and finance part of the National Mutual Fund, savings would be levied as a surcharge on income taxes. These savings would pay interest and be guaranteed by the government

It is suggested that 6% real economic growth could be achieved in the United States with less than 4% inflation by increasing the current national investment rate by 12% of GDP, while increasing the savings rate by 4% of GDP.

Use savings withholdings instead of interest rates as a means for controlling inflation. Savings withholding rate is indexed to inflation.

Josh Hall at Foresight looks at the Albus proposal as an option to enable early retirement for people if AI and nanotechnology are successful.

The ideas are interesting and if they are for some reason flawed other economists and researchers should find ways to improve them and to simulate what would happen with various proposals. There could be an economic X-prize to find the best system.

DNA Origami Can Now Grow

Artificial DNA that can also build itself into larger, more complex structures.

Smaller DNA tiles attach to the DNA seed and the structure snowballs in size to make a structure up to 100 times bigger than the original segment.

When the two unwound types of DNA undergo cycles of temperature variation between 40 and 90 °C, they fold into seeds and tiles, and then begin to accrete together into the much larger structure. The "growth" process is directed by the sequence of information written into the seed's DNA.

The team has designed the tile DNA sequences to "proof read" their own work and spontaneously reject most erroneous assembly steps.

Although the team has so far used the technique to build simple pipes (see image, top right), much more is possible, Winfree says. "Metaphorically, this is similar to how genetic programs within cells direct the growth of an organism."

Winfree and Rothemund speculate that the technique could provide a way to assemble molecular components into useful structures such as tiny electric circuits. It is also possible to use the self-assembling DNA structures to perform computational tasks, adds Winfree.

"It is very powerful for information processing," he says. "It's what's known as a Universal Turing Machine, which means it can carry out any information processing task."

iPhone 3.0 OS

Apple reports that when iPhone OS 3.0 arrives this summer, it will introduce over 100 new features, including the ability to:

* Search your iPhone
a flick to the left on the homescreen, a user can do a Spotlight search for items anywhere on the device
* Cut, copy, and paste
* Send photos, contacts, audio files, and location via MMS*
* Read and compose email and text messages in landscape
* A new Voice Memos app is included for recording and editing audio.
* The Calendar app gains support for Exchange, CalDAV, and .ics format external calendars

A beta version is available for use now.

Ars Technica provides detailed technical coverage.

The iPhone Ecosystem Statistics

* 17 million iPhones and some 13 million iPod touches have been sold in the last two years, for a total of over 30 million devices running iPhone OS.
* There are currently over 50,000 registered app developers, 60 percent of which have never developed for any mobile platform.
* The App Store currently has over 25,000 apps available, resulting in over 800 million downloads to date.

An IPhone Could Help Your Brain Memorize, Early Accelerated Brain Chips and Memristor chips

Biofeedback Method to Put Oneself into Memorize Mode

When the medial temporal lobe, a region of the brain associated with memory formation, is active you will be able memorize what is happening and when it is not then you will forget it. An iPhone could be connected to a magnetoencephalograph to read theta waves and biofeedback could be used to train a person to use the brain readout to place themselves into memorize mode.

Brain Chip that is 100,000 Times Faster than Biological Brain

A Prototype brain chip has been made by the EU-supported FACETS project with a network of 300 neurons and half a million synapses on a single chip.

The team used analogue electronics to represent the neurons and digital electronics to represent communications between them. It’s a unique combination. Since the neurons are so small, the system runs 100,000 times faster than the biological equivalent and 10 million times faster than a software simulation. “We can simulate a day in one second,” Meier notes.

The team are working on stage 2, a network of 200,000 neurons and 50 million synapses that will incorporate all the neuroscience discoveries made so far. To build it, the team is creating its network on a single 20cm silicon disk, a ‘wafer’, of the type normally used to mass-produce chips before they are cut out of the wafer and packaged. This approach will make for a more compact device.

Practical neural computers could be only five years away. “The first step could be a little add-on to your computer at home, a device to handle very complex input data and to provide a simple decision,” Meier says. “A typical thing could be an internet search.”

In the longer term, he sees applications for neural computers wherever there are complex and difficult decisions to be made.

Memristor Chip
A University of Michigan electrical engineer has built a chip composed of nanoscale memristors that can store up to 1 kilobit of information.

"We demonstrated CMOS-compatible, ultra-high-density memory arrays based on a silicon memristive system. This is an important first step." said Wei Lu, an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. CMOS stands for complementary metal oxide semiconductor. It is the technology used in modern microchips.

The density of a memristor-based memory chip could be at least an order of magnitude—a factor of 10—higher than current transistor-based chips. Such high density circuits can also be very fast, Lu says. You could save data to a memristor memory three orders of magnitude faster than saving to today's flash memory, for example.

