October 22, 2016

Next generation planes will either by large or they will use new engines that switch between performance and fuel efficiency

The United States Air Force is in the process of completing its initial research on a next-generation air superiority capability to replace the Boeing F-15C Eagle and Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters. Once such research is completed, the service will embark on an 18-month analysis of alternatives (AOA) starting this coming January to determine exactly what kind of capabilities it will need to gain and maintain control over the skies in the post-2030 threat environment. By then—in the year 2035—the stealthy F-22 will be 30 years old while most the F-15C fleet will be more than 50 years old.

Current generation fighters like the F-22 and the Lockheed Martin F-35 carry only a couple of missiles internally, which could be a limitation during future combat operations.

China and Russia would also be able to attack refueling tankers which would reduce the operating range of US fighters.

A future PCA might be a significantly larger aircraft that today’s fighters—designed to operate at far greater ranges while carrying a far greater ordnance load. Those requirements for range, persistence and payload will have to be balanced against the need for stealth, electronic warfare capabilities, speed, maneuverability and other traits.

Many of the Air Force’s potential future requirements might seem to be contradictory, but new technology might make such a plane technically feasible. Indeed, a very large fighter with a very large payload, huge range which is also extremely stealthy while being extremely maneuverable would be an extreme technical challenge with current technology. However, new technology such as adaptive cycle engines—which the Air Force is currently developing with General Electric and Pratt and Whitney—will likely solve many of those potentially contradictory requirements. “The bottom-line is it’s going to have to be a variable-cycle engine to meet those kinds of needs and not be a humongous airplane,” Jeff Martin, General Electric’s expert on sixth-generation fighter propulsion told me some time ago.

Adaptive Cycle Jet Engines

Thrust and fuel efficiency have always seemed destined to remain mutually exclusive – the higher the one, the lower the other – inevitably forcing jet engine designers to make calculated trade-offs between the two.

If the US Air Force's Adaptive Engine Technology Demonstrator (AETD) programme goes to plan, allowing future generations of aircraft to take to the skies that can switch from high-speed performance to maximum economy - and back again - as the need arises.

It is an ambitious goal, with a huge range of possible applications across the spectrum of fighters, bombers and tactical combat aircraft.

While it has all the makings of a potential game changer for the sector, the fundamental principle behind the idea remains fairly straightforward. Conventional jet engine designs are optimised either for range or speed primarily by reference to two key factors: the fan pressure ratio of the air pressure discharged from the fan relative to the input pressure, and the bypass ratio of the air flowing around the engine core relative to the air passing through it. Thus, commercial airliners and military airlifts have high bypass / low fan ratios to yield greater efficiency, while strike aircraft exhibit low bypass / high fan pressure ratios, sacrificing fuel economy in the interests of maximising thrust.

With adjustable fans and controllable air ducts, the thinking goes, you can increase the flow around the engine and raise the bypass ratio to improve cruising fuel efficiency, or force more air into the core to gain a burst of extra thrust, flexibly toggling between Grand Prix speed, or super-Mini economy.

Mars Schiaparelli probe exploded on impact

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has identified new markings on the surface of the Red Planet that are believed to be related to Europe's Schiaparelli test lander, which arrived at Mars on Oct. 19.

The new image shows a bright spot that may be Schiaparelli's parachute, and a larger dark spot interpreted as resulting from the impact of the lander itself following a much longer free fall than planned, after thrusters switched off prematurely. It was taken by the Context Camera (CTX) on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter

This comparison of before-and-after images shows two spots that likely appeared in connection with the Oct. 19, 2016, Mars arrival of the European Space Agency's Schiaparelli test lander. The images are from the Context Camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Accelerating Universe Expansion evidence is much weaker 20 years later with analysis of over ten times the number of Type Ia supernovae

Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace.

Their conclusions were based on analysis of Type Ia supernovae – the spectacular thermonuclear explosions of dying stars – picked up by the Hubble space telescope and large ground-based telescopes. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by a mysterious substance named 'dark energy' that drives this accelerating expansion.

Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University's Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion.

Nature Scientific Reports - Marginal evidence for cosmic acceleration from Type Ia supernovae

Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge which can enable clusters of quantum computers

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

“People have already built small quantum computers,” says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. “Maybe the first useful one won’t be a single giant quantum computer but a connected cluster of small ones.”

Distributing quantum information on a bridge, or network, could also enable novel forms of quantum sensing, since quantum correlations allow all the atoms in the network to behave as though they were one single atom.

The joint work with Harvard University used a focused ion beam implanter at Sandia’s Ion Beam Laboratory designed for blasting single ions into precise locations on a diamond substrate. Sandia researchers Ed Bielejec, Jose Pacheco and Daniel Perry used implantation to replace one carbon atom of the diamond with the larger silicon atom, which causes the two carbon atoms on either side of the silicon atom to feel crowded enough to flee. That leaves the silicon atom a kind of large landowner, buffered against stray electrical currents by the neighboring non-conducting vacancies.

Though the silicon atoms are embedded in a solid, they behave as though floating in a gas, and therefore their electrons’ response to quantum stimuli are not clouded by unwanted interactions with other matter.

Science - An integrated diamond nanophotonics platform for quantum optical networks

Russia claims progress on new Pak DA strategic bomber which will have hypersonic missile weapons

The Tupolev PAK DA (or PAK-DA) is a proposed Russian next-generation strategic bomber and it is expected to have a 30-ton weapons payload, range of 6,740 nautical miles, first flight in 2021 and deliveries in 2023.

Some of the technology and components from the PAK DA will be derived from existing aircraft. The current engine is a non-afterburning variant of the NK-32 used on the Tu-160, certain avionics such as the radar will be based on those developed for the PAK FA project

Russia claims to have made substantial progress on the project and is believed to have started construction of a prototype.

General Anatoly Zhikharev has said that an unmanned strategic bomber may follow the PAK DA after 2040.

On 30 August 2013, a Russian Defense Ministry source revealed that the PAK DA will be equipped with advanced types of precision guided weapons, including hypersonic weapons. The bomber itself will fly at subsonic speeds. A Russian hypersonic missile is in development, but is currently only able to fly for a few seconds.

China to get first 4 Su-35 Fighter Jets from Russia in 2016 and they will reverse engineer the AL-117S engine

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army-Air Force (PLAAF) is slated to receive the first four out of 24 Russian-made Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter jets, the governor of Khabarovsk Krai, a federal subject located in the Russian Far East, said in a speech during the opening of a new aircraft production plan on September 15, according to local media reports.

From 2016 to 2018 the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production plant will deliver 24 Su-35 combat aircraft to China, the governor said.

The Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) is a Fourth++ generation, twin-engine, highly maneuverable multirole fighter jet powered by two AL-117S turbofan engines. The Russian aircraft’s powerful turbofan engine is also the most likely reason why China is interested in acquiring Su-35 fighters

The most advanced Chinese-made military turbofan currently in use is the WS-10, which, however, also underperforms, according to some reports

The izdeliye 117S (AL-41F1S) is an upgrade of the AL-31F that uses technology from the AL-41F. The engine produces 142 kN (32,000 lb) of thrust in afterburner and 86.3 kN (19,400 lb) dry. It features a fan 3% larger in diameter (932 millimetres (36.7 in) versus 905 millimetres (35.6 in)), advanced high- and low-pressure turbines, an all-new digital control system, and provisions for thrust-vectoring nozzles similar to the AL-31FP.

October 21, 2016

4DS Memristor achieves technical milestone of memory cells denser than 3D flash with commerciallization in the 2019 timeframe

4DS has demonstrated Interface Switching ReRAM cells at a 40 nanometer geometry, representing significant progress in scalability and yield.

This 40nm geometry, demonstrated by 4DS, is smaller than the latest generation of 3D Flash - the most dominant non-volatile memory technology used in billions of mobile devices, cloud servers and data centers.

In 2016, 4DS has

  • Demonstrated scalability, consistency and behaviour of memory cells with high yield at 40nm
  • 40nm is a breakthrough development at a scale smaller that existing 3D Flash, the most dominant non-volatile memory technology
  • JDA with HGST renewed in July 2016 taking the collaboration into its third year

4DS Memories Ltd. (West Perth, Western Australia) claims to have achieved 40-nanometer resistive random-access memories (ReRAMs) that are denser than flash and rival the recently reported Crossbar Inc.'s (San Francisco)

4DS claims its 40-nanometer ReRAM is a first, but many other labs besides 4DS and Crossbar are known for serious ReRAM efforts using memristors including Adesto Technologies, Elpida, Fujitsu, Global Foundries, Hewlett Packard, Hynix, IBM, Macronix, Nanya, NEC, Panasonic, Rambus, SanDisk, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, ST Microelectronics, Winbond, and several research-only labs like Imec collaborating with foundry partners like TSMC.

Flash is reaching the end of its ability to scale linearly, prompting the move to 3D, such as Samsung's, Toshiba's and Western Digital's recent demonstrations of 64-layer stacked-die flash memories.

The bit-cell stack controls its resistance by the migration of oxygen ions between the opposing metal electrodes.
(Source: 4DS)M

4DS also claims to have invested only $12 million to research and develop its recent demonstration chips. The demo chips, 4DS claims, prove its ReRAM memory cells are faster, cheaper and lower power than 3-D flash, giving the company hope at carving out a segment of the $40 billion global market for flash.

Beyond 2016: Commercial deal or strategic action most likely

From the current state of technological development, we essentially see three scenarios for 4DS going forward; firstly, a scenario in which the company succeeds in finalizing the minimum required development of its technology to the point where prospective licensees step up to the plate. In this scenario 4DS will need to demonstrate scalability of the Interface Switching ReRAM memory cell down to sub-45nm resolutions with consistent cell behavior using a scalable manufacturing process.

Still several years of development required by licensees

Any licensee will need to further develop the technology in the next several years to the point where high density, Interface Switching ReRAM memory chips can be manufactured in existing fabs, which we would expect around 2019-2020. This development process will require tens of millions of dollars, possibly up to US$100M, in our view, which is why 4DS will likely not embark on this journey, at least not by itself.

Any license agreement that is non-exclusive would see 4DS receiving multiple up-front, oneoff license payments, which could amount to several millions of dollars each. Additionally, 4DS would receive royalties per chip sold once the technology goes into commercial production. Memory chip royalties typically amount to a single digit percentage of the sales price of the chip.

An exclusive license to use 4DS’ technology would likely require the licensee to pay a substantially larger up-front license fee, potentially several tens of millions of dollars, in 4DS' view, in addition to royalties once the chip goes into commercial production.

Potential strategic action ahead of any license deal

The second scenario would be an acquisition by an established manufacturer in the data storage space. In this scenario as well, we believe 4DS would first need to complete the minimum required development of its technology in order to prove commercial viability of Interface Switching ReRAM. Any acquirer will then need to further develop the technology to commercial insertion into the market, similar to the first scenario.

Given 4DS’ development agreement with HGST and the acquisitive nature of its parent company, we believe Western Digital would be a very likely acquirer in this scenario.

Additionally, companies like SK Hynix, Micron and Samsung might have a keen interest in securing Interface Switching Memory technology to gradually take over from 3D NAND Flash in a few years’ time.

The third and final scenario would see 4DS’ technology not being rolled out commercially in due time, either due to insurmountable and/or overly expensive technological issues with Interface Switching ReRAM, or the emergence/dominance of another non-volatile memory technology, e.g. filamentary ReRAM, MRAM etc. While the likelihood of this scenario seems relatively small at this stage given the rapid technological progress being made together with HGST, it can never be excluded in the dynamic semiconductor industry.

There are two Approaches to ReRAM : Interface switching ReRAM and Filamentary ReRAM

Interface Switching ReRAM - high density memory for mobile and cloud
The development of Interface Switching ReRAM, a unique type of Non-Filamentary ReRAM, represents a breakthrough in ReRAM technology and is unique to 4DS.

Developing memory storage that is not reliant upon a filament allows cell currents to scale down in line with cell size enabling the smaller geometries necessary to put more storage on a memory chip creating high density memory.

A filament-less switching mechanism can operate with low switching currents, due to much more stable currents, essential for high density gigabyte range memories and the retention of data.

4DS has developed a way of controlling the overall resistance of the memory cells using the diffusion of oxygen atoms across the interface and this mechanism is used to reliably control gigabyte memory intended for large-scale storage.

Importantly, Interface Switching ReRAM does not rely on a destruction mechanism thereby increasing endurance, reliability and functional behaviour.

Filamentary ReRAM - low density memory for IoT and connected devices</>

The formation of filaments is the most common approach in ReRAM cell research and development today.

Filamentary mechanisms may work well at relatively large cell geometries but pose significant current density, retention, endurance, access and control problems when trying to achieve gigabyte range memories.

Filamentary ReRAM has inherent scaling limitations because cell currents are high and are independent of cell size. High switching currents are needed for long data retention and the large current fluctuations typically observed in filament-based ReRAM.

The potential for scalability to smaller geometries is limited by wire current densities.

