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Tech-news archive: July-August 2009

Nanolasers offer super-tight focus
(Aug 31, 2009)

Laser beams are about to get a whole lot more precise. Independent teams have found ways to shrink lasers to nanoscale dimensions in two radically different ways; one creating a spherical laser device 44 nanometers in diameter, while the other can concentrate laser light into a gap just 5 nm across.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

flexible display using inorganic LEDs. Image: Science
Brighter idea for bendy displays
(Aug 21, 2009)

The technology behind giant video billboards can now be made into flexible and even transparent displays. These could be used to create brakelights that fit the curves of a car or medical diagnostics that envelop a patient like a blanket. It has been made possible by a new technique, outlined in Science, for manufacturing so-called inorganic LEDs.

Read more. Source: BBC

Gold nanoparticles (left) have been used to produce laser light (right). Images: Noginov, M. et al.
World's smallest laser unveiled
(Aug 17, 2009)

The world's smallest laser, contained in a silica sphere just 44 nanometres across, has been unveiled. At about 10 times smaller than the wavelength of light, however, this is no ordinary laser, it is the first ever 'spaser'. Whereas a laser amplifies light, using a mirrored cavity to intensify it, a spaser amplifies surface plasmons tiny oscillations in the density of free electrons on the surface of metals, which, in turn, produce light waves.

Read more. Source: Nature

quantum computer
Ditching binary will make quantum computers more powerful
(Aug 11, 2009)

Memo to the developers of superfast quantum computers: give up on the familiar 1s-and-0s binary system used in conventional computers. By switching to a novel five-state system, you will find it easier to build the staggeringly powerful machines. So claim Matthew Neeley and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Bacteria make computers look like pocket calculators
(Jul 28, 2009)

Computers are evolving – literally. While the tech world argues netbooks vs notebooks, synthetic biologists are leaving traditional computers behind altogether. A team of US scientists have engineered bacteria that could solve complex mathematical problems faster than anything made from silicon.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

presentation on Blue Brain Project. Image: TED / J. D. Davidson
Artificial brain '10 years away'
(Jul 23, 2009)

A detailed, functional artificial human brain can be built within the next 10 years, a leading scientist has claimed. Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project, has already simulated elements of a rat brain. He told the TED Global conference in Oxford that a synthetic human brain would be of particular use finding treatments for mental illnesses.

Read more. Source: BBC

Apple apps
Apps 'to be as big as internet'
(Jul 21, 2009)

The market for mobile applications, or apps, will become "as big as the internet", peaking at 10 million apps in 2020, a leading online store says. However, GetJar say, the developer community will decline drastically as each developer makes less money. According to the Symbian Foundation, newly in the developer market, apps will become more personal and practical as their numbers grow.

Read more. Source: BBC

Google Chrome logo
Google's new platform Chrome aims to show Microsoft's Windows the door
(Jul 9, 2009)

It is the technology industry's equivalent of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object. Google, the web upstart founded 11 years ago, has announced it will go head-to-head with Microsoft with an operating system (OS) – the programs that make a computer work – for machines ranging from handhelds up to desktop computers.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

This experimental set-up was used to show that it is possible to make a transistor that acts using laser beams, not electric currents. Image: Martin Pototschnig
Laser light switch could leave transistors in the shade
(Jul 2, 2009)

An optical transistor that uses one laser beam to control another could form the heart of a future generation of ultrafast light-based computers, say Swiss researchers. Conventional computers are based on transistors, which allow one electrode to control the current moving through the device and are combined to form logic gates and processors. The new component achieves the same thing, but for laser beams, not electric currents.

Read more. Source: New Scientist


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