Building on the work of Japanese researchers, Scott Chambers and other scientists at Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL) think they have a better semiconducting material that one day will lead to faster computing speeds and better data storage. Understanding why the material is better requires an understanding of spintronics—the exploitation of an electron's spin for carrying information. Today's computers use an electron's charge for storing and processing information, which is limited by speed and storage density. Conversely, magnetic storage relies on properties created by an electron's spin. Harnessing the spin creates the possibility of creating new signal processing that could increase speed and data storage densities. What makes Chamber's work on semiconducting materials important is the material's magnetic properties. "Our material has superior magnetic strength," says Chambers. "It's an improvement of nearly a factor of five," he adds. One key to the new material, made from titanium, oxygen, and cobalt, is the technique PNNL scientists use for making it. The method uses atomic beams generated in a vacuum and then directed onto a crystalline surface of strontium titanium where the atoms condense and form a thin film. The magnetic properties were tested and validated by IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. PNNL has turned in an invention report and is pursuing a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. For more information, call (888) 375-7665 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Microchip recently released the 3D TouchPad, the first USB PC Peripheral device that couples 2D multi-touch input with 3D air gesture technology. The company seeks the help of developers to further enhance the capabilities of the technology.
To give engineers a better idea of the range of resins and polymers available as alternatives to other materials, this Technology Roundup presents several articles on engineering plastics that can do the job.
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.