Lu says memristors could open the door to universal memory. And because of how densely they can be crammed onto integrated circuits, memristors also offer hope for robust biologically-inspired logic circuits. Each neuron in the human brain is connected to 10,000 other neurons through synapses, Lu says. Engineers can't achieve that kind of connectivity with today's transistor-based circuits. But memristor circuits could potentially overcome this problem.

A paper on this research, "High-density crossbar arrays based on a Si memristive system," is published in Nano Letters.

March 16, 2009

Real Soldier Offensive Capability Will Exceed Science Fiction

Science Fiction had the Armored Personnel Units of the Matrix.

Reality has the Auto Assault-12 (AA-12) shotgun (originally designed and known as the Atchisson Assault Shotgun). The AA-12 can fire in semi-automatic or fully automatic mode at 300 rounds per minute (5 every second) and has a magazine of 32 rounds. The AA-12 can fire 120 grenade rounds per minute with 9 foot blast radius. Having one AA-12 in each hand doubles the rate of fire.

New electromagnetic pulse (EMP) grenades could be adapted to the AA-12 as well, that would emit hundreds of megawatts of EMP for microseconds. A small e-bomb will be qualitatively different than larger versions. Radiated power falls off with the square of distance, so a target 3 meters (10 ft.) away receives 100 times the effect of one 30 meters away. An EMP grenade would probably only be effective for a 10-30 foot radius.

Still four grenade rounds per second (one in each hand) would let one person to hold back an assault by people or robots across the width of a football field.

Nanotechnology could increase capacitor storage by 100 times or more. Superconductors could increase the strength of magnets many times. This could allow the EMP rounds to fit into the size of ordinary ammunition.

The super low recoil AA-12 can be placed onto cheap UAVs and robots. However, with the likely proliferation of EMP and high power microwave devices, any robot that will be operating on a future battlefield will need to be hardened against EMP.

Exoskeletons are also being deployed today. The higher density energy storage, improved engines and stronger and lighter materials will further enhance future exoskeletons. Again any future exoskeleton will need to be hardened against EMP.

Reducing Drag on Cars and Trucks by 15-18%

Researchers have achieved 15 to 18 percent reduction in drag by placing the actuators on the back surface of cars and trucks. Deploying this improved drag reduction on cars and trucks would be equal to the improved CAFE standards from 2008 to 2010. Being able to apply mileage improvements to the active fleet of 100 million older cars in the USA would have over ten times the impact of just improving the mileage of new cars.

The idea behind the active flow control (AFC)is to deploy actuators on the surface of these vehicles to modify the flow in a way that the overall resistance is reduced. Using computational fluid dynamics software, Agarwal has found that the actuators modify the flow, which results in drag reduction, which in turn reduces the fuel amount needed.

This is a simpler version of aeromodding a car to improve aerodynamics and reduce fuel usage.

Edmunds explains how drag effects fuel mileage

For a full-size truck, a change in drag coefficient of 0.01 is approximately equal to an improvement in fuel economy of 0.1 mpg on the combined city/highway driving cycle. The same drag coefficient reduction can improve a car's fuel economy by approximately 0.2 mpg.

At stop-and-go speeds, drag isn't a big deal, but the faster you go, the more it matters. At 70 mph, you've got four times the force working against your vehicle that you have at 35 mph.

An imaginary car has a curb weight of 3,527 pounds, a Cd of 0.30, a frontal area of 23.7 square feet and 9 pounds of rolling resistance for every 1,000 pounds of weight. If we put a gas-burning engine in this car, expect reasonable performance and drive it on a combined driving cycle, we can expect to get 23.8 mpg. Add 10 percent to the drag coefficient, we'll now get 23.3 mpg. Take 10 percent from the drag coefficient, we'll now get 24.3 mpg.

* 10% better drag is about 0.5 mpg for 23.8 mpg average US car
* 15% better drag is about 0.75 mpg
* 18% better drag is about 0.9 mpg

Improve aerodynamics by:
* Reducing the use of roof racks
* Rolling up your windows and turning on the air conditioner at higher speeds, typically above 35 mph
* Replacing a broken or missing front air dam
* Lowering your vehicle
* Running narrower tires
* Choosing smoother wheels (ideally, flush discs like those on vehicles trying to set land speed records)

You can reduce your vehicle's aerodynamics by:
* Lifting it — "an inch of increased ride height degrades the coefficient of drag by about 10 drag counts [.01]," says Wegryn.
* Adding wider tires
* Choosing more "open" wheel designs (although, for many owners, this advantage will be offset by the fact that "open" wheels promote better brake cooling)
* Installing a bug shield
* Adding a rear spoiler, in some cases

Apnano claims an oil additive they make improves mileage by 5%.

