June 16, 2012

First female astronaut from China and the third country to perform a manned space docking

China has launched two men and the first woman from China into space. The Shenzhou-9 launched Saturday afternoon, carrying Liu Yang and two male astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Liu Wang. State media aired the launch held at a satellite center in Jiuquan. Liu, 33, was the deputy head of a flight unit in the nation's air force, according to China's Xinhua news agency. Chinese women push for a place in space She is a veteran pilot with 1,680 hours of flying experience, and excelled in space testing after two years of training. If all goes well, the Shenzhou-9 will dock with China's orbiting space laboratory, making the nation the third after the United States and Russia to complete a manned space docking.

What would a future with cheap micron accurate 3D sensing, perfected voice recognition and augmented reality glasses look like ?

Leap Motion is developing a cheap ($70), more precise (down to 0.01 mm), and much smaller (think “pack of gum” proportions) motion controller. Currently taking pre-orders, the Leap Motion is scheduled to ship between December and February, and with it will come a new market of third party apps designed to take full advantage of the device.

The key to the Leap Motion system is better algorithms. This means it could be adapted to use other kinds of sensing than infrared such as radar or light.

LIDAR uses ultraviolet, visible, or near infrared light to image objects and can be used with a wide range of targets, including non-metallic objects, rocks, rain, chemical compounds, aerosols, clouds and even single molecules.

Vastly improved 3D sensors at lower cost would accelerate the development, capabilities and adoption of robotics and robotic cars.

This trend would also be enhanced with the improvements in voice recognition from systems like Apples SIRI.

Leap motion has discussed making their system as small as a coin. This means the system should get cheaper and added to all smartphones and tablets and incorporated into other gadgets.

Worst-case scenario is ugly if Greece leaves the euro

USA Today - Bankers, governments and investors are starting to prepare for Greece to stop using the euro as its currency, a move that could spread turmoil throughout the global financial system.

The worst-case scenario envisions governments defaulting on their debts, a run on European banks and a worldwide credit crunch reminiscent of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008.

A Greek election on Sunday will go a long way toward determining whether it happens. Syriza, a party opposed to the restrictions placed on Greece in exchange for a bailout from European neighbors, could do well.

They think the path of a full-blown crisis would start in Greece, quickly move to the rest of Europe and then hit the U.S. Stocks and oil would plunge, the euro would sink against the U.S. dollar, and big banks would uncover losses on complex trades

Sky Cities will make healthier, cleaner and economically stronger cities

Broad Group is going to build the tallest building in the world by February 2013.

There are currently six factories in China in different provinces. BROAD Group also franchisees in India. These franchisees have made full payment for the transfer of technology which costs US$34 million for a population of 10 million and US$50 million for a population of 50 million. Their first factory produces 120 million square feet of factory mass produced building each year. Enough for ten 220 story Sky Cities.

They are on track to achieve the 30% market share of the world construction market by 2020. They have 5 joint ventures and factories and had targeted ten joint ventures by end of 2012. They are on the path to achieving 100 joint ventures by 2020 and having 70 factories producing 8 billion square feet of mass produced buildings.

June 15, 2012

Improved Vacuum Assist Climber

A group of Utah State University mechanical and aerospace engineering students pulled out their best superhero tricks, using engineering principals, some basic math and a lot of ingenuity, to design a system for special operations force personnel to scale buildings or mountain faces under a variety of conditions. The students’ efforts were part of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Design Challenge. The design was a success that garnered the group first place in the national competition.

The Utah State University team was the only team to get all four military personnel to the top of the 90-foot wall.

Japan has approved the restart of Ohi nuclear reactors

USA Today - Japan's government on Saturday approved bringing the country's first nuclear reactors back online since last year's earthquake and tsunami led to a nationwide shutdown, going against wider public opinion that is opposed to nuclear power after Fukushima.

Despite lingering safety concerns, the restart could speed the resumption of operations at more reactors across the country. All Japan's 50 nuclear reactors are offline for maintenance or safety checks.

KEPCO says it will take about three weeks to get the first reactor back online. It will start the plant's No. 3 reactor first, and the No. 4 reactor after that.

The sudden shutdown of nuclear plants has hit Japan's economy hard.

To offset the shortfall, utilities have ramped up oil- and gas-based generation, and that contributed to the country's biggest annual trade deficit ever last fiscal year. Noda and others argue that the higher cost of energy without nuclear will cost people their livelihoods and could cripple recovery efforts.

Translation of Yomiuri article - KEPCO, 16 pm to undertake preparatory work such as cleaning of the pipe running again for Unit 3. Including power generation on the Fourth of July in the shortest, to full operation on July 8. Unit 3 has been running after, started to Unit 4, to start the generator on July 20 at the earliest. To full operation with two if all goes well, the July 24, I expected to be as late as August 2, at the earliest.

Canada tracking to 6.2 million barrels per day and one major BC gas field could double natural gas production

1. The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers has an updated oil forecast.

The new forecast has an increase of 800,000 barrels per day over last years forecast for 2025

The US is heading to over 10 million barrels per day of crude oil by 2020 because of shale oil and tight oil in North Dakota and Texas.

Russia looks likely to maintain over 10 to 11 million barrels per day for many decades with the oil in its Bazhenov formation and deep water oil.

Iraq could get production up to 6 to 10 million barrels per day in the 2018-2022 timeframe and maintain that level of production for many decades.

New battery technology could store 9 times as much as current lithium ion batteries

Most batteries are made from lithium ion, and employ carbon as the anode. Other materials perform much better than carbon, and could substantially increase battery capacity. Tin anodes could potentially triple energy density, and silicon anodes might be able to hold 9 times as much charge as carbon. Such advances could lead to tablet computers and laptops that run for days before battery depletion, and to miniature, battery powered UAVs able to remain aloft for up to an hour. In an interview with Sander Olson for Next Big Future, Washington State University Professor Grant Norton discusses how battery technology could dramatically improve within the next several years, and how batteries with 9 times the energy density of current batteries could emerge within a decade.

Comparing China Sky City to Some Other Projects

China will likely build a 220 story building that will be the tallest building in the world. It should be completed in January 2013 with several months of factory manufacturing of the parts, site preparation and then onsite assembly over 90 days. Projected cost for the building is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million).

A previous 666 meter design for the Sky City One building was for 1.2 million square meters (12 million square feet) of space for residential apartments, retail, offices, restaurants, schools and a myriad of other facilities. The building will be manufactured in a factory and assembled on the construction site. Additionally, the tower will have the capacity for 70,000 to 110,000 residents.

It is projected to cost about $55 per square foot. A 1000 square foot unit would have a builder cost of $55,000. If the factories in China produced the components and then shipped them to say New York and then the price was doubled for on site assembly. A 3000 square foot condo could be produced for $330,000.

Major Chinese cities like Shanghai and Beijing have similar property prices to New York. Will the Sky City builders get people in China to leave the suburbs and lengthy commutes to live in a Sky City tower with equal or more space for lower prices ?

Reach for the sky: the world's tallest buildings, once the 838-meter Sky City is completed, projected for January 2013.

