March 27, 2010

Science Fiction Displays Now Real - Navigation Super High Resolution Images and Rollup Displays

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HP and Arizona state university have Demonstrated flexible displays that can be rolled up This should be on the market in 2012 and in mass production in 2013.

The flexible displays can be mass produced by using a production method called Self-Aligned Imprint Lithography (SAIL). By manufacturing the displays in the form of rolls instead of sheets makes the production method more cost effective.

Rollup newspaper displays were shown in Minority Report.

Gigapixel images are great, but navigating them on a regular sized display through a slow web browser isn't such a great experience. A video below shows how we navigate a 13.3 gigapixel image of Tromsø, Norway on a 22 megapixel display wall, using a custom, camera-based multi-touch interface and a custom system for high-performance navigation and visualization of high-resolution datasets.

Blade Runner Had a Super-resolution image that was navigated by the Harrison ford Character.

There are multi-gigapixel cameras and the gigapan robotic camera rig allows a regular DSLR camera to take multiple images that can be stiched together to make a super high resolution image

Gigapan has released the Epic Pro, a mount that can handle DSLR camera and lens combination of up to 10 lbs. Earlier versions of the mount were created for lightweight and compact cameras. The Pro, designed with a magnesium chassis and aluminum arm, weighs about 8 lbs including the battery pack. It’s features include the ability to adjust time between exposure, motor speed, aspect ratio and picture overlap.

A year ago, Gigapan launched its first robotic camera mount called Epic that automates the process of taking different images to compose the ultimate shot. The mount allows photographers with almost any point-and-shoot digital camera to click photos without worrying about missing details that might ruin a picture when it is eventually stitched together. A software program called Stitch that comes with the device allows the photos to be blended together and uploaded to where users can zoom into the detail, explore and share.

The Epic Pro mount will be available in April, says the company, and it will cost $895. The hobbyist focused Epic 100 costs $450 and the smallest rig Epic designed for compact digital cameras is $350.

HP Flexible Display Demo

ASU flexible display demo 2008

G Speak minority report os demo


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Technology For 2010-2020 - Ramping to a Later Technological Singularity

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J Storrs Hall looks at what the Singularity look like with just nanotech (full out molecular nanotechnology) and narrow AI?

* Life Extension via molecular nanotech
* human level AI
* nanofactories enable the entire physical economy over into a Moore’s Law-like growth mode, eradicating hunger and poverty in a decade or two.
* Flying cars, space travel, ocean and space colonization
* robotics - capable and affordable for everyone

So how about before full blown molecular nanotechnology as well ? What would be the biggest potential impactors from now to 2020 ?

More capable and More types of Narrow Atomically Precise Nanotech
Growing capabilities in narrow (relative to full MNT very constrained but powerful in their own right) atomically precise nanotechnology and more new types emerging
* DNA nanotechnology
* carbon nanotubes
* graphene
* self assembly

Carbon nanotube production
* about 1000 tons per year now
* about 5000 tons per year in 2012
* about 20,000 tons per year in 2015
* about 200,000 tons per year in 2020

Self assembly could become a major part of next generation lithography and become multi-billion dollar industry.

Self assembled superlens

DNA nanotechnology is 3 dimensional and has DNA robotic manipulators and is being made hierarchical to scale up to produce larger structures.

DNA origami makes large area ordered arrays of nanoparticles.

Pre-MNT or almost atomically precise
* nanoparticles
* metamaterials
* quantum dots
* nanostructured materials
* nanocapacitors
* nanowires

Nanoparticles systemically deliver RNA into humans

Quantum dots helping to enable what should soon be room temperature spintronics

Quantum dot films for better cameras, displays and solar cells

Fundamental breakthrough enables to be made nanomaterials from previously incompatible materials

Designer nanomaterials can be created on demand

Quantum digital batteries (nanocapacitors) could have ten times the energy density of lithium ion batteries

Quantum engineering age can also have atomic neural nets

Other Powerful Technology
Substitute for functions that were predicted for Molecular nanotech
* powerful emerging technology or systems which functionally do a lot of what MM was expected to do

Not nanofactories yet but advancing additive manufacturing and emerging roll to roll manufacturing and other potential order of magnitude narrow manufacturing speedups.

Potential for massively accelerated printable electronics (carbon nanotube and graphene inks that do not compromise function).

3 micron X 3 micron Computer chips inside living cells and magnetic nanoparticles to makes shapes from many cells

MEMS enabled bloodstream robots.

Ferropaper could make printable micromotors

* ultracapacitors
* exaflop computers

Nuclear fusion, quantum computers and quantum effect technology
* nuclear fusion (iec fusion, focus fusion, tri-alpha energy, general fusion) [2015-2019]
* factory mass produced smaller nuclear fission reactors
* advanced additive manufacturing
* graphene computing and electronics
* cheaper, higher volume, improved superconductors
* lasers

Even nuclear fusion capabilities that are ten times or one hundred times less than what is needed for successful commercial nuclear fusion energy would enable revolutionary nuclear fusion space propulsion

I am confident that IEC fusion, Tri-alpha energy (FRC) Fusion and dense plasma focused fusion will succeed in commercial energy generation starting around 2015-2018

Superconducting 2G wire volumes will go up a lot and prices will go down.

5 year project to make boron doped superconducting wire (non-brittle unlike current wire and able to carry higher current)

High temperature superconductors will enable a 32 tesla magnet in 2012 and 48-100 tesla magnets in 2013-2020

Nanostructured superconductors will enable higher critical temperatures and other improved properties in superconductors

Going Back to the List of Things that MNT Could Deliver

How much of those things without General AI or General MNT ?

