It seems like we're constantly hearing about promising battery technologies that could ultimately lead to longer battery life, more power, and smaller units, but as of yet, that big breakthrough hasn't occurred. Maybe nanotechnology, which is the current hot topic in the battery innovations field, will prove to be different.
Right at this moment, a ton of research is being put into carbon nanotubes (CNTs) for a bunch of uses, including electronics and batteries. Researchers are drawn to CNTs because, according to them, carbon nanotubes are near perfect. That has paved the way for a professor and a UC San Diego graduate student to discover a breakthrough that involves introducing purposeful defects into CNT structures. By doing so, the 'defective' CNTs actually work better for the development of super capacitors, DailyTech reports.
"While batteries have large storage capacity, they take a long time to charge; while electrostatic capacitors can charge quickly but typically have limited capacity. However, super capacitors electrochemical capacitors incorporate the advantages of both," Professor Prabhakar Bandaru said.
The duo also discovered that other methods, such as bombarding CNTs with argon or hydrogen, could also increase or decrease the charge capacity. In the end, the two researchers believe that their discovery could ultimately lead to electronics that charge faster and last longer than what's available today.
Christine Lindberg, a Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s U.S. dictionary program says the word “has both currency and potential longevity. Lindberg notes “most “un-” prefixed words are adjectives (unacceptable, unpleasant), and there are certainly some familiar “un-” verbs (uncap, unpack), but “unfriend” is different from the norm. It assumes a verb sense of “friend” that is really not used (at least not since maybe the 17th century!).” Unable to resist the pun, Lindberg adds: “Unfriend has real lex-appeal.”
Other new technology-generated words in competition for the award were “hashtag,” “intexticated,” “netbook,” “paywall,” and “sexting.”
So much in life is unknowable. Will the economy rebound? Hard to say. Will oil prices skyrocket? Maybe, maybe not. Will Brangelina add to their brood? Frankly, we don’t care. But one thing’s for sure: Technology is ever-changing and each year guarantees new advances for the PC user.
As we do every year around this time, we got on the horn with our industry contacts—experts in their respective fields—and pressed them for details about what new and exciting hardware power users can look forward to in 2010. Some of what we learned was expected (SATA speeds will double), some came from out of left field (six 30-inch panels on a single videocard?!), and some just plain make sense (like a Nehalem chip for the masses).
Read on to find out how your personal computing landscape stands to be altered in the year ahead.
We've been hearing about optical computing and quantum computers for some time now, but for the most part, it's been theoretical talk and 'gee-whiz wouldn't that be cool?' chatter. No longer the case, an optical computer has performed its first ever calculation.
The calculation in question consisted of finding the prime factors of 15. It did this by coupling four photons into and out of the chip using optical fibres. The photons carried the input for the calculation and then implemented a quantum program called Shor's algorithm to complete and output the answer (3 and 5, if you're playing along at home). That might not sound very impressive, but it marks a significant step towards creating a quantum computer.
"This task could be done much faster by any school kid, but this is a really important proof-of-principle demonstration," said PhD student Alberto Politi from the University of Bristol.
As we get ready to put 2009 in our rear view mirror, so too will we look back at power cords as a thing of the past. Or at least that's how Eric Blier, CEO of WiTricity, predicts the near future. According to Glier, laptops, phones, and other electronic devices will start operating without a power cord within a year, and be mainstream not long afterward.
"Five years from now, this will seem completely normal," Glier said.
We've already seen wireless pads and other similar de-tethering contraptions, but Glier, whose company is a spin-off of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research group, is hard at work on a technology called "magnetically coupled resonance." Put simply, this technology sends a magnetic field through the air at a specific frequency, which is then received by a compatible phone or other electronic device and turned back into electricity.
Glier says the technology won't significantly impact the price of MP3 players and other affordable gadgets, and the environmental benefits are pretty straightforward. But what health risks might be involved are yet to be seen.
