Bringing T-Rays to the public
The time-domain, terahertz T-Ray™ System may sound like something out of a Star Trek episode, but the technology, initially developed at Lucent Technologies, Bell Labs, and subsequently transferred to Picometrix Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI), exists and may soon be commercialized. Terahertz instruments use short laser pulses, each lasting only 100 femtoseconds (10-15), to generate, detect, and measure electromagnetic pulses or T-Rays, each lasting a picosecond (10-12). T-Ray technology has a variety of potential applications including quality control, materials inspection, fault detection, moisture sensing and control, package inspection, biomedical imaging, chemical reaction analysis, and environmental and pollution control. Picometrix, using the Vitesse™ laser from Coherent Inc. Laser Group (Santa Clara, CA) as the femtosecond optical excitation source, developed a T-Ray System with up to 2-THz bandwidth in a fiber-pigtailed transceiver configuration. A prototype system was demonstrated at Photonics West in January. FAX: (734) 998-3474.
Move over Super Glue®, here comes 'mussel' power!
The U.S. Military needed a waterproof adhesive, so scientists turned to the sea. To sea creatures to be more exact. Researchers at the Department of Energy Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) are attempting to clone the genes of mussels through DNA technology. The "feet" of the small mollusks produce an epoxy with adhesive-like properties that rivals any "super" glue on the market. The sea creatures produce a viscous liquid that dries in about a minute. It is this liquid or attachment threads called "byssal threads" that allows them to anchor on rocks and pilings in turbulent areas. Such a natural adhesive is pertinent to the Navy and the marine industry because seawater breaks down even the strongest of conventional adhesives. Other applications include use in the building industry, dental, and medical disciplines. It takes about 10,000 mussels or mollusks to produce just one gram of adhesive, however. The INEEL, in collaboration with scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, is identifying five proteins that go into the thread makeup that constitutes the "glue." Cloning will allow researchers to economically produce large quantities of the adhesive protein. Another advantage of the sea glue is that it doesn't require high temperatures to activate its cementing qualities as do other conventional waterproof glues. Call: (208) 526-7785 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plasma engine powers large screen displays
In an attempt to take the traveler's mind off time wasted while waiting for a delayed flight, many airports have installed large information screens that run news clips and the latest weather conditions. And many more will be installed in the future, not only in airports, but also in train stations, banks, department stores, and conference rooms. To address this growing market, MiTAC Industrial Corp. (Taipei, Taiwan), manufacturer of industrial computers and components, recently joined forces with NEC to develop a special plasma engine, the MPE-101N. Designed for NEC's new 42- and 50-inch plasma screens, this is the first solution for plasma displays to support core controlling features, say company officials. MPE-101N weighs less than 10 lbs (4.5 kg) and can be easily installed either inside or outside the NEC display. To support 16:9 resolution of both horizontal and vertical display, the device incorporates a multi-media computer system, which includes a MiTAC-designed Pentium Embedded CPU card with Audio/LAN/VGA. For convenient control, all the cable connections are located at the front bezel. A watchdog timer prevents system lock-up. Full production runs will begin at the end of October. FAX: (510) 656·2669.
Reconfiguring field programmable gate array devices
Reconfigurable field programmable gate array (FPGA) devices...try to say that five times fast! Xilinx Inc. (San Jose, CA) hopes to make them easier to reprogram if not to pronounce. The company received a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop a suite of tools that can be used to create applications that can reconfigure FPGA-based hardware during runtime when a deployed system is operating. Xilinx is working with Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Blacksburg, VA) on the two-year, joint research and development project. The foundation for the tools will be the Xilinx® JBits Application Programming Interface (API) that allows application designers to specify all details about FPGA routing and logic resources in JAVA. The primary goal of the R&D effort will be to raise the level abstraction so that reconfigurable FPGA designs can be performed by a wider range of developers, including software programmers. Call: (512) 671-9654 or e-mail: email@example.com.