Using chaos theory and an egg-shaped cavity, scientists from Yale University (New Haven, CT), Lucent Technologies Bell Labs (Murray Hill, NJ), and the Max Planck Institute of Physics (Dresden, Germany) developed semiconductor microlasers with more than 1,000 times the power of conventional, disk-shaped microlasers. These tiny energy sources are 0.05 mm in diameter, or as wide as human hair. The researchers say the experimental lasers could either be used to speed up voice, video, Internet, and other forms of communication that use fiber-optic networks or become the basis for entirely new networks. The discovery could allow manufacturers to build computers that would operate with light instead of electrons, with fiber optics replacing wiring. Instead of using the traditional circular laser cavity, Yale physicist A. Douglas Stone suggested changing the shape to an oval or egg. "If it's a circular cylinder, a lot of the laser beam gets wasted and doesn't get out at all," Stone says. Experiments showed that, above a critical deformation level, the light pulses would travel in a bow-tie pattern. They suffer less internal reflection and emit light in four narrow, controllable beams. An enormous increase in output power accompanies this change, Stone says. Each beam has an output of 10 mW, increasing the laser's total output to 40 mW, compared to 40 microwatts in the round cylinder. FAX: (203) 432-2207.
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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