5 Things You Missed: Particle Accelerator on a Chip, Cellphone Iris Scanners, and More

1. Nanofabrication Enables "Particle-Accelerator-on-a-Chip" Technology

An international collection of universities and national labs is hard at work on a project aimed at accelerating electrons to speeds 10 times higher than can be achieved inside SLAC’s 3.2-kilometer-long linear accelerator. But get this: They plan to use lasers and a piece of nanostructured silicon or glass about the size of a grain of rice to whip the electrons up to those blazing speeds in as little as 30 meters. Our correspondent checks in on their progress.

 

2. IBM Program Would Help Robocars Decide Whether to Cede Control

If the guy behind the steering wheel is unready to drive, then the self-driving car had better be aware of that. Only then can it make an informed decision about whether to remain at the helm or yield control to a pair of carbon-based hands. IBM’s work in analyzing human cognition under different levels of impairment, say under anesthesia and the influence of different types of drugs has yielded neural networks and a variety of algorithms capable of predicting an individual’s cognitive state.

 

3. The Future of Energy Technology as Seen Through X-Ray Eyes

During a recent visit to the Stanford Synchrotron Lightsource (SSRL), part of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, Calif., our correspondent learned how an assortment of X-ray microscopy tools are revealing the complex inner workings of batteries, and characterizing the latest innovations in photovoltaics. The aim: making sure that both energy storage and energy generation technologies can meet the demands of future generations.

 

4. The Company Behind the Samsung Galaxy S8 Iris Scanner

A little-known biometric security company in New Jersey is the brains behind the device that lets Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 cellphone identify its rightful owner and give him or her access with a quick glance.

 

5. Keeping Block Copolymers in Line Could Lead to Smaller Microchips

In an effort to keep Moore’s Law going, a team of engineers from MIT, the University of Chicago, and the Argonne National Laboratory has developed a technique to make microchip wire patterns tinier. The breakthrough relies on letting those patterns assemble themselves. 

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