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Tech-news archive: January-February 2009

advanced chips
Computer components shrinking faster than predicted
(Feb 22, 2009)

For more than 40 years, computer processors have increased in power and shrunk in size at a tremendous rate. But engineers are approaching the point where there is not much more to be gained from tweaking the traditional ways of making those components. However, advanced new forms of transistors and memory unveiled this week could develop into products that keep that growth from tailing off.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Cells growing on a silicon chip
Computer chips may 'repair' nerve
(Feb 4, 2009)

Researchers have moved closer to making silicon chips which could one day be used to repair damaged tissue in the human body. Edinburgh University has developed a technique, which allows neurons to grow in fine, detailed patterns on the surface of tiny computer chips. Neurons are the basic cells of the human nervous system.

Read more. Source: BBC

Carbon molecules in graphene. Image credit: Science
Organic computing takes a step closer
(Jan 30, 2009)

Computer processors may soon have one fundamental aspect in common with their owners – a structure composed largely of carbon, rather than silicon. Graphene, carbon arranged in atom-thick sheets, is already known to be an excellent conductor, but electronics requires the ability to insulate too, as well as electrical properties in between those two extremes. Now research has shown that the material can be easily modified to act as an insulator, paving the way for efficient all-carbon electronics.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

The arrangement of carbon monoxide molecules (dark red on yellow background) helps the electron 'ripples' to form the letters 'S' and 'U'. Image: Nature Nanotechnology
World's smallest lettering created with molecular projector
(Jan 26, 2009)

You could be forgiven for not reading the small print just produced by physicists at Stanford University. Their letters equal the record for the smallest ever made, at just 1.5 nanometres tall. The new letters are around a third of the size of the atomic letters made in 1990 by Donald Eigler and Erhard Schweizer at IBM.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Proteus motor
Tiny motor could power artery-cruising robots
(Jan 21, 2009)

Surgical instruments have been shrinking for years as keyhole surgery has become the norm for many operations. Now a new tiny mechanical motor could help continue this miniaturisation process by powering surgical robots small enough to freely roam the body.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Bendy gadget future for graphene
(Jan 15, 2009)

A remarkable material called graphene could soon be used to make flexible and transparent high-speed electronics, researchers say. Graphene's incredible mechanical and electronic properties are well known, but it is difficult to make in bulk. It consists of one-atom-thick layers of carbon atoms arranged in hexagons.

Read more. Source: BBC

algal biofuel
First flight of algae-fuelled jet
(Jan 12, 2009)

A US airline has completed the first test flight of a plane partly powered by biofuel derived from algae. The 90-minute flight by a Continental Boeing 737-800 went better than expected, a spokesperson said. One of its engines was powered by a 50-50 blend of biofuel and normal aircraft fuel.

Read more. Source: BBC

Palm Pre smartphone
Palm unveils smartphone at show
(Jan 9, 2009)

Handheld computing veteran Palm has unveiled its Pre smartphone at CES. The touchscreen handset runs a web-centric operating system that aims to help people organise and manage their many online contacts and identities. The device is widely seen as a competitor to rival smartphones such as the iPhone, Blackberry, N97 and G1.

Read more. Source: BBC


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