United Nations weapons inspectors could have an easier time in the future locating nuclear materials. Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln developed a fingertip-sized neutron detection device built around a boroncarbide semiconductor diode. The highly sensitive device can detect neutrons emitted by materials that fuel nuclear weapons. "This is a leapfrog technology in neutron detection," said Peter Dowben, UNL physicist who first fabricated a boron carbide semiconductor. Using Dowben's semiconductor, the research team built a detector about the size of one LEGO® block, which the researchers say is more efficient, lighter, and tougher than existing detectors. It can be powered with small batteries or even solar cells and can withstand corrosion and extremely high temperatures, says Brian Robertson, associate professor of mechanical engineering at UNL. The device could also be used to monitor nuclear weapons storage and other national security applications. Patents on the semiconductor process and the detector are pending. For more information, contact Brian Robertson at (402) 417-5054 or email@example.com.
Practically all electronic devices today contain metals that may
be coming from conflict-ravaged African countries. And political pressures will increasingly influence how these minerals are sourced and used in products.
Weaned on the relatively effortless connectivity of today’s massive variety of consumer electronic products, automation users in the IIoT will likely not tolerate too many competing, piecemeal standards for long. And the Industrial Internet Consortium is trying to preempt history.
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