Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found a way to grow aluminum nitride crystals large enough to slice into semiconductor substrates. The crystals can be used to make blue and ultraviolet lasers and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). "Semiconductor light sources have always been very attractive because of their ruggedness and economy," says Leo Schowalter, professor of physics at Rensselaer. "But the color of LEDs has been pretty much limited to red. Green and blue LEDs are also needed if we are to create traffic signals, automobile lighting, flat-screen TV sets, and other applications where long life and high efficiency are important." A Rensselaer researcher, Glen Slack, has demonstrated that you can grow aluminum nitride crystals in a tungsten crucible at 2,300C. However, at that temperature, the aluminum attacks the grain boundaries in the tungsten, and the crucible doesn't survive very long. Schowalter and Slack have now solved the problem and formed a company to make the aluminum nitride crystals. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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