• GE metal process improves MEMS RF switches

     General Electric's research labs have developed a MEMS RF switch that can be engineered to handle up to 1kW or scaled to provide up to provide less than 0.3dB of insertion loss carrying 3GHz signals.
  • UK universities replace magnetics lab with bench-top test

    Super-fast laser sensing has allowed UK researchers to study semiconductors without a magnetics lab. The work will feed into University of Cambridge research on AlGaN/GaN HEMTs (high electron mobility transistors). 30T magnetic coil at the heart of the system, developed by Professor Hiroyuki Nojiri at Tohoku University (see below) The test in question is cyclotron ...
    UK universities replace magnetics lab with bench-top test
  • Up in the air: A week in aerospace

    Andrew WadeSenior reporterAs our readers will know, The Engineer is a very broad church that tries to cover all branches of the vast engineering expanse, from automotive and energy, to chemical and marine. Nonetheless, every once in a while we have a week where one sector tends to dominate. For me this week that sector was aerospace, and there were no complaints coming from my direction.
    Aerospace is perhaps engineering’s sexiest façade, the manifestation of humanity’s seemin
  • UK team develops smartphone-based in-vitro test system

    Technology embedded in smartphones is being exploited to develop an in vitro diagnostic testing solution that bridges the gap between multi-step manual lab tests and automated test-specific readers.
    The user adds a sample and positions the transparent test cartridge on the smartphone touchscreen. The phone app then confirms the correct positioning, starts the test and prompts the user to carry out specific actions42 Technology’s invi concept – an app that works in tandem with a smart
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  • Surface absorbs 98% of photons

    Australian researchers have increased photon absorption in a semiconductor to almost 99%, according to the University of Sydney. The absorber is a sub-wavelength thin-film semiconductor, and no complex nano-structures, meta-materials, exotic materials or difficult-to-create metal-non-metal combinations have been used. When light falls on a thin film etched with narrow grooves, light is directed sideways and ...
    Surface absorbs 98% of photons
  • May 1915: The Gretna Rail Disaster

    This month The Engineer looks back to a very dark day in British history, and the worst rail disaster the UK has ever suffered.
    On 22 May 1915, five separate trains were involved in a devastating crash at the Quintinshill signal box near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland.
    Gretna Green was the UK’s worst ever rail disasterThe collisions and subsequent fire resulted in the loss of at least 226 lives, although a definitive number of victims has never been established.
    “The Gretna
  • Perovskite solar cells yield another secret

    A source of loss in Perovskite solar cells could disappear following the decoding of a mechanism that heals defects in the crystal lattice. Organic-inorganic metal halide perovskite solar materials are rapidly catching silicon in efficiency, and are showing promise as a mass produceable large scale technology. However, a lot of issues remain to be solved, ...
    Perovskite solar cells yield another secret
  • SEMI book-to-bill continues positive

    The SEMI book-to-bill for April was 1:10, down from March’s 1:15. April orders were $1.59 billion – 15.6% higher than March’s $1.38 billion, and 1.3% higher than April’s $1.57 billion. April billings were $1.46 billion – 21.5% higher than March’s $1.20 billion, and is 4% lower than April’s $1.52 billion. “Bookings reached their highest levels ...
    SEMI book-to-bill continues positive
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  • NASA builds James Webb space telescope

    James Webb Space Telescope assembly passed a critical step as NASA hoisted in the instrument package – the cameras and spectrographs that will record light from the huge golden mirror. So critical was this part of construction – the load is heavy, delicate, and had to be lowered into a confined box – that prior to ...
    NASA builds James Webb space telescope
  • Rolls-Royce provide thrust for Benetti mega-yachts

    Lighter, more environmentally-friendly yachts are under construction, thanks to a new carbon fibre steerable thruster developed by Rolls-Royce.The company has signed an agreement with Italian yacht maker Benetti to produce the lightweight thrusters, which are built using advanced carbon fibre epoxy composites in load carrying parts, for use in its megayachts.
    The new thruster, known as the Azipull Carbon 65, has high propulsion efficiency, is easy to maintain, and provides good manoeuvrability.
  • Project aims to expand range of materials for 3D printing

