Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2016/07/atomic-scale-data-one-dimensional.html
Atomic scale data, MRI enhancements, One dimensional transistors, Modular chiplets, Fast consumer drones, Synbio computers, Detailed brain map, Tactile intelligence, Placenta on chip, Injectable biosensors.
1. Writing Data Atom by Atom
A scanning tunneling microscope has been used to produce re-writable data storage by positioning arrays of individual chlorine atoms in one of two defined positions (representing 0 or 1) http://www.tudelft.nl/en/current/latest-news/article/detail/kleinste-harddisk-ooit-schrijft-informatie-atoom-voor-atoom/. The prototype successfully stored 1 kilobyte of data or 8,000 bits on a copper surface, and achieved a storage density of 500 Terabits per square inch. The array is organised into blocks of 64 bits but requires very clean vacuum conditions and liquid nitrogen temperatures to work. Still, a very impressive proof of concept.
2. Advances in Imaging Technology
First, new nuclear magnetic resonance microscope comprises a very thin wire connected to a tiny magnetic ball is able to achieve an imaging resolution of less than 10nm, a 100-million fold improvement in the volume resolution of bulk NMR http://www.physics.leidenuniv.nl/index.php?id=11573&news=931&type=LION&ln=EN. Second, a new technique for energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy is now claiming subatomic resolution and the ability to obtain clear images of electron orbitals within an atom https://www.tuwien.ac.at/en/news/news_detail/article/10225/ . . . which is a headline I never expected to see for a long time to come. Finally, manipulation of plasmonics on surfaces now allow optical microscopes to perform like electron microscopes with 65nm resolution http://spectrum.ieee.org/nanoclast/biomedical/imaging/plasmonics-enable-optical-microscopes-to-perform-like-electron-microscopes.
3. One-Dimensional Transistors
By studying two-dimensional atomically-thin transistors made out of molybdenum disulfide a group has discovered that just the edges of the device, which are essentially one-dimensional, might be used as a transistor http://news.utexas.edu/2016/07/18/scientists-glimpse-inner-workings-of-atom-thin-transistors. The current flowing through the device starts first (at very low voltages) by flowing along the edge, and only leaks into the middle of the device as the voltage is boosted to much higher levels; by making purer, defect-free devices the edges should be able to carry the entire current - meaning the bulk of the device isn’t needed and transistor switching requiring much lower power.
4. DARPA’s Modular Chiplets
A new DARPA program aims to reimagine the standard printed circuit board as a modular integrated platform that not only allows further miniaturisation and speed improvements, but also provides standard lego-like size and architecture specifications for which specialised chiplets are able to be dropped into in order to perform some desired electronic or computational function http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/tiling-chiplets-will-be-used-to-shrink.html. I think of this as Project Ara for integrated circuits: instead of swapping mobile phone components into a standard platform, this program will allow the rapid design of complete circuits with chiplets for sensing, processing, memory, ASICs, GPUs, antennas, signal processors, etc, all while getting around the main limitations of PCBs.
5. New Drone Tops 70mph
A new consumer quadcopter drone called Teal is set to become the fastest available with a top speed of 70mph and stability in winds up to 40mph http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/fastest-commercial-production-drone.html. Boasting a teraFLOP of onboard processing power for machine learning, autonomous flying, image recognition, the group hope to include obstacle avoidance in the near future. The GPS system on board enables 50cm positional accuracy. Of interest: Teal is designed to enable programmers to easily create Apps that make use of or control Teal. Also included this week due to the comment discussion on the linked page - worth a read and serious consideration.
6. Synthetic Biology Programs Compute Stimuli
Another important step in the development of synthetic biology, cells can now be programmed to remember and respond to a series of events http://news.mit.edu/2016/biological-circuit-cells-remember-respond-stimuli-0721. This is a scalable system with the proof-of-concept creating cells that can remember the correct order of three different inputs, and which might allow the recording of complex cell histories. These are like biological state machines. “These recombinase-based state machines open up the possibility of cells being engineered to become recorders of temporal information about their environment, and they can be built to lead the cells to take actions in response to the appropriate string of inputs.”
7. Most Detailed Brain Map Ever
A new MRI measurement study, part of the Human Connectome Project, and using scans of 210 different healthy human brains has produced the most accurate cortical brain map ever http://www.nature.com/news/human-brain-mapped-in-unprecedented-detail-1.20285. The map identifies 180 distinctly different areas of the cortex, which include 83 previously reported brain areas and 97 new ones. The scans themselves collected data across a range of variables including cortical thickness, brain function, regional connectivity, cellular topographic organisation, and levels of myelin and it was well defined differences between this factors that helped delineate one area from another.
8. Tactile Intelligence and Robotic Grasping
This is a good overview of the state of the art and future developments expected for robotic grasping facilitated by tactile intelligence rather than vision and various visual-grasping intelligence approaches http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/robotics-hardware/why-tactile-intelligence-is-the-future-of-robotic-grasping. After discussing some of the shortfalls of focusing exclusively on vision for grasping we get a presentation of the new CoRo Lab tactile grasping system that combines a robotic hand, UR 10 arm, multimodal tactile sensors, and a kinect for initial targeting that can predict grasp failure 83% of the time and predict object slippage 92% of the time. Both are complex and are facilitated by unsupervised machine learning algorithms that learn over many trials what signal features are important. Such a system would also be very applicable to prosthetics.
9. Placenta on a Chip
Continuing the development of organ-on-microfluidic chip technology we now have a very basic placenta on a microfluidic chip that fully models the transport of nutrients across the placental barrier https://news.upenn.edu/news/penn-researchers-develop-placenta-chip. While this and other organ on chip systems are initially being developed as research and drug development tools, with thoughts of future advances enabling artificial organs, in this case such an artificial placenta hints at the future ability to build artificial wombs. In related reproductive health advances menopause can now be reversed to restore periods and produce viable eggs https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23130833-100-menopause-reversal-restores-periods-and-produces-fertile-eggs/.
10. Injectable Biosensors & Oxygen
A couple of interesting injectable treatments or enhancement technologies this week. First, a DARPA sponsored project has produced an injectable, implantable biosensor made of hydrogel that can produce a different fluorescent signal when different molecules are present, and which also overcomes the immune rejection problem http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/07/darpa-invests-75-million-for.html. Second, tiny gas-filled lipid microparticles have been developed as an injectable oxygen substitute that in tests was able to keep organs oxygenated and keep animals alive for 15 minutes without taking a single breath http://www.childrenshospital.org/news-and-events/2012/june-2012/injecting-lifesaving-oxygen-into-a-vein. Reminds me of a basic, dumb precursor to respirocytes that would enable enhanced athletic performance across a range of measures and activities.
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