December 19, 2009

Epigenetic therapy

Epigenetics research takes aim at cancer, Alzheimer's, autism, other illnesses.

Two mice. One weighs 20 grams and has brown fur. The other is a hefty 60 grams with yellow fur and is prone to diabetes and cancer. They're identical twins, with identical DNA. Their varying traits are controlled by a mediator between nature and nurture known as epigenetics. A group of molecules that sit atop our DNA, the epigenome (which means "above the genome") tells genes when to turn on and off.

The mother of the brown, thin mouse was given a dietary supplement of folic acid, vitamin B12 and other nutrients while pregnant, and the mother of the obese mouse was not. (Though the mice had different mothers, they're genetically identical as a result of inbreeding.) The supplement "turned off" the agouti gene, which gives mice yellow coats and insatiable appetites.

Last year, the National Institutes of Health announced that it would invest $190 million to accelerate epigenetic research. The list of illnesses to be studied in the resulting grants reveals the scope of the emerging field: cancer, Alzheimer's disease, autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, asthma, kidney disease, glaucoma, muscular dystrophy and more.

Methylation-modifying drugs might be a new avenue for treatments. He also hopes that his findings will provide a new tool for doctors to diagnose autism.

"Methylation has been very hot in the cancer field for a number of years," Gregory says. "To find something like this associated with autism is very exciting."

Epigenetic therapy is still very inexact -- "a pretty broad brush," says Jirtle. But oncologists have seen some success in using it against leukemia. Azacitidine, sold as Vidaza and used to treat bone-marrow cancer and blood disorders, became the first FDA-approved epigenetic drug in 2004. When tumor-suppressing genes aren't doing their job, due to a genetic mutation or hypermethylation, cancer cells can replicate uncontrollably. But by manipulating the epigenetic marks, doctors can get tumor-suppressing genes to work again. Toxicologists also have a big stake in epigenetics. A 2005 study by Washington State University molecular biologist Michael Skinner generated buzz with his finding that when a pregnant rat was exposed to high doses of pesticides, her offspring plus the next three generations suffered from high rates of infertility. (Some scientists have challenged Skinner's work because they have not been able to reproduce his results in their labs.)

The potential human implications -- do the chemicals we ingest today affect our great-grandchildren? -- are tremendous. In addition to pesticides, toxicologists are studying chemicals in plastics, such as phthalates and bisphenol A, to see if they could enhance our risk of disease by altering the epigenome.

December 18, 2009

3D Bioprinters

Invetech, an innovator in new product development and custom automation for the biomedical, industrial and consumer markets, Dec 1, 2009 announced that it has delivered the world`s first production model 3D bio-printer to Organovo, developers of the proprietary NovoGen bioprinting technology. Organovo will supply the units to research institutions investigating human tissue repair and organ replacement.

Invetech plan to ship a number of 3D bio-printers to Organovo during 2010 and 2011 as a part of the instrument development program. Organovo will be placing the printers globally with researchers in centers of excellence for medical research.

“Scientists and engineers can use the 3D bio printers to enable placing cells of almost any type into a desired pattern in 3D,” said Murphy. “Researchers can place liver cells on a preformed scaffold, support kidney cells with a co-printed scaffold, or form adjacent layers of epithelial and stromal soft tissue that grow into a mature tooth. Ultimately the idea would be for surgeons to have tissue on demand for various uses, and the best way to do that is get a number of bio-printers into the hands of researchers and give them the ability to make three dimensional tissues on demand.”

The 3D bio-printers include an intuitive software interface that allows engineers to build a model of the tissue construct before the printer commences the physical constructions of the organs cell-by-cell using automated, laser-calibrated print heads.

The printer, developed by Invetech, fits inside a standard biosafety cabinet for sterile use. It includes two print heads, one for placing human cells, and the other for placing a hydrogel, scaffold, or support matrix. One of the most complex challenges in the development of the printer was being able to repeatedly position the capillary tip, attached to the print head, to within microns. This was essential to ensure that the cells are placed in exactly the right position. Invetech developed a computer controlled, laser-based calibration system to achieve the required repeatability.

Cardium and Viking Oil Plays

Multistage horizontal drilling is opening previously ignored section of the Cardium Pembina oil reserve

Pembina, with an estimated 7.8 billion barrels of original oil in place, is Canada's largest conventional onshore oilfield. Despite extensive secondary recovery through waterfloods, less than 1.4 billion barrels has been produced. The scale of the remaining prize continues to draw plenty of interest

The new Cardium oil play in Alberta is rapidly approaching the stature of Saskatchewan’s famous Bakken play.

Both the Bakken and the Cardium are “tight” or “unconventional” plays, where the oil is hosted in a rock, as opposed to a more porous, and usual sand formation.

They were well known but uneconomic zones until a few years ago, when advancements in horizontal drilling and fracing technologies allowed them to be exploited. The Bakken is ranked by most Canadian analysts as the most profitable oil play in the country now, with Cardium as #2.

With the Cardium in particular, there is very little geological risk. It has been drilled through thousands of times to get to the oil in the more porous, productive zone below it. The market loves these low risk plays that are very “repeatable” – each new well is likely to produce just as the one before it.

Thirdly, these new technologies are continually improving the economics in these formations. Four years later, companies are still increasing production from Bakken wells, and increasing the overall amount of oil recovered from the formations. The Cardium is a younger play, only a year old, and as management teams tweak the way they drill and frac these wells, it may one day get even closer to Bakken economics.

The Viking oil play in Southwest Saskatchewan stands at approximately 6 billion barrels, implying that the play is second only to the Cardium in OOIP among non-oil sands resources. Similar to the Cardium, the Viking is a legacy oil pool that has been developed since the 1950s with older technology, and that now stands to be rejuvenated by virtue of advancements in horizontal multi-stage fraccing techniques.

Mid-Continent shale may have as much as 500 billion barrels of oil. Bakken Shale oil production alone may reach 500,000 barrels per day in 2011. The Three Forks is rumored to contain just as much oil as the Bakken.


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World Longest Sea Bridge Starts Construction

Construction of the 50-km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, expected to be the world's longest sea bridge, kicked off in Zhuhai of Guangdong province yesterday It is expected to be completed by 2016.

* The Y-shaped bridge is being built at a cost of more than 72 billion yuan ($10.54 billion).
* it would take about half an hour to travel from Zhuhai or Macao on the west bank of the Pearl River to Hong Kong on the east bank, compared with the current three hours

The project is financed by the central government together with the regional governments of Hong Kong, Macao and Guangdong. The main 35 km of the bridge include a 29.6-km oversea pass and a 6-km harbor tunnel under the South China Sea. Two artificial islands will connect the tunnel and bridge on either side.

Reclamation projects to create the artificial islands in Macao and Zhuhai ports are part of the first phase of construction.

Each city will have a port, which its own government will build.

The six-lane bridge is expected to remain in good shape for up to 120 years.

California Bay Bridge Retrofit

Caltrans is trying to complete the Bay Bridge repair without using up the contingency - and pushing the bridge's cost past $6.3 billio. It io going to be a close call, officials said.

The new eastern span of the Bay Bridge is currently scheduled to open to traffic in 2013.

