Scientists with the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have confirmed the existence of atom-sized electronic devices on nanotubes, hollow cylinders of pure carbon about 50,000 times more narrow than a human hair in diameter. Nanotube devices have been predicted by theorists but this is the first demonstration that such devices actually exist. Alex Zettl, a physicist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division (MSD) and a professor of physics on the University of California's Berkeley campus, led a study in which nanotubes of pure carbon were shown to function as a two-terminal electronic device known as a diode. "What we are seeing is the world's smallest room-temperature rectifier, one that is only a handful of atoms in size," says Zettl. "When we grow nanotubes, electronic devices naturally form on them." Carbon nanotubes are created by heating ordinary carbon until it vaporizes, then allowing it to condense in a vacuum or an inert gas. Depending upon its diameter, a pure carbon nanotube can conduct an electrical current as if it were a metal, or it can act as a semiconductor. Zettl does not expect nanotubes to replace silicon overnight in the electronics industry but can see this as a possibility down the road. For more information, e-mail Lynn Yarris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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