The Empire State Building was built in 410 days in 1930 and 1931 It has a roof height of 1,250 feet (381 meters), and with its antenna spire included, it stands a total of 1,454 ft (443.2 m) high. The Empire State Building is currently undergoing a $550 million renovation, with $120 million spent in an effort to transform the building into a more energy efficient and eco-friendly structure. It has 2,248,355 sq ft (208,879 m2) of floor area (about one/sixth the plan for Sky City One.)

The renovation will cost almost as much as the whole Sky City.

Empire State Building

The Empire State building was built quickly relative to other modern methods.

June 14, 2012

Switchable nano magnets

Research group at Kiel University switches magnetism of individual molecules

Using individual molecules instead of electronic or magnetic memory cells would revolutionise data storage technology, as molecular memories could be thousand-fold smaller. Scientists of Kiel University took a big step towards developing such molecular data storage. They succeeded in selectively switching on and off the magnetism of individual molecules, so-called spin-crossover complexes, by electrons. The interdisciplinary study is part of the Collaborative Research Centre 677 “Functions by Switching”, which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The results prove that it is technically possible to store information using molecules.

Angewandte Chemie International Edition - Electron-Induced Spin Crossover of Single Molecules in a Bilayer on Gold

Ten Micron Precise 3D Leap Motion Controller will be the input device for people and robots

Singularity Hub - Forget the Kinect, Leap Motion is cheaper ($70), more precise (down to 0.01 mm), and much smaller (think “pack of gum” proportions). The incredible demo for the Leap Motion (see below) shows how the desktop device can quickly detect hand motion so that a user needs merely wiggle their fingers in front of their computer to intuitively control what happens on the screen. Currently taking pre-orders, the Leap Motion is scheduled to ship between December and February, and with it will come a new market of third party apps designed to take full advantage of the device.

Leap Motion should become the “third input device” for computers, joining the keyboard and mouse in a new triumvirate of digital control.

The commercial unit will also connect via USB (not wireless), and will be smaller, silver, and lighter weight. Buckwald and Holtz said they could conceivably make the Leap Motion even smaller (the size of a large coin) but they think this size/weight is best for a $70 device that you don’t want to lose easily.

Buckwald and Holtz explained that the magic of Leap Motion isn’t the array of infrared sensors and IR LED lights that are contained inside the sleek form factor – those are all cheap components from China. The secret sauce is software, specifically the algorithms developed by Holtz that convert those IR signals into a well crafted 3D picture of what’s happening in front of the Leap in real time.

China Ghost Cities being Filled

In December, 2010, London’s Daily Mail reported that the Zhengzhou New Area was China’s largest “Ghost City.” A visit to the Zhengzhou New Area indicates exactly the opposite. Chinese “Ghost Cities” are large areas of new development that are virtually unoccupied. The most famous example is Ordos, a new and reportedly empty city, built to replace an older city in Inner Mongolia.

A visit in 2011 revealed anything but a Ghost City. Granted, no-one would mistake the traffic for Beijing Third Ring Road volumes, but virtually all of the parking spaces were taken and there was traffic on the streets.

That ultimate indicator of Chinese urbanization, the availability of frequent taxicab service was well in evidence. Two of the city’s bus rapid transit lines serve the interior circle road, again indicating a substantial threshold of non-ghost urbanization.


China is urbanizing at 18 to 25 million people per year. This is a Los Angeles every year. It is easy for them to fill up "ghost cities".

Tallest Building in the World - Sky City to be assembled on site in 90 days in Changsha, China from Nov, 2012 to Jan, 2013

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB), a construction company based in Hunan, is planning to erect an 838-meter building called Sky City (天空城市) later this year in Changsha, the provincial capital of Hunan Province.

Projected cost for the building is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million).

Once completed, the 220-story structure will surpass Burj Khalifa to become the tallest structure in the world.

The building will also outshine the 632-meter Shanghai Tower (上海中心).

BSB inked an agreement last week with authorities from Wangcheng district in Changsha, where the building will stand, but the project is still pending approval from central government.

In an interview with Xinhua, BSB chief executive officer Zhang Yue (张跃) said the company plans to break ground on Sky City in November 2012, and that the tower will be completed in January 2013.

The company is confident the government will green-light the project.

BSB is renowned for its eye-opening construction efficiency. Its portfolio includes assembling a 15-story building in six days in June 2010, and erecting a 30-story hotel in 360 hours in December 2011.

According to Chinese newspaper 21 Century Business Herald, the total investment in Sky City is RMB 4 billion (US$628 million), compared with US$1.5 billion on Burj Khalifa and US$2.2 billion on Shanghai Tower.

Getting central government approval should be a simple matter for the company that built China's Shanghai Expo 2010 pavilion.

In New York Freedom tower has already cost $3.8 billion and is not completed yet. Freedom Tower is looking at a late 2013 completion.

Broad Group and factory mass produced skyscrapers was number 8 on my list of mundane singularity technologies.

They plan to capture 30% of the world's construction industry, which will be achievable by dominating construction in China alone. As noted they have factories and franchisees in India and are talking to companies in many other countries. This shift will transform the skylines of the cities of the world, which is still rapidly urbanizing from 50% to 60% by 2020.

Reach for the sky: the world's tallest buildings, once the 838-meter Sky City is completed, projected for January 2013.

Regenerated cells may restore vision after corneal dysfunction

Eurekalert - Regenerative medicine, or the use of specially grown tissues and cells to treat injuries and diseases, has been successful in treating disorders of a number of organs, including heart, pancreas, and cartilage. However, efforts to treat disorders of the corneal endothelium, a single cell layer on the inner surface of the cornea, with regenerative techniques have been less effective. Now, a group of scientists has developed a method that enhances the adhesion of injected corneal endothelial cells (CECs), allowing for successful corneal transplantation to repair pathological dysfunctions. Their results are published online today in advance, in the July issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Injection of cultivated corneal endothelial cells with ROCK inhibitor Y-27632 enables regeneration of cornea in rabbit corneal endothelial dysfunction model. Credit: N. Okumura et al.

Ten-year-old girl gets vein grown from her stem cells

BBC News - A 10-year-old girl has had a major blood vessel in her body replaced with one grown with her own stem cells, Swedish doctors report.

She had poor blood flow between her intestines and liver.

A vein was taken from a dead man, stripped of its own cells and then bathed in stem cells from the girl

Surgeons said there was a "striking" improvement in her quality of life.

This is the latest in a series of body parts grown, or engineered, to match the tissue of the patient.

Last year, scientists created a synthetic windpipe and then coated it with a patient's stem cells.

Lancet - Transplantation of an allogeneic vein bioengineered with autologous stem cells: a proof-of-concept study

North Dakota New Oil Production Record 609,373 barrels per day in April

According to the latest figures released Tuesday, in April there were 18.3 million barrels of crude oil pumped out of 7,025 wells. Daily production averaged 609,373 barrels.

North Dakota produced 575,490 barrel per day in March. They increased production by 34,000 barrels per day.

That’s up from 17.9 million barrels out of 6,932 wells in March, the first time North Dakota surpassed Alaska in crude oil production to take the No. 2 slot among the states. Texas is No. 1.

In April, Alaska averaged 552,384 barrels a day, down 15,000 barrels a day from March, according to Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

California has averaged around 435,000 to 440,000 barrels a day for several months.