After more than a decade of study, construction began on a replacement for the cantilever portion of the bridge on January 29, 2002, with completion originally slated for 2007. The new eastern "signature" span was to feature a pair of side-by-side, five-lane concrete viaducts linking to a single-towered, self-supporting suspension span between the viaducts.

Bay Bridge
Total length West: 10,304 feet (3,141 m)
East: 10,176 feet (3,102 m)
Total: 4.46 miles (7.18 km)
excluding approaches

The original bridge was built in just over 3 years.

Bay bridge website

Bay bridge facts

Cost to build original bridge: $77 million in 1936 (including Transbay Transit Terminal)

If China's bridge comes in at or near budget: for about twice as much money China will have about 20 times as much bridge and it could be built in half the time.

Cameco Progress on Cigar Lake Mine

Cameco Corp., the world’s second- largest uranium producer, said repair work at its flooded Cigar Lake mine in Canada is two-thirds complete.

Drainage at the mine is expected to be complete between April and October next year, allowing workers to determine what additional fixes are needed and update the project’s mining plan

The large uranium operation was expected to start production as early as 2008, before a rock fall caused a flood in October 2006

So if things were to go smoothly after Oct, 2010, then one would expect the mine to be operating in about 2012-2013.

The Cigar Lake project contains proven and probable reserves of more than 226,3-million pounds of uranium oxide and is the world's largest undeveloped high-grade uranium deposit, according to Cameco.

Text of the Copenhagen Climate Deal

Grist has the text of the climate deal made in Copenhagen

There is some money that is to collected to bribe/fund developing countries. going from $10 billion per year 2010-2012 and rising to $100 billion per year in 2020. There is some technology transfer and some kind of reporting on progress every two years and what look like non-binding statements to reduce emissions. The actual emission targets look like they still need to be filled in.

The collective commitment by developed countries is to provide new and additional resources amounting to 30 billion dollars for the period 2010 - 2012 as listed in appendix with balanced allocation between adaptation and mitigation, including forestry. Funding for adaptation will be prioritized for the most vulnerable developing countries, such as the least developed countries, small island developing states and countries in Africa affected by drought, desertification and floods. In the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation, developed countries support a goal of mobilizing jointly 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries. This funding will come from a wide variety of sources, public and private, bilateral and multilateral, including altemative sources of finance. New multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered through effective and efficient fund arrangements, with a governance structure providing for equal representation of developed and developing countries.

In order to enhance action on development and transfer of technology we decide to establish a Technology Mechanism as set forth in decision -/CP.l5 to accelerate technology development and transfer in support of action on adaptation and mitigation that will be guided by a country-driven approach and be based on national circumstances and priorities.

There is still a lot of scrambling to try to get even this limited agreement made

Annex I Parties to the Convention commit to reducing their emissions individually or jointly by at least 80 per cent by 2050. They also commit to implement individually or jointly the quantified economy-wide emissions targets for 2020 as listed in appendix l, yielding in aggregate reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of X per cent in 2020 compared to 1990 and Y per cent in 2020 compared to 2005. Annex I Parties that are Party to the Kyoto Protocol will thereby further strengthen the emissions reductions initiated by the Kyoto Protocol. Delivery of reductions and financing by developed countries will be measured, reported and verified in accordance with existing and any further guidelines adopted by the Conference of Parties, and will ensure that accounting of such targets and finance is rigorous, robust and transparent.

The Guardian UK:

* all references to 1.5C in previous versions were removed (no promises to hold global temperature to 1.5C increase)
* the earlier 2050 goal of reducing global emissions by 80% was also dropped.
* a political agreement but without legally binding targets

BBC News: President Obama said the US, China, Brazil, India and South Africa had "agreed to set a mitigation target to limit warming to no more than 2C and, importantly, to take action to meet this objective.

President Obama said: "We are confident that we are moving in the direction of a significant accord."

There is now an expectation that the weak copenhagen deal will cause the Senate to water down any climate legislation in the USA

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., warned about that possibility two days ago when he first arrived in Copenhagen, saying that without a solid deal it would be "exceedingly difficult" to persuade fence-sitting lawmakers to get on board with the kind of emissions-curbing legislation that passed the House months ago.

Kerry-Graham-Lieberman outlined a climate compromise bill

A compromise climate and energy bill drafted by a trio of U.S. senators will emphasize investment in clean energy, expanded offshore drilling and nuclear power as well as a greenhouse gas emissions cut of 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The encouragement of nuclear power and expanded domestic oil and gas production are clearly aimed at garnering at least some Republican support. But the framework does not provide details, including the scope and location of “expanded drilling” in the U.S. and the amount of federal loan guarantees that might be available for nuclear power plants.

If the USSR was a Superpower, then is China a Superpower?

Shaun Rein in Forbes makes the case that China has arrived as a superpower

Here are three trends to look for in 2010 that demonstrate China's superpower status:

First, China is wielding national influence in places it never affected before. Premier Wen Jiabao and the World Bank are even discussing ways to move textile factories from southern China to Africa. China's factories just might lift up Africa as no Western aid money has ever been able to do. Look for Chinese companies to buy not just access to commodities but also Western brands, like Volvo and Hummer. Building brands takes decades. Seventy percent of Top 500 Chinese companies plan to use the downturn to speed up their international expansion, using both acquisitions and organic growth.

The second trend is China's emergence as a hotbed of innovation. It is spending $9 billion a month on clean energy research, and within five years it will become the world's largest producer of solar and wind energy. Most rural homes already heat water using solar panels on their roofs, and China is now exporting its wind power technology to the U.S. Its technology is being used to build a 36,000-acre wind farm in Texas.

The third trend: Not only is China becoming ever more powerful economically; it is also starting to exert its political power more responsibly.

China Compared to the USSR
China has a larger economy now than the USSR, than if the old countries of USSR were recombined.

At its peak the USSR was about 50% of the GDP of the USA. In 2010, China and Hong Kong GDP will be about $5.5 trillion. The USA will have about $14.7 trillon. China will be about 37.4% of the US economy.

According to purchasing power parity, China (and Hong Kong) will have $9.5 trillion to the US $14 trillion in 2010 China is 68% of the US economy in PPP terms.

Superpower definition at wikipedia

A superpower is a state with a leading position in the international system and the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests; it is traditionally considered to be one step higher than a great power.

Alice Lyman Miller (Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School), defines a superpower as "a country that has the capacity to project dominating power and influence anywhere in the world, and sometimes, in more than one region of the globe at a time, and so may plausibly attain the status of global hegemon.

The term was first used in 1943 by Nicholas Spykman and then in 1944 by William T.R. Fox. Fox said in 1944 there were three states that were superpowers: Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. The British Empire was the most extensive empire in world history, which was considered the foremost great power and by 1921, held sway over 25% of the world's population and controlled about 25% of the Earth's total land area, while the United States and the Soviet Union grew in power in World War II.

In 2010, China is likely to pass Japan on a nominal GDP basis. China would then be number one in population, and number 2 economically (if the EU is not counted as one entity). China would still be far behind militarily, but is making political and cultural influence gains.