Apnano site

Atomic Force Microscopes can Swap Atoms and Are Getting Faster

A recent Science paper describes interchanging atoms between an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) tip and the surface. Some tips deposit Si [silicon], others deposit Sn [Tin], some alternate. [H/T Eric Drexler who describes the process and its significance]

The ‘Si’ structure took 1.5 hours to make. Most of this time was spent imaging, and some of this time was spent waiting for a new Si atom to appear on the tip. I say “appear”, because the tips recharge spontaneously, not by picking up atoms from the surface.

Separate UK Work Speeding Up Atomic Force Microscopes

One limiting factor of conventional AFM operation is the speed at which images can be acquired. Over the past five years, researchers at the Nanophysics and Soft Matter Group at the University of Bristol have been developing a high-speed AFM capable of video-rate image capture. An AFM with this ability enables nanoscale processes to be observed in real-time, rather than capturing only snap-shots in time.

An obvious application of this instrument is to modify the sample surface while observing changes in the surface topography. Successful demonstration of this would indicate the potential for a new generation of fabrication tools. James Vicary and Mervyn Miles, scientists at the above-mentioned Nanophysics and Soft Matter Group,
have now done exactly that.

In the March 4, 2009 online edition of Nanotechnology, they describe the application of the high-speed AFM developed by their group for nanofabrication (In Situ Real-time nanofabrication with high-speed atomic force microscopy).

While the two scientists did not observe any damage to the nanostructures, despite the tip having passed over the features in excess of 250 times, they found that combined high-speed imaging and nanostructuring does, however, lead to degradation of the AFM tip over time.

An immediate solution to this problem would be to lower the electric field strength and accept longer fabrication times. Ultimately, however, an alternative tip composition or tip coating would be favorable.

An immediate solution to this problem would be to lower the electric field strength and accept longer fabrication times. Ultimately, however, an alternative tip composition or tip coating would be favorable.

Oxide features were fabricated during imaging, with relative tip–sample velocities of up to 10 cm/second, and with a data capture rate of 15 fps.

Interchanging Atoms
Complex Patterning by Vertical Interchange Atom Manipulation Using Atomic Force Microscopy.

Researchers assembled complex atomic patterns at room temperature by the vertical interchange of atoms between the tip apex of an atomic force microscope and a semiconductor surface. At variance with previous methods, these manipulations were produced by exploring the repulsive part of the short-range chemical interaction between the closest tip-surface atoms. By using first-principles calculations, we clarified the basic mechanisms behind the vertical interchange of atoms, characterizing the key atomistic processes involved and estimating the magnitude of the energy barriers between the relevant atomic configurations that leads to these manipulations.

On the Path to nanocapacitors with 100 Times More Energy Storage

From MIT Technology Review, the University of Maryland has early stage research, the device will have to be scaled up to be practical, but initial results show that new nanoscale supercapacitors can store 100 times more energy than previous devices of its kind.
The arrays' storage capacity is about 100 microfarads per square centimeter. The Maryland group describes making 125-micrometer-wide arrays, each containing one million nanocapacitors. The surface area of each array is 250 times greater than that of a conventional capacitor of comparable size.

New Scientist reports they currently hold 2500 joules in one kilogram. [only 0.7 W-h/kg now] A single kilogram can deliver a one megawatt peak burst of power. The next step is to tweak the design to improve its performance – for instance, the team will experiment with deeper pores that can each hold bigger capacitors and thus store more energy.

But surface area isn't the only determinant of energy density. The Maryland group's nanocapacitors also benefit from the very small spacing between their electrodes, and the work is unique in this respect, says Robert Hebner, director of the Center for Electromechanics at the University of Texas at Austin. Hebner was not involved in the Maryland research.

The total thickness of each nanocapacitor is just 25 nanometers, and the charges can pack very close together.

The nanocapacitor arrays can't store much total energy because they're so small. "Instead of making these little dots, we want to make a large area that contains billions of nanocapacitors to store large amounts of energy," says Lee. Both he and Rubloff say that scaling up to a practical level is not trivial, but the pair is working together to make larger arrays. "There are many scale-up issues," says Rubloff. "We'll look at how large we can make these and still have all of them work."

Even if this problem is solved, they'll still have to make sure that they can effectively connect multiple arrays to one another. But Hebner says that this problem is not intractable, and he points to devices on the market, including sensitive magnetic detectors, that successfully overcome similar connectivity issues.

A 2006 "Introduction to Energy Sources" by the Indian Institute of Technology, had a chapter on supercapacitors.

In the double layer at plane electrodes, charge densities of about 16-50 μF/cm2 are commonly realized. Taking an average value of 30 μF/cm^2, the capacitance of a single Polarisable electrode with a typical surface area of 1000 m^2/g for porous materials leads to a specific capacitance 300 F/g. At 1 V in an aqueous electrolyte, the maximum storage energy, E, is E=CVi2/2= (300 X 12)/2=150 W-s/g, 150kJ/kg or 42 W-h/kg.