* [MNT] robotics - capable and affordable for everyone

Heartland robotics and other robot companies will expand robots from the million or so industrial robots and five million or so vacuum and other household robots. Volume increases and price reductions and multiple new niche robots. Prediction : Over 100 million robots by 2020.

* [MNT] Life Extension via molecular nanotech

Life extension via
- a version of Rapamycin without the bad effects
- printable organs and stem cells
- early detection and treatment of all forms of cancer and other diseases
- safe muscle enhancement (myostatin inhibition) which will also help burn calories and reduce obesity
- obesity treatments

* [MNT] human level AI
- million qubit quantum computers
- billions of simulated neurons and synapses.
memristor simulate synapses
- multiple exaflops from relatively conventional computers

* nanofactories enable the entire physical economy over into a Moore’s Law-like growth mode, eradicating hunger and poverty in a decade or two.

For broad economic impact this decade it will be nanoscience understanding of cement and metal which is already improving features.
Genetically enhanced agricultural production will also help.
Ultrabroadband will also help economic growth.
Supersmart cellphones with multi-gigabit wireless speeds with 90+% market penetration will help economic growth.

Continued high growth from China, India, most parts of Asia and Africa.

* [MNT] Flying cars, space travel, ocean and space colonization

VASIMR and Spacex and inflatable space stations will impact throughout the decade
Nuclear fusion space propulsion will develop over the decade and be used out in space at first
Flying cars are coming out this year but as a tiny toy of the wealthy niche. Doubling the small plane market (200,000) would be an accomplishment by 2020. Flying cars are limited to the number of people with the license to fly which is only a few hundred thousand. UAV robotic flight is needed to open up the market.

space travel, ocean and space colonization will all happen even if General MNT and AGI were late. But will be a decade or two slower without them. 2030-2050 would be when space colonization starts in ernest with nuclear fusion space planes.


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March 26, 2010

George H Miley Presentation on Nuclear Fusion Rockets and Spaceplanes

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This is follow up coverage of the dense plasma focus fusion rocket research article.

The work and the presenation involves George H Miley who has been producing research in all aspects of nuclear fusion including dense plasma focus fusion, IEC fusion, laser fusion and cold fusion.

Recently George H Miley was involved in computational studies that could enable aneutronic fusion using lasers

George H Miley also announced the possibility of cold fusion batteries

Dense Plasma Fusion for Space

* Ideally suited for p-B11 – High density pinch plasma and no B field induced radiation loses
* Can provide the necessary exhaust velocity; Specific Impulse from 2000 second to million second ISP, trading off lower values with higher thrust
* Can provide the necessary specific energy: ~ 100 times higher than conventional chemical systems

* Fusion Propulsion is one of the main options for deep space propulsion

* Of the various fusion propulsion schemes,the DPF, initially using D-He3, then p-B11 is an outstanding option.

* Much R&D is needed, but compared to the present DOE terrestrial fusion power programs, the DPF development would be cheaper and faster. Also, there are intermediate uses possible, including as a neutron source and for a light source for semiconductor mfg

DPF Asssumptions

* Fine structure fusion dominates giving high Ti/Te ratio
* Pinch lifetimes, can be extended an order of magnitude longer than present experimental values
* Fusion fuel and charged fusion products are confined during entire pinch
* Refection of Bremsstrahlung above 50%

The assumptions lead to :
* For 500 kN, 2000 sec Isp p-B11 DPF, the required pulse power, energy, and voltage are:
Power 800 Megawatts
W = 80 megajoules
Vo = 400 kilovolts
Q = 3.07

Physics Issues from 2005 Study

Physics Issues Ascertained From Study:
* Investigation of achieving a high Ti/Te
* Methods of increasing pinch lifetime
* Reflection of Bremsstrahlung
* Direct energy conversion of plasma; e.g. B field penetration

A Recent Study of Key p-B11 Issue by R. Thomas EAFB- Bremsstrahlung Control
* Investigate reflection physics for high energy Bremsstrahlung radiation emission during p-11 B fusion
* Identifies 2 potential approaches - Hohlraum Cavities and Super Multilayers

For 500 kN Thrust Level, ~ 10 µm of Reflector Material Ablated per Day (10 Hz Pulsed Continuously)

Proposes - Filament DPF. Filament DPF simulates the Sandia Labs “Z Machine”, but is much more compact



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World Uranium Demand Could be Up 400% by 2040 and Japan Plans on Adding at Least 14 or More Nuclear Reactors by 2030

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1. Barry Brook, a leading australian academic, predicts that global demand for mined uranium will rise 
at least fourfold over the next 30 years, driven by rising electricity demand and scaling back on fossil fuel dependence.

Thermal reactors currently contributed about 380 GW (gigawatts) of global electricity 
supplies, or 15% of total electricity production, which was due to grow by at least four times to about 1.5 TW (terawatts) by 2040. In line with this growth scenario, global ura-
nium consumption would rise from 69 000 tons/year 
at present to about 285 000 t/y by 2040. China’s electricity production, a key driver of Australia’s uranium industry, was scheduled to reach between 2 TW and 3 TW by 2050, with global needs in the region of 10 TW.

2. Japan is planning to build at least 14 nuclear power plants over the next 20 years to reduce its reliance on other countries for its energy needs
The world's second biggest economy, which wants to double its provision for its fuel consumption, will make an announcement in June on whether it indends to press ahead with the plants, the Nikkei business daily said.

Japan has few energy resources and relies on nuclear power from 53 plants for nearly one third of its domestic electricity needs.

The government is eager to boost its energy self-sufficiency ratio, which stands at 18 percent at home and at 38 percent with government and corporate interests overseas taken into account, the report said.