USSR and US economies (1989) according to 1990 CIA The World Factbook
GDP (1989 - millions $) 2,659,500 5,233,300
Population (July 1990) 290,938,469 250,410,000
GDP Per Capita ($) 9,211 21,082
Labor force (1989) 152,300,000 125,557,000

Country GDP (2010 nominal) GDP (2009 nominal)PPP 2010 Population
China 5,263 4,758 9200 1345
Hong Kong 221 209 307 7.1
Russia 1,364 1,243 2165 141.9
Ukraine 120 116 366 46.1
Belarus 54 50 125 9.7
Kazakhstan 121 107 196 15.4
Azerbaijan 47 38 93 8.5
Georgia 11.8 11.3 25.3 4.4
Uzbekistan 35 31 77 27.4
Armenia 9.8 10.5 21 3.0
Lithuania39.440.470 3.4
Latvia 25.5 27 43 2.3
Estonia 18.5 18.8 31.4 1.3
Kyrgyzstan5.14.9 12.4 5.3
Tajikistan 5.5 5.4 13.76.7
Moldova 5.2 5.1 11.8 3.8
USSR Total 1862 1708 3251 279.2

Update on the Rarefaction Wave Gun

In 2008, we covered the rarefaction reduced recoil tank gun

There is 36 page report on new computer models of a 105-mm Rarefaction Wave Gun

Currently, large-caliber guns require a heavy mount to absorb the recoil. However, the emphasis in the U.S. Army is now on lightweight and deployable vehicles. The Rarefaction wAVE guN (RAVEN) was invented by Kathe to substantially reduce the recoil and, hence, the mass of the system that absorbs the recoil, while minimally reducing the projectile velocity. This is accomplished by venting the breech through an expansion nozzle during the firing cycle. If the timing is done correctly, the rarefaction wave from the venting will not reach the projectile until muzzle exit. Therefore, the projectile does not know that the vent has opened.

A 35 mm rarefaction gun was built and tested. A 105-mm demonstrator RAVEN gun showing
significant differences from the 35-mm gun design is being designed.

Lighter and Stronger Materials
Here is a 29 page presentation that discusses the lightweight materials that are to be used in a RAVEN gun and other systems

• Combining composite and ceramic technologies with castings of any alloy – for dramatic weight reduction
• Opportunities for improved cast metal adhesion to inserts
• New opportunities ceramic inserts for improved wear resistance and lower weight

Develop and demonstrate hybrid component concepts (design, fabrication, and properties) that combine aluminum castings with both polymer matrix composites and ceramics.

• For DoD
– Weight savings over alternate steel casting design
– Meet or exceed design strength and durability

• For the Metalcasting Industry
– Provide advanced fabrication technology to expand metalcasting in high performance markets
• defense, aerospace, automotive, alternative energy

Proposed 105 mm Raven Gun design
The proposed 105-mm demonstrator is based on a modified cased telescope ammunition automatic Colt pistol cartridge. The projectile has a long boat tail extending almost to the breech. The charge is JA2 stick propellant. The figure shows a preliminary design where the breech is replaced by a piston with one of six spindles on the end. The spindle initially seals the breech. Unlike the 35-mm gun, there is no shear plug. The piston is initially held in place by recuperators exerting a small forward force (see section 5.4). Spindle A (left) takes the longest time to open the vent. The other spindles are cut away to open the vent sooner. The demonstrator has a split nozzle. The inside part of the nozzle is attached to the gun. The outside part of the nozzle is attached to the piston (not shown). As the piston moves backwards, the nozzle becomes longer. The piston is stopped by recoil brakes. Unlike the 35-mm gun, the piston is decelerated to the mount instead of the gun. Recuperators return the piston to the initial position. The gun will move forward at a slow velocity and is stopped with forecoil pads.

The 1-D code now more accurately models the nozzle when it is overexpanded. The pressure in the nozzle can be under atmospheric pressure for a significant amount of time. During this time, the nozzle produces negative thrust since the pressure on the outside of the nozzle is larger than the pressure inside the nozzle. Due partially to this effect, the 35-mm nozzle and the proposed 105-mm nozzle are larger than necessary. The nozzles can be reduced significantly in size, with only a minor effect on the recoil. There may be other reasons for a large nozzle than recoil reduction, such as blast reduction.

For both basic gun designs, the code indicates that the recoil can be reduced 50%, with only a small decrease in the muzzle velocity. The recoil can be reduced by at least 75% if a large decrease in muzzle velocity is allowed.

December 17, 2009

IEC 2009 Highlights

The agenda of the IEC 2009 conference has links to the presentations

Dynamic Electron Injections for Improved IEC-POPS Operation [ ppt ]

IEC computer simulation: Two-dimensional (2d) Particle-in-cell (PIC) Simulation of Polywell

• DD fueled Polywell will be smaller than ITER.
• Wiffleball effect is needed but remains to be seen.
• Neutral gas fuel must be tightly localized to control ions first-pass energy.
• Engineering design of the gas handling system will be challenging.
• Polywell remains a prime contender to solve the world’s energy crisis.

Future Goals of IEC at the University of Wisconson

* Understand & extend performance of the SIGFE 6 ion-gun device.
* Inject D, 3He into SIGFE at high energies to study D3He fusion.
* Demonstrate Differential Die Away (DDA) technique with DD fuel.
* Increase 3He3He fusion rates in HELIOS.
* Compare the experimental results to code predictions of the energy & spatial distribution of DD fusion events in an IEC device.
* Understand the effect of He on the morphology of tungsten IEC cathode grids.
* Measure the current densities & spatial profiles of negative ions emanating from the cathode region.

Superconductors could Enable Electric Jet Planes

Next Generation More-Electric Aircraft: A Potential Application for HTS
Superconductors (14 pages, 2008]
Fully superconducting machines have the
potential to be 3 times lighter.

Sustainability in the aviation industry calls for aircraft that are significantly quieter and more fuel efficient than today’s fleet. Achieving this will require revolutionary new concepts, in particular, electric propulsion. Superconducting machines offer the only viable path to achieve the power densities needed in airborne applications. This paper outlines the main issues involved in using superconductors for aeropropulsion. We review the work done under a 5-year program to investigate the feasibility of superconducting electric propulsion, and to integrate, for the first time, the multiple disciplines and areas of expertise needed to design electric aircraft. It is shown that superconductivity is clearly the enabling technology for the more efficient turbo-electric aircraft of the future.

Here is a propulsion system design that uses advanced superconducting, cryogenically cooled electric generators and motors to drive a multitude of low noise electric fans. The obvious break-through that must be achieved for this to happen is a marked increase in the power to weight ratio of electric generators and motors

Present-day high bypass turbofans

The bypass ratio (BPR), defined as the ratio of the mass flow rate of the stream passing outside the core divided by that of the stream flowing through the core, plays a key design parameter of the engine. A higher BPR, in general, yields lower exhaust speed, which serves to reduce fuel consumption and engine noise at the cost of an increase in weight and fan diameter

* Turbofans can be very compact with specific power in the range of 3-8 kW/kg.
* Recent engines such as the GE90 turbofan exhibit a BPR of 9:1.

The Case for Electric Propulsion

Torque and speed are coupled in turbofans, limiting any potential efficiency gain through speed control. Fig. 5.b illustrates a notional example of how HTS motor
technology can help relax this coupling. The electric propulsion scheme opens
up the aircraft design space to many new possibilities in which major leaps can be made towards achieving the performance goals. Decoupling torque and speed would lead to very valuable control flexibility to enable a more favorable trade between on-design and off-design performance. In addition, this architecture is intrinsically compatible with the emerging concept of “distributed propulsion” that produces thrust by means of multiple small propulsors or engines embedded on the wing or fuselage. This arrangement is anticipated to surpass other distributed propulsion concepts in many aspects. Such a system is feasible only if electrical motors can be of about the same size or better than aero turbines. Conventional motors exhibit a specific power up to 0.5 kW/kg. Superconductors can raise the specific power limits.