Texas averaged 1.75 million barrels a day in March, continuing several months of increases, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

North Dakota could double its oil production by 2015 to more than 1 million barrels daily, putting it on par with Texas "if everything goes our way," the state's top oil regulator, Lynn Helms, told industry and government officials Wednesday.

China, US and European GDP Growth Forecasts

1. JP Morgan lowered China full year GDP growth forecast to 7.7% from the previous 8.0%, the second downgrade in a month, given grim external conditions and increasing risks in Europe. JPMorgan still expects China's GDP growth this year as likely to contribute 40% of world economic growth. China is playing a significant role in stabilizing the global economic system and helping solve the problems of the indebted Eurozone.

China economic growth is expected to accelerate in the third quarter as the effect of policy easing becomes evident from July, allowing the country to remain a powerful engine for the global economic recovery.

Some data have shown that the economic slowdown in China is being reversed. Car sales last month jumped 23% from a year earlier, the fastest pace this year, showing that the sector is rebounding to support industrial production overall.

Policymakers appear willing to accept a structural downshift in growth and will likely direct further stimulus measures toward strategic industries and basic infrastructure in underdeveloped areas

2. US GDP growth forecast from the federal reserve. Notice that the forecasts from two years ago were wrong. They were too high. Also, the first quarter GDP growth has been revised down to 1.9%
Fed reserve blue chip survey of GDP growth forecasts.

Europe will build 1.08 billion euro 40 meter E-ELT telescope

ESO (European southern Observatory) is to build the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world. At its meeting in Garching today, the ESO Council approved the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) Programme, pending confirmation of four so-called ad referendum votes. The E-ELT will start operations early in the next decade.

The E-ELT will collect 100 million times more light than the human eye and 8 million times more the telescope that Galileo used.

With the start of operations planned for early in the next decade, the E-ELT will tackle the biggest scientific challenges of our time, and aim for a number of notable firsts, including tracking down Earth-like planets around other stars in the "habitable zones" where life could exist — one of the Holy Grails of modern observational astronomy. It will also perform "stellar archaeology" in nearby galaxies, as well as make fundamental contributions to cosmology by measuring the properties of the first stars and galaxies and probing the nature of dark matter and dark energy. On top of this astronomers are also planning for the unexpected — new and unforeseeable questions will surely arise from the new discoveries made with the E-ELT.

Health Benefits not enough by themselves for Adoption of Soot-free Stoves

Traditional cookstoves are to blame for much of the pollution that leads to millions of deaths in the developing world. Safer stoves are available, but few people buy them. Stanford researchers say that's because the newer models aren't designed to give people what they really want.

Preparing a meal in some of the world's poorest rural areas can turn an ordinary activity into a deadly chore. Animal dung and crop scraps often fuel the indoor fires used for cooking. And before any food fills a hungry belly, thick black smoke fills a family's lungs.

Pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections kill about 1 million people a year in low-income countries, making them the top cause of death in the developing world and the greatest threat to children's lives. Makeshift stoves belch much of the polluted air leading to those illnesses. About 75 percent of South Asians and nearly half the world's population use open-fire stoves inside their homes.

Governments and humanitarian organizations have urged people to trade their traditional stoves for safer models, many of which have chimneys that funnel smoke out of a home. But the switch from dangerous stoves has been slow to come, even though most people using them know they're harmful.

A Bangladeshi woman stokes a flame under a traditional stove. Indoor air pollution from stoves like this have contributed to millions of deaths in the developing world.

Carbon Nanotubes Enable Highly Energy-Efficient Computing - Achieving Robust VLSI with CNT

Livescience - carbon nanotubes are a significant departure from traditional silicon technologies and a promising path to solving the challenge of energy efficiency in computer circuits. Carbon nanotubes are cylindrical nanostructures of carbon with exceptional electrical, thermal and mechanical properties. Nanotube circuits could provide an order-of-magnitude improvement in energy efficiency over traditional silicon technology.

Stanford University researchers led by professors Subhasish Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong have produced a series of breakthroughs that represent the most advanced computing and storage elements yet created using carbon nanotubes.

These high-quality, robust nanotube circuits are immune to the stubborn and crippling material flaws that have stumped researchers for over a decade, a difficult hurdle that has prevented the wider adoption of nanotube circuits in industry. The advance represents a major milestone toward what researchers call "very-large scale integrated systems" based on nanotubes.

"The first carbon nanotubes wowed the research community with their exceptional electrical, thermal and mechanical properties over a decade ago, but this recent work at Stanford has provided the first glimpse of their viability to complement silicon CMOS transistors," said Larry Pileggi, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.

An electron microscope image showing carbon nanotube transistors (carbon nanotubes) arranged in an integrated logic circuit.
CREDIT: Courtesy Stanford University

IEEE - Carbon Nanotube Robust Digital VLSI

Textured surface may boost power output of solar cells while making them 90 percent thinner

Highly purified silicon represents up to 40 percent of the overall costs of conventional solar-cell arrays — so researchers have long sought to maximize power output while minimizing silicon usage. Now, a team at MIT has found a new approach that could reduce the thickness of the silicon used by more than 90 percent while still maintaining high efficiency.

The secret lies in a pattern of tiny inverted pyramids etched into the surface of the silicon. These tiny indentations, each less than a millionth of a meter across, can trap rays of light as effectively as conventional solid silicon surfaces that are 30 times thicker.

The new findings are being reported in the journal Nano Letters in a paper by MIT postdoc Anastassios Mavrokefalos, professor Gang Chen, and three other postdocs and graduate students, all of MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Seen from above, a sheet of silicon has been textured with an array of tiny inverted-pyramid shapes, so small that they correspond to the wavelengths of light and can efficiently trap light waves. Image: Anastassios Mavrokefalos

June 13, 2012

Air Force Wants Hypersonic Missiles for Stealth Jets and the Russians are Concerned

Wired Danger Room- For decades, the military has tried — with little success — to build missiles capable of traveling at breakneck, hypersonic speeds. Missile tests, however, have been uneven, with repeated failures punctuated by the occasional stunning success. Now the Air Force is taking a bigger role by seeking to build another hypersonic missile, this time for its stealth fighter jets.

The Air Force’s desired “High Speed Strike Weapon” would travel at five times the speed of sound or faster, theoretically launching from a stealthy F-22 Raptor jet or a future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and traveling so fast and at such long distances as to render an enemy’s anti-aircraft systems defunct.

There are other technical challenges in launching a scramjet missile from a fighter jet instead of a sub-orbital rocket or a B-52, though. It’ll still need to have air-breathing engines that compresses the air around the missile into a supersonic mixture of oxygen and fuel — absent a turbine. But it will also need to be small enough to be carried by a jet fighter while carrying the necessary advanced navigation controls, precision guidance tools and sophisticated sensors, plus the warhead. The service will also still have to find the right mixture of composite materials like titanium and tungsten (among others) to hold up under the enormous heat generated by Mach 5, Mach 6 and even faster flight.

The Air Force is requesting a whopping 150 percent increase in funding for the program, from $6.2 million now to $15.4 million in 2013 in one “thrust” of weapons development.

An X-51 Waverider hypersonic missile attached to the wing of a B-52 bomber. The Air Force seeks to build a smaller variant for its stealth fighters. Photo: Boeing

Space Daily - American research into hypersonic weapons, which the U.S. aims to complete by 2015, represents an especially serious threat to Russia, acting Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Friday.

