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Better Computing Through CPU Cooling

Heat can be a CPU’s worst enemy, but new chip designs and materials can keep them cool

12 min read
Photo by Dan Saelinger
Photo: Dan Saelinger; Styling: Wendy Schelah; Electronics: Courtesy of Tekserve

My wife recently gained a new appreciation for my work. She was trying to transfer family videos from old videocassettes to DVDs using various gadgets and software running on her laptop. Inevitably, though, the process always yielded a blank screen somewhere in the recording. These interruptions occurred because the laptop kept overheating. Only after she placed it on a stack of books with a fan blowing directly on it could the computer handle the job.

Heat is one of the worst enemies of electronics. Sit on the sofa with your laptop and you quickly feel the heat on your lap. Often though, overheating can be hard to diagnose. You may notice random errors occurring no matter what program you’re running. This is especially true if you use your computer to play advanced video games, which can really tax the microprocessor and the graphics card. If your machine frequently experiences fatal errors or “the blue screen of death” on such occasions, chances are it has thermal management problems. And overheating doesn’t just degrade a computer’s performance; it can also shorten its useful life.

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This Wearable Neck Patch Can Diagnose Concussions

Self-powered sensors convert neck strain into electrical pulses to detect head trauma in athletes

4 min read
image of back of man's head and shoulders with a patch taped to his lower neck; right image is a time lapse image of a man's head extending far forward and back, simulating a case of whiplash

The prototype patch in this research is shown in (a) on the left; on the right (b) is the kind of head rotation that can yield an electrical response from the patch.

Juan Pastrana

Nelson Sepúlveda was sitting in the stands at Spartan Stadium, watching his hometown Michigan State players bash heads with their cross-state football rivals from the University of Michigan, when he had a scientific epiphany.

Perhaps the nanotechnologies he had been working on for years—paper-thin devices known as ferroelectret nanogenerators that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy—could help save these athletes from the ravages of traumatic brain injury.

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Video Friday: PoKeBo Cubes

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

2 min read
A young girl looks at a cluster of three simple robots facing each other on a table

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your friends at IEEE Spectrum robotics. We also post a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months. Please send us your events for inclusion.

RoboCup 2022: 11 July–17 July 2022, BANGKOK
IEEE CASE 2022: 20 August–24 August 2022, MEXICO CITY
CLAWAR 2022: 12 September–14 September 2022, AZORES, PORTUGAL
ANA Avatar XPRIZE Finals: 4 November–5 November 2022, LOS ANGELES
CoRL 2022: 14 December–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Improved Dynamic Range for Pulse Detection

Achieving an unprecedented combination of dynamic range and sampling rate for pulse data acquisition

1 min read

Join Teledyne SP Devices for an introduction to our Pulse Detection Range eXtension (PDRX) technology. It achieves a dynamic range equivalent to 16-bit analog-to-digital converters (ADCs) while exceeding the sampling rate supported by commercially available devices. It is ideal for pulse capture in applications such as mass spectrometry. Register now for this free webinar!

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