The Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency are funding development of a new thermoelectric material at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) that responds 23,000 times faster than existing thermoelectric materials. "The secret is our use of alternating layers of bismuth and telluride antimony," says Rama Venkatasubramanian, the researcher who developed the material. "We made a super lattice where electrons flow freely, but thermal processes are inhibited." A thermoelectric module with just one square centimeter of the new material provides 700 watts of cooling under a temperature gradient of 58F, according to Venkatasubramanian. "This will almost certainly improve the performance and capability of many cooling and power-generation systems for Department of Defense applications," says Valerie Browning, program manager at DARPA's Defense Sciences Office. Anticipated applications for the thermoelectric material include fiber-optic switches, microprocessors, power electronics, laser devices, infrared imaging, and microelectrothermal systems. RTI is a non-profit research organization. Small "laboratory quantities" are available now. For more information, e-mail Venkatasubramanian at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.rti.org/units/es/csr/rama.cfm.
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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