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London’s Crossrail Is a $21 Billion Test of Virtual Modeling

Every component in Crossrail, London’s new underground train network, will be digitally tracked via an intricate 3-D model

14 min read
London’s Crossrail Is a $21 Billion Test of Virtual Modeling
Image: Crossrail

As the River Thames meanders eastward through London, it horseshoes around a lobe of land called the Isle of Dogs. In the 19th century, the area boasted one of the world’s busiest dock complexes, but by 1980 it had deteriorated into an industrial wasteland. More recently, thanks to massive redevelopment, the area has blossomed again to become Canary Wharf, an enclave of glittering glass skyscrapers that is now a global financial center. And here, in the murky waters of the North Dock, sits one of the largest and sleekest stations in London’s newest railway: Crossrail.

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New Pixel Sensors Bring Their Own Compute

Atomically thin devices that combine sensing and computation also save power

2 min read
close up image of a chip

This optical image shows the 900-pixel 2-D active pixel sensor created by the researchers.

Akhil Dodda, Darsith Jayachandran, and Saptarshi Das

By giving compute powers to atomically thin versions of the CMOS sensors now found in most digital cameras, a prototype sensor array can capture images using thousands to millions of times less power, a new study finds.

CMOS sensors are a kind of active pixel sensor, which combine a light detector with one or more transistors. Although scientists have made steady progress towards more energy-efficient light detectors, the signal conversion and data transmission capabilities of active pixel sensors are currently extremely energy-inefficient, says study co-lead author Akhil Dodda, an electronics engineer who was at Penn State University at University Park in Pennsylvania at the time of the research.

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John Bardeen’s Terrific Transistorized Music Box

This simple gadget showed off the magic of the first transistor

5 min read
 A small electronic gadget encased in clear plastic has a speaker and some buttons.

This music box demonstrated the portability and responsiveness of the point-contact transistor.

The Spurlock Museum/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

On 16 December 1947, after months of work and refinement, the Bell Labs physicists John Bardeen and Walter Brattain completed their critical experiment proving the effectiveness of the point-contact transistor. Six months later, Bell Labs gave a demonstration to officials from the U.S. military, who chose not to classify the technology because of its potentially broad applications. The following week, news of the transistor was released to the press. The New York Herald Tribune predicted that it would cause a revolution in the electronics industry. It did.

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Solving Automotive Design Challenges With Simulation

Learn about low-frequency electromagnetic simulations and see a live demonstration of COMSOL Multiphysics software

1 min read

The development of new hybrid and battery electric vehicles introduces numerous design challenges. Many of these challenges are static or low-frequency electromagnetic by nature, as the devices involved in such designs are much smaller than the operating wavelength. Examples include sensors (such as MEMS sensors), transformers, and motors. Many of these challenges include multiple physics. For instance, sensors activated by acoustic energy as well as heat transfer in electric motors and power electronics combine low-frequency electromagnetic simulations with acoustic and heat transfer simulations, respectively.

Multiphysics simulation makes it possible to account for such phenomena in designs and can provide design engineers with the tools needed for developing products more effectively and optimizing device performance.

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