Furthermore, the create and destruct switching mechanism in filamentary ReRAM results in eventual cell breakdown and poses a number of significant limitations for GB silicon storage.

First Gulf War motivated accelerated military modernization in China

The National Interest illustrates how the first Gulf War prompted China to update its military.

In 1990 China's military was inferior to Iraq and Iraq was vastly inferior to the USA

By 1990, the technical sophistication of the PLA had deteriorated to the degree that Iraqi forces enjoyed a considerable advantage over their Chinese counterparts.

The Iraqi Air Force included MiG-23s, MiG-25s and MiG-29s, while the PLAAF relied on Chinese-produced copycats of the MiG-21, as well as older aircraft such as the MiG-19. Similarly, the Iraqi air defense system, which had failed to incur major damage on waves of attacking American aircraft, was at least as sophisticated as the systems China was capable of employing.

The Chinese had also discovered, through access to Iraqi tanks captured by the Iranians in the Persian Gulf War, that the Iraqi T-72s that presented no challenge whatsoever to the U.S. Army — and were considerably superior to extant Chinese tanks.

Quality and Technology and Air Power were more important than large quantities

The balance between quality and quantity has shifted back and forth historically. In the Chinese Civil War and in Korea, the PLA took advantage of numbers and tactical effectiveness to defeat (or at least level the ground with) more technologically sophisticated opponents.

In 1990, the US-led coalition cut through quantitatively superior Iraqi forces like a hot knife through butter.

The PLA hadn’t quite been on autopilot in the 1980s, but the pace of reform in the military sector had not matched that of social and economic life in China.

Army patents a shrapnel proof adult diaper like harness

Enngineers and designers at the Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center have patented a new design for a harness that protects its wearer from blast debris.

Worn outside the pants, the harness is designed to protect the groin and femoral artery and prevent debris from embedding in and around the groin. Such injuries can be so severe that repeated surgeries are often needed to remove the debris, leading to extreme discomfort as well as health and hygiene issues. The harness has also been adapted to provide fragmentation protection.

Project lead Kristine Isherwood said NSRDEC began designing the piece of equipment after a joint urgent operational needs statement was issued for blast debris protection, while the Product Manager Soldier Protective Equipment looked for commercial off-the-shelf solutions.

Philippines and China closer to jointly developing the Reed Bank in the South China Sea

China and the Philippines could begin exploiting long-untapped energy reserves in the South China Sea, according to reports coming out of this week's meeting between Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and high-ranking Chinese officials — including a Thursday sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping — in Beijing. How soon that may happen remains unclear, however, as Duterte cautioned reporters that he has not been empowered by his Congress to finalize any energy exploration deal with his Chinese counterparts.

Earlier reports by Philippine newspaper the "Inquirer" suggested that Beijing and Duterte were set to enter into an agreement to explore for energy sources in a part of the South China Sea close to the Philippine coastline. China has long sought to exploit what it believes could be more than 100 billion barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas lurking beneath the South China Sea. However, a litany of overlapping territorial claims in the region by the more than half-dozen nations rimming the South China Sea has rendered broad energy development there a nonstarter.

The fact that potential joint development of offshore energy deposits in the region is even being discussed underscores the tectonic shift in regional foreign policy undertaken by Duterte since winning the Filipino presidency in May.

For China, one of the sea’s key prizes is Reed Bank, a tablemount (an underwater mountain) near the Philippine coast rich in untapped oil and gas deposits.

Thales optronic targeting pod integrated, tested on Rafale fighter

TALIOS is the first optronic pod to cover the entire critical decision chain from intelligence gathering to weapon delivery.

Capabilities range from deep strike with long-range missiles and bombs to air-to-air target identification and close air support, and include the rapidly emerging requirement of Non-Traditional Information, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (NTISR).

Thales' new-generation TALIOS laser targeting pod has successfully completed a more than two-hour first flight on a Rafale fighter.

The prototype targeting long-range identification optronic system collected high-quality images taken using the "day" channel, and offered remarkable performances in pointing and telemetry, Thales said.

  • Latest generation of high-resolution sensors and high-precision line-of-sight stabilization
  • Wide-angle vision providing critical contextual information and making the pod a key component of the pilot’s visual environment throughout the mission.
  • Open architecture and a high level of functional integration

October 20, 2016

NASA working on improved thermocouples for spacecraft power and to covert waste heat in car into electricity

A cutting-edge development in spacecraft power systems is a class of materials with an unfamiliar name: skutterudites (skut-ta-RU-dites). Researchers are studying the use of these advanced materials in a proposed next-generation power system called an eMMRTG, which stands for Enhanced Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator.

NASA's Mars Curiosity rover and the New Horizons mission, which flew by Pluto in 2015 both used Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators.

The new eMMRTG would provide 25 percent more power than Curiosity's generator at the start of a mission, according to current analyses. Additionally, since skutterudites naturally degrade more slowly that the current materials in the MMRTG, a spacecraft outfitted with an eMMRTG would have at least 50 percent more power at the end of a 17-year design life than it does today.

"Having a more efficient thermoelectric system means we'd need to use less plutonium. We could go farther, for longer and do more," Bux said.

Samad Firdosy, a materials engineer at JPL, holds a thermoelectric module made of four thermocouples, which are devices that help turn heat into electricity. Thermocouples are used in household heating applications, as well as power systems for spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Stanford created scalable optical quantum annealing computer using special lasers and electrical circuits

An entirely new type of computer that blends optical and electrical processing could get around this impending processing constraint and solve superlarge optimization problems. If it can be scaled up, this non-traditional computer could save costs by finding more optimal solutions to problems that have an incredibly high number of possible solutions.

There is a special type of problem – called a combinatorial optimization problem – that traditional computers find difficult to solve, even approximately. An example is what’s known as the “traveling salesman” problem, wherein a salesman has to visit a specific set of cities, each only once, and return to the first city, and the salesman wants to take the most efficient route possible. This problem may seem simple but the number of possible routes increases extremely rapidly as cities are added, and this underlies why the problem is difficult to solve.

An Ising machine based on lasers

The Stanford team has built what’s called an Ising machine, named for a mathematical model of magnetism. The machine acts like a reprogrammable network of artificial magnets where each magnet only points up or down and, like a real magnetic system, it is expected to tend toward operating at low energy.

The theory is that, if the connections among a network of magnets can be programmed to represent the problem at hand, once they settle on the optimal, low-energy directions they should face, the solution can be derived from their final state. In the case of the traveling salesman, each artificial magnet in the Ising machine represents the position of a city in a particular path.

