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.
A middle school team from Rochester, Mich., has again nabbed the grand prize in the annual international Future City Competition, which drew students from 37 regions of the United States, as well as from England and China.
The word “smart” is becoming the dumbest word around. It has been applied to almost every device and system in our homes. In addition to smartphones and smart meters, we now hear about smart clothing and smart shoes, smart lights, smart homes, smart buildings, and every trendy city today has its smart city project. Just because it has a computer inside and is connected to the Web, does not mean it is smart.
Are you being paid enough? Do you want a better job? According to a recent survey Manpower released just before Engineers Week, employers and engineers don't see eye-to-eye about the state of US engineers' skills and experience.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.