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 email@example.com.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Advertised as the "Most Powerful Tablet Under $100," the Kindle Fire HD 6 was too tempting for the team at iFixit to pass up. Join us to find out if inexpensive means cheap, irreparable, or just down right economical. It's teardown time!
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