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Technology News Archive - July 14, 2005

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Don't call it a comeback yet, but Sony Corp. has a new lineup of digital music players that are slicing into the popularity of Apple Computer's iPod device in Japan.

For centuries, diamonds have lured women up the aisle. In the future, they may drive them to work, as engineers find a use for the precious stones in electric cars and other applications. From ultra-durable drill bits to semiconductors and optical instruments, industry officials say the uses for diamonds are multiplying.

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Spring thaw in the Northern Hemisphere was monitored by a new set of eyes this year -- an Earth-orbiting NASA spacecraft carrying a new version of software trained to recognize and distinguish snow, ice, and water from space.

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Biophysicists have developed a method for studying, in real time, a nanoscale "docking and undocking" interaction between small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA), a technique that may be broadly useful in studying structural changes in RNA that affect its function. The research at JILA, a joint institute of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and University of Colorado at Boulder, may have applications in the design of effective new drugs based on small RNA strands.

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed an improved experimental X-ray detector that could pave the way to a new generation of wide-range, high-resolution trace chemical analysis instruments. In a recently published technical paper*, the researchers described how they used improved temperature-sensing and control systems to detect X-rays across a very broad range of energies (6 keV or more), with pinpoint energy resolution (an uncertainty of only 2 eV).

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In the last few years, semiconductor circuit features have shrunk to sub-100 nanometer (nm) dimensions, while the size of the thin silicon wafers that these circuits are constructed on has grown from 200 millimeters (mm) to 300 mm (about 12 inches). The payoff is a higher yield of finished devices from fewer wafers.

Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUVL) may be the next-generation patterning technique used to produce smaller and faster microchips with feature sizes of 32 nanometers and below. However, durable projection optics must be developed before this laboratory technique can become commercially viable. As part of its long-standing effort to develop EUVL metrology and calibration services (summarized in a recent paper*), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is creating a measurement system for accelerated lifetime testing of the mirrors used in EUVL.

For makers of computers, disk drives and other sophisticated technologies, a guiding principle is the smoother the surfaces of chips and other components, the better these devices and the products, themselves, will function.

Technology that transfers computer-generated information onto the physical world is being tested for use in poultry plants to improve communication between computers and workers.

RedNova announces Red Hot Blogs of the Day for Thursday July 14, 2005.

Word of the Day
grass-comber
  • A landsman who is making his first voyage at sea; a novice who enters naval service from rural life.
According to the OED, a grass-comber is also 'a sailor's term for one who has been a farm-labourer.'