Rather than using magnets on a grid, the Stanford team used a special kind of laser system, known as a degenerate optical parametric oscillator, that, when turned on, will represent an upward- or downward-pointing “spin.” Pulses of the laser represent a city’s position in a path the salesman could take. In an earlier version of this machine, the team members extracted a small portion of each pulse, delayed it and added a controlled amount of that portion to the subsequent pulses. In traveling salesman terms, this is how they program the machine with the connections and distances between the cities. The pulse-to-pulse couplings constitute the programming of the problem. Then the machine is turned on to try to find a solution, which can be obtained by measuring the final output phases of the pulses.

The problem in this previous approach was connecting large numbers of pulses in arbitrarily complex ways. It was doable but required an added controllable optical delay for each pulse, which was costly and difficult to implement.

Science - A fully-programmable 100-spin coherent Ising machine with all-to-all connections

Science - A quantum annealing architecture with all-to-all connectivity from local interactions


Unconventional, special-purpose machines may aid in accelerating the solution of some of the hardest problems in computing, such as large-scale combinatorial optimizations, by exploiting different operating mechanisms than standard digital computers. We present a scalable optical processor with electronic feedback that can be realized at large scale with room-temperature technology. Our prototype machine is able to find exact solutions of, or to sample good approximate solutions to, a variety of hard instances of Ising problems with up to 100 spins and 10,000 spin-spin connections.

Argonne researchers posit way to locally circumvent Second Law of Thermodynamics where entropy always increases

For more than a century and a half of physics, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that entropy always increases, has been as close to inviolable as any law we know. In this universe, chaos reigns supreme.

But researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory announced recently that they may have discovered a little loophole in this famous maxim.

Their research, published in Nature Scientific Reports, lays out a possible avenue to a situation where the Second Law is violated on the microscopic level.

A particle incident from the lead 1 is scattered into two other leads 2 and 3. Propagating particle induces magnetic field perpendicular to the lead direction. The spin is placed at the point where the respective fields induced by particles propagating along leads 2 and 3 are perpendicular to each other. To simplify consideration, we choose the set up design allowing to neglect the field induced by the particle in the lead 1.

Nature Scientific Reports - H-theorem in quantum physics

Argonne Labs makes solar thermal energy storage 20 times better to enable concentrated solar power plants to provide power at night

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Argonne National Laboratory have designed an inexpensive thermal energy storage system that will be significantly smaller and perform more than 20 times better than current thermal systems.

Argonne’s thermal energy storage system relies on a “phase-change” material that melts as it stores thermal energy and releases energy as it re-freezes — similar to the charge-discharge cycle in a battery.

Inexpensive salts like rock salt (sodium chloride) can be used as phase-change materials, but their use in existing thermal storage systems is limited because of the poor thermal conductivity of the salts.

However, the Argonne LHTES system drastically improves the conductivity of these salts by integrating them with a high-conductivity graphite foam. This combination reduces the overall amount of material needed to build the system and its cost, while making the thermal energy transfer significantly more efficient and still providing up to 8 to 12 hours of energy storage — a typical night of storage for a concentrating solar power plant.

“Phase-change materials tend to have low conductivity but meet the heat energy storage requirements,” said Dileep Singh, leader of Argonne’s Thermal-Mechanical Technologies group. “High-conductivity graphite foam meets the conductivity requirements, so we thought: why not combine the two?”

The SunShot Initiative supports research and development of concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies that reduce the cost of solar energy. CSP helps to achieve the SunShot Initiative cost targets with systems that can supply solar power on demand, even when there is no sunlight, through the use of thermal storage. Since SunShot’s inception, the levelized cost of electricity for CSP has decreased about 36 percent, from $0.21 cents per kilowatt hour to $0.13 cents per kilowatt hour, already over half of the way toward achieving the SunShot goal of $0.06 per kilowatt hour.

High quality graphene can be grown on ultrananocrystalline diamond in minutes at less than half the cost

Argonne Labs and UC Riverside have developed a method to grow graphene that contains relatively few impurities and costs less to make, in a shorter time and at lower temperatures compared to the processes widely used to make graphene today.

The new technology taps ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), a synthetic type of diamond that Argonne researchers have pioneered through years of research. UNCD serves as a physical substrate, or surface on which the graphene grows, and the source for the carbon atoms that make up a rapidly produced graphene sheet.

“When I first looked at the [scanning electron micrograph] and saw this nice uniform, very complete layer, it was amazing,” said Diana Berman, the first author of the study and former postdoctoral research associate who worked with Sumant and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of North Texas. “I’d been dealing with all these different techniques of growing graphene, and you never see such a uniform, smooth surface.”

Current graphene fabrication protocols introduce impurities during the etching process itself, which involves adding acid and extra polymers, and when they are transferred to a different substrate for use in electronics.

“The impurities introduced during this etching and the transferring step negatively affect the electronic properties of the graphene,” Sumant said. “So you do not get the intrinsic properties of the graphene when you actually do this transfer.”

The team found that the single-layer, single-domain graphene can be grown over micron-size holes laterally, making them completely free-standing (that is, detached from the underlying substrate). This makes it possible to exploit the intrinsic properties of graphene by fabricating devices directly over free-standing graphene.

The new process is also much more cost-effective than conventional methods based on using silicon carbide as a substrate. Sumant says that the 3- to 4-inch silicon carbide wafers used in these types of growth methods cost about $1,200, while UNCD films on silicon wafers cost less than $500 to make.

The diamond method also takes less than a minute to grow a sheet of graphene, where the conventional method takes on the order of hours

Characterization of graphene on UNCD sample.

Nature Communications - Metal-induced rapid transformation of diamond into single and multilayer graphene on wafer scale

2013 Arrest records and 2013 estimated racial statistics analysis

Nextbigfuture reader Goatguy has compiled the 2013 FBI ARREST records from their website, along with the 2013 estimated racial statistics of population of the United States for the closest (2010) year.

The results are … striking.
Read the “normalizations” at the top of the data block.
And the “notable observations” at the bottom.

REMEMBER - these are NOT the statistics of crime AGAINST a particular ethnic group, but statistics of the people arrested in suspicion of the crimes.

They are telling.

