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Study of phase change materials could lead to better computer memory

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TechAndComputer (June 21, 2012) — Memory devices for computers require a large collection of components that can switch between two states, which represent the 1's and 0's of binary language. Engineers hope to make next-generation chips with materials that distinguish between these states by physically rearranging their atoms into different phases. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now provided new insight into how this phase change happens, which could help engineers make memory storage devices faster and more efficient.

The research was conducted by Ritesh Agarwal, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering in Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science, along with...

Engineers perfecting carbon nanotubes for highly energy-efficient computing

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TechAndComputer (June 14, 2012) — Energy efficiency is the most significant challenge standing in the way of continued miniaturization of electronic systems, and miniaturization is the principal driver of the semiconductor industry. "As we approach the ultimate limits of Moore's Law, however, silicon will have to be replaced in order to miniaturize further," said Jeffrey Bokor, deputy director for science at the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Professor...

Scientists define the healthy human microbiome

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TechAndComputer (June 13, 2012) — You're outnumbered. There are ten times as many microbial cells in you as there are your own cells.

The human microbiome -- as scientists call the communities of microorganisms that inhabit your skin, mouth, gut, and other parts of your body by the trillions -- plays a fundamental role in keeping you healthy. These communities are also thought to cause disease when they're perturbed. But our microbiome's exact function, good and bad, is poorly...

Radiation-resistant circuits from mechanical parts

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TechAndComputer (June 12, 2012) — University of Utah engineers have designed microscopic mechanical devices that withstand intense radiation and heat, so they can be used in circuits for robots and computers exposed to radiation in space, damaged nuclear power plants or nuclear attack.

The researchers showed the devices kept working despite intense ionizing radiation and heat by dipping them for two hours into the core of the University of Utah's research reactor. They also...

Spin structure reveals key to new forms of digital storage, study shows

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TechAndComputer (June 7, 2012) — A synthetic compound long known to exhibit interesting transition properties may hold the key to new, non-magnetic forms of information storage, say researchers at the RIKEN SPring-8 Center and their collaborators. The team's latest findings shed light on the complex relationship between a compound's electron spin arrangement and its transport properties, an area researchers have long struggled to understand.

The metal-insulator transition (MIT)...