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Diamondoids May be a TV's Best Friend

Nanometer-scale diamonds from petroleum could find use in displays

3 min read

12 June 2007--As if oil weren’t valuable enough on its own, it turns out that there are nanometer-scale diamonds dissolved in every drop of crude. Now scientists at Stanford University and an R&D subsidiary of oil giant Chevron Corp. San Ramon, Calif., have discovered that certain of these nanoscale diamonds emit electrons with a shockingly narrow distribution of energies—the electron analogue of a pure color of light. Pure electron color makes it easier to control the pixels in field-emission displays--a next generation TV technology--and to make fine etchings on microchips, according to Stanford scientists.

Diamondoids are cagelike molecules found in petroleum, which have the basic chemical structure of diamonds, but are coated on the outside in hydrogen molecules. Until a few years ago, high-level diamondoids--those comprised of four or more joined cages--were extremely rare, and nearly impossible to create in the lab, as they require tremendous heat and pressure over a long period of time to develop. However, in 2004 Chevron announced it had isolated gram quantities of them.

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Deep Learning Could Bring the Concert Experience Home

The century-old quest for truly realistic sound production is finally paying off

12 min read
Image containing multiple aspects such as instruments and left and right open hands.
Stuart Bradford

Now that recorded sound has become ubiquitous, we hardly think about it. From our smartphones, smart speakers, TVs, radios, disc players, and car sound systems, it’s an enduring and enjoyable presence in our lives. In 2017, a survey by the polling firm Nielsen suggested that some 90 percent of the U.S. population listens to music regularly and that, on average, they do so 32 hours per week.

Behind this free-flowing pleasure are enormous industries applying technology to the long-standing goal of reproducing sound with the greatest possible realism. From Edison’s phonograph and the horn speakers of the 1880s, successive generations of engineers in pursuit of this ideal invented and exploited countless technologies: triode vacuum tubes, dynamic loudspeakers, magnetic phonograph cartridges, solid-state amplifier circuits in scores of different topologies, electrostatic speakers, optical discs, stereo, and surround sound. And over the past five decades, digital technologies, like audio compression and streaming, have transformed the music industry.

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