The government is looking to build eight nuclear plants by 2020 and at least six more by 2030 to double the figure to 70 percent. It will provide funding to companies looking to work on nuclear power projects

3. Russia has signed an agreement to build two more 1,000 megawatt reactors at China's Tianwan nuclear power plant, Russia's state-owned nuclear company Atomstroyexport


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Reprogrammable Nanomechanical Logic Gate from Boston University

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Nanoletters - A Noise-Assisted Reprogrammable Nanomechanical Logic Gate

We present a nanomechanical device, operating as a reprogrammable logic gate, and performing fundamental logic functions such as AND/OR and NAND/NOR. The logic function can be programmed (e.g., from AND to OR) dynamically, by adjusting the resonator’s operating parameters. The device can access one of two stable steady states, according to a specific logic function; this operation is mediated by the noise floor which can be directly adjusted, or dynamically “tuned” via an adjustment of the underlying nonlinearity of the resonator, i.e., it is not necessary to have direct control over the noise floor. The demonstration of this reprogrammable nanomechanical logic gate affords a path to the practical realization of a new generation of mechanical computers.

Raj Mohanty's web page

Raj Mohanty Nano Group at Boston University

Publications of the Nano group

64) A Noise-Assisted Reprogrammable Nanomechanical Logic Gate
D. N. Guerra, A. R. Bulsara, W. L. Ditto, S. Sinha, K. Murali and P. Mohanty
Nano Lett. (2010), Nano Lett.

63) Signal amplification by 1/f noise in silicon-based nanomechanical resonators
D. N. Guerra, T. Dunn and P. Mohanty
Nano Lett., 9 (9), 3096 (2009), Nano Lett.

62) Noise color and asymmetry in stochastic resonance with silicon nanomechanical resonators
T. Dunn, D. N. Guerra and P. Mohanty
Eur. Phys. J. B 69, 5 (2009) EPJB

61) Nanomechanical Resonators
J. Wenzler, M. Imboden, T. Dunn, D. N. Guerra, and P. Mohanty
In ‘Handbook of Nanophysics’, (Taylor & Francis, New York, 2010)

60) Arbitrary distribution and nonlinear modal interaction in coupled nanomechanical resonators
J. Dorignac, A. Gaidarzhy, and P. Mohanty
J. Appl. Phys. 105, 103520 (2009), J. Appl. Phys.

59) Evidence of universality in the dynamical response of micromechanical ultra-nanocrystalline diamond resonators at millikelvin temperatures
M. Imboden and P. Mohanty
Phys. Rev. B 79, 125424 (2009),

58) Nanomechanical detection of itinerant electron spin flip
G. Zolfagharkhani, A. Gaidarzhy, P. Degiovanni, S. Kettemann, P. Fulde, and P. Mohanty
Nature Nanotechnology 3, 720 – 723 (2008), Nature Nanotech

57) Nanoelectromechanical system-integrated detector with silicon nanomechanical resonator and silicon nanochannel field effect transistor
J. Wenzler, T. Dunn, S. Erramilli and P. Mohanty
J. Appl. Phys. 105, 094308 (2009), J. Appl. Phys.

56) Response spectrum of coupled nanomechanical resonators
J. Dorignac, A. Gaidarzhy and P. Mohanty
J. Appl. Phys. 104, 073532 (2008), J. Appl. Phys.


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UCLA team couples quantum dots, silicon for room-temperature Spintronic functionality

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In a study to be published in the April issue of Nature Materials, researchers from UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science describe the creation of a new material incorporating spintronics that could help usher in the next generation of smaller, more affordable and more power-efficient devices.

Nature - Electric-field-controlled ferromagnetism in high-Curie-temperature Mn0.05Ge0.95 quantum dots

Electric-field manipulation of ferromagnetism has the potential for developing a new generation of electric devices to resolve the power consumption and variability issues in today’s microelectronics industry. Among various dilute magnetic semiconductors (DMSs), group IV elements such as Si and Ge are the ideal material candidates because of their excellent compatibility with the conventional complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (MOS) technology. Here we report, for the first time, the successful synthesis of self-assembled dilute magnetic Mn0.05Ge0.95 quantum dots with ferromagnetic order above room temperature, and the demonstration of electric-field control of ferromagnetism in MOS ferromagnetic capacitors up to 100 K. We found that by applying electric fields to a MOS gate structure, the ferromagnetism of the channel layer can be effectively modulated through the change of hole concentration inside the quantum dots. Our results are fundamentally important in the understanding and to the realization of high-efficiency Ge-based spin field-effect transistors

While conventional complementary metal-oxide semiconductors (CMOS), a technology used today in all types of electronics, rely on electrons' charge to power devices, the emerging field of spintronics exploits another aspect of electrons — their spin, which could be manipulated by electric and magnetic fields.

"With the use of nanoscaled magnetic materials, spintronics or electronic devices, when switched off, will not have a stand-by power dissipation problem. With this advantage, devices with much lower power consumption, known as non-volatile electronics, can become a reality," said the study's corresponding author, Kang L. Wang, Raytheon Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA Engineering, whose team carried out the research. "Our approach provides a possible solution to address the critical challenges facing today's microelectronics industry and sheds light on the future of spintronics."

"We've built a new class of material with magnetic properties in a dilute magnetic semiconductor (DMS) system," said Faxian Xiu, a UCLA senior researcher and lead author of the study. "Traditionally, it's been really difficult to enhance the ferromagnetism of this material above room temperature. However in our work, by using a type of quantum structure, we've been able to push the ferromagnetism above room temperature."

Ferromagnetism is the phenomenon by which certain materials form permanent magnets. In the past, the control of magnetic properties has been accomplished by applying an electric current. For example, passing an electric current will generate magnetic fields. Unfortunately, using electric currents poses significant challenges for reducing power consumption and for device miniaturization.