    The range of materials used in 3D printing could be expanded dramatically by a UK project aiming to create a library of new formulations.
    Researchers at Nottingham University, led by Prof Ricky Wildman, have been awarded a £3.5m grant by EPSRC to investigate the formulation of new 3D printing materials. As part of the project, they will also establish a series of libraries listing the combinations of materials that could be used by industry in different printing techniques.
    The project, on
  • Internet addiction and school burnout feed each other

    Excessive internet use contributes to the development of school burnout. School burnout, in turn, may lead to excessive internet use or digital addiction, according to research by the Academy of Finland. The findings show that, via school burnout, adolescents’ excessive internet use can ultimately lead to depression. Exposure to digital addiction is most likely to ...
    Internet addiction and school burnout feed each other
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  • Liquid catalysts boost efficiency of lithium-air batteries

    Texas researchers have created a liquid catalyst for lithium-air batteries, perhaps bringing this weight-saving technology nearer, writes Steve Bush. “There’s huge promise in lithium-air batteries. However, despite the research being done by groups all over the world, those promises are not being delivered in real life,” said professor Kyeongjae Cho. “Our collaboration team has demonstrated ...
    Liquid catalysts boost efficiency of lithium-air batteries
  • 10 design steps to IoT heaven

    IoT devices come in all shapes and sizes, so this is wireless connected product design in 10 steps, writes David Griffin The internet of things (IoT) promises a huge range of possibilities from industrial asset tracking to agricultural monitoring, from home security to chronic disease monitoring.  Some IoT products are complements to existing businesses, others ...
    10 design steps to IoT heaven
  • Successor to Hubble telescope is going well, says NASA

    NASA has installed the instrument package into the James Webb Space Telescope. Consisting of cameras and spectrographs, it will record light from the telescope’s huge golden mirror, once it is in orbit. “This is a tremendous accomplishment for our worldwide team,” said project scientist John Mather. “There are vital instruments in this package from Europe ...
    Successor to Hubble telescope is going well, says NASA
  • UK tech startup claims “world first” with air traffic control system for drones.

    Cloud based software that offers real-time air traffic control for drones, could help address the growing safety concerns prompted by recent “near-misses” its developers have claimed.
    Airspace Alerts, designed by software engineers at UK startup Altitude Angel, enables drone operators to specify ‘alert regions’ that the firm’s cloud platform monitors in real-time for low-flying manned aircraft, proactively sending a push notification via email or SMS to the drone op
  • ITF2016: Infineon CEO looks to progressive integration

    “Is this the end of the the semiconductor success story?” asked Infineon CEO Reinhard Ploss at ITF2016 in Brussels this week. “”As Moore’s Law is stalling an overall system optimisation is required to achieve further value-add,” argued Ploss. “The physical limits may be pushed further but commercial limits provide a hard ceiling,” said Ploss, adding ...
    ITF2016: Infineon CEO looks to progressive integration
  • Take a break: RoboBee saves energy with ability to perch

    This week’s video comes from the US where an energy saving technique from the natural world is being applied to microrobotics.This is the aim of experts at Harvard University who have equipped their RoboBee with the ability to perch using an electrode patch and a foam mount that absorbs shock.
    When the electrode patch is supplied with a charge, it can stick to surfaces that include glass, wood and leaves. To detach, the power supply is switched off.
    The patch is said to require around 1000
  • Student-designed walking stick could aid Parkinson’s patients

    A product design technology graduate has developed a ‘smart’ walking stick that could help increase the mobility of Parkinson’s sufferers.
    Neha Shahid Chaudhry was inspired to create Walk to Beat after seeing her late grandfather struggle with the disease. The device uses a sensor to detect when a user’s limbs have frozen, then prompts him or her to continue walking via a small vibration in the handle that helps reestablish rhythm.“People with Parkinson’s get
  • New instrument set to boost semiconductor research

    Researchers have developed a table-top instrument that obtains measurements more normally acquired in national high magnetic field laboratories.
    The advance means that research into the development of next generation electronic devices employing 2D materials can now be done at most research universities.
    Dr Darren Graham and a team of researchers from Manchester University’s Photon Science Institute collaborated with colleagues from Cambridge University and industry partners from Germany t
  • New report claims CCS costs can fall with existing technology

