X-rays without film. Fewer X-rays taken. Less radiation exposure. Real-time digital images that can be stored electronically or sent anywhere in the world via telecommunications systems. Such will be the change in X-ray technology with the large-scale, amorphous-silicon X-ray detectors developed by GE Medical Systems (Milwaukee, WI). Conventional X-ray film and chemicals are replaced with computer images and a large-format X-ray detector. Measuring up to 41 @ 41 cm in the active area, GE says these are the largest panels available anywhere. The immense format and high pixel density eliminate the need for optical image reduction. Each pixel delivers up to 16 bits of dynamic-range (contrast) information. Officials at GE predict this will revolutionize the way X-ray images are acquired, analyzed and shared. The manufacture of the detector starts with a pizza-box-size, glass-panel substrate. Photolithographic techniques create photodiodes by applying and patterning successive thin-film layers of silicon, metals, and insulators. A final layer of scintillator material, which converts X-ray photons to visible light, is applied over the array. EG&G (Santa Clara, CA) will have exclusive rights to manufacture the panels, available for medical applications by late 1998 or early 1999. Phone (408) 565-0850.
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
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?
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.