Forget fuel cells. Plastics are where it's at for automotive innovations. The American Plastics Council (www.americanplasticscouncil.org) says the average North American car will have 142 kg of plastic by 2009, compared to 117 kg in 1999. Keep your eye out for: all-plastic radiators to accommodate lower and flatter front ends; integrated front ends where one plastic module will cover the first third of the vehicle; and snap-in interior instrument panels with molded-in electronics.
Researchers at the University of Maryland have achieved a first in lithium-ion battery science: the development of a successful lithium-based battery using one material for all three core components of a battery -- anode, cathode, and electrolyte.
The online Bar Steel Fatigue Database for automotive design engineers has been updated for the fifth time and now contains 134 iterations, or grade/process combinations. It provides better predictability for designing parts with long-term reliability and durability.
FPGAs use programmable fabric to create custom logic, but this flexibility comes at a cost -- usually around 10 times more silicon real estate and 10 times the power dissipation. Can we really claim any FPGA is low power?
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