Off-the-shelf cryocoolers exhibit efficiencies of about 10- 15% of Carnot efficiency, which correspond to about 70W/W at 30 K. The lightest cryocoolers today weigh about 5 lb/HPinput (or 3 kg/kW-input). This is just for the cold head portion, the associated compressors and ancillaries represent an overhead of about 5 times that weight. The use of packaged turbocompressors may reduce this overhead significantly, and coupled with the development of much lighter cold heads, it may be possible to reach the target of 3 kg/kW-input as overall specific weight for cryocoolers (2030-2035)

Superconducting Generators

LEI is developing a 3MVA/15,000 RPM generator.

General Electric used a bulk piece of magnetic material at the rotor magnetized by a stationary superconducting coil. This configuration provides a very robust rotor able to spin at high RPM. The flux distribution is not optimal but the high rotation
speed brings the power density to an impressive 7 kW/kg.

Superconducting motor for a Cessna has been made:

Total length 160 mm
External diameter 220 mm
Number of poles 8
Rotation speed 2700 RPM
Power 160 kW
Total mass (including conduction cooling apparatus) 30 kg
Power density 5 kW/kg
Heat load of superconducting part < 10W
Operating temperature 30 K

The turbine engines in a typical small business jet are about 1.5 MW. The concept described above is modular, and more HTS coils/YBCO plates can be stacked axially to increase power. The power density of this system was estimated to be 6.6 kW/kg, comparable to that of state-of-the-art turbines.

A case study of an unmanned aircraft, fully electric, able to fly and loiter for up to 14 days without refueling or returning to base. For maximum efficiency, the superconducting motor for the propulsor needs to be both extremely light and compact, but also have very low losses. We chose a lead-less axial flux configuration (allowing for higher trapped flux for compactness). The design concept, described is projected to achieve an impressive power density of 7.4 kW/kg using conventional HTS materials available today.

Superconducting Jetplane Design

A study is now being conducted to design short-field regional subsonic transport aircraft having a full payload of nominally 100 passengers. These aircraft are for the N+2 time frame, and the study has been extended to include a design having a
superconducting electric propulsion system (for possible N+3 introduction).

Superconducting generator is designed using the methodology outlined in this paper, and the result is truly remarkable. The diameter of the generator at 10.24 inches is half that of the maximum engine diameter, and the light weight of the fully superconducting generator yields a power to weight ratio of 40 HP/lb (66 kW/kg). The generator rotates at engine rotational speed resulting in reduced torque and very light weight (335 lb each generator, with each turbine engine at 894 lb).

Five fans per wing are installed above the wing with the exhaust nozzle near the trailing edge.

The fully superconducting motor outside diameter at 7.24 inches is an excellent match with the hub diameter of the fan exit, and the light weight of the motors is based on a power to weight ratio of 24.6 HP/lb (40 kW/kg), a lower power density that the generators. Each motor weighs 110 lb, and with cables included, the total
turboelectric propulsion system weighs slightly more than 5100 lbs.

The gross weight of the electric powered aircraft is approximately 5% lower than the turbofan powered aircraft primarily due to a reduction in the propulsion system weight.

A development roadmap includes:
• Develop and demonstrate fully superconducting rotating machines in the range of 25-40 kW/kg for motors, and 40-80 kW/kg for high rotation speed generators (up to 15,000 RPM)
• Develop low AC loss HTS conductors (<10 W/Am @ 500Hz, equivalent to 10 μm filament) for fully superconducting machines
• Develop cryocoolers capable of 30% of carnot efficiency and weighing less than 3 kg/kW-input (or alternative lightweight refrigeration schemes)
• Refine the physics-based models for superconducting machines and ancillaries to continue exploration of aircraft design space and alternative concepts

Compact superconducting power systems for airborne applications (3 pages)

A major issue with superconducting wire has been overcome with the recent introduction of the YBCO coated conductor. The latest 2G power cables can conduct up to 10 times the amount of power comparable copper cables manage.
by using a high-temperature superconductor system (HTS) instead of copper wire, transmission power densities could be increased three- to ten-fold, and the system heat loss and weight could be reduced by 10-15 kW and 1500-3000 lbs., respectively.

Maxing Out Vasimr Performance with Vapor Core Reactors or Nuclear Fusion

Some comments on Vasimr by Paul March on the Nasa Forum

Vasimr has different quoted exhaust velocity ranges for different propellants -
* argon has a limit of around 50,000 m/s
* 300,000 m/s is possible with hydrogen.

The 39 day mission to Mars using VASIMR propulsion takes 200 Megawatts total input power driving 4-to-8 yet to be designed VASIMR engines that will sink 25-to-50 MW each. VASIMR can change its ISP from 1,000 seconds to over 30,000 seconds so its thrust generation efficiency can be adjusted from ~10,000 Watts/Newton at 1,000 seconds all the way up to ~300,000 Watts/Newton at 30,000 second Isp, so it really needs a big set of nuclear reactors to drive them. Dr. Chang Diaz needs to have a set of three, 75MW or larger reactors to drive his proposed 39 mission to Mars. If we could double that power level then we could deliver even shorter Earth to Mars trips times on the order of 4 weeks (28 days) or less.

Franklin Chang Diaz gave a UHCL lecture Friday night here in Houston and he disclosed that by the time the VF-200 VASIMR flight engines flies to the ISS, the development cost for Ad Astra Rocket Company will be over $150 million.

Paul March asked Franklin during the Q&A session what the VASIMR engine power level was for planning his proposed 200 MW manned mission to Mars project, and he stated that it was something in the range of 20-to-40 MW per engine. That implies 5-to-10 engines would be used for this 39 day mission senario tied to three nuclear reactors. Each engine would be consuming something on the order of 40 kW/Newton, so each of the 40 MW VASIMR engines would be producing ~1,000 Newtons.

Vasimr presentation from 2005

Franklin Chang Diaz has proposed several deep space manned Mars missions using nuclear powered VASIMR engines over the last decade that take anywhere from ~120 days to ~40 days for a one-way trip time to Mars per Ad Astra's mission calculations. The total required propulsion power runs the gamut from 12MW-e constant power for the 120 day one-way trip time up to 200MW-e for the 40 day trip time. I have been told that each of these manned Mars mission scenarios and several in between utilize three to four VASIMR engines tied to three semi-redundant fission or fusion power reactors/power converters that when summed yield the noted power levels.

These VASIMR mission proposals are being taken seriously by NASA/JSC management, so [Paul March] been tasked to perform a survey study that will look into how we could generate that kind of power levels, looking at solar, nuclear fission and fusion power generators. All of these missions require a power plant with a specific mass of less than 10kg/kW-e. It appears that the solar power option is viable for the lunar tug option in cis-lunar space, but that it becomes problematic for solar array sizes any larger than 5-to-10MW-e in size due to deployment and dynamic stability issues. You also have the issue with losing approximately half of your solar constant at Mar's orbit, so nuclear power for Mars missions and beyond make more sense to pursue.