    Carbon capture and storage (CCS) costs in the UK could be reduced by up to 45 per cent using existing technologies, according to a new report.
    The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) says that by co-locating demonstration projects and harnessing economies of scale, initial cost reductions could be achieved without creating new CCS technology. Ac
  • More on: TI’s unique 10MHz dc-dc topology

    Texas Instruments has unveiled a dc-dc topology, for which it is claiming industry’s highest current density: 50A/cm3, for a 12V 10A 10MHz converter. The target was to shrink a high-current dc-dc converter; and the best known path to small size is to increase switching frequency to reduce the need for large inductors and capacitors. However, ...
    More on: TI’s unique 10MHz dc-dc topology
  • Teaching of computing in schools faces big changes

    The Royal Society is commissioning a study to understand the challenges faced by teachers delivering computing and computer science and share best practice which can be adopted more widely. Professor Stephen Furber (right), from the School of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, will lead the research study which is part of a wider  ...
    Teaching of computing in schools faces big changes
  • ITF2016: Globalfoundries goes for process leadership

    GlobalFoundries is aiming to take industry process technology leadership at the 7nm node. One step in that direction is a 60% shrink in the 14nm to 7nm transition, Gary Patton, the company’s CTO and svp for R&D, told EW. Asked by EW how this was achieved, Patton replied: “We’re shrinking the pitches pretty aggressively.” For ...
    ITF2016: Globalfoundries goes for process leadership
  • Freedom of movement: researchers track proton mobility to improve conductivity in new material

    More efficient fuel cells for transportation could be developed thanks to efforts to investigate the movement of charge through a new type of material.
    Researchers at Manchester and Nottingham Universities have mapped the structure of the material, known as a metal-organic framework, or MOF, and how charge flows through it.
    The performance of polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, used in transportation, depends on the efficiency of the electrolyte material at their centre, which controls the
  • ITF2016: Learning curve goes on when Moore’s Law ends

    The semiconductor learning curve is one of the most perfect curves ever devised, Mentor CEO Wally Rhines told this week’s ITF2016 in Brussels, and even if Moore’s Law ends, as it must one day, the learning curve will live on. Adjusted for inflation, the curve has been consistent for 40 years, said Rhines, and the ...
    ITF2016: Learning curve goes on when Moore’s Law ends
  • ITF2016: Imec, Barco Silex seek IoT security

    Imec, Holst Centre and Barco Silex are to collaborate to implement data security into sensors for wearables and IoT. Trust is key for a broad adoption. The smart society can only become a reality when the sensor technology is trusted by their users and the privacy of the users’ data is guaranteed at all time. ...
    ITF2016: Imec, Barco Silex seek IoT security
  • ITF2016: Imec and Solliance present first semi-transparent perovskite PV-module

    Imec and its partner Solliance, presented today the first-ever semi-transparent perovskite PV-module, achieving power conversion efficiencies up to 12%. The technology enables for semi- transparent PV-windows which are a key towards Zero-Energy Buildings. Moreover, combining these semitransparent perovskite modules with Si solar cells, an unprecedented 20.2% in power conversion efficiency for a perovskite/Si stacked solar ...
    ITF2016: Imec and Solliance present first semi-transparent perovskite
  • Schneider Electric reveals competition semi-finalists

    Semi-finalists have been chosen by Schneider Electric for its Go Green in the City challenge, a global student competition that focuses on energy management.
    Set up in 2011, the contest aims to provide business and engineering students (second-year undergraduate or higher) with an opportunity to showcase innovative ideas for smarter cities. Participants must develop a viable energy management solution to one of the critical challenges faced by cities, homes, universities, the retail sector, hosp
  • “World’s most intelligent prosthetic leg” nominated for MacRobert Award

    A robotic limb equipped with knee and ankle joints that constantly “talk” to each other, allowing the leg to adapt to its environment, has been nominated for the 2016 MacRobert Award.
    World’s most intelligent prosthetic legThe prosthetic limb, known as the Linx, is one of three finalists for the £50,000 prize, awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering.
    The Linx, developed by Basingstoke-based prosthetics specialist Blatchford, is the first limb to be equipped with integ

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