So to get to W-h/kg, we would need to know what the square meters per gram would be to get Farads/gram and what the voltage would be to get to W-h/kg.

The 25 nanometer thickness suggests 20-40 layers per micron. A gram with the density of water is one cubic centimeter. So 200,000-400,000 layers per centimeter. 20 to 40 m^2 of the material per CC. The material would then have more surface area in each layer to get to higher surface area than what has already been achieved.

The highest energy density supercapacitor in production is 30 Wh/kg. Presumably the 100 times better claim means the potentisl is 3,000 Wh/kg.

Experimental electric double-layer capacitors from the MIT LEES project have demonstrated densities of 30 W·h/kg and appear to be scalable to 60 W·h/kg in the short term, while EEStor claims their examples will offer capacities about 400 W·h/kg. For comparison, a conventional lead-acid battery is typically 30 to 40 W·h/kg and modern lithium-ion batteries are about 160 W·h/kg. In automobile applications gasoline has a net calorific value (NCV) of around 12,000 W·h/kg, which operates at 20% tank-to-wheel efficiency giving an effective energy density of 2,400 W·h/kg.

The other recent energy storage news is fast charging lithium ion batteries.

Extremely high rates can be achieved, at a 200C rate (corresponding to an 18 second total discharge) more than 100mAh g can be achieved, and a capacity of 60mAh g is obtained at a 400C rate (9 sec to full discharge). Such discharge rates are two orders of magnitude larger than those used in today’s lithium ion batteries. Typical power rates for lithium ion battery materials are in the range of 0.5 to 2 kW/kg. The specific power observed for the modified LiFePO4 (170kWkg at a 400C rate and 90kWkg at a 200C rate) is two orders of magnitude higher. At this point the researchers have only tested the cells to 50 cycles but have noted no degradation. The a small prototype cell can be fully charged in 10 to 20 seconds, compared with six minutes for cells made in the standard way.

This new ability to charge and discharge lithium-ion batteries within seconds blurs the distinction between batteries and ultracapacitors. Besides being able to charge one’s cellphone in seconds, this will have a major impact on electric cars. If electric grid power was available, an electric car with a 15kWh battery could be charged in five minutes. This would require the delivery of 180 kw of energy in that time frame.

Abstract for "Nanotubular metal–insulator–metal capacitor arrays for energy storage".

Nanostructured devices have the potential to serve as the basis for next-generation energy systems that make use of densely packed interfaces and thin films. One approach to making such devices is to build multilayer structures of large area inside the open volume of a nanostructured template. Here, we report the use of atomic layer deposition to fabricate arrays of metal–insulator–metal nanocapacitors in anodic aluminium oxide nanopores. These highly regular arrays have a capacitance per unit planar area of 10 F cm-2 for 1-m-thick anodic aluminium oxide and 100 F cm-2 for 10-m-thick anodic aluminium oxide, significantly exceeding previously reported values for metal–insulator–metal capacitors in porous templates. It should be possible to scale devices fabricated with this approach to make viable energy storage systems that provide both high energy density and high power density.

Supplementary information for the nano supercapacitors.

Laser Mosquito Zapping

The Wall Street Journal reports on an update to the bug zapper, lasers to add 100 feet or so of range to mosquito zapping.

Malaria remains a major global public-health threat, killing about 1 million people annually. Scientists around the world are testing ways of thwarting mosquitoes with microwaves, rancid odors, poisoned blood and other weapons that disrupt the sense of sight, smell and heat mosquitoes use to find their prey.

There's work on genetically altering a bacterium to infect and kill a mosquito, and a project to build a malaria-free mosquito genetically enhanced to overtake the natural kind.

There's also a researcher in Japan who thinks mosquitoes can be a force for good. He is working on transforming them into "flying syringes" that deliver vaccines with every bite.

Dr. Wood, Dr. Kare and another Star Wars scientist teamed with an entomologist with a Ph.D in mosquito behavior and other experts. They killed their first mosquito with a hand-held laser in early 2008.

* A regular PC runs the system
* Maglite flashlights
* a zoom lens from a 35mm camera
* and the laser itself

To locate individual mosquitoes, light from the flashlights hits the tank across the room, creating tiny mosquito silhouettes on reflective material behind it. The zoom lens picks up the shadows and feeds the data to the computer, which controls the laser and fires it at the bug.

In a video, researchers showed what happens when they deploy deadly rays.

A mosquito hovers into view. Suddenly, it bursts into flame. A thin plume of smoke rises as the mosquito falls. At the bottom of the screen, the carcass smolders.

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