"You can think of a transformer, which passes a current to generate a magnetic field. This will have huge power dissipation (heat)," Xiu said. "In our study, we tried to modulate the magnetic properties of DMS without passing the current."

Ferromagnetic coupling in DMS systems, the researchers say, could lead to a new breed of magneto-electronic devices that alleviate the problems related to electric currents. The electric field–controlled ferromagnetism reported in this study shows that without passing an electric current, electronic devices could be operated and functioning based on the collective spin behavior of the carriers. This holds great promise for building next-generation nanoscaled integrated chips with much lower power consumption.

To achieve the ferromagnetic properties, Kang's group grew germanium dots on a silicon p-type substrate, creating quantum dots on top of the substrate. Silicon and germanium are ideal candidates because of their excellent compatibility and ability to be incorporated within conventional CMOS technology. The quantum dots, which are themselves semiconductors, would then be utilized in building new devices.

"To demonstrate possible applications of these fantastic quantum dots, we fabricated metal-oxide semiconductor devices and used these dots as the channel layer. By applying an electric field, we are able to control the hole concentration inside the dots and thus modulate their ferromagnetism," Xiu said.

"This finding is significant in the sense that it opens up a completely new paradigm for next-generation microelectronics, which takes advantage of the spin properties of carriers, in addition to the existing charge transport as envisaged in the conventional CMOS technology."

The key is to be able to use this material at room temperature.

"The material is not very useful if it doesn't work at room temperature," Wang said. "We want to be able to use it anywhere. In this work, we've achieved success on electric field–controlled ferromagnetism at 100 degrees Kelvin and are moving towards room temperature. We feel strongly that we'll be able to accomplish this. Once we've achieved room-temperature controllability, we'll be able to start building real devices to demonstrate its viability in non-volatile electronic devices."

Intel backed the spintronic research

10 pages of supplemental material


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March 25, 2010

Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) Fusion Systems for Space Propulsion

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There were a studies published in 2006 and 2008 that looked at making a fusion rocket using dense plasma focus and air-breathing MHD propulsion. These system proposals would work even if Lawrenceville Plasma physics does not succeed with dense plasma focus fusion and does not include the weight improvements of better ultracapacitors that appears to be likely in the next five years.

Advancements in Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) for Space Propulsion

The development of a dense plasma focus (DPF) propulsion device using p-11B is described. A propulsion system of this type is attractive because of its high thrust-to-weight ratio capabilities at high specific impulses. From a fuel standpoint, p-11B is advantageous because of the aneutronic nature of the reaction, which is favorable for the production of thrust since the charged particles can be channeled by a magnetic field. Different fusion mechanisms are investigated and their implication to the p-11B reaction is explored. Three main requirements must be satisfied to reach breakeven for DPF fusion: a high Ti/Te ratio (~20), an order of magnitude higher pinch lifetime, and the reflection and absorption of at least 50% radiation. Moreover, a power re-circulation method with high efficiency must be available for the relatively low Q value of the DPF fusion reactor. A possible direct energy conversion scheme using magnetic field compression is discussed. DPF parameters are estimated for thrust levels of 1000 kN and 500 kN, and possible propulsion applications are discussed, along with developmental issues.

Filipov and Mather initially engineered the dense plasma focus (DPF) in separate endeavors. During the 1960’s the DPF was first investigated for use as a power reactor, but was ultimately set aside in favor of other concepts. Since then, the DPF has been used predominantly as a laboratory source of both x-rays and neutrons. The United States Air Force (USAF) is currently investigating the DPF for its potential use as a fusion rocket propulsion system burning advanced fuels. In both the Filipov and Mather geometries, the energy stored in a capacitor bank is discharged into a coaxial set of cylindrical electrodes housed in a chamber kept at a pressure of a few torr of gas mixture. The discharge is initiated along an insulator placed at the base of the electrodes, and the rising magnetic pressure in the space moves the current sheath formed in the discharge forward between the two electrodes. Part of the fill gas is ionized and compressed at the top of the center electrode to high temperatures and densities (pinch), as shown in Figure 1. The objective of this paper is to estimate the parameters of a DPF rocket and identify the critical research areas for its development.


The required pulse power, energy, and voltage are 800 MW, 80 MJ, and 400 kV. The estimated DPF mass is 16 tons. An increase in Isp will heighten the payload capacity of a mission, making an increase in Isp desirable. For instance, to increase the specific impulse to 2000 s, the mass propellant mass flow rate would need to be decreased by 55% and the bank energy increased to 120 MJ. The corresponding DPF mass is approximated to be 24 tons. Similarly, for a 1000 kN thrust level, with an Isp of 2000 s, the DPF mass would be 48 tons. Lower thrust levels and higher specific impulses can be obtained by varying.

A critical technology to enable the rocket is to have better capacitors with higher joules per kilogram. How much weight in capacitors or ultracapacitors to hold 120-240 megajoules ?

Volume production of new ultracapacitors with 100 kj/kg would reduce the capacitor bank to 1.2 to 2.4 tons.

Even non-controversial ultracapacitor technology would be over twice as good as the 20 kj/kg figure used in the 2006 fusion rocket paper. Electric double layer capacitors are claiming 47 kj/kg from a company Tartu Technologies using mineral-based carbon.