Vapor Core Reactors: Light and Powerful and Helped with Stronger Superconducting Magnets

A gas core reactor coupled to a disk MHD unit with superconducting magnets is the basis for a high performance topping cycle in a proposed MHD-GT (Brayton)-ST (Rankine) heat recovery combined cycle for a future Generation IV nuclear power plant Optimized studies show that such a power plant could reach nearly 70% energy efficiency. [Pulsed Magnetic Induction Gas Core Reactor, or PMI-GCR, Vapor-Gas Core Nuclear Power Systems with Superconducting Magnets]

This design would be a high fuel burn-up system with online extraction of fission products and most importantly for environmental and long-term economic viability this proposed concept would enable a completely closed fuel cycle (the only unspent nuclear fuel would result from the minimal amount of fuel in the reactor loop at shut-down when the plant would be decommissioned, this poses no long term storage problem whatsoever). These systems require two key advanced technologies, (i) materials capable of withstanding greater than 2000K temperatures and chemically compatible with uranium tetrafluoride vapor, and (ii) light-weight, highfield superconducting magnets with good radiation hardness properties.

Fissioning plasmas, such as are proposed in the aforementioned concepts, are much less dense and much lower temperature than fusion plasmas, therefore gaseous fuel systems (GCRs or VCRs) employing fission power have an immediate technological advantage over fusion power systems for stringent space exploration requirements. This is true of all fission reactors at present, but vapor-fueled reactors are the most advanced fission power sources for at least two reasons. First, they allow direct energy conversion of the heat energy released into the fuel at the highest possible quality. This is possible for example by using magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) generators through which the activated ionized fission plasma can flow. For this effect to generate hundreds of kilowatts up to many megawatts of power in a compact low mass system requires high field magnets of up to 4 to 10 Tesla or more. Even higher fields would be advantageous due to the Hall effect mode that the disk generator operates. Secondly, vapor core reactors can be constructed at almost half the mass and scale of conventional solid fuel reactors, this is because many subcomponents of conventional nuclear reactors are simplified or entirely removed from gas or vapor core reactors.

There is also a need for a new generation of navy propulsion systems. Seawater is highly conducting and a suitable fluid for MHD power or propulsion effect. Both in space power systems and on-board nuclear power for navy applications, the power conditioning sub-system delivering power to thrusters can comprise a considerable extra mass and complexity. If a G/VCR reactor was used to provide the gas flow for an MHD power generator, then this could be fairly simply and naturally coupled to a reversed MHD unit that injects energy (directly by ion acceleration) into seawater for navy vehicle propulsion. This is a potentially very efficient and compact way to provide ship propulsion. Both for space and navy propulsion a solid fuel reactor could also be used if the coolant could be activated enough by fission products and radiation to become electrically conducting, then MHD generators could again be employed for direct power conversion

Gaseous fission reactor at wikipedia

The vapor core reactor (VCR), also called a gas core reactor (GCR), has been studied for some time. It would have a gas or vapor core composed of UF4 with some 4He and/or 3He added to increase the electrical conductivity, the vapor core may also have tiny UF4 droplets in it. It has both terrestrial and space based applications. Since the space concept doesn’t necessarily have to be economical in the traditional sense, it allows the enrichment to exceed that which would be acceptable for a terrestrial system. It also allows for a higher ratio of UF4 to helium, which in the terrestrial version would be kept just high enough to ensure criticality in order to increase the efficiency of direct conversion. The terrestrial version is designed for a vapor core inlet temperature of about 1500 K and exit temperature of 2500 K and a UF4 to helium ratio of around 20% to 60%. It is thought that the outlet temperature could be raised to that of the 8000 K to 15000 K range where the exhaust would be a fission-generated non-equilibrium electron gas, which would be of much more importance for a rocket design.

Polywell and Vasimr Scaling Speculation

From Paul March from memory:
The 0.30 meter radius WB-7 Polywell reactor ran at power levels around 1,000 Watts. Scale this 0.30 m radius up by a factor of 10 or 3.0 m, that would indicated that the power output would go up by a factor of 10^7 = 10,000,000 times. A 3.0 meter reactor that theoretically could produce 10^10 Watts or 10 Gigawatts.

The WB8 project proposal discussed 100 milliwatts.

The report shall address the conceptual requirements for a polywell fusion reactor capable of generating approximately 100 milliwatts.

From M Simon:
At 100 milliwatts for a follow on reactor they are starting to get into the power range. If they can get that kind of power with .3 m diameter. coils and .8 T fields, then a reactor with 3 m coils and 10 T fields should produce about 2.5 Mega Watts if the scaling laws hold.

Adjusting the off the cuff commen:
If one were to scale up to a radius of 15 meters (30 meter cube), then that would indicated a scaling factor of (15/0.3)^7 = 781,250,000,000 * 0.1 = 7.8125x10^10 Watts or ~78.1 Gigawatts, or 78 one-GW reactors.

A Vasimr with 40kW/Newton with an Isp of 5,000 second could produce 250,000 Newton with a 10 GW reactor.

If there was a successful Mach Effect propulsion with 1.0 kW/Newton propulsion system that would imply a total thrust of 10,000,000 Newtons from a 10 GW reactor.

Superconducting Wire Will Become High Volume and Affordable and Are Making Powerful Magnets

Superpower inc is a leader in superconducting wire and magnets. They describe their roadmap to achieving mass market success with superconductors. Incremental progress increasing production throughput and improving current capacity of large volume wire will achieve market success and societal impact in about 2017.

There is 32 tesla superconducting magnet project and there are detailed designs and projects for 60 tesla superconducting magnets

Powerful and relatively cheap magnets in high volume will enable better VASIMR and could also enable the vapor core reactor and help with various nuclear fusion projects.


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Major breakthrough may pave the way for therapeutic vaccines for Allergies and Cancer

Fig. 1. (A) Schematic figure of the DNA construct encoding the ORO vaccine antigen. The signal sequence (derived from human BM40) is marked by an S. An asterisk denotes an unpaired cysteine residue that was changed to serine by point mutagenesis. (B) Structure of the recombinant ORO protein.

It should be possible to use therapeutic vaccines to create both cheap and effective drugs for diseases like cancer and allergies. One problem in developing such vaccines has previously been the lack of adjuvants, substances that make vaccines more effective. However, there has now been a major breakthrough in this area. “We have made a very important breakthrough by managing to identify a substance that is biologically degradable and that exhibits considerably higher activity than the adjuvants that have been used in the past,” says Lars Hellman. “These new and highly promising findings are an important step toward developing more cost-effective drugs for some of our major public health diseases,” he says.

Many of the treatment methods that are developed today for allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases are based on the use of so-called monoclonal antibodies. The cost of these protein pharmaceuticals is high, between 15,000 and 150,000 dollars per patient and year, and long periods of treatment are often needed. Therapeutic vaccines contain no pre-produced antibodies but rather stimulate our immune system to produce its own therapeutic antibodies. They are considerably less expensive to manufacture than the drugs that are now being produced.

“Therapeutic vaccines that target the same molecules in the body as the various monoclonal antibodies would enable us to reduce the cost of treatment significantly, and also decrease the number of visits patients need to make to the clinic,” says Lars Hellman, professor of molecular and comparative immunology at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Uppsala University, who directed the study.