Remember when virtual reality was the hottest concept on the tech block? These days, augmented reality has become the new go-to fad for future tech talk, and even BMW is getting in on the action. Researchers for the German automobile manufacturer have developed a pair of augmented reality glasses designed to "assist BMW Service staff in their highly demanding technical work."
We'll admit the concept seems cool enough, but there's also something unsettling about a mechanic donning a pair of augmented tech-specs and being fed step-by-step instructions as he pokes around under the hood. We'd feel the same way if we spied a 'Car Repair for Dummies' book sitting in the Service center garage.
Back in April we reported on new legislation which, if passed, would give the president the authority to take control of the Internet. Over four months later it appears that not only has this bill continued to be worked on, but it is now closer to fruition than ever before. Revisions to the legislation made by the office of Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, remains “vague” according to Larry Clinton, president of the Internet Security Alliance. “It is unclear what authority Sen. Rockefeller thinks is necessary over the private sector. Unless this is clarified, we cannot properly analyze, let alone support the bill.
The legislation which is now up to 55 pages in length isn’t all controversial, in fact the only section that is being hotly debated at the moment is Section 201. In this section the President is permitted to “direct the nations response to the cyber threat” if necessary for “the national defense and security.” This would allow the White House to engage in “periodic mapping” of private networks that are determined to be critical, and those companies will “share” requested information with the federal government. In plain English, this simply means that if your company is deemed “critical”, regulations determine who you can hire, what information you can disclose, and under what conditions the government can take control over your companies computers or network.
“The language has changed but it doesn’t contain any real additional limits,” according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It simply switches the more direct and obvious language they had originally to the more ambiguous version. The designation of what is a critical infrastructure system or network as far as I can tell has no specific process”.
Want to read the official White House response to all the controversy? Click the jump to read the statement made to CNET’s Declan McCullagh.
Don't worry about your swank new motherboard soon being outdated by new models boasting PCI-E 3.0 support, the new specification is running into some unexpected snags, Fudzilla reports.
The main issue boils down to backwards compatibility and getting the PCI-E 3.0 specification to play nice with current PCI-E standards. Before the third gen PCI-E can get a stamp of approval, PCI SIG needs to verify products in the lab, and this is taking longer than expected.
"In this particular case, with pushing the technology so hard, and with PCI gen 3 providing so much more capabilities but with the need to be still backwards-compatible, we had to do the diligence required to move the date," said Al Yanes, president of PCI SIG.
The PCI-E 3.0- specification was originally supposed to be released this year, but now it looks like the second quarter of 2010 at the earliest. This would push shipments of products based on the new spec to 2011.
Still getting up off the couch to plug your iPod and other mobile gadgets into an outlet so they can recharge? Pfft - real couch potatoes juice up their devices wirelessly, with the newest way to do so being Duracell's new myGrid charging pad.
If Duracell's myGrid looks oddly familiar, it's because WildCharge has a similar device on the market called the Wire-Free. Like the Wire-Free, the myGrid is stupid-easy to use. Just plug the pad into your wall and drop your power-hungry devices onto the pad, up to four at a time.
Duracell boasts compatibility with a number of mobile devices, including the iPod Touch, iPhone 3G, both the Blackberry Pearl and Curve, and several Motorola and Nokia devices.
Imagine a microchip with the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen and absolutely no propensity towards disease. Now get that picture out of your head because it has nothing to do with what IBM is experimenting with.
IBM is, however, playing around with artificial DNA nanostructures, or "DNA origami," as a way to develop even smaller chips at cheaper prices, according to a paper published on Sunday in the journal of Nature Nanotechnology.
"This is the first demonstration of using biological molecules to help with processing in the semiconductor industry," IBM research manager Spike Narayan said in an interview with Reuters. "Basically, this is telling us that biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes."
Narayan went on to say that if the DNA origami process scales to production level, manufacturers could look at spending less than a million dollars on polymers, DNA solutions, and heating implements, rather than hundreds of millions of dollars on complex tools.
Sounds great, but the technology is still a ways off. It will be take at least another decade of experimentation and testing, Narayan says.