NASA's NuSTAR X-ray Space Telescope will Study Black Holes

NASA - NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) launched into the morning skies over the central Pacific Ocean at 9 a.m. PDT (noon EDT) Wednesday, beginning its mission to unveil secrets of buried black holes and other exotic objects.

"We have been eagerly awaiting the launch of this novel X-ray observatory," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division Director. "With its unprecedented spatial and spectral resolution to the previously poorly explored hard X-ray region of the electromagnetic spectrum, NuSTAR will open a new window on the universe and will provide complementary data to NASA's larger missions, including Fermi, Chandra, Hubble and Spitzer."

NuSTAR will use a unique set of eyes to see the highest energy X-ray light from the cosmos. The observatory can see through gas and dust to reveal black holes lurking in our Milky Way galaxy, as well as those hidden in the hearts of faraway galaxies.

"NuSTAR will help us find the most elusive and most energetic black holes, to help us understand the structure of the universe," said Fiona Harrison, the mission's principal investigator at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

The NUstar (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) website is here

Computer graphic of what the NuSTAR satellite would look like, fully extended.

Largest Flexible Color OLED Display Produced

The Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University today announced that it has successfully manufactured the world's largest flexible color organic light emitting display (OLED) prototype using advanced mixed oxide thin film transistors (TFTs).

Measuring 7.4 diagonal inches, the device was developed at the FDC in conjunction with Army Research Labs scientists. It also meets a critical target set by the U.S. Department of Defense to advance the development of full-color, full-motion video flexible OLED displays for use in thin, lightweight, bendable and highly rugged devices.

"This is a significant manufacturing breakthrough for flexible display technology," said Nick Colaneri, director of the FDC. "It provides a realistic path forward for the production of high performance, flexible, full color OLED displays, accelerating commercialization of the technology in the process."

Self-assembling nanocubes for next generation antennas and lenses

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering have developed a technique that enables metallic nanocrystals to self-assemble into larger, complex materials for next-generation antennas and lenses. The metal nanocrystals are cube-shaped and, like bricks or Tetris blocks, spontaneously organize themselves into larger-scale structures with precise orientations relative to one another. Their findings were published online June 10 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

This research is in the new field of nanoplasmonics, where researchers are developing materials that can manipulate light using structures that are smaller than the wavelength of light itself. The nanocubes used in this study were less than 0.1 microns; by comparison, the breadth of a human hair is 100 microns. Precise orientation is necessary so that the cubes can confine light (for a nanoscale antenna) or focus light (for a nanoscale lens) at different wavelengths.

“Our findings could have important implications in developing new optical chemical and biological sensors, where light interacts with molecules, and in optical circuitry, where light can be used to deliver information,” said Andrea Tao, a professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the Jacobs School. Tao collaborated with nanoengineering professor Gaurav Arya and post-doctoral researcher Bo Gao.
UC San Diego nanoengineers have developed a technique that enables silver nanocubes to self-assemble into larger-scale structures for use in new optical chemical and biological sensors, and optical circuitry

Niger and Nigeria Plan GDP Growth Plan from More Oil Production

1. Nigeria plans to increase oil production capacity to 4 million barrels a day by 2020 and expand its crude reserves to 40 billion barrels. Africa’s largest oil producer also aims “in the years ahead” to boost output of liquefied natural gas by an additional 20 million metric tons a year from the current level of 26 million tons.

Nigeria pumped an average of 2.1 million barrels a day of oil this month, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The country estimates its current crude reserves at 37 billion barrels and its gas reserves at 187 trillion cubic feet.

In 2010 and 2011, Nigeria oil production was around 2.5 million barrles per day.

Nigeria's economy is about 40% from its oil industry.

2. Niger expects its resource-rich economy to grow 15 percent in 2012, boosted by increased production from its uranium mines and growing output from its newly-started oil industry.

Oil output had started at 20,000 barrels per day (bpd) this year. This followed a $5 billion joint venture deal with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC). Niger's oil output is expected to quickly ramp up to 100,000 bpd. Production could even reach 500,000 bpd in future years, following further expected discoveries.

Niger and CNPC are planning a crude oil pipeline through Chad for 2013 and 2014, to facilitate exports.

Mass Produced Skyscraper Builder China Broad Group has Six Factories in China and Franchisees in India

Broad Group of China completed a 30-storey tower that currently serves a hotel in Hunan province in 15 days. The building passed resistance testing of a level nine earthquake. It conserves energy of up to five times compared with that of a conventional construction, and provides air that is 20 times purer than the traditional buildings through our innovative air purification system.

There are currently six factories in China in different provinces. BROAD Group also franchisees in India. These franchisees have made full payment for the transfer of technology which costs US$34 million for a population of 10 million and US$50 million for a population of 50 million.

93% of the building materials are manufactured in the factory. The company welcomes global franchisees to adopt this model and build such factories locally. In supporting the company's value to be green, the factory should be located no more than 500km from the construction site.

Apple Confident Future iPhone and Apple TV Products

Fortune - In mid-April, Apple had its first ultra-secretive "Top 100" meeting since Jobs died. The hush-hush conclave is a rare opportunity for top managers -- not necessarily chosen by rank, but rather by the CEO's assessment of who are the most valuable contributors at any given time -- to learn what products and services are on tap for the next year and a half or so.

Participants left the Top 100 energized about Apple's near-term outlook, presumably having seen Apple's next iPhone and perhaps its long-awaited television product too. One veteran executive was "blown away" by what he had seen, says someone this executive spoke to afterward. Reports another person with access to top-level Apple executives: "People came away totally comfortable with where the company is headed."

Nvidia's next mobile Chips Wayne and Grey

Venturebeat - Nvidia’s mobile business will grow thanks to growing acceptance of Tegra 3, a mobile processor that combines Nvidia’s high-end graphics with five computing brains. A leader in PC graphics, Nvidia has reinvented itself in the last five years to become a major player in mobile graphics chips. It competes with huge rivals such as Intel and Qualcomm, and it is holding its own on that front.

By 2013, Nvidia expects to launch two new chips: one code-named Wayne for the high end and another code-named Grey for the low end.

Grey for LTE integration

The Grey processor, coming in 2013, was specifically called out as supporting Windows Phone (and of course Android, Windows and Linux). The Grey processors will be built on 28 nm and feature Icera’s LTE modem built-in. Jen-Hsun Huang, chief executive officer of Nvidia called Grey “a tiny chip to address the vast majority of the smartphone market."

Amyris Wins $8M from DARPA to Develop Synthetic Biology Tools, Processes

Amyris won an approximately $8 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) to develop tools for expanding its industrial synthetic biology technology across biological platforms and cell types. The value of the contract is dependent on Amyris meeting technical milestones connected with DARPA’s Living Foundries research program.

Amyris is exploiting genetic engineering and screening technologies to generate yeast strains that can be used in established fermentation processes to convert plant-sourced sugars into desired hydrocarbon target molecules, including renewable fuels and specialty chemicals. Initial work resulted in microbial strains that generated artemisinic acid, a precursor of the antimalarial therapy artemisinin. The firm’s portfolio currently includes products based on the hydrocarbon Biofene (trans-β-farnasene).

