Ever lose data because your computer loses power? Chia-Ling Chien, a professor of physics at the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, may have a solution. He developed a new chromium dioxide material called "half-metallic ferromagnet" that could change the way computer memory works. Computer memory currently uses dynamic random access memory (DRAM). Chien's material enables a new technology called magnetic random access memory (MRAM), which he says will allow retention of data even when power is lost. "Capacitors in current memory systems leak and have to be refreshed to prevent data loss," says Chien. "MRAM relies on magnetic orientation. Loss of power would not mean a loss of the data it stores," he says. MRAM harnesses the power of the electron's spin, a characteristic that conventional electronic circuits do not use. Electronic spin and a material's magnetic property are linked. The new chromium dioxide material is 96% spin-polarized, meaning that nearly all electrons spin in the same orientation. The spin-polarized material is thought to be useful in electrodes, where controlling the magnetization makes the junction switch between high and low electrical resistance. For more information, go to www.pha.jhu.edu.
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
At IMTS last week, Stratasys introduced two new multi-materials PolyJet 3D printers, plus a new UV-resistant material for its FDM production 3D printers. They can be used in making jigs and fixtures, as well as prototypes and small runs of production parts.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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