Deborah Chung, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University at Buffalo (Buffalo, NY), discovered semiconducting behavior from an unusual source: a carbon composite. Her work endows structural materials with electronic capabilities without computer chips or electrical leads. Chung says, "We can use the structural material itself as the electronics." Made from carbon fibers embedded in a polymer matrix, the material would be easier and less expensive to fabricate than traditional silicon-based electronics, says Chung. According to the researcher, the process spreads electronic capabilities over a large surface area, therefore heat dissipation--now one of the biggest technological challenges facing electronic packaging--would no longer be a problem. Chung's work was presented at the International Symposium on Smart Structures and Materials in San Diego on March 4. Call (716) 645-3811.
Both traditional automation companies and startups are developing technologies to improve processes on the factory floor, while smart sensors and other IoT-related technologies are improving how products are handled during transport and across the supply chain.
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