It’s been a big year for nanophotonics, the technology that makes it possible to build chips that use pulses of light to communicate. A year ago we wrote about progress at MIT in developing photonic chips that use light beams to perform computational tasks. Now IBM has announced it has developed a scalable silicon nanophotonics chip on the path to enabling 100 Gpbs networks. Continue reading
IBM scientists at the T.J. Watson Research Center have come up with a way to use carbon nanotubes to build faster, smaller microprocessors with more transistors.
The research, which appeared in a recent edition of Nature Nanotechnology, involves creating an array of carbon nanotubes on the surface of a silicon wafer to build chips with more than 10,000 transistors. IBM has done so at a scale where silicon simply doesn’t work, and by packing so many transistors on to such a tiny area could boost CPU performance significantly. Continue reading
With so much information traveling hither and yon on the Internet (especially if you’re doing simulation or renderings via the cloud), improvements in speed are something of a Holy Grail (yeah, I went there) for scientists. Chips that use light beams instead of electrons seem to be the way forward. We covered MIT’s foray into photonic chips earlier on EE and now IBM Labs has released its first prototype.
The Holey Optochip is a parallel optical transceiver that has managed to break 1 terabit (that’d be 1 trillion bits) per second. For some perspective, that would allow users to download 500 HD movies in a second, or the entirety of the Library of Congress in about an hour.
Designers interested in new approaches to sustainability practices in the corporate world should take a look at the new Innovations in Environmental Sustainability Council project launched by IBM and the World Environment Center (WEC). The group, which will include representatives from large companies like GM, Coca-Cola, and Boeing, will explore how innovations in business process and technology can solve sustainability issues involving materials, energy, water, infrastructure, and logistics.
Members will share their own best practices with other companies, and have pledged to incorporate these sustainability strategies and technologies more deeply in their own operations.
According to an interview with the WEC over on GreenBiz:
“When you look at the companies coming together under this council, they have been implementing sustainability in their individual businesses for some years now, so I think what they’re looking to do is take sustainability to the next level, in terms of best practices and looking to further differentiate themselves in the marketplace.”
— Terry F. Yosie, WEC president and CEO
Despite all the media attention devoted to electric vehicles, the number of electric cars on the road is still fairly small. For example, in their first year of availability in the U.S., the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt achieved sales of just over 17,000 units. Cost is still an issue for many consumers, but one other factor holding back sales is “range anxiety.” All electric vehicles can only run so far on a single charge, and there aren’t that many publicly accessible charging stations, especially in rural areas. Consumer Reports found that the Leaf, for instance, was only good for about 65 miles during a cold snap.
The solution to the range problem will come through better battery technology, and researchers at IBM have come up with what they claim is a practical, affordable option: a lithium air battery that can power a vehicle for 500 miles. Breaking that range barrier would greatly expand the market for electric vehicles, while providing engineers in a variety of fields with a new extended-range battery option. Continue reading