Journal Vaccine: Identification of potent biodegradable adjuvants that efficiently break self-tolerance—A key issue in the development of therapeutic vaccines

Monoclonal antibodies are used successfully in the treatment of many human disorders. However, these antibodies are expensive and have in many countries put a major strain on the health care economy. Therapeutic vaccines, directed against the same target molecules, may offer a solution to this problem. Vaccines usually involve lower amount of recombinant protein, approximately 10,000–20,000 times less, which is significantly more cost effective. Attempts to develop such therapeutic vaccines have also been made. However, their efficacy has been limited by the lack of potent immunostimulatory compounds, adjuvants, for human use. To address this problem we have conducted a broad screening for adjuvants that can enhance the efficacy of therapeutic vaccines, whilst at the same time being non-toxic and biodegradable. We have now identified adjuvants that show these desired characteristics. A combination of Montanide ISA720 and phosphorothioate stabilized CpG stimulatory DNA, induced similar or even higher anti-self-antibody titers compared to Freund's adjuvant, currently the most potent, but also toxic, adjuvant available. This finding removes one of the major limiting factors in the field and facilitates the development of a broad range of novel therapeutic vaccines.

Peter Voss Interview by Sander Olson

Here is an interview with Peter Voss by Sander Olson. Mr. Voss is an artificial general intelligence researcher who is confident that AGI can be created within the next decade given sufficient funding. He has created a company, called Adaptive AI, Inc., which produces call-center software but which has the express purpose of developing and commercializing artificial general intelligence technology. Voss's plan is to make Adaptive AI, Inc. profitable and then plow the profits back into general AI research. His company is growing rapidly and has introduced call-center programs that is superior to current software:

Peter Voss has a bio at Accelerating Future

Question: A number of AI researchers, including Josh Hall, Ben Goertzel, Itamar Arel, and yourself, have argued that artificial general intelligence could arrive within a decade. What hard evidence exists to support such predictions?

Answer: The evidence at this point is more indirect than direct. General AI systems will fail to impress until they approach human intelligence. But AI researchers have become more sanguine because they see that we are not hitting any brick walls on performance and we are generally not hitting any serious roadblocks in creating and implementing our AI algorithms.

Question: IBM recently claimed to have simulated a portion of a cat brain. How close is this to a real-time simulation of a whole cat brain?

Answer: Not very close. It demonstrated a statistical correlation of neuronal activity at an arbitrary level of resolution. It was nowhere near a simulation of an actual brain.

Question: So what would a brain simulation need to accomplish in order to be truly noteworthy?

Answer: The real milestones in this development would be if a simulated cat brain were connected to an actual robot that could actually interact with its environment in a meaningful way. Then you would know that you had something nearly equivalent to an actual cat brain. An even more impressive milestone would be if you scanned in an animal's brain into a computer, and found that the personality and memories of the animal had transferred to the machine. But we are a long way away from that.

Question: Tell us about Adaptive Artificial Intelligence. What is special about its call-center software?

Answer: This is the first application using a modified AGI engine that actually drives a commercial product. This software allows for more natural and flexible conversations. But it also provides a real-world testbed for the AGI engine. The call-center market is a $300 billion industry, and therefore has the potential to generate significant revenue which can be plowed back into AGI research and improving the software. This feedback loop could prove crucial to the development of a true AGI system.

Question: Has there been any evidence to date of computers showing unprogrammed initiative?

Answer: We call unprogrammed initiative bugs! No, none of the AGI projects are far enough along to show high-level abstraction. But we do occasionally experience programs that end up showing more intelligence or insight than we had originally predicted.

Question: Ray Kurzweil has argued that emulating human intelligence requires approximately 10^17 calculations per second. Do you agree with his assessment?

Answer: I believe that Kurzweil's estimate is way too high. His estimate is predicated on reverse-engineering the human brain, which I believe is not a particularly good way to achieve AGI. Reverse engineering the human brain is a huge endeavor which will likely take decades while being quite unnecessary for creating AGI in computers. We didn't need to reverse-engineer birds in order to design airplanes. So I'm convinced that it will require considerably less computing power to emulate human level intelligence.

Question: So would a computer that runs 10x as fast as a human brain be 10x as intelligent?

Answer: It would have greater mental acuity, but I don't believe that intelligence scales linearly with processing power. It would certainly be extremely useful.

Question: To what extent is AI research being constrained by insufficient funding?

Answer: The field is hugely resource constrained. I am unaware of any multi-million dollar AGI projects, let alone any multi-billion dollar programs. About eight years ago, DARPA had a program that sounded like AGI, but that program has largely been abandoned. Unfortunately, I don't see the situation changing in the near future. Getting funding is hard. Until you have full blown AGI the demos aren’t very impressive.

Question: To what extent does AGI benefit from narrow AI research?

Answer: The vast majority of AI funding goes to narrow AI projects, and this leads many people to incorrectly conclude that multi-billion dollar AGI research projects exist. So in that sense narrow AI research is actually a hindrance. However, tools and algorithms for narrow AI are consistently improving, and this is beneficial. Overall narrow AI research does not significantly impact AGI research.

Question: Is Google or any other major corporation, institution, or Government engaged in AGI research?

Answer: Although Google has considerable R&D resources, there are not to my knowledge engaged in AGI research. I'm not aware of any company or Government that is currently engaged in AGI research. Corporations generally do not fund efforts that require a decade to reach fruition. The number of AGI researchers is tiny and they all seem to be accounted for.

Question: What signs will emerge indicating the AGI is near?

Answer: The signs will be quite subtle, and will probably be missed by most people. The virtual agents used in our call centers can sometimes feign intelligence, but it is quite brittle. So when high-level AGI systems do emerge initially they will just seem like very clever narrow AI applications.

Question: You have predicted that AGI will emerge within the next decade. But how likely is this given the dearth of funding?

Answer: I believe that it is highly likely that AGI will be achieved given sufficient funding.

The problem is funding, and the only strategy that I have any confidence in is the approach that I am taking. We are hoping that my company, Adaptive Artificial Intelligence, will be commercially successful, and will use the profits generated to directly fund AGI development. This has the advantage that it will simultaneously benefit the call center product and advance general intelligence capabilities. We are growing rapidly and should soon be profitable, so this concept has real merit.

Question: Some have argued that AGI will quickly lead to molecular manufacturing capabilities. Do you agree?

Answer: Yes I do. Molecular manufacturing fundamentally requires a lot of brain power, so once we have AGI systems we can allocate their intellects towards solving these theoretical problems.

Question: Assuming that funding issues get resolved, how do you see AGI impacting the world in the 2020-2030 decade?

Answer: AGI will bring about major changes – and they will happen quickly. Specific developments are extremely hard to predict. My central goal is to develop artificial general intelligence, and use that intelligence to rapidly improve the human condition. Many of humanities most vexing problems can be solved with greater brainpower. The 2020s could witness the emergence of superhuman intelligence, molecular manufacturing, radical life extension, and abundance in many aspects of human life - it won't be a boring decade

Boron nitride nanotubes Spun into Commercially Usable Fibers

Small wonder. The first macroscopic, commercially usable BNNTs, spun into a 3-centimeter-long, 1-milimeter-diameter piece of yarn. Credit: Michael Smith

Researchers have long been able to make nanotubes out of carbon, but they have struggled to craft them from boron nitride. The two have about the same strength, but boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) can survive temperatures that are twice as high as those carbon nanotubes can survive--800°C and higher. Scientists have only been able to create high-quality tubes a micron long; larger versions have been riddled with defects in the crystalline structure.