“In support of DARPA’s Living Foundries program we will leverage our technology expertise to develop improved DNA assembly and rapid integration across complex biological platforms,” remarks John Melo, Amyris president and CEO.

Synthetic Biology Explained

Synthetic biology is poised combine with engineering and computer technology to usher in an era of programmable biological systems that have the potential to transform a vast array of industries, including agriculture, medicine, ecology, pharmaceuticals, and materials science.

Cognitive radio will enable smarter use of wireless spectrum

Technology Review - Cognitive radios sense unused radio bands and can intelligently switch heavy data loads between different frequencies without any interruption.

New Jersey startup has come out with the fastest cognitive radio yet. It works on the widest possible range of spectrum, and is part of a crop of improved technologies that are crucial to bringing the technology to market and avert network overload.

The gadget in question, called Cogradio, and made by Radio Technology Systems of Ocean City, New Jersey, can switch at fast-enough rates to be imperceptible for, say, a video viewer; as well as in sufficient quantities that any research done on it, or software written for it, will be applicable in future real-world commercial devices.

Solar panels are cheaper than diesel for levelized cost and reach cost advantage after 5 years

Forbes - a supply glut caused by overbuilding and reduced subsidies has dramatically slashed the price of c-Si cells. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) forecasts that demand will not catch up with supply until 2014, even in their most optimistic scenario. In May, the spot price for a Chinese c-Si module was only $0.85 per watt, quite close to the $0.75 per watt manufacturing cost claimed by First Solar. Since Cd-Te cells are less efficient than c-Si cells (currently 14.4% of First Solar cells, compared to the high teens to low 20% range for typical c-Si cells), First Solar’s modules need to be larger to produce the same power rating, which leads to higher costs at the module and solar installation level. This leaves very little room for profit, from a company that once seemed to be an endless money-printing machine.

New Scientist - Solar power is now cheaper than diesel "anywhere as sunny as Spain". That means vast areas of Latin America, Africa and Asia could start adopting solar power.

The one thing stopping households buying a solar panel is the initial cost, says Amit Kumar, director of energy-environment technology development at The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, India. Buying a solar panel is more expensive than buying a diesel generator, but according to Chase's calculations solar becomes cheaper than diesel after seven years [based on end of 2011 pricing. Lower prices in 2012 could make it 5 years to reach a cost advantage] . The panels last 25 years.

Even in India, solar electricity remains twice as expensive as electricity from coal, but that may soon change. While the price drop in 2011 was exceptional, analysts agree that solar will keep getting cheaper. Suntech's in-house analysts predict that, by 2015, solar electricity will be as cheap as grid electricity in half of all countries.

June 12, 2012

Radiation-Resistant Circuits from Mechanical Parts

University of Utah engineers designed microscopic mechanical devices that withstand intense radiation and heat, so they can be used in circuits for robots and computers exposed to radiation in space, damaged nuclear power plants or nuclear attack.

The researchers showed the devices kept working despite intense ionizing radiation and heat by dipping them for two hours into the core of the University of Utah’s research reactor. They also built simple circuits with the devices.

Ionizing radiation can quickly fry electronic circuits, so heavy shielding must be used on robots such as those sent to help contain the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after Japan’s catastrophic 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Microscopic images of two “logic gates” made of microscopic mechanical parts and thus designed to resist ionizing radiation that fries conventional silicon electronics. The top gate performs the logic function named “exclusive or” and the gate in the bottom image performs the function “and.” These devices, designed at the University of Utah, are so small that four of them would fit in the cross section of a single human hair. Photo Credit: Massood Tabib-Azar, University of Utah

A Big Shift from Coal to Natural Gas Because of Cheap Natural Gas

The share of U.S. electricity that comes from coal is forecast to fall below 40 percent for the year — the lowest level since the government began collecting this data in 1949. Four years ago, it was 50 percent. By the end of this decade, it is likely to be near 30 percent.

Utilities are aggressively ditching coal in favor of natural gas, which has become cheaper as supplies grow. Natural gas has other advantages over coal: It produces far fewer emissions of toxic chemicals and gases that contribute to climate change, key attributes as tougher environmental rules go into effect.

Natural gas will be used to produce 29 percent of the country's electricity this year, up from 20 percent in 2008.

The shift is because shale gas has increased supplies and made natural gas cheap. It is not because of concerns over health effects. Coal is more harmful for health.

Air Pollution by Location and Incremental Effect from Coal Plants

This is an update of air pollution from coal plants in the United States.

Map of coal power by state. Note: about of third of the air pollution can go thousands of miles from the plant. There is more impact on air quality and health of those near the plants. Air pollution has been improved in the USA since the 1950s and 1960s. There is still a negative effect. 24,000 coal impacted deaths and a total of 60,000 air pollution impacted deaths out of 2.5 million deaths from any cause. Cigarette smoking and obesity have larger negative effects, which is seen in West Virginia's health statistics. The bad air pollution states are ending up at or near the bottom of state health rankings.

The incremental particulate matter from 11 coal plants in Michigan

They have mapped the health effects from particulates from all coal plants based on the measurement of incremental pollution by location. They have the increased levels of health impacts in those same locations.

PM2.5 is 10-12% from coal power plants. So it is not the whole problem but eliminating that pollution source would improve health and save lives.

Analysis of PM10 by metro statistical area.

Source watch has a list of the states with the most coal power plants

Rank State # of Plants Total Capacity 2005 Power Prod. 
1    Texas          20   21,238 MW      148,759 GWh 
2    Ohio           35   23,823 MW      137,457 GWh 
3    Indiana        31   21,551 MW      123,985 GWh 
4    Pennsylvania   40   20,475 MW      122,093 GWh 
5    Illinois       32   17,565 MW       92,772 GWh 
6    Kentucky       21   16,510 MW       92,613 GWh 
7    West Virginia  19   15,372 MW       91,601 GWh 
8    Georgia        16   14,594 MW       87,624 GWh 
9    North Carolina 25   13,279 MW       78,854 GWh 
10   Missouri       24   11,810 MW       77,714 GWh 
11   Michigan       33   12,891 MW       71,871 GWh 
12   Alabama        11   12,684 MW       70,144 GWh 
13   Florida        15   11,382 MW       66,378 GWh 
14   Tennessee      13   10,290 MW       59,264 GWh 
15   Wyoming        10   6,168 MW        43,421 GWh 
16   Wisconsin      28   7,116 MW        41,675 GWh 

A ‘Dirt Cheap’ Magnetic Field Sensor from ‘Plastic Paint’

University of Utah physicists developed an inexpensive, highly accurate magnetic field sensor for scientific and possibly consumer uses based on a “spintronic” organic thin-film semiconductor that basically is “plastic paint.”

The new kind of magnetic-resonance magnetometer also resists heat and degradation, works at room temperature and never needs to be calibrated, physicists Christoph Boehme, Will Baker and colleagues report online in the Tuesday, June 12 edition of the journal Nature Communications.

The magnetic-sensing thin film is an organic semiconductor polymer named MEH-PPV. Boehme says it really is nothing more than an orange-colored “electrically conducting, magnetic field-sensing plastic paint that is dirt cheap. We measure magnetic fields highly accurately with a drop of plastic paint, which costs just as little as drop of regular paint.”