The synthesised nanostructured porous carbon, often called Carbide Derived Carbon (CDC), has a surface area of about 400 m²/g to 2000 m²/g with a specific capacitance of up to 100 F/mL (in organic electrolyte). As of 2006[update] they claimed a supercapacitor with a volume of 135 mL and 200 g weight having 1.6 kF capacitance. The energy density is more than 47 kJ/L at 2.85 V and power density of over 20 W/g

MHD and DPF space plane
Propulsion and Power Generation Capabilities of a Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) Fusion System for Future Military Aerospace Vehicles

The objective of this study was to perform a parametric evaluation of the performance and interface characteristics of a dense plasma focus (DPF) fusion system in support of a USAF advanced military aerospace vehicle concept study. This vehicle is an aerospace plane that combines clean “aneutronic” dense plasma focus (DPF) fusion power and propulsion technology, with advanced “waverider”-like airframe configurations utilizing air-breathing MHD propulsion and power technology within a reusable single-stage-to-orbit vehicle. The applied approach was to evaluate the fusion system details (geometry, power, T/W, system mass, etc.) of a baseline p-11B DPF propulsion device with Q = 3.0 and thruster efficiency, ηprop = 90% for a range of thrust, Isp and capacitor specific energy values. The baseline details were then kept constant and the values of Q and ηprop were varied to evaluate excess power generation for communication systems, pulsed-train plasmoid weapons, ultrahigh-power lasers, shielding/cloaking devices and gravity or time-distorting devices. Thrust values were varied between 100 kN and 1,000 kN with Isp of 1,500 s and 2,000 s, while capacitor specific energy was varied from 1 - 15 kJ/kg. Q was varied from 3.0 to 6.0, resulting in gigawatts of excess power. Thruster efficiency was varied from 0.9 to 1.0, resulting in hundreds of megawatts of excess power. Resulting system masses were on the order of 10’s to 100’s of metric tons with thrust-to-weight ratios ranging from 2.1 to 44.1, depending on capacitor specific energy. Such a high thrust/high Isp system with a high power generation capability would allow military versatility in sub-orbital space, as early as 2025, and beyond as early as 2050.

By holding the specific impulse (2,000 s or 1,500 s), fusion gain (Q = 3.0), and repetition rate (10 Hz) constant, the resulting Bremsstrahlung energy and DPF electrode dimensions could be calculated.
The conclusions that can be drawn from this study are that, if a DPF fusion space thruster were designed that had a Q value of 3.0 and a propulsive efficiency of 0.9 for thrust levels ranging from 100 kN to 1,000 kN with specific impulse values of 1,500 s and 2,000 s, the DPF system would have a total mass ranging from 11.33 metric tons to 480 metric tons and total system volume of 25.5 m3 to 72 m3 depending on the specific energy of the capacitors, which ranged from 1.0 kJ/kg to 15.0 kJ/kg. This was also assuming a mass density for the capacitors of 5.0 MJ/kg and that the DPF itself was one-half the size and mass of the capacitor banks. Thrust-to-weight ratios for the baseline design varied from 2.08 kN/MT to 44.12 kN/MT, depending on propulsion properties.

If all of the system parameters from the baseline design are held constant and the Q value of the reactor is increased, in this study ranging from 3.0 to 6.0, the power made available for electricity generation ranges from a minimum value of 425 MW for thrust = 500 kN, specific impulse = 1,500 s, Q = 3.5 to a maximum value of 7.2 GW for thrust = 1,000 kN, specific impulse = 2,000 s, Q = 6.0.

If the thruster efficiency of the DPF system is increased from 90%, in this study ranging from 90% to 100%, while maintaining a Q value of 3.0, the minimum value of power for electricity generation 88.82 MW for thrust = 500 kN, specific impulse = 1,500 s, ηprop = 92% to a maximum value of 1.09 GW for thrust = 1,000 kN, specific impulse = 2,000 s, ηprop = 100%.

This study has shown that a DPF fusion space propulsion system could be developed with thrust values between 100 kN and 1,000 kN with specific impulses of 1,500 seconds to 2,000 seconds with total system masses of 10’s to 100’s of metric tons with thrust-to-weight ratios ranging from 2.0 to nearly 50.0 depending on capacitor specific energies, which show promise to attain values of 15.0 kJ/kg in the next 20 years.

If the Q value of 3.0 is increased to 6.0 or the propulsive efficiency is increased from 90% to 100%, then it would be conceivable to expect additional power output that could be put towards electricity generation of up to 7.2 GW for Q values of 6.0 with thruster efficiency of 90%, or values of 1.09 GW for propulsive efficiencies of 100% with Q value of 3.0.

Related Research

Pulse power capability of high energy density capacitors based on a new dielectric material
A new dielectric composite consisting of a polymer coated onto a high-density metallized Kraft has been developed for application in pulse power capacitors. The polymer coating is custom formulated for high dielectric constant and strength with minimum dielectric losses. The composite can be wound and processed using conventional wound film capacitor manufacturing equipment. This new system has the potential to achieve 2 to 3 J/cm3 whole capacitor energy density at voltage levels above 3.0 kV, and can maintain its physical properties to temperatures above 175°C. The technical and manufacturing development of the composite material and fabrication into capacitors are summarized in this paper. Energy discharge testing, including capacitance and charge-discharge efficiency at normal and elevated temperatures, as well as DC life testing were performed on capacitors manufactured using this material. TPL (Albuquerque, NM) has developed the material and Aerovox (New Bedford, MA) has used the material to build and test model capacitors. The results of the testing will focus on pulse power applications specifically those found in electro-magnetic armor and guns, high power microwave sources and defibrillators.


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Fundamental Breakthrough Enables Previously Impossible Semiconductors and Nanomaterials to be Created

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Schematic of hybrid core-shell growth process

University of Maryland researchers have created a completely new way to produce high quality semiconductor materials critical for advanced microelectronics and nanotechnology.

