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

Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs

  1. Researchers Use Sound Waves to Advance Optical Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, January 22, 2018, Science Newsline -- Researchers have shown that sound waves can be used to produce ultraminiature optical diodes that are small enough to fit onto a computer chip. These devices, known as optical isolators, could help solve major data capacity and system size challenges for photonic integrated circuits, which are used for computing and communications. Isolators are necessary for routing light signals around optical networks. Currently, the technology for producing such nonreciprocal devices requires materials that change their optical properties in response to magnetic fields. However, there are problems with using magnetically responsive materials. The researchers used miniscule coupling between light and sound to provide a solution that allows nonreciprocal devices with nearly any photonic material. The team envisions transformative applications in photonic communication systems, gyroscopes, GPS systems, atomic timekeeping and data centers. For more information visit Science Newsline.

  2. Scientists discover material ideal for smart photovoltaic windows, DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, January 22, 2018, Science Daily -- Smart windows that are transparent when it’s dark, but automatically darken when the sun is too bright have become popular energy-saving devices. Now, a new material can allow these types of smart windows to also produce electricity. The material—a photovoltaic glass that is also reversibly thermochromic—is a technology that researchers have been working toward and have finally achieved. Researchers discovered that a form of perovskite, one of the hottest materials in solar research, works surprisingly well as a stable photoactive semiconductor material. The material can be reversibly switched between a transparent state and a non-transparent state, without degrading its electronic properties. For the full article check out Science Daily.

  3. Nanoparticles in Gel Could Make Holograms, Related Devices More Widespread, Kenny Walter, January 22, 2018, Research & Development -- Researchers have found a way to make holograms and other similar optical devices more widespread. Currently, such devices have two main hurdles: the high cost and the requirement of extremely cold temperatures for operation. A team discovered that inexpensive nanoparticles in a gel could be used at room temperature to control and modulate light in magnetic fields. This breakthrough brings us closer to utilizing holograms in various applications, including autonomous vehicle sensors, communication in space and optical wireless networks. Additionally, due to the small size of the nanoparticles, they could be used in computer engineering and large-scale manufacturing of magneto-optical composites. For more information visit Research & Development.

  4. Making fuel cells for a fraction of the cost, University of California – Riverside, January 22, 2018, EurekAlert -- Researchers have developed an inexpensive, efficient catalyst material for the most promising fuel cell types to power cars and electronics. Fuel cells have the potential to be a clean and efficient way to run cars, computers and power stations. But, the cost of producing them is limiting their use. This is because the key components in most fuel cells is a material made from platinum. This new material is called a polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), which turns the chemical energy of hydrogen into electricity. The material is made of porous carbon nanofibers and is 100 times less expensive than platinum. Another benefit of the material is that it’s durable, which could allow it to serve as a fuel cell catalyst and as a structural component. This would allow automakers to turn parts of the car, like the hood, into functional elements that help power cars while reducing overall weight. For more information visit EurekAlert.

  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to – Analyzing Radar Signals Primer. Our latest primer covers measurement methods, choosing measurement parameters, how to find the pulse, estimating the carrier frequency and phase, timing measurements, and more.

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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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