Nanotechnology Journal: Very long single- and few-walled boron nitride nanotubes via the pressurized vapor/condenser method

A new method for producing long, small-diameter, single- and few-walled, boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) in macroscopic quantities is reported. The pressurized vapor/condenser (PVC) method produces, without catalysts, highly crystalline, very long, small-diameter, BNNTs. Palm-sized, cotton-like masses of BNNT raw material were grown by this technique and spun directly into centimeters-long yarn. Nanotube lengths were observed to be 100 times that of those grown by the most closely related method. Self-assembly and growth models for these long BNNTs are discussed.

The team of materials scientists describe the first creation of high-quality, uniformly crystalline BNNTs in large quantities: Each piece of fiber is long enough that it can be spun into user-friendly yarn. To do this, the researchers aimed a laser at a cake of boron inside a chamber filled with nitrogen. (Originally an infrared laser was used, but the technique has been modified to use a conventional welding laser.) This forms a plume of boron gas that shoots upward. A cooled metal wire is then inserted into the gas, causing the gas to cool and form liquid droplets. The droplets combine with the nitrogen to self-assemble into BNNTs. "It's like fuel-air-spark in an engine," says team member and NASA aerospace scientist Michael Smith. "The reaction advances violently, creating the superlong tubes in just milliseconds."

That explosive reaction quickly produces masses of high-quality BNNTs that look like mounds of cotton candy--more high-quality BNNTs than anyone has ever been able to make at once. The fibers show all of the important properties--strength, piezoelectric activity, conductivity, and stability at high temperatures--that have made BNNTs so sought after. And all with a method that can be done with commercially available materials and tools.

Success at building large amounts of inexpensive nanotubes opens the door for lighter, faster car frames; affordable space vehicles; and ultralightweight armor. Or on a smaller level, BNNTs could be used with pinpoint precision to attack cancer cells by sticking to tumors, absorbing neutrons from a targeted beam, and generating localized alpha radiation to kill the cancer.

"This is the start of a revolution in materials," says Dennis Bushnell, a NASA engineer who has watched the work closely in the hopes of using BNNTs for space vehicles. Typical wisdom has been that high-quality carbon nanotubes were much easier to create than high-quality BNNTs, but this new, easy process may change that thinking and get nanotubes into a host of applications much faster, he says. "Just about everything can be made lighter, and hopefully, cheaper. You're talking about energy savings all over the place."

Amazon Auction Cloud Computing Capacity

Amazon on Monday began offering its Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) customers the chance to bid on unused computing capacity

Businesses can now bid for computing capacity during times of low demand to save money.

EC2 continues to offer two other pricing methods: On-Demand Instances, which are charged at a published rate, and Reserved Instances, pre-paid at a discounted rate for use up to three years later.

Typical jobs for EC2 involve analyzing data sets, media file format conversion, or Web crawling for a search index, for example.

December 16, 2009

10 Petaflop Supercomputer in Japan is Funded again

Finance Minister Hirohisa Fujii and other key Cabinet members agreed Wednesday to allow the science ministry as a special case to earmark up to around 23 billion yen in the fiscal 2010 budget to support projects to develop a next-generation supercomputer.

The $300 million project is funded for Fujitsu to make a 10 petaflop supercomputer that is to be operational in 2012. Fujitsu demonstrated a prototype node for the system recently and was only waiting to have funding restored to begin building.

Sliding Ink Could Boost Speed of Printed Electronics

New Scientist reports ink drops sliding down a microscopic ridge, like water running off a roof, can boost the speed of printed transistors for flexible electronics The new technique cut the overlap in the final transistor to just 0.78 micrometres, a 10-fold improvement on the previous all-printed techniques and comparable to the figures obtained by using photolithography to clean up after printing.

Without final tuning printed electronic transistors tend to perform poorly, says Huai-Yuan Tseng at the University of California, Berkeley, who with colleague Vivek Subramanian has developed a more accurate way of printing transistors, without resorting to extra processing. Tseng says their method is the first to abandon traditional etching altogether.

The problem is that ink cannot be squirted accurately enough to prevent the three electrodes in a field-effect transistor from being too close together. The source and drain are arranged in a line and printed on one layer while the third, the gate, is printed on a different layer, separated by a nanoscale insulator.

In printed transistors the source and drain can vertically overlap the gate by 10 micrometres or more, allowing electric fields from the gate electrode to couple with the other electrodes and impair performance. The larger the overlap between gate and the source and drain, the larger the parasitic capacitance, and hence the slower the transistors are.

Taiwan unveils 16 Nanometer SRAM Made With Nano injection lithography Which Could be Ready by 2013

An electronic image shows six transistors installed in a space measuring 300 nanometres by 130 nanometres on a microchip developed by State-backed National Nano Device Laboratories

Taiwan's National Nano Device Laboratories in northern Hsinchu city said it had succeeded in packing more transistors into smaller chip space than anyone else so far.

Nano injection lithography eliminates the masks of other lithography techniques. Eliminating the masks and the photoresist cuts the patterning process from five steps to one, greatly simplifying production. The researchers say that EUV masks are projected to cost around US $3 million a set and the EUV lithography machines about $60 million apiece. So the nano injection lithography could also be significantly cheaper. Hu says the technique also allows for finer lines and closer spacing than typical electron-beam lithography.

Yang Fu-liang, the lab's chief and his team are working on 16-nanometer technology, referring to the space between transistors on a chip.

said the 16-nm SRAM device offers a nine-fold increase in capacity over 45-nm SRAM technology and a 60-percent reduction in microchip size, while at the same time lowering power consumption by about half. With a capacity 10 times that of current 45-nm SRAM devices, the new technology will lead to even smaller and lighter portable electronics products after mass production begins by allowing for major reductions in motherboard size. In the future, the technology could lead to computers as light as 500 grams in weight.

IEEE Spectrum has technical details

A new type of lithography, which uses an electron beam to spark a chemical reaction, could provide a cheaper way to build the incredibly tiny transistors that the chipmaking industry will require in a few years. Researchers from Taiwan and the University of California, Berkeley, say they've made static random access memory (SRAM) that anticipates 16-nanometer chip features with a new process called nano injection lithography.

They say their technique may provide an alternative to lithography that relies on extreme ultraviolet light (EUV), which still is beset by problems and could be extremely expensive.

The device the team made was a six-transistor SRAM in a 0.039µm2 cell. The previous record holder was based on 22-nm features in a 0.1 µm2 cell.

SRAM occupies an ever-increasing percentage of a chip, taking up as much as 80 percent of cell area in some designs, Hu notes. "The size of the SRAM cell becomes critical to the cost of the chip, so SRAM is always the most taxing circuit for testing process capability," he says. Shrinking the SRAM, in other words, is key to shrinking the chip's circuitry as a whole.