* No clean room is needed
* Previously incompatible material can be interfaced
* no lattice matching needed
* no thickness constraints
* simpler and cheaper than epitaxy process

The research is a fundamental step forward in nanomaterials science that could lead to significant advances in computer chips, photovoltaic cells, biomarkers and other applications, according to the authors and other experts.

"This is a major, major advance that shows it is possible to do something that was impossible to do before," said Massachusetts Institute of Technology Associate Professor Francesco Stellacci, whose own work focuses on discovery of new properties in nanoscale materials and the development of new nanofabrication schemes. "This research actually shows that it's possible at the nanoscale for two materials to happily coexist at their interface, two materials that would not coexist otherwise," explained Stellacci, who was not involved in the study.

Led by Min Ouyang, an assistant professor in the department of physics and the Maryland NanoCenter, the University of Maryland team has created a process that uses chemical thermodynamics to produce, in solution, a broad range of different combination materials, each with a shell of structurally perfect mono-crystal semiconductor around a metal core.

Journal Science-Nonepitaxial Growth of Hybrid Core-Shell Nanostructures with Large Lattice Mismatches

We report a synthetic route to achieving nanoscale heterostructures consisting of a metal core and monocrystalline semiconductor shell with substantial lattice mismatches between them, which cannot be obtained by conventional epitaxial techniques. By controlling soft acid-base coordination reactions between molecular complexes and colloidal nanostructures, we show that chemical thermodynamics can drive nanoscale monocrystalline growth of the semiconductor shell with a lattice structure incommensurate with that of the core. More complex hybrid core-shell structures with azimuthal and radial nanotailoring of structures and compositions of the monocrystalline semiconductor shell are also demonstrated.

16 page pdf with supplemental material

3D- transmission electron microscope images of hybrid Au-CdS core-shell nanostructures possessing monocrystalline CdS shell and various unequal Au core lattice structures.

Ouyang and fellow researchers Jiatao Zhang, Yun Tang and Kwan Lee, say their method offers a host of benefits over the existing process, known as epitaxy, used to create single crystal semiconductors and related devices. The biggest advantage of their non-epitaxial process may be that it avoids two key constraints of epitaxy -- a limit on deposition semiconductor layer thickness and a rigid requirement for "lattice matching."

The constraints of the epitaxial method restrict the materials that can be formed with it. For example, authors Ouyang, Zhang, Tang and Lee note that attempts to use epitaxy to achieve the kind of hybrid core-shell nanostructures they demonstrate in their article have been unsuccessful.

"Our process should allow creation of materials that yield highly integrated multi-functional microelectronic components; better, more efficient materials for photovoltaic cells; and new biomarkers," said Ouyang, who noted his team is in the process of applying for a patent. "We envision for example that we can use this method to create new types of photovoltaic cells that are ten times more efficient in converting sunlight to electricity than current cells.

"Our method doesn't require a clean room facility and the materials don't have to be formed in a vacuum the ways those made by conventional epitaxy do," Ouyang said. "Thus it also would be much simpler and cheaper for companies to mass produce materials with our process."

Epitaxy is one of the cornerstones of contemporary semiconductor industry and nanotechnology. It has been considered the most affordable method of high quality crystal growth for many semiconductor materials including silicon-germanium, gallium nitride, gallium arsenide, indium phosphide and graphene.

A Quantum Leap
The new method also can be used to design and fabricate artificial quantum structures that help scientists understand and manipulate the basic physics of quantum information processing at the nanoscale, said Ouyang, noting that he and his team have a separate paper on the quantum science applications of this method that they expect to be published in the near future.


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Follow ups on Organ Printing and Nanoparticle Delivery of RNA in Humans

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1. HPLus Magazine has a follow up on the organ printing work of Organovo and Invetech

The bioprinter relies on stem cells, extracted from adult bone marrow and fat, as precursors. Using appropriate growth factors, the stem cells can be differentiated into other types of cells. The cells are formed into droplets 100-500 microns in diameter and containing 10,000-30,000 cells each. The droplets retain their shape well and pass easily through a process not that different than the inkjet printer on your desk: propelling variably-sized droplets of liquid onto a page.

A second print head deposits a sugar-based, biofriendly hydrogel scaffold that supports but does not interfere with or stick to the cellular droplets. The hydrogel-droplet structure is left for a day or two, to allow the cellular droplets to fuse together. Once the tissue has formed, the hydrogel is removed. Here’s a video that shows the inkjet process fabricating a 3D biocompatible hydrogel tube in which living cells can be embedded.

Bioprinters may one day be capable of printing tissues and organs not just for use by surgeons, but directly into the body. Dr. Atala is currently working on the design for a bioprinter that would scan the contours of a body part requiring a skin graft and then print skin onto it. As for bigger body parts, Organovo’s Dr. Forgacs thinks they may ultimately come in different shapes and sizes — designer organs.

2. Derek Lowe who writes the Corante blog has a clearer explanation of the recent success in delivering RNA to tumors in humans.

A highly engineered system like this addresses several problems at once: how do you keep the RNA you're dosing from being degraded in vivo? (Wrap it up in a polymer - actually, two different ones in spherical layers). How do you deliver it selectively to the tissue of interest? (Coat the outside with something that tumor cells are more likely to recognize). How do you get the RNA into the cells once it's arrived? (Make that recognition protein is something that gets actively imported across the cell membrane, dragging everything else along with it). This system had been tried out in models all the way up to monkeys, and in each case the nanoparticles could be seen inside the targeted cells.

is this therapy doing the patients any good? Unfortunately, the trial results themselves are not out yet, so we don't know. That two-out-of-three uptake rate, although a pretty small sample, could well be a concern. The only between-the-lines inference I can get is this: the best data in this paper is from patient C, who was the only one to do two cycles of nanoparticle therapy. Patient A (who did not show uptake) and patient B (who did) had only one cycle of treatment, and there's probably a very good reason why. These people are, of course, very sick indeed, so any improvement will be an advance. But I very much look forward to seeing the numbers.