  Table of normalized crime rate data, FBI, 2013 stats. The normalization of the data is first...
  to extract out hispanic numbers and adjust them for the FBI-state reporting agency accounting 
  (in which all reporting agencies do not necessarily track hispanic/latino ethnicities)
  Then to adjust the relative crime rate by race/ethnicity by their fraction of the total population
  of the United States, again by race. This is critical for FAIRLY assessing the relative proclivity
  of a race's members to commit each particular type of crime AND be arrested for it.
  It is unknown how much crime is committed that does NOT result in an arrest. Since the police investigative
  agencies typically do NOT pursue the 'rampant crimes' of the inner cities, the actual crime commit rate is
  likely much higher.  It would NOT be fair tho' to place the blame on any particular race beyond the
  proportionality implied by the attached table numbers.
  Or, more to the point, it is not very likely that members of ANY race or ethnicity are more EFFICIENTLY
  apprehended and arrested for criminal violations, the narrative of 'Black Lives Matter' activists
  and other race-fairness groups notwithstanding.
Offense             race and population :  white    196817k  black    37685k hispanic 50477k  amerind    2247k   asian  14465k islander  481k
aggravated assault                      :   101432   54.7%    98748  278.0%    81660  171.6%     4356  205.7%     4423   32.4%      412   90.9% 
all other offenses (except traffic)     :  1358589   81.9%   790854  248.9%   383266   90.1%    43953  232.0%    25090   20.6%     1187   29.3% 
arson                                   :     4961   93.0%     1925  188.6%     1237   90.5%      130  213.6%      107   27.3%        4   30.7% 
burglary                                :    91978   71.0%    61709  248.9%    45012  135.6%     1966  133.0%     2196   23.1%      228   72.1% 
curfew and loitering law violations     :    14533   47.9%    21351  367.3%    10474  134.5%      610  176.0%      630   28.2%       24   32.3% 
disorderly conduct                      :   193943   81.7%   129782  285.7%    37661   61.9%     7982  294.7%     2775   15.9%       59   10.2% 
driving under the influence             :   567221   97.7%   113928  102.5%   199219  133.8%    12575  189.8%    16831   39.5%      696   49.1% 
drug abuse violations                   :   592646   77.2%   365785  248.9%   222535  113.0%     9408  107.4%    12930   22.9%      858   45.7% 
drunkenness                             :   205732   90.5%    56885  130.8%    82414  141.4%     7399  285.2%     3550   21.3%      447   80.5% 
embezzlement                            :     6532   81.5%     4386  285.8%     1350   65.7%       87   95.1%      207   35.1%       12   61.3% 
forgery and counterfeiting              :    23972   77.4%    16375  276.1%     7236   91.1%      288   81.5%      677   29.7%       33   43.6% 
fraud                                   :    64714   89.9%    35958  260.9%     9968   54.0%     1145  139.3%     1094   20.7%       41   23.3% 
gambling                                :      917   28.5%     3362  544.9%      516   62.4%       27   73.4%      226   95.4%        7   88.9% 
larceny-theft                           :   559275   88.5%   284358  235.1%   117898   72.8%    16402  227.4%    12605   27.2%      398   25.8% 
liquor laws                             :   187196  105.8%    40665  120.1%    35005   77.2%    10861  537.9%     3672   28.2%       45   10.4% 
motor vehicle theft                     :    19502   58.5%    15960  250.0%    15362  179.6%      685  179.9%      725   29.6%       73   89.6% 
murder and nonnegligent manslaughter    :     1829   34.2%     4379  428.0%     1970  143.7%       98  160.6%      101   25.7%        6   45.9% 
offenses against the family and children:    46319   92.6%    25519  266.4%     4698   36.6%     1414  247.6%      511   13.9%        4    3.3% 
other assaults                          :   450058   80.1%   283357  263.5%   123488   85.7%    14041  219.0%     9717   23.5%      425   31.0% 
property crime                          :   675715   84.5%   363952  237.6%   179510   87.5%    19183  210.1%    15633   26.6%      703   36.0% 
prostitution and commercialized vice    :    15548   58.1%    17378  339.4%     7118  103.8%      386  126.4%     1492   75.9%       24   36.7% 
rape                                    :     5190   60.2%     4229  256.4%     3756  170.0%      160  162.7%      173   27.3%        7   33.2% 
robbery                                 :    17063   34.1%    44271  461.8%    15882  123.7%      579  101.3%      649   17.6%       94   76.8% 
sex offenses (except rape and prostituti:    22337   75.3%    11462  201.7%    11358  149.2%      622  183.6%      744   34.1%       30   41.4% 
stolen property; buying receiving posses:    31529   66.4%    22687  249.3%    18708  153.5%      684  126.1%      862   24.7%       71   61.1% 
suspicion                               :      488   92.8%      303  300.9%       11    8.2%       12  199.9%       11   28.5%        0    0.0% 
vagrancy                                :    10496   77.1%     6802  261.0%     3236   92.7%      581  373.8%      222   22.2%       17   51.1% 
vandalism                               :    85427   83.2%    42566  216.5%    28415  107.9%     2951  251.7%     1638   21.7%       81   32.3% 
violent crime                           :   125512   50.3%   151627  317.3%   103270  161.4%     5193  182.3%     5346   29.1%      519   85.1% 
weapons; carrying possessing etc.       :    36698   51.3%    44671  326.1%    28619  156.0%      888  108.7%     1251   23.8%      101   57.8% 
total                                   :  4716111   82.1%  2549655  231.7%  1498086  101.6%   140290  213.8%   105109   24.9%     5384   38.3% 
  Some things of interest:
  Whites (at 82%, slightly below average)
  ... appear NEARLY LEVEL in 'crime commiting proclivity' across the board of crimes except for
  ... CURFEW (low)
  ... GAMBLING (very low)
  ... MURDER (low)
  ... PROSTITUTION (low)
  ... ROBBERY (very low)
  ... VIOLENT CRIME (low)
  ... Appear uniformly MUCH HIGHER (2.3x) than average in 'crime committing proclivity', but notably
  ... GAMBLING (very high)
  ... CURFEW (high)
  ... DUI (average)
  ... DRUNKENNESS (slightly above average)
  ... MURDER (very high)
  ... ROBBERY (very high)
  ... PROSTITUTION (high)
  ... WEAPONS (high)
  (note that these are RELATIVE to their already high average)
  ... Appear 'ABOUT AVERAGE' overall, with notable proclivity variances
  ... ASSAULT (high)
  ... BURGLARY (elevated)
  ... CURFEW (elevated)
  ... DUI (elevated)
  ... DRUNKENESS (elevated)
  ... VEHICLE THEFT (high)
  ... just look at the table.  Variations abound
  American Natives
  ... The statistics are 'much above average' (200%) in general, with notable proclivities in...
  ... and a very large (538%) proclivity for violating LIQUOR LAWS
  ... are STRIKINGLY low (1/4 of average) in criminal-arrest proclivity across the board, with 
  ... GAMBLING (near normal)
  ... PROSTITUTION (below normal)
  Pacific Islanders
  ... are also STRIKINGLY low (1/3 of average) in criminal-arrest proclivity across the board 
  ... a bit raised above Asians in general, but few statistically important variations

More evidence for Planet 9 suggests it should be visible by several existing telescopes and astronomers are confident of finding it directly in the next 16 months

The hypothetical giant planet 9, which is thought to be about 10 times more massive than Earth, will be discovered within 16 months or so, astronomer Mike Brown predicted.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.

The researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

"I'm pretty sure, I think, that by the end of next winter — not this winter, next winter — I think that there'll be enough people looking for it that … somebody's actually going to track this down," Brown said during a news conference Wednesday (Oct. 19) at a joint meeting of the American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) and the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) in Pasadena, California. Brown said that eight to 10 groups are currently looking for the planet

Artist's illustration of Planet Nine, a world about 10 times more massive than Earth that may lie undiscovered in the outer solar system.
Credit: Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)

3-D wiring technique is progress to scalable quantum computers

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

“The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits,” said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD candidate with IQC and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo.

Computer-aided designs of the three-dimensional wire, microwave package, and package holder. (a) A wire of length ℓ=30.5  mm along with a detail of the contact head (inset). (b) Assembled microwave package including six three-dimensional wires, washer, washer springs, and chip (shown in green). The arrow indicates the screw-in microconnector mated to the back end of the wire. Forward hatching indicates the washer cutaway, whereas backward hatching indicates both lid and sample-holder cutaways. (c) Cross section of the microwave package showing the height of the upper cavity

“The technique connects classical electronics with quantum circuits, and is extendable far beyond current limits, from one to possibly a few thousand qubits.”

The device operates efficiently at the cryogenic temperatures and high (about 10 GHz) frequencies needed for a superconducting quantum computer.

The quantum socket could be used to realize a “super qubit”—an assembly of a few hundred qubits that works as a single logical qubit but with an error rate 1 order of magnitude lower than that of the individual qubits. The researchers also envision that their socket could be scaled up to connect ∼105∼105 qubits, which could then be used to solve quantum chemistry problems that are hard to tackle with classical computers.

Physical Review Applied - Three-Dimensional Wiring for Extensible Quantum Computing: The Quantum Socket

Fujitsu has optimized FPGA architecture that is 1000 to 10,000 times faster than conventional computers for optimization problems and expects commercial prototype in 2018

Fujitsu has collaborated with the University of Toronto to develop a new computing architecture to tackle a range of real-world issues by solving combinatorial optimization problems, which involve finding the best combination of elements out of an enormous set of element combinations.

This architecture employs conventional semiconductor technology with flexible circuit configurations to allow it to handle a broader range of problems than current quantum computing can manage. In addition, multiple computation circuits can be run in parallel to perform the optimization computations, enabling scalability in terms of problem size and processing speed. Fujitsu Laboratories implemented a prototype of the architecture using FPGAs for the basic optimization circuit, which is the minimum constituent element of the architecture, and found the architecture capable of performing computations some 10,000 times faster than a conventional computer.

Through this architecture, Fujitsu Laboratories is enabling faster solutions to computationally intensive combinatorial optimization problems, such as how to streamline distribution, improve post-disaster recovery plans, formulate economic policy, and optimize investment portfolios. It will also make possible the development of new ICT services that support swift and optimal decision-making in such areas as social policy and business, which involve complex intertwined elements.

Fujitsu says it has implemented basic optimisation circuits using an FPGA to handle combinations which can be expressed as 1024 bits, which when using a ‘simulated annealing’ process ran 10,000 times faster than conventional processors in terms of handling the aforementioned thorny combinatorial optimisation problems.

The company says it will work on improving the architecture going forward, and by the fiscal year 2018, it expects “to have prototype computational systems able to handle real-world problems of 100,000 bits to one million bits that it will validate on the path toward practical implementation”.

Qualcomm Introduces First Gigabit and multigigabit modems

Qualcomm announces new modems for future 4G and 5G networks at the company’s 4G/5G Summit in Hong Kong. Announced earlier this year, Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon X16 modem is now available and will be leveraged on the world’s first Gbit mobile network starting this quarter. The operator is Telstra of Australia, commonly one of the first operators to leverage leading-edge wireless technology. Telstra’s network will be powered by equipment from Ericsson and the first enabled device will be the new MR1100 mobile hotspot (portable Wi-Fi) from Netgear using a discrete X16 modem. Qualcomm also indicated that the new modem will be integrated into the company’s next generation Snapdragon smartphone chipset. If history is any indication, that would mean a follow-on to the Snapdragon 820/821 in early 2017 and the availability of new devices using the modem in the second half of 2017.

The X16 is a Cat-16 modem using 4x20MHz carrier aggregation and 256-QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) on the downlink and 64-QAM on the uplink resulting in maximum theoretical speeds of over 1Gbps and 150Mbps, respectively.

According to Qualcomm, initial tests of the modem are demonstrating average downlink speeds of 112Mbps to 307Mbps with as high as 533Mbps in areas with optimal signal strength.

All Tesla Cars Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware

Self-driving vehicles will play a crucial role in improving transportation safety and accelerating the world’s transition to a sustainable future. Full autonomy will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver, lower the financial cost of transportation for those who own a car and provide low-cost on-demand mobility for those who do not.

As of today, all Tesla vehicles produced – including Model 3 – will have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver. Eight surround cameras provide 360 degree visibility around the car at up to 250 meters of range. Twelve updated ultrasonic sensors complement this vision, allowing for detection of both hard and soft objects at nearly twice the distance of the prior system. A forward-facing radar with enhanced processing provides additional data about the world on a redundant wavelength, capable of seeing through heavy rain, fog, dust and even the car ahead.

To make sense of all of this data, a new onboard computer with more than 40 times the computing power of the previous generation runs the new Tesla-developed neural net for vision, sonar and radar processing software. Together, this system provides a view of the world that a driver alone cannot access, seeing in every direction simultaneously and on wavelengths that go far beyond the human senses.

October 19, 2016

Carbon nanospikes can convert CO2 into Ethaol with a 63% yield and a room temperature reaction

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an electrochemical process that uses tiny spikes of carbon and copper to turn carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into ethanol. Their finding, which involves nanofabrication and catalysis science, was serendipitous.

“We discovered somewhat by accident that this material worked,” said ORNL’s Adam Rondinone, lead author of the team’s study published in ChemistrySelect. “We were trying to study the first step of a proposed reaction when we realized that the catalyst was doing the entire reaction on its own.”

The team used a catalyst made of carbon, copper and nitrogen and applied voltage to trigger a complicated chemical reaction that essentially reverses the combustion process. With the help of the nanotechnology-based catalyst which contains multiple reaction sites, the solution of carbon dioxide dissolved in water turned into ethanol with a yield of 63 percent. Typically, this type of electrochemical reaction results in a mix of several different products in small amounts.

