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Next-Gen Ultrasound

Medical imaging borrows techniques from the microelectronics industry

9 min read
Photo of woman's abdomen holding ultrasound image.
Sharper Image: Micromachined transducer probes for ultrasound scanners should provide prenatal images that are even sharper than those new parents now get to see. The pictures, though, may never be as crisp as the one in this fanciful photo-illustration.
Photo-IllustratIon: Paul Vozdic/Getty Images

Almost invariably , a new baby’s photo album begins with a grainy black-and-white picture taken months before birth—a ­prenatal ultrasound image, which is often detailed enough to inspire comments about the child’s resemblance to various members of the family. But jokes about balding uncles notwithstanding, such scans serve a serious purpose and can prove immensely important, as when they allow doctors to diagnose and sometimes even repair a congenital malformation while the baby is still in the womb.

When seeing such an image for the first time, most people are awestruck. How can mere sound waves provide such remarkably clear views? Engineers may well ask something more: How can we give doctors even better ultrasound images? That question has engaged the three of us, along with other members of our Stanford acoustics group, for much of the last decade.

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Artificial Synapses 10,000x Faster Than Real Thing

New protonic programmable resistors may help speed learning in deep neural networks

3 min read
Conceptual illustration shows a brain shape made of circuits on a multilayered chip structure.
Ella Maru Studio and Murat Onen

New artificial versions of the neurons and synapses in the human brain are up to 1,000 times smaller than neurons and at least 10,000 times faster than biological synapses, a study now finds.

These new devices may help improve the speed at which the increasingly common and powerful artificial intelligence systems known as deep neural networks learn, researchers say.

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Amazon to Acquire iRobot F​or $1.7 Billion

The deal will give the e-retail behemoth even more access to our homes

4 min read
A photo of an iRobot Roomba with an Amazon logo digitally added to it
Photo-illustration: iStockphoto/Amazon/IEEE Spectrum

This morning, Amazon and iRobot announced “a definitive merger agreement under which Amazon will acquire iRobot” for US $1.7 billion. The announcement was a surprise, to put it mildly, and we’ve barely had a chance to digest the news. But taking a look at what’s already known can still yield initial (if incomplete) answers as to why Amazon and iRobot want to team up—and whether the merger seems like a good idea.

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Modeling Microfluidic Organ-on-a-Chip Devices

Register for this webinar to enhance your modeling and design processes for microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices using COMSOL Multiphysics

1 min read
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If you want to enhance your modeling and design processes for microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices, tune into this webinar.

You will learn methods for simulating the performance and behavior of microfluidic organ-on-a-chip devices and microphysiological systems in COMSOL Multiphysics. Additionally, you will see how to couple multiple physical effects in your model, including chemical transport, particle tracing, and fluid–structure interaction. You will also learn how to distill simulation output to find key design parameters and obtain a high-level description of system performance and behavior.

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