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Iraq Oil Exports Increase 115,000 barrels per day in Feb 2010 and Will Announce Reserve Increase

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The UK Times Online reports - Iraqi oil exports in February were at their highest for two decades, at an average of 2.08 million barrels per day, and the country plans to lift that to 2.15 million for the rest of the year.

According to the International Energy Agency, oil output from the country’s ageing infrastructure rose by 115,000 barrels per day to 2.54 million — the biggest single contributor last month to world oil supply growth.

Iraq has the potential to double or even triple its production [over the next few years]. “If [Iraq] enjoys a period of stability, it could have a major destabilising effect on Opec and the oil price.”

Bloomberg reports that Iraq will soon announce an increase in its oil reserves and start exporting oil about 100,000 barrels per day from the Tawke oilfield in Kurdistan.


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Nebel Comments and Attempts to Clarify EMC2 Fusion Status and Situation

Dr. Richard Nebel has commented to try and clear up some confusion about EMC2 fusion work on Inertial Electrostatic (IEC or Bussard) nuclear fusion

As usual, I seem to have created some misconceptions by my comments. First of all, what we said on our website is that the work on the WB-7 has been completed. We did not discuss the results. If you would like to conjecture what those results are, let me suggest that you notice the fact that we are working on the WB-8 device. The WB-8 was not a part of Dr. Bussard’s original development plan. This device came about as a result of the peer review process which suggested that there were issues that needed to be resolved at a smaller scale before proceeding to a demo. This was a conclusion that EMC2 heartily concurred with. I don’t want to leave people with the impression that everything on the WB-7 is identical to the WB-6.

Secondly, in our contract with the DOD, EMC2 owns the commercialization rights for the Polywell. However, commercialization is not something that we can do with our DOD funding. That is what we would like to look at with any contributions from the website.

This will enable us to:
1. Design an attractive commercial reactor package.
2. Identify the high leverage physics items that most impact the design (i.e. how good is good enough).
3. Give us a base design when we are ready to proceed to the next step.

rnebel (Sent Wednesday, March 24, 2010 9:12 PM)

Willow Garage Robot Expert Kurt Konolige Interviewed by Sander Olson

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Here is the Kurt Konolige interview. Dr. Konolige is a Stanford professor and a senior researcher at Willow Garage. Willow Garage is a startup robotics company that is focused on aggresively promoting and actively encouraging the long-term development of robotics:

Willow Garage is developing robotics hardware and software and has developed several unique robots, including the PR2

and the Texai robot, designed for telepresence

Question: Willow Garage is a unique organization. Wouldn't it be more cost-effective in the short run to develop proprietary intellectual property instead of emphasizing open standards?

Answer: We actually are developing commercial products, although that isn’t currently our immediate goal. There are two aims to our business model. First and foremost, we want to accelerate the development of robotics technologies by creating a series of open standards and seed the field. But we also want to create useful and profitable product lines, and these product lines may incorporate proprietary IP.

Question: Are there any robotics devices that are close to commercialization?

Answer: Yes. We have developed a telepresence platform called the Texai. This partially autonomous robot can be remotely operated and controlled, and we are building 25 of these robots. Although we are not currently selling the Texai robot, we are amenable to doing so given sufficient demand.

Question: Tell us about the PR2 robot development platform.

Answer: We are giving away 10 PR2 robots to organizations that can use the robots for further development. We have received an overwhelming response – 120 letters of intent to respond, so the robot is quite popular. The PR2’s arms are actually quite sophisticated, so they can be used around people. We also have a full set of software to perform tasks such as moving around, perceiving objects, and manipulating objects. The important thing about the PR2 is that the hardware is open, and the software is 100% open source. The PR2 will make code sharing in the community a lot easier, allowing all of us to stop reinventing the wheel.

Question: So will you ever sell the PR2?

Answer: The initial plan was not to sell them, because this is primarily a research robot. While the PR2 has generated considerable interest, we are not announcing any plans to sell them at this time. The primary purpose of the PR2 is not to generate revenue but rather to expedite the development of technologies necessary for a robotics industry.

Question: Will there be a PR3 robot?

Answer: At this point, we have just gotten the PR2 robot out, so we are focused on that. As the PR2 Beta Program robots are used in the field, we will learn a lot about the system. I would like to see a PR3 robot developed.

Question: To what extent is the robotics industry constrained by a dearth of standards?

Answer:The biggest problem that the robotics industry faces is the gap between what is needed and what can be delivered. At this point, the robotics industry is hampered by a lack of good, safe, flexible arms. If robots were competent enough to recognize and manipulate objects in real time that would constitute a major advance. Developing robust arms will require advances in both hardware and software.

Question: Why do arms present such a formidable challenge to roboticists?

Answer: Industrial arms are positionally controlled and quite powerful, but they aren’t safe enough to operate around humans. Arms need to be compliant, and capable of a wide range of motions and movements. Fortunately a number of excellent arms are being developed.

Question: Is robotic vision improving?

Answer: Vision is another daunting challenge. Positional control is adequate for a tightly controlled assembly line, but robots need to be able to discern objects in their environment, and make continual adjustments based on feedback loops. At this point we lack the algorithms and the processing power needed to do this in real time.

Question: How is Willow Robotics actively promoting these open standards?

Answer: We are developing a robot operating system called ROS (Robot Operating System) and ROS is available on both Linux and Mac operating systems. ROS carries a BSD license, so it can be used for any purpose, including commercial, without restrictions. There is already a thriving community of ROS users and developers around the world. One of our goals is to grow a ROS community similar to the Linux OS community.

