Scientists at Stanford University managed to build the world’s first carbon nano-tubes (CNT) based computer. It’s pretty puny – with 178 transistors, and they’re pretty big in size – comparable to silicon transistors, but with the potential to be much much smaller, and cooler. This is a huge breakthrough as the team managed to solve the major issues related to such an undertaking – 30 percent of the yield when growing nano-tubes (they are grown like crystals) come out metallic which is no good when you want them to function as logical gates. The team managed to vaporize the metallic duds, and in order to solve the imperfections inherent in nano-tubes (some of them come out not completely straight, but more bendy) – the team came up with a powerful algorithm that allows the circuit to function correctly even with imperfections.
Tiny Particle Accelerator
You know those huge particle accelerators? the ones that measure in diameter of kilometers – like the Hadron collider at Cern:
The big brains use them for physics experiments designed to find answers for such heavy weighted questions such as the age of the universe, or finding some elusive theorised particles of one kind or another. (or to create dark matter.. <evil laughter>)
Well, we might be able to save up on all that real-estate. Now that (yes, again) stanford scientists managed to create an “accelerator-on-chip” that allows to accelerate electrons 10 times faster than conventional particle accelerators in a 3mm chip. The practical applications of this technology (once it comes to fruition and steps out of the labs) will be compact accelerators and x-ray scanners for security scanings (“Is that an x-ray scanner in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”), medical therapy and imaging, and research in biology and materials science.
High efficiency Solar Cell
The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, Soitec, CEA-Leti and the Helmholtz Center Berlin managed this little miracle: achieving a 44.7% efficiency in turning sunlight into electricity. Just to try and understand this fit: most solar cells like the ones on your calculator, for instance, achieve an efficiency of under 20% (usually around 16%). So far, this technology is CPV (concentrator photovoltaics) – limited to sun-rich areas where the power of the sun can be concentrated to a single point to create such a powerful effect. But the rise in efficiency has gone one point (percent) in four months – which may indicate that sooner rather than later, we may open the door for super-exciting possibilities – like commercial flights that use no fuel other than the sun, or cars that run longer on sunny days, and a bit less on cloudy days – both options without fossil fuel.