Another busy month for us and the world of electronics. Here are some of the news items that caught our attention:
1. Better battery imaging paves way for renewable energy future
In a move that could improve the energy storage of everything from portable electronics to electric microgrids, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers have developed a novel X-ray imaging technique to visualize and study the electrochemical reactions in lithium-ion rechargeable batteries containing a new type of material, iron fluoride.
2. Electromagnetic theory breakthrough leads to ‘antennas on a chip’
The unravelling of one of the mysteries of electromagnetism could enable the design of antennas small enough to be integrated into an electronic chip, say researchers. One of the biggest bottlenecks to miniaturisation in modern electronics is the fact that antennas remain far larger than electronic circuits, so ultra-small antennas could transform wireless communications and have been called the ‘last frontier’ of semiconductor design. A Cambridge team teamed up with researchers from the National Physical Laboratory and Cambridge-based dielectric antenna company Antenova to experiment with thin films of piezoelectric materials, a type of insulator which is deformed or vibrated when voltage is applied. At a certain frequency the researchers found that these materials become not only efficient resonators, but efficient radiators as well, meaning that they can be used as aerials. The researchers determined that the reason for this phenomenon is due to breaking of the symmetry of the electric field associated with the electron acceleration. When electronic charges are not in motion, there is symmetry of the electric field.
3. 5th annual Internet of Things Day marked across the globe
Designed as an open invitation to the Internet of Things Community to participate in an event, host a hackathon, or just share a beer/coffee with a friend or fellow collaborator focused around the IoT and its implications. Here is a round up of what happened on the day.
4. Durham researchers explore evolutionary electronics
Carbon nanotube composites that can be trained to behave in a particular way could be used to replace conventional silicon-based transistors in some electronics applications according to a group of researchers from Durham University in the UK and the University of São Paulo-USP. The group’s work, reported in the Journal of Applied Physics, centres around the use of single-walled carbon nanotube composites (SWCNTs) as a material in ’unconventional’ computing. “Instead of creating circuits from arrays of discrete components (transistors in digital electronics), our work takes a random disordered material and then ‘trains’ the material to produce a desired output,” explained Mark K. Massey, research associate, School of Engineering and Computing Sciences at Durham University
5. Windows CE 6.0 Embedded OS wins out over rivals
In our reader poll as part of our look back at Windows Embedded, we can clearly see tha Windows CE 6.0 is a favourite among design engineers, with over 65% of votes. 2013, CE 7.0 and CE 5.0 all share 11% each of the remaining vote, while CE 4.X seems to be very unloved.