“We’re taking carbon dioxide, a waste product of combustion, and we’re pushing that combustion reaction backwards with very high selectivity to a useful fuel,” Rondinone said. “Ethanol was a surprise -- it’s extremely difficult to go straight from carbon dioxide to ethanol with a single catalyst.”

The catalyst’s novelty lies in its nanoscale structure, consisting of copper nanoparticles embedded in carbon spikes. This nano-texturing approach avoids the use of expensive or rare metals such as platinum that limit the economic viability of many catalysts.

ORNL researchers developed a catalyst made of copper nanoparticles (seen as spheres) embedded in carbon nanospikes that can convert carbon dioxide into ethanol.

Chemistry Select- High-Selectivity Electrochemical Conversion of CO2 to Ethanol using a Copper Nanoparticle/N-Doped Graphene Electrode

Spacex ITS rocket could get to Saturn's moon Titan in 400 days and could refuel at Titan

Adam Crowl has been examining the Spacex Interstellar Transport System and analyzing the possible missions to Saturn's Titan and Jupiter's moons.

Flying to Titan will be easier than flying to the large Moons of Jupiter. The thick atmosphere as thick as Titan’s is a boon to space-travelers trying to shed excess speed. Plus Titan is held in its orbit by a lighter planet – Jupiter masses 318 times Earth, while Saturn masses 95 times.

Using ITS Tankers as stages, it’s pretty easy to compute the number required for a given Spaceship payload and delta-vee. Even with 0 payload, not even 10 stages gets 19.4 km/s delta-vee. A Hohmann trajectory, which takes ~1,000 days to get to Callisto, can be done with a single Tanker as a booster, if we’re carrying just 100 tons. However landing – an extra 2 km/s delta-vee – requires an extra booster. ALternately a Tanker can be sent separately to supply the landing propellant on arrival, as the dry-mass of the Tanker is less, so there’s less fuel required for a given delta-vee.

The SpaceX Spaceship, with a full tank, has a mass of 2,100 tons, of which 150 tons is vehicle structure. Mass ratio is 2100/150 = 14. With an Isp of 382 seconds – call it 3,750 m/s – the MAXIMUM delta-vee is thus LN(14)*3,750 = 9,896 m/s.

The Tanker is a simpler vehicle, with 90 tons structure and 2500 tons propellant, thus a mass-ratio of 2590/90 = 28.78. Thus a maximum delta-vee of 12,598 m/s.

Let’s contemplate two full Tankers used as boosters for a Spaceship, also with a full tank. What’s the maximum delta-vee?

The mass-ratio of the first stage is thus (2100 + 2590 x 2)/(2100 + 180) = 3.193

Second stage is 14, and as stage mass-ratios multiply, overall it’s 44.702 i.e. a delta-vee of 3.8 x 3.75 = 14.25 km/s.

This assumes no payload. If it could all be added instantaneously at a point in Low Earth Orbit, with 7.75 km/s orbital velocity, then 19 km/s would be added to the vehicle’s solar orbital speed it shares with the Earth.

Let’s rework the figures for a fully loaded Spaceship:

Stage 1: (2550 + 2590 x 2)/(2550 + 180) = 2.83

Stage 2: 2550/600 = 4.25

Total mass-ratio = 12.034

Delta-vee: 9.329 km/s

The minimum delta-vee for a parabolic solar orbit is 8.75 km/s from LEO. Working out gravity losses from finite time boosts in LEO isn’t easy, but at a guess it’ll be roughly 0.1 km/s. That leaves about 0.4 km/s in the tank. We’ll need that aerobrake at Titan to land.

Fuel from Titan

Methane exposed to UV light from the Sun undergoes chemical reactions that polymerises it into make the quasi-opaque haze that obscures Titan’s surface. In the process it should crack methane and cause it to combine into ethane and longer chain hydrocarbons – alkanes like propane, butane etc. – and a slightly more exotic hydrocarbons, the alkynes. The simplest is acetylene, C2H2, featuring two carbons united by a triple bond. Large amounts have been identified on the surface of Titan, identified thanks to clever processing of data from ‘Cassini’, which leads to thoughts of using acetylene as a propellant. Oxy-Acetylene is the first reaction that springs to mind, but free oxygen is in short supply on Titan. Oxygen will need to be cracked from water or carbon dioxide, both of which are part of the ‘lithosphere’ in the cryogenic conditions on Titan.

Acetylene-ethane mixture can be obtained from Titan and used as rocket propellant

Getting to Callisto

Three orbits can be contemplated – the Hohmann transfer, 1,000 days and lowest delta-vee; an Elliptical arc, which halves the time, and the aforementioned Parabolic orbit, which launches at Solar escape velocity from Earth’s solar orbit. Boosting from LEO, then braking into the L2 Point about 50,000 km up from Callisto’s surface, before touching down, the total delta-vee, with a 15% increase for the landing is as follows:

Hohmann (1,000 days): LEO Boost = 6.2 km/s; Braking into Orbit = 4.7 km/s; Landing = 2 km/s; Total = 12.9 km/s

Elliptical (500 days): LEO Boost = 7.2 km/s; Braking into Orbit = 8.4 km/s; Landing = 2 km/s; Total = 17.6 km/s

Parabolic (400 days): LEO Boost = 8.8 km/s; Braking into Orbit = 12.9 km/s; Landing = 2 km/s; Total = 23.7 km/s

UK begins next generation nuclear submarine construction and it will have all-electric magnet motor

The United Kingdom has started production on its new Successor-class ballistic missile submarines, the next generation of Trident-missile submarines.

The four new boats will be the largest submarines ever built for the Royal Navy—displacing 17,200 tons with a length of about 502ft—but they will only have 12 missile tubes rather than the 16 found onboard the current Vanguard-class. The new boomers will also share technology with their U.S. Navy counterparts—the Columbia-class Ohio Replacement Program SSBNs—using a common missile compartment (CMC) design. Once completed, the new boomers will enter service in the 2030s.

the 17,200-ton boats will be larger than their 15,900-ton Vanguard-class predecessors, the new SSBNs will carry four fewer missiles. Part of the reason for the vessels’ larger size is likely due to the need for enhanced stealth—larger submarines are inherently quieter. But it is also possible that the British have adopted an all-electric permanent magnet motor to drive the boat—similar to what is planned for the Columbia-class—for their new SSBNs, which might also account for the increased displacement.

