Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new type of magnetically-actuated microrelay they say can be batch-produced using established micromachining techniques. The developer predicts that the devices could have applications in automotive electronics, test equipment, and other areas where low actuation voltages are needed. The devices, smaller than a dime, operate at less than 5V, which would allow them to be driven by digital logic circuits, making them attractive for use in equipment for which higher voltages could be undesirable. The patent-pending devices' contact resistance of less than 100 milliohms and their ability to switch currents of up to 1.2A set a new record for microrelays, says William P. Taylor, their developer. He adds that the devices offer cost advantages over traditional relays, "because they can be produced in groups of a hundred or more at a time." The Georgia Tech microrelays have been tested through more than 850,000 operating cycles without failure. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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