The orange spot is only about 5-by-5 millimeters (about one-fifth inch on a side), and the part that actually detects magnetic fields is only 1-by-1 millimeters. This organic semiconductor paint is deposited on a thin glass substrate which then is mounted onto a circuit board with that measures about 20-by-30 millimeters (about 0.8 by 1.2 inches).

An inexpensive and highly accurate “spintronic” magnetic field sensor developed at the University of Utah is shown here. The entire device, on a printed circuit board, measures about 0.8 inches by 1.2 inches. But the part that actually detects magnetic fields is the reddish-orange thin-film semiconductor – essentially “plastic paint” – near the center-right of the device. Photo Credit: Christoph Boehme, University of Uta

Nature Communications - Robust absolute magnetometry with organic thin-film devices

Quantum computers could help search engines keep up with the Internet's growth

Eurekalert - USC scientists demonstrate that quantum computing could speed up the way web page ranks are calculated on the ever-expanding Internet.

Most people don't think twice about how Internet search engines work. You type in a word or phrase, hit enter, and poof – a list of web pages pops up, organized by relevance.

Behind the scenes, a lot of math goes into figuring out exactly what qualifies as most relevant web page for your search. Google, for example, uses a page ranking algorithm that is rumored to be the largest numerical calculation carried out anywhere in the world. With the web constantly expanding, researchers at USC have proposed – and demonstrated the feasibility – of using quantum computers to speed up that process.

"This work is about trying to speed up the way we search on the web," said Daniel Lidar, corresponding author of a paper on the research that appeared in the journal Physical Review Letters on June 4.

1 nanometer diameter wires could yield next gen quantum computers

New Electronics UK - Nanowires can now be made with a diameter of just 1 nanometer (nm), though researchers tend to work with nanowires that are between 30 and 60nm wide. At these dimensions, materials can acquire properties very different to those they exhibit at larger scales. That is partly because at such tiny scales, quantum confinement effects alter the behaviour of fundamental particles like electrons within the material. Such effects can change how materials conduct electricity and heat, or interact with light.

"There are a host of niche applications within the electronics sector, such as solar cells and sensors, where nanowires could have a significant impact in the medium term and rapid advances are being made. You could say nanowires have taken on some of the attention that a few years ago was being spent on nanotubes."

A key question about nanowires concerns how best to manufacture them: building them from the bottom up, or from the top down? A top down approach involves taking the material that will form the nanowire and reducing it until you reach nanoscale dimensions. As its name suggests, the bottom up approach is an assembly process where the nanowire is 'grown', by adding particles gradually.

Sandia aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope is 50 to 100 times faster and 50 times better resolution

Sandia’s new aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope (AC-STEM), the $3.2 million FEI Titan G2 8200, is 50 to 100 times better than what came before, both in resolution and the time it takes to analyze a sample.

The AC-STEM delivers electron beams accelerated at voltages from 80 kV to 200 kV, allowing researchers to study properties of structures at the nanoscale — crucial for materials scientists working on everything from microelectronics to nuclear weapons.

The instrument’s unique combination of X-ray detectors and very high resolution offers magnification Kotula compares to a telescope powerful enough to show two peas side by side on the moon. High-clarity slides of microstructures analyzed with the AC-STEM and fuzzy images taken by Sandia’s older analytical microscope highlight the new capabilities. An analysis that took seven minutes on the AC-STEM took two hours on the older instrument, he said.

The image on the left was captured in seven minutes at 0.5nm/pixel with Sandia's new AC-STEM; the image on the right was captured in 120 minutes at 2nm/pixel with the old microscope. The analytical power of the AC-STEM is at least 70 times better than the older analytical microscope at Sandia. These high-resolution chemical images are confirming predictions from the 1970s regarding the atomic-scale characteristics of electrical contact materials. (Image courtesy of Sandia National Laboratories)

Singapore sets up US$11.7 million Graphene Product Fabrication Facility

Channelnewsasia - The National University of Singapore's Graphene Research Centre announced on Tuesday the opening of a S$15 million micro- and nano-fabrication facility to produce graphene products.

The facility is the first of its kind in Asia and will be fully operational by October.

The facility would use graphene to develop new technologies for flexible and transparent electronics and new devices that do not yet exist in the market, using the latest scientific equipment.

Another area which scientists are looking at are stem cells. Researchers say that stem cells infused with graphene could produce artificial bones and even liver cells.

Atomistic Simulations Show Cement Nanotubes Can Exist

Advanced Materials Journal - Using atomistic simulations, this work indicates that cement nanotubes can exist. The chemically compatible nanotubes are constructed from the two main minerals in ordinary Portland cement pastes, namely calcium hydroxide and a calcium silicate hydrate called tobermorite. These results show that such nanotubes are stable and have outstanding mechanical properties, unique characteristics that make them ideally suitable for nanoscale reinforcements of cements.

Nanowerk has coverage

The problem with carbon nanotubes is that they are water insoluble. In order to make them compatible with water chemistry, they must be functionalized in advance. Inorganic oxide nanotubes would be a natural means of reinforcements of cement pastes, in view of their chemically compatibility with the cement-water system. The team focused on cement-based nanotubes fabricated from calcium silicate hydrate gel and calcium hydroxide precipitates. They succeeded in demonstrating the feasibility of these cement nanotubes in view of their stability at room temperature, with strain energies in agreement with values previously obtained for other nanotubes compounds.

Portlandite nanotubes have tensile strength of 8.4 GPa, which is about 10% of the Young's modulus. 8 GPa greatly exceed the tensile strengths of cement pastes and are at least an order of magnitude higher than those of typical reinforcing materials such as structural steels ( which is about 0.5 GPa).

They are now determining that the cement nanotubes survival in different water solutions.

June 11, 2012

$39 Raspberry Pi has better hardware and Emulates the Software of old IBM Mainframe and DEC VAX Cluster

Design Spark - a Raspberry Pi ($39) can be used to emulate a mainframe which would have filled a large computer room, and to run the same software which it would have run. Of course, the only reason you would do this is for fun, learning or perhaps as part of computer conservation efforts, e.g. in providing continued access to old computer software and/or data. A modern mainframe would massively outperform a Raspberry Pi and offer many benefits beyond simple processing power.

Having configured a mainframe on a Raspberry Pi, it was time to try out a Raspberry Pi on a mainframe! The image below shows the Pi sat on top (centre) of the CPU from an IBM 4381.

208 million annual shipments of Phone/Tablet Hybrids by 2015

ABI Research - More than 208 million phablets, a hybrid device that is larger than a smartphone but smaller than a tablet, like the Samsung Galaxy Note, will be shipped globally in 2015. The category includes smartphones and tablet devices in the 4.6 to 5.5 inch screen size range.

We recently covered the Samsung Galaxy S3 (4.8 inch screen) and the expected Samsung Galaxy Note 2 (5.5 inch screen)

Despite the slow start for phablet smartphones in 2011, the market is at the dawn of the phablet era. HTC, LG, and Huawei will each introduce phablet smartphones in 2012, joining the ranks of Samsung’s Galaxy Note and Nexus.

