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Necessity is the Mother of Invention in Nanotech

In man's endless quest for keeping his beer cold, we may have stumbled on a way to reduce global warming

1 min read

Since I at times play the role of a channel surfing, football watching male, I am curious to know more about anything that proposes a way to keep beer cold. So when I saw the quote, "We've managed to cool six cans of beer"  on Twitter, I had to investigate.

Indeed two researchers from the University of Technology, Sydney, Professor Geoff Smith and Dr Angus Gentle, have reported in this month’s online edition of Nano Letters on a nanocoating that not only manages to keep beers cold but presents an ingenious way of ensuring that heat is emitted on a wavelength that allows it to escape the earth’s atmosphere.

By using a mixture of silicon carbide and silicon dioxide nanoparticles they discovered that they could get heat to emanate at wavelengths of between 7.9 and 13 micrometers allowing the heat to escape the earth’s atmosphere.

Smith is quoted in the story above as believing that the nanocoating could be used as a sort of “reverse solar collector” in which air or water could pass below a plate coated with the nanonparticles and be cooled. The water or air could then be circulated through a building and serve as a type of air conditioning.

The coating appears to be a remarkably simple way to cut on energy costs and maybe even find a way to reduce global warming. But the true genius, as I think we can all agree, was testing it on cans of beer. Well done. 

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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