Electrostatic chucks support and help cool silicon wafers during manufacturing. Conventional types use expensive, dielectric materials in the chuck's face that can introduce contaminants. Moreover, mechanical damage may result if the static-holding charge takes too long to discharge, as is often the case.
To lower costs, decrease cycle time, and generate less scrap, a new chuck face made of an easily produced, patterned silicon wafer, uses tiny, non-conductive silicon dioxide islands on its surface. These micromachined, non-conductive raised areas on the chuck face prevent excessive currents when the strong electric field is applied between the chuck face and the clamped wafer. Result: fast on/off cycling for quicker de-chucking.
Carl Seager, Sandia National Laboratories, (E) Albuquerque, NM 87185; (505) 844-9168.
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.
Biomedical engineering is one of the fastest growing engineering fields; from medical devices and pharmaceuticals to more cutting-edge areas like tissue, genetic, and neural engineering, US biomedical engineers (BMEs) boast salaries nearly double the annual mean wage and have faster than average job growth.
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