The 5.3 inch Galaxy Note beside an iPhone 4S

By ABI Research’s definitions, many recent Android smartphones would fall into the ‘phablet’ category, such as the LG Optimus Vu, HTC One X, the HTC One XL on ATT, the HTC EVO 4G LTE on Sprint, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, and the Samung Galaxy S III.

Gigaom - With rich media consumption on the rise on mobile devices — particularly as we get faster 4G networks and more Wi-Fi networks to supplement them — a larger display is desirable. The same can be said for Web browsing, which is one of the most popular activities on a mobile: Why scroll and zoom when a larger display minimizes such efforts?

Provided these handsets are still pocketable, consumers will adopt them because they combine the portability of a smartphone with the more immersive experience found in a tablet. That’s not to say 10-inch slate sales will fall; these fit a totally different use case for most, as they are less portable and are better suited for casual computing or consumption in a given location. A recent Viacom study, for example, found that 74 percent of tablet use is in the home.

North Dakota Oil Projections

North Dakota has oil projections from their Minerals and Resources Department.

The 1.1 million barrel per day possible forecast is based upon 14 billion barrels of recoverable oil in North Dakota.

Continental Resources has new estimates 27-45 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

This would mean 2-3 million barrels per day of production for North Dakota.

India Could get Junk Credit Rating

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's has warned that India may become the first among the BRIC - Brazil, Russia, India and China - countries to lose its investment grade rating, citing slowing GDP growth and political roadblocks to economic policy making as some of the factors that could lead to such an action.

Standard & Poor's raised India's long-term sovereign credit rating to 'BBB-' in January 2007, making India the poorest sovereign (in terms of per capita GDP) to receive an investment-grade rating. One of the key elements contributing to the upgrade, and sustaining the current rating, was India's ability to achieve comparatively high rates of economic growth. Favorable long-term growth prospects and a high level of foreign exchange reserves support the country's sovereign rating, while large fiscal deficits, a high debt burden, and a lower-middle-income economy constrain it.

India's economy expanded roughly 8%-9% in the three years before the recent global financial crisis. According to data from India's Planning Commission, rapid growth contributed to a decline in the poverty rate to 29.8% in 2010 from 37.2% in 2005, implying a drop of 40 million people in the absolute number of the country's poor. Per capita income doubled during those five years. In addition, the total fertility rate (the average number of children a woman conceives) fell to 2.5 in 2010 from 3.2 in 2000.

India's GDP growth in the most recent quarter was 5.3%.

GDP is expected to grow about 6.5% in fiscal year 2012-2013, similar to the rate in fiscal 2011-2012. Both savings and investment rates (as a share of GDP) rose impressively, in step with GDP growth, until fiscal 2007-2008, before declining modestly in subsequent years (see chart 2). The public sector savings rate has historically been low, but itrose to 5% of GDP in fiscal 2007-2008 as the government narrowed its fiscal deficit, before dropping precipitously in recent years.The combination of fiscal strain and lower corporate profitability could reduce both public and private sector savings rates in coming years. Lower savings would translate into lower investment and a higher current account deficit. The result would be either lower GDP growth or a higher external deficit that makes the country more vulnerable to external shocks.

S&P-Report-Will India Be the First BRIC Fallen Angel_June2012

UN Provides Snapshot of World Human Development 20 years After 1992 Earth Summit

At the 1992 Earth Summit — the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development — representatives from 178 countries, including 108 world leaders, forged a bold new vision for development — sustainable development. The vision, embodied in Agenda 21 and the Rio Principles, marked a major shift, calling for the full integration of environmental, social and economic dimensions into development planning.


Major efforts have been undertaken through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — eight
targeted development goals designed to advance progress in reducing extreme poverty, hunger,
illiteracy and disease by 2015.

• In every region of the developing world, the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day
declined, but over a billion people still live in poverty.
• Since 1992, average life expectancy has increased by three and a half years.
• Today, 27 per cent of the world’s population lives in absolute poverty, down from 46 per cent in 1990.
• Progress on meeting the MDGs has been very uneven across regions, with large areas in sub-
Saharan Africa and south Asia unlikely to achieve the Goals.

Fully Automatic Sewing of Garments Using Micro-Manipulation

FBO - DARPA has provided $1.25 million for Softwear Automation to develop a complete work-cell called a Beta Unit for fully automated sewing. That includes a numerically controlled sewing machine that tracks fabric movement by observing passing threads and under servo control moves the fabric under the needle stitch by stitch. Complete production facilities that produce garments with zero direct labor is the ultimate goal.

The military’s annual clothing budget at $4 billion dollars and employs about 50,000 people.

The US annual import of sewn items is approximately $100 Billion per year.

The technology proposed appears to allow cutting and sewing at costs LESS THAN in China. There is only one basic innovation required; that the metric of motion should not be meters or inches but rather thread count in the fill and warp directions. (Wovens and leather like materials need a slightly different measure.) This leads to THREE fundamental technical issues that have largely been solved and discussed below as well as more routine engineering development.

Software Automation website is here

Highlights from the WWDC 2012 keynote

9to5mac is live blogging the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference Keynote

Expectations are that the company will unveil updated Macs, debut iOS6, show off some new features of Mac OSX Mountain Lion, unveil new mapping software and announce some upgrades to iCloud.

There will be an all new laptop… The Next-Generation MacBook Pro. Breakthrough in display engineering. RETINA DISPLAY. 2880 x 1800. Highest resolution notebook display ever. Glossy… but improved. Ships with a Retina ready version of OS X Lion.

New Version of Aperture for Retina Dispay MacBook Pro. Final Cut Pro X also being updated. Retina versions of Adobe Photoshop, Diablo 3, Auto Desk coming soon. Apple is working with key developers.

Several battery packs and optimzations to get battery working well with powerful Retina Display. Up to 16GB of RAM. 768GB SSD. Two thunderbolt ports, HDMI. FaceTime HD, dual-microphones, new stereo speakers. USB 3.0. 4.46 pounds.

New nanomaterials boost computer speeds and improve memory density

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new technique that can dramatically improve the efficiency and reduce the cost of preparing different classes of semiconducting materials.

The new discovery meets certain requirements of the international semiconductor “roadmap” all the way out to 2022—leapfrogging an anticipated ten years of progress with a single set of experiments.

Most semiconductor patterns are currently made using a process known as photolithography, in which portions of a thin film are selectively removed to create a pattern. The pattern in this film, known as a resist, is etched into the semiconductor by exposure to an ionized gas. This gas also etches away the resist itself, reducing the number of times the film can be used. Especially durable resists are known as hard masks.

This image shows channels etched using sequential infiltration synthesis, which scientists at Argonne have used to create features that have high aspect ratios – that is, they are far deeper than wide. These crevasses will permit the creation of a new generation of semiconducting materials.

Advanced Materials Journal - Enhanced Lithographic Imaging Layer Meets Semiconductor Manufacturing Specification a Decade Early

The scanning electron microscopy image (about 2 microns wide) depicts high-aspect-ratio featured patterned in silicon using sequential infiltration synthesis (SIS) enhancement of photoresist. SIS penetrates the polymeric resist layer with etch-resistant alumina, thereby transforming it into a hard mask. This conversion enables the use of very thin resist layers, so pattern collapse is virtually eliminated and goals set forth for lithography in 2022 can be achieved today.

