The Tek Pulse: The latest and greatest engineering and science posts

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs


1. Thin diamond crystal reflects many colors of light in all directions, University of Twente, May 1, 2017, ScienceDaily – Physicists and mathematicians have discovered a thin, diamond-like photonic nanostructure that could be used as a back reflector to improve the efficiency of solar cells, among other things. A back reflector is a mirror behind the solar cell material that reflects unabsorbed light and directs it back to the cell. The team has now performed advanced calculations on a promising material called inverse woodpile photonic crystals, resembling diamond gemstones. The team found that the crystals make great candidates for back reflectors in solar cells. The woodpile crystals could also lead to on-chip lasers, invisibility cloaks and devices to confine light in extremely small volumes. For the full article check out ScienceDaily.


2. Quantum Effects Lead to More Powerful Battery Charging, Lisa Zyga, May 1, 2017, ECN – In a recent study, physicists have shown that quantum entanglement can be used to enhance the charging power of a nano-scale energy storage device, or “quantum battery.” A great deal of research has shown that quantum phenomena provides advantages in information processing applications, like computing, but this was the first demonstration of quantum advantages in thermodynamics. The work shows how entangling operations – interactions between two or more bodies – are needed to have a quantum advantage for charging power, but entanglement itself does not constitute a resource. For coupled batteries the quantum advantage scales with the number of interacting batteries. Overall, the results could lead to methods of improving nano-scale energy-charging processes as well as a better understanding of quantum theory and thermodynamics. For the full article visit ECN.


3. ‘Valleytronics’ advancement could help extend Moore’s Law, University at Buffalo, May 1, 2017, EurekAlert – Scientists have discovered a new way to split the energy levels between the valleys in a 2D semiconductor. Valleys are part of a field of physics known as valleytronics, which exploit the electron’s “valley degree of freedom” for data storage. The simplest way to describe how valleys work is to think of two valleys side by side. When one valley is filled with electrons the switch is “on.” When the second valley is occupied the switch is “off.” The team’s works shows that valleys can be arranged in a way that enables a device to be turned on and off with a small amount of electricity. This breakthrough is huge because finding a way to control electrons in different valleys could lead to new super-efficient computer chips. For the full story visit EurekAlert.


4. Thin Layers of Water Hold Promise for the Energy Storage of the Future, North Carolina State University, April 28, 2017, ECN – Researchers have discovered that a material with thin layers of water can store and deliver energy faster than the same material without the water. These findings hold promise for shaping future energy-storage technologies. The idea is to use water to ‘tune’ the transport of ions in a layered material. It could allow an increased amount of energy to be stored per unit of volume, faster diffusion of ions through the material and a faster charge transfer. This discovery is just the first step but it could lead to thinner batteries, faster storage for renewable-based power grids and even faster acceleration in electric vehicles. For the full article check out ECN.


5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to AC-DC Power Supply Efficiency Testing for Regulatory Standards. This application note is for engineers who design and test power supplies, and make efficiency and standby power measurements accurately, quickly and safely.


Download your copy today!


Do you have a great article, blog or idea that you’d like to see featured in our series? Please be sure to share in the comments below. Stay tuned next week for another installment of The Tek Pulse, featuring more trending articles from the engineering, technology and science worlds.


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