Question: To what extent can the PR2 be improved? What new features could be added?

Answer: The PR2 is a very competent and versatile machine, and we are pleased with the design. But the pincer hands that we use, although surprisingly useful, do have limitations. So we could potentially add hands to future models. The next big step for the PR2 robots is to get them out into the robotics community. We expect future design improvements to be guided by the research and application directions taken by the community.

Question: How many researchers are working at Willow Garage? Is Willow Garage a corporation or a nonprofit?

Answer: The company is a mixture of researchers, software development people, hardware development people, and manufacturing people. There are currently a little over 50 full time employees. The largest component is the software development team, which comprises around 20 people. We are a corporation but are dedicated to open source, and we are not constrained by the need to generate short-term profits.

Question: What is the first potential market for general-purpose robots?

Answer: There are a number of dangerous tasks for which robots would be preferable to humans. However, getting sufficiently competent robots is the challenge. But there are places such as packing centers, bakeries, and nursing homes where even simple robots would be useful. We could see robots deployed in those areas in the next decade. In the long run, robots will be used in virtually every industry and will become ubiquitous.

Question: Who is funding Willow Garage? When will it become profitable?

Answer: Willow Garage is a privately funded company, owned by investors with a long-term perspective, who value creating positive impact on the world as much as generating revenue. We are only three years old, so it is a little premature at this point to think about generating profits.

Question: Is Willow Garage doing direct AI research?

Answer: We are working on perception for object recognition and mapping. We are also working on task level planning and manipulation planning and human/robot interaction research. But we are not directly researching artificial general intelligence.

Question: If no breakthroughs in artificial intelligence occur, how capable can robots become?

Answer: That would depend on how one defines “artificial intelligence” and “breakthroughs”. I see progress in AI as being incremental, rather than the sudden creation of a sentient machine. But AI is making steady progress in all manner of areas, and this is leading to robots that are increasingly capable.

Question: How much progress can reasonably be expected in the robotics field during the next decade?

Answer: The robotics field is clearly progressing much faster than it was ten or twenty years ago. Sensors are getting better, computing power is exponentially increasing, and the hardware is improving. The aim of Willow Garage is to further expedite improvements in robotics, with the goal of creating a thriving robotics industry as quickly as possible. I don’t know if there will be a robotics “killer app”, but as robots become increasingly capable, the pace of progress will further increase. In 2020 we will look back on current robots and see them as quite primitive.


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March 24, 2010

Zenn Motors Laysoff Staff to Reduce Burn Rate in Bid to Last Until EEstor Its Mythical Ultracapacitor -While Other Ultracapacitor Companies Make Progress

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Zenn Motor has ceased production of the ZENN LSV and the successful sell-down of remaining inventory and ground stock is largely complete.

As such, the Company has been able to complete planned organizational changes that reflect its transition from manufacturer to solutions developer. This has resulted in an overall reduction of 15 permanent employees that supported the sales, marketing and production of the ZENN LSV. These changes, along with other initiatives and the previously announced closure of the Company’s Saint Jerome production facility, will significantly reduce the Company’s on-going rate of spend

Other companies appear to be within 5 years of delivering what EEstor has been claiming

Greentech Media released a report Ultracapacitors: Emerging Technologies for High-Power Energy Storage. Ultracapacitor energy storage capacities are likely to increase by five to 10 times in the next five years, allowing the devices to replace batteries for many power-intensive applications, including hybrid vehicle acceleration and regenerative braking.

Several laboratory ultracapacitor prototypes are already providing 10 times the power and capacity of today's commercial ultracapacitors. Key questions are how readily these materials can be mass-produced and how cost-effectively they can be made.

"Emerging materials and technologies will allow ultracapacitors to take over many high-power functions from batteries, particularly where low-maintenance and high cycle life are important requirements," said Eric Smalley, the report's author. "The main limiting factor for ultracapacitors is likely to remain cost."

Cost is an issue in using ultracapacitors for large-scale grid energy storage and affects costs of hybrid and electric vehicles that use ultracapacitors. Materials account for over 50% of the total system cost of ultracapacitors.

Several methods of producing activated carbon from inexpensive precursors, including sugar and rayon, have the potential to drop the ultracapacitor active material price below the $20 per kilogram threshold. Another emerging development in ultracapacitors is devices that can be bent, shaped and flexed; making it possible to integrate energy storage devices into vehicle structural components, for example.


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Chinese Population is predicted to Peak Below 1.4 billion in 2026

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China’s population is projected to peak at slightly less than 1.4 billion in 2026, both earlier and at a lower level than previously projected. Meanwhile, India’s population is projected to surpass China’s population in 2025, according to new data being released by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Population growth in China, the world’s most populous country, is slowing and currently stands at 0.5 percent annually. China surpassed the 1.2 billion population mark in 1994 and reached 1.3 billion in 2006.

According to the latest revisions, India is projected to become the world’s most populous country in 2025. The population growth rate in India currently is about 1.4 percent, nearly three times that of China. The difference in the growth rate between the two countries is explained by fertility. India’s total fertility rate — the number of births a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — is currently estimated at 2.7 and projected to decline slowly, and that is driving population growth in the country.

One of the consequences to China’s declining fertility rate is that the number of new entrants to China’s labor force may be near its peak. The population ages 20-24 is projected to peak at 124 million in 2010. This peak is earlier than in India, which is projected to reach 116 million in 2024.

Despite a shrinking younger population, China’s labor force may continue to grow for several years since the population ages 20 to 59 (prime working ages) is not expected to peak until 2016 at 831 million, an increase of 24 million from the current estimated level.

China and India together account for 37 percent of the world’s population


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