The British submarines’ PWR-3 pressurized water reactor plant is thought to draw heavily upon the technology used on the U.S. Navy’s General Electric S9G reactor plant found onboard the Virginia-class attack submarines. However, the Columbia-class will have a newer 42-year life-of-the-boat reactor that is significantly more powerful than the S9G.

The Successors are already going to be sharing their CMC (Common Missile Compartment) modules with their Columbia-class counterparts

Watts Bar Unit 2 achieves commercial operation

Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Unit 2 successfully completed an extensive series of power ascension tests and reliably operated at full power for more than three weeks.

The $4.7 billion capital construction project was completed on budget. The unit now moves to working asset status.

Watts Bar Unit 2 has already provided consumers across the Valley with more than 500 million kilowatt/hours of carbon-free energy during testing. It now joins six other operating TVA nuclear units to supply more than one third of the region’s generating capacity, and meeting the electric needs of more than 4.5 million homes.

Watts Bar, Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear stations have also contributed to reducing TVA’s carbon emissions by 30 percent since 2005, a reduction that will rise to 60 percent by 2020.

Tesla Motors and Elon Musk will reveal a surprise product at 5pm PST

Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have a new product announcement at 5PM PST

It could be the second part of the Model 3's launch

The new, unknown, product will be followed by a solar roof and battery, which is being created by Tesla and one of Musk's other companies, SolarCity.

Proposed US defense budget suggests cutting the Ford aircraft carrier and B1 bombers for lasers, more submarines and more new B-21 stealth bombers

Center for New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, has put forward a proposed ten year military budget with more ships, more submarines, more readiness, more stealth aircraft and more emerging military technology (railguns, combat lasers) using a different allocation of resources.

• Restore readiness (flying hours, depot maintenance).
• Invest in emerging technologies (cyber, robotics, directed energy, human performance, etc.).
• Field a diverse high-low mix of forces to cover the full range of missions most effectively and efficiently

The three experts, Jerry Hendrix, Paul Scharre and Elbridge Colby, have instead put together a report that uses a notional budget that implements a 2 percent increase over the 2017 budget to shape the U.S. military for the next 10 years.

“We have a military that’s in great shape to defeat Saddam Hussein’s army from the first Gulf War,” Colby said, adding that the Pentagon has focused on smaller numbers but invested in more high-tech pieces of equipment with mixed success. Under the proposed budget, the Navy would increase from 272 to 345 ships over 10 years, and the Air Force would gain more than 120 aircraft.

To fix the current balance, Hendrix, Scharre and Colby’s report suggests that the Pentagon invest in what they call a “high-low mix.” This means that the Pentagon invests in both high-tech pieces of equipment, such as the yet-to-be built B-21 long-range bomber, but also buys low-cost single-engine prop planes such as the A-29 Super Tucano to deal with threats in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

To pay for this rebalancing, the report proposes canceling the Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier and America-class amphibious assault ship production lines. The Ford line is estimated to cost more than $40 billion for the three proposed carriers, and the first ship in the class has already encountered numerous construction delays. Also proposed in the report is a projected $55 billion in savings over 10 years by cutting 5 percent of the Pentagon’s civilian workforce and 8,000 contractors.

Their proposed budget would ensure that the Navy still has 10 carriers by the end of the decade; it’s just that the ships would have a new role, acting more as prepositioned operating bases around the world

Photos of China J-20 stealth fighter with camouflage paint as they move toward 2019 combat readiness and the start of full production

The Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group (CAC) is involved in preparation for some kind of aerial display involving the low-rate initial production (LRIP) J-20A. This included what was essentially a semiofficial ‘presentation’ of the J-20A with a flurry of news reports and images issued between September 30 and October 1. Four pre-production aircraft — two of them apparently in the new ‘tactical’ light gray with low-visibility markings as well as two more in yellow primer — performed a display over the factory at Chengdu on that occasion.

Seven pre-production aircraft have already been built and the first two examples have reportedly been delivered to a flight test center at either Cangzhou, or more likely, Dingxin air base.

The first front-line regiment is supposed to activate and receive aircraft by June 2017 and the J-20 is expected to be combat ready by 2018 or 2019. That milestone could be pushed forward, given the budget priority. The final requirement could be between 500 to 700.

October 18, 2016

Bendable electronic paper display can have ten thousand dots per inch of resolution and use ten times less power than a Kindle

New electronic paper is less than a micrometer thick, bendable and giving all the colors that a regular LED display does and needs ten times less energy than a Kindle tablet. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed the basis for a new electronic "paper".

When Chalmers researcher Andreas Dahlin and his PhD student Kunli Xiong were working on placing conductive polymers on nanostructures, they discovered that the combination would be perfectly suited to creating electronic displays as thin as paper. A year later the results were ready for publication.

“The ’paper’ is similar to the Kindle tablet", says Andreas Dahlin. "It isn’t lit up like a standard display, but rather reflects the external light which illuminates it. Therefore it works very well where there is bright light, such as out in the sun, in contrast to standard LED displays that work best in darkness. At the same time it needs only a tenth of the energy that a Kindle tablet uses, which itself uses much less energy than a tablet LED display”.

It all depends on the polymers’ ability to control how light is absorbed and reflected. The polymers that cover the whole surface lead the electric signals throughout the full display and create images in high resolution. The material is not yet ready for application, but the basis is there. The team has tested and built a few pixels. These use the same red, green and blue (RGB) colours that together can create all the colours in standard LED displays. The results so far have been positive, what remains now is to build pixels that cover an area as large as a display.

“We are working at a fundamental level but even so, the step to manufacturing a product out of it shouldn’t be too far away. What we need now are engineers”.

One obstacle today is that there is gold and silver in the display, which makes the manufacturing expensive.

“The gold surface [used in the new display] is 20 nanometers thick so there is not that much gold in it. But at present there is a lot of gold wasted in manufacturing it. Either we reduce the waste or we find another way to reduce the production cost”, says Andreas Dahlin.

Andreas Dahlin thinks the best application for the displays will be well-lit places such as outside or in public places to display information. This could reduce the energy consumption and at the same time replace signs and information screens that aren’t currently electronic today with more flexible ones.

Chalmers' e-paper contains gold, silver and PET plastic. The layer that produces the colours is less than a micrometre thin.
Credit: Mats Tiborn

Advanced Materials - Plasmonic Metasurfaces with Conjugated Polymers for Flexible Electronic Paper in Color

A flexible electronic paper in full color is realized by plasmonic metasurfaces with conjugated polymers. An ultrathin large-area electrochromic material is presented which provides high polarization-independent reflection, strong contrast, fast response time, and long-term stability. This technology opens up for new electronic readers and posters with ultralow power consumption.

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