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Nuclear Wasteland

The French are recycling nuclear waste. Should other countries follow suit?

13 min read
Nuclear Wasteland
Photo: Roger Ressmeyer/Corbis

For roughly a quarter century there has been a hiatus in nuclear-plant construction in Europe and North America. Now new plants are being built in France, Finland, and Russia, and new reactor proposals are gathering steam in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. But to undergo a true resurgence—which many analysts argue is necessary to help reduce global greenhouse gas emissions—the nuclear power industry needs a coherent plan for dealing with its reactors’ radioactive and toxic leftovers.

Burying the waste is a slow, politically painful process that leaves much to be desired. The long-planned U.S. repository under Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been immensely controversial. Yet if built as currently planned, it may be too small when it finally opens to accommodate all the high-level waste that has piled up in the country during half a century of commercial nuclear energy.

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Video Friday: Humanoid Soccer

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
Humans and human-size humanoid robots stand together on an indoor soccer field at the beginning of a game

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.

CoRL 2022: 14–18 December 2022, AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND
ICRA 2023: 29 May–2 June 2023, LONDON

Enjoy today’s videos!

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Computing With Chemicals Makes Faster, Leaner AI

Battery-inspired artificial synapses are gaining ground

5 min read
Array of devices on a chip

This analog electrochemical memory (ECRAM) array provides a prototype for artificial synapses in AI training.

IBM research

How far away could an artificial brain be? Perhaps a very long way off still, but a working analogue to the essential element of the brain’s networks, the synapse, appears closer at hand now.

That’s because a device that draws inspiration from batteries now appears surprisingly well suited to run artificial neural networks. Called electrochemical RAM (ECRAM), it is giving traditional transistor-based AI an unexpected run for its money—and is quickly moving toward the head of the pack in the race to develop the perfect artificial synapse. Researchers recently reported a string of advances at this week’s IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022) and elsewhere, including ECRAM devices that use less energy, hold memory longer, and take up less space.

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Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Modeling and simulation in Simulink and Simscape

1 min read
Designing Fuel Cell Systems Using System-Level Design

Design and simulate a fuel cell system for electric mobility. See by example how Simulink® and Simscape™ support multidomain physical modeling and simulation of fuel cell systems including thermal, gas, and liquid systems. Learn how to select levels of modeling fidelities to meet your needs at different development stages.