June 10, 2012

Deaths by Energy Source in Forbes

Forbes has an article by James Conca about deaths per trillion kwh (1000 terawatt hours) by energy source. James is a senior scientist with the RJLee Group, and Director of their Center for Laboratory Sciences in Pasco, WA.

The numbers are a combination of actual direct deaths and epidemiological estimates, and are rounded to two significant figures. I have adjusted prior numbers.

Previously I had included coal for all uses electricity, heating and cooking.

Energy Source               Mortality Rate (deaths/trillionkWhr)

Coal (elect,heat,cook–world avg)100,000 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal electricity – world avg     60,000 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal (elect,heat,cook – China)  170,000
Coal electricity-  China         90,000
Coal – U.S.                      15,000    (44% U.S. electricity)
Oil                              36,000    (36% of energy, 8% of electricity)
Natural Gas                       4,000    (20% global electricity)
Biofuel/Biomass                  24,000    (21% global energy)
Solar (rooftop)                     440    (0.2% global electricity)
Wind                                150    (1.6% global electricity)
Hydro – global average            1,400    (15% global electricity)
Nuclear – global average             90    (17%  global electricity w/Chern&Fukush)

The units are 1000 times larger (1000 twh instead of twh.) than what I used.

Energy Source              Death Rate (deaths per TWh)

Coal (elect, heat,cook –world avg) 100 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal electricity – world avg        60 (26% of world energy, 50% of electricity)
Coal (elect,heat,cook)– China      170
Coal electricity-  China            90 
Coal – USA                          15
Oil                                 36  (36% of world energy)
Natural Gas                          4  (21% of world energy)
Biofuel/Biomass                     12
Peat                                12
Solar (rooftop)                      0.44 (0.2% of world energy for all solar)
Wind                                 0.15 (1.6% of world energy)
Hydro                                0.10 (europe death rate, 2.2% of world energy)
Hydro - world including Banqiao)     1.4 (about 2500 TWh/yr and 171,000 Banqiao dead)
Nuclear                              0.04 (5.9% of world energy)

I had to adjust the coal deaths in China and world average. Previous numbers were for outdoor air pollution. This is 60% for coal for electricity, cooking and heating in China. Pollution is 30% from coal powerplants in China for the particulates and 66% for sulfur dioxide. Mining accidents, transportation accidents are mostly from coal for electricity.

He cited Seth Godin for his article which was a summary of my article. Which I wrote back in 2008 and have updated several times.

Worldwide solar production was at 33.2 TWh in 2010.
Worldwide wind production as at 344.8 TWh output in 2010.
Worldwide hydro production was at 3,448.2 TWh in 2010.

World Electricity production statistics from 2010

Deaths per twh article I wrote in 2008

Background information and analysis

Around 20 articles on deaths per twh and lifetime deaths per twh.

An update on the research seems to be that coal particulates are being contained better in China. Still not as well as in the USA.

Flexible OLED Displays Starting in 2012 and Increasing to Major Market Share in 2015

Wired - Flexible displays have tickled our imaginations for years. And before the end of 2012, we’ll finally see companies employing flexible displays in their products. But while the possibilities are tantalizing, don’t let your imagination run wild. The earliest iterations of flexible displays won’t be very bendy, and they won’t appear in Apple hardware as some news outlets have recently speculated.

In early March, Samsung announced it would be mass-producing its flexible OLED displays, like the one seen above, by the end of this year.

Samsung is talking about relatively modest production runs of the new flexible technology — 960,000 OLED sheets according to the Korea Times. This level of output simply isn’t enough to accommodate the production demands for Apple gear, which, for devices like the iPhone, can reach into the hundreds of millions.

Nonetheless, Gillett and Colegrove expect flexible display technology to hit the consumer market on a relatively small scale before the year’s end. E-readers should be the first devices to include flexible e-paper displays. They’ll remain flat in shape, but provide all the ruggedness manufacturers look for, Colegrove said. As for Samsung’s flexible OLED technology, it will appear in phones in 2012, and possibly in tablets next year.

And if you’re looking to find a flexible display in an iDevice, you’ll probably have to wait until the 2013-2014 time frame, says Colgrove — with truly bendy iDevices appearing in 2015 at the earliest.

Samsung Galaxy S3 and the Galaxy Note 2

1. Ubuntulife - The Samsung Galaxy S3 features a quad-core Exynos 4212 processor clocked at 1.4GHz per core. This chip is based on the ARM Cortex A9 processor architecture, but tweaked and manufactured by Samsung internally. Preliminary benchmarks shows that the Exynos 4212 is the fastest smartphone processor in the world, leaving its main competitors, the dual-core Snapdragon S4 and the quad-core Tegra 3 far behind. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S2 uses a dual-core 1.2 Ghz in house built Exynos processor.

The Galaxy S2 display

* 4.3-inch with a 800 x 480 pixels resolution
* Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touch-screen
* 217 ppi pixel density

The Galaxy S3 display

* 4.8-inch HD with a 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
* Super AMOLED capacitive touch-screen
* 306 ppi pixel density

The Galaxy S3 is the best and most powerful Android smartphone to date. It is true successor to the Galaxy S2 and has faced upgrade in any aspect.

2. Ubuntulife.net - Samsung may be preparing a successor to the highly popular Galaxy Note according to various tips and reports. Samsung has sold over 7 million to date, and are apparently getting ready to launch a new and improved version later this year. It is expected to have a 5.5 inch screen and an October release date.
The Galaxy Note 2 will start with the features of the Galaxy S3 so it will look similar and feature the same technologies and services like S Beam, S Voice, NFC, SmartStay and others.

It is reported that the Galaxy Note will have slightly larger 5.5-inch display with WSXGA+ (1680×1050) and 360 pixel density. The Galaxy Note 2 will feature Super AMOLED (non-Plus) display from PenTile matrix family because these displays last longer and are more power efficient that true RGB AMOLED Plus displays. The size makes it 0.2 inch bigger than the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note display.

LG Shows 5 inch High Definition Smartphone Display with 440 pixels per inch

EETimes - LG Display has introduced a 5 in. full high definition LCD panel for smartphones, which the company claims provides the same quality as on TVs and monitors.

LG Display’s panel is based on the company’s AH-IPS (Advanced High Performance In-Plane Switching) technology that enables 440ppi (pixels per inch) and 1920x1080 resolution for full HDTV quality on a smartphone.

The panel has a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio and is 0.5 inches larger, 2.2 times denser in pixels, and 1.3 times more advanced in ppi than the preceding 4.5 in. panel at 329ppi and 1280x720.

The 5" Full HD LCD panel from LG Display is expected to be released during the second half of this year, and was on exhibit for the first time at SID 2012 Display Week in Boston starting June 4.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 108

1. Dan Yurman at Idaho Samizdat posts an update on Jordan's nuclear program.

An asset swap of uranium for reactors seems likely. The Jordanian Atomic Energy Agency has entered into negotiations with Areva and Rosatom to build 2 Gwe of nuclear powered electricity by 2020. Both firms are offering 1,000 MW reactors.

The Kingdom is likely to offer to pay for them with an asset swap from its uranium ore reserves said to be equal to 25,000 tonnes of yellowcake. However, opposition in Jordan's parliament may slow down closure of the deal. Currently, Jordan imports almost all of its electricity.

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