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


Informative, innovative and interesting articles from our favorite blogs


  1. Space laser communication system adapted for underwater use, David Szondy, August 20, 2018, New Atlas -- MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories is developing a way for underwater workers and machines to communicate more effectively. Currently, communications where staying in contact with submersibles and unmanned underwater vehicles means using wire tethers or very short range optical systems. Submarines are restricted to coming up to the surface to raise a radio antenna or trailing a long sensor array to pick up very low frequency radio signals. Now, scientists are developing a narrow-beam laser version of their system, Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD). The LLCD system was used in 2013 to transmit data between lunar orbit and Earth across a quarter of a million miles at a rate of 622 megabits per second. The team’s new system relies on a scanning function to seek out and acquire the underwater target using narrow optical beams. Once the target is acquired, the system locks on and the two vehicles can locate, track and transceive with one another, all with great precision and using wide bandwidth and a precision of a few centimeters. For more information check out New Atlas.
  2. DeepMind sees promising AI results for data center cooling system, Nancy Owano, August 20, 2018, TechXplore -- Data centers are crucial to our ability to communicate. However, the levels of energy they consume are staggering and 38 percent of the electricity need is to cool electronics. Now at DeepMind, a team has been working toward a cooling solution for data centers. The researchers have been looking at how AI could help to manage data center cooling. The team taught the AI system how to adjust a cooling system to reduce power consumption. The new system has been in place for a few months and has delivered an energy savings of about 30 percent, with improvements in the future. Currently, the AI control system is finding more novel ways to manage cooling that have surprised even the data center operators. For instance, one operator noted the he saw it learn to take advantage of winter conditions and produce colder than normal water, which reduced the energy needed for cooling. According to researchers, the system could generate millions of dollars in energy savings and may help lower carbon emissions. The data center operators are always in control and can choose to exit AI control mode at any time. For more information visit TechXplore.
  3. First Satellite To Measure Global Winds Set For Launch, August 20, 2018, ECN -- A satellite designed to measure Earth’s global wind patters is set to launch. Meteorologists urgently need reliable wind-profile data to improve accuracy, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). Tropical winds are very poorly mapped due to the almost complete absence of direct observations. Once in orbit, the satellite, called Aeolus, will retrieve data from anywhere on the planet, including remote regions lacking ground-based weather stations. Aeolus will carry a large telescope measuring five feet across, an ultra-sensitive receiver and a Doppler wind lidar, named Aladin. The Doppler lidar will transmit short, powerful pulses of laser light toward Earth in the ultraviolet spectrum. Particles in the air scatter a small fraction of that light energy back to the transceiver, where it’s collected and recorded. The delay between the outgoing pulses and the “backscattered” signal will reveal the wind’s direction, speed and distance travelled. Aeolus with be the fifth of the ESA’s planned Earth Explorer missions. For more information check out ECN.
  4. A New Artificial Quantum Material for Future High-efficiency Computers, Chinese Academy of Sciences, August 20, 2018, Research & Development -- Scientists have demonstrated the ability to control the states of matter. This will allow for controlling internal resistance, within multilayered, magnetically doped semiconductors using the quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAH). This effect occurs in some specially designed materials in which electrons can move a millimeter-scale distance without losing their energy. Having the ability to apply the QAH effect to devices would allow a new revolution in energy efficiency and computation speed. The team reported that they fabricated an artificial material which could be used to develop a topological quantum computer using molecular beam epitaxy and by exploiting the QAH effect. Molecular beam epitaxy is a new technique which allows the stacking of single-molecule-thick layers of crystal. The team’s new process could also offer the ability to process quantum information and store it more effectively in the future. For more details visit Research & Development.
  5. And lastly, the most popular Tektronix download of the week goes to In-circuit Measurement of Inductors and Transformers with an Oscilloscope. An oscilloscope can be used to measure the performance of inductors and transformers under operating conditions. In our latest application note you will be provided with a quick review of practical inductor and transformer theory, including its relation to power supply designs. You will also learn how to use an oscilloscope equipped with power analysis software to measure performance under operating conditions and more.


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Mark Elo
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