Standard lithography uses a set of masks to create a pattern of structures in a photoresist that's exposed to ultraviolet light. The Taiwan team's process eliminates both the masks and the photoresist, relying instead on a metallorganic gas, an organic molecule studded with atoms of platinum. An electron beam with a diameter of 4.6 nm is fired at the gas, causing a chemical reaction that deposits the platinum on the silicon chip in the desired pattern, while the rest of the gas flows away. With this hard mask deposited on the silicon, the researchers then use chemicals to etch away exposed silicon and thereby create the desired circuits. The platinum mask is then chemically removed.

The researchers say their technique is mainly an alternative for EUV and e-beam lithography for low-volume fabrication.

"It seems this new nano-injection-lithography technique may indeed be of interest for exploring 16-nm node device dimensions," says Anabela Veloso, who specializes in CMOS devices and technology at IMEC, an independent research center for nano-electronics in Belgium. "However, as an electron-beam based technique, and without further information on potential throughput and [alignment of different patterns], the feasibility of its application for volume production seems very unlikely."

Skepticism aside, the researchers will explore other ways to improve the technique, such as using other gases. They used a gas that was readily available and worked, but may not be the best for their purposes.

When the 16-nm chip is coming is not certain, although Hu says some optimists expect it by 2013.

US Life Expectancy at Record High

Life expectancy at birth is 77.9 years based on just released Preliminary data for 2007

US Life expectancy was 77.7 years based on final 2006 data

135 page pdf of life and death statistics for 2006

Age-adjusted death rates in 2007 decreased significantly from 2006 for 8 of the 15 leading causes of death: Diseases of heart, Malignant neoplasms, Cerebrovascular diseases, Accidents (unintentional injuries), Diabetes mellitus, Influenza and pneumonia, Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease, and Assault (homicide). The rate for Chronic lower respiratory diseases increased in 2007 from 2006. Age-adjusted death rates for Alzheimer’s disease, Septicemia, Intentional self-harm (suicide), Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis did not change significantly in 2007 from 2006.

The preliminary number of deaths in the United States for 2007 was 2,423,995, representing a decrease of 2,269 from the 2006 total. The estimated age-adjusted death rate, which accounts for changes in the age distribution of the population, reached a record low of 760.3 per 100,000 U.S. standard population, 2.1 percent lower than the 2006 rate of 776.5.

The magnitude of the decreases in mortality (which are significant unless specified otherwise) by age group is):
* Under 1 year (0.6 percent, not significant)
* 15–24 years (2.4 percent)
* 25–34 years (1.4 percent)
* 35–44 years (3.1 percent)
* 45–54 years (1.8 percent)
* 55–64 years (1.7 percent)
* 65–74 years (2.7 percent)
* 75–84 years (1.9 percent)
* 85 years and over (2.1 percent)

Two Senate Bills Would Encourage Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

Two bills advancing in the Senate aim to spur small modular nuclear reactor projects.

Small reactors could do better in economics and security than existing large-scale operations.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee was examining two bills that would spur the creation and licensing of the small, modular reactors. One measure would authorize the government to spend $250 million over five years to support the technology.

Another bill would create a demonstration program at the Energy Department to test modular reactor designs.

The Energy Department plans to announce a multi-billion-dollar government-backed loan for a nuclear power plant by the end of 2009

Other Nuclear News

2. A ceremony yesterday evening marked the official start of construction at Sanmen 2, China's third AP1000 nuclear power reactor. The project was six weeks ahead of schedule. It is meant to begin operation in June 2014.

3. The McClean Lake uranium mill in Saskatchewan, Canada, is to be put on stand-by in mid-2010 until market conditions improve

4. Russia Monday said it has no issues about transferring enrichment and reprocessing technologies (ENR) to India and set an ambitious
target of setting 12-14 nuclear reactors in India, days after the two countries inked an accord on civil nuclear cooperation.

Moscow is looking to set up six to eight new nuclear reactors at a site allocated in West Bengal besides six reactors it is building at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu under two separate arrangements.

"Maybe there will also be a third site," the Russian envoy said while pitching for the setting up of more atomic reactors by Russian companies in India. "It should be done not piece by piece but series by series," he said.

The India-Russia atomic pact is widely seen as better than the 123 agreement in as much as it guarantees uninterrupted fuel supplies in case of termination of cooperation and gives reprocessing rights to India.

Roadmap for Organic and Printed Electronics

The Roadmap for Organic and Printed Electronics (78 pages, register for free download)

Organic Solar for the start of grid impact will not be reasonable ready until 2016 at the earliest


(Small Displays) Electrophoretic price label display, segmented, driver electronics printed on backplane (2013)

Color e-reader, A4, 10 frames/sec, flex for robustness - Quad eXtended Graphics Array (QXGA) and WRGB, 8 bit (2016, lower quality but rollable 2014)

Large Displays:

Advertising poster, reflective, 4 bit color, A2, 50 (75) ppi (2015)

"Napkin PC": A4 touch screen writable note pad for meetings, interface to computer
via bluetooth, WLAN or cable, >100 ppi, B/W, no grey scale (2017)

Centrally updated wallpaper, 1.2x2.4 m2, color,4 bit,>150 ppi (2021)

Two caveats are important in looking at these product generations. First, no one can really predict what products will penetrate the market; for example will the trend be to one big multifunctional screen that connects with everything or will there be a stronger trend to lightweight portable “personal displays”? (One should recall that several years ago many people thought the idea of a camera in a mobile phone was preposterous.) Thus whether these will be the specific products in the future is hard to predict, however be believe that these products show the kind of technology development (to color, high resolution, low cost etc.) that will be necessary in the coming years.

Second, display media can change over time.

OLED Lighting

Flexible thin lighting elements, <<1mm thickness, plastic, metal substrate (2015)

> 100 lm/W, > 10 k-hr, << €10 /klm (2017-2019)


The vision for printed RFID is the substitute of the optical barcode on consumer goods like milk bottles or yoghurt cups in the supermarket.

Generation Product description Market General Availability
1 1-4 bit ROM Brand Protection 2011
2 4-8 bit ROM Ticketing 2012
3 16-32 bit ROM Automation 2013
4 32-64 bit ROM Internal Logistics 2014
5 96 bit WORM General Logistics 2016
6 printed EPC HF Retail Item Level 2018
7 printed EPC UHF Retail Logistics 2023

* write once read many (WORM)
* UHF - rectifiers for ultrahigh frequencies (Giga Hertz range) demand for new
materials, designs and processes:

Printed Memory

* Large NV-RAM Marketing with sound and video (2013)
* Large WORM Marketing with sound and video (2013)
* Large NV-RAM Consumer electronics (2015)

Organic Sensors

* Optical sensor (OLED/Organic photodiode) (2009)
* Physical sensors for pressure, temperature, strain and arrays (2010)
* Single use, potentiometric yes/no chemical sensor (2010)
* Single use, amperometric biosensor, with multiple test levels (2014)
* Continuous analog chemical monitoring (2016)
* Sensitive single use analog biosensor (2018)

Flexible Batteries, Smart Objects and Smart Textiles

Single use sensor (sensor, logic, battery, display), Water quality tester (2012)
DinA4 game board with several sensors and displays Gaming (2014)
Smart card with printed display,organic circuit, battery, organic sensor (2020)
Monitoring sensors Medical, health care, sport (2011)
Organic solar cells on textile (2014)

The roadmap also discusses the technology and how they plan to achieve the advances in capability.

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