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The Toughest Transistor Yet

From broadband wireless to compact radars, countless future scenarios depend on the high power and high frequencies that only gallium nitride can deliver

12 min read
Image of IEEE Spectrum Magazine Cover.
Photo: IEEE Spectrum

Broadband wireless networks, ubiquitous hybrid electric vehicles, sophisticated controllers for electric grids, and compact, rugged radars: prognosticators have made plenty of promises in recent years. To that group, add gallium nitride transistors. All those technologies--and many more--are either much easier to envision, or could be hugely improved, with these devices.

The transistors withstand extreme heat and are capable of handling frequencies and power levels well beyond those possible with silicon, gallium arsenide, silicon carbide, or essentially any other semiconductor yet fabricated. And frequency and power-handling capabilities of this caliber could make all the difference in the amplifiers, modulators, and other key components of the advanced communications networks many are counting on to help revitalize the technology sector. The base stations of future wireless networks are a good illustration. The hope is that they will let people tap into high-speed streams of data, using their cell phones, personal digital assistants, or some other pocket console to capture video or high-quality sound.

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For Better or Worse, Tesla Bot Is Exactly What We Expected

Tesla fails to show anything uniquely impressive with its new humanoid robot prototype

15 min read
A humanoid robot with metal and wires exposed stands on stage.

Elon Musk unveiled the Optimus humanoid robot at Tesla's AI Day 2022.

Tesla

At the end of Tesla’s 2021 AI Day last August, Elon Musk introduced a concept for “Tesla Bot,” an electromechanically-actuated, autonomous bipedal “general purpose” humanoid robot. Musk suggested that a prototype of Tesla Bot (also called “Optimus”) would be complete within the next year. After a lot of hype, a prototype of Tesla Bot was indeed unveiled last night at Tesla’s 2022 AI Day. And as it turns out, the hype was just that—hype.

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the humanoid robot that Musk very briefly demonstrated on stage, there’s nothing uniquely right, either. We were hoping for (if not necessarily expecting) more from Tesla. And while the robot isn’t exactly a disappointment, there’s very little to suggest that it disrupts robotics the way that SpaceX did for rockets or Tesla did for electric cars.

You can watch the entire 3+ hour livestream archived on YouTube here (which also includes car stuff and whatnot), but we’re just going to focus on the most interesting bits about Tesla Bot/Optimus.

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"Nothing About Us Without Us"

Assistive technologies are often designed without involving the people these technologies are supposed to help. That needs to change.

3 min read
A photo of two people holding signs outside.  One is in a wheelchair.
Erik McGregor/LightRocket/Getty Images

Before we redesigned our website a couple of years ago, we took pains to have some users show us how they navigate our content or complete specific tasks like leaving a comment or listening to a podcast. We queried them about what they liked or didn’t like about how our content is presented. And we took onboard their experiences and designed a site and a magazine based on that feedback.

So when I read this month’s cover story by Britt Young about using a variety of high- and low-tech prosthetic hands, I was surprised to learn that much bionic-hand development is conducted without taking the lived experience of people who use artificial hands into account.

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Introduction to Peer-to-Peer Streaming and GPU Processing in Data Acquisition Systems

Learn about the basics and benefits of peer-to-peer streaming and GPU post-processing in data acquisition systems

1 min read
Teledyne

Real-time digital signal processing is a vital part of many of today's data acquisition systems, and affordable graphics processing units (GPUs) offer a great complement to onboard field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs).

Join Teledyne SP Devices for an introductory webinar about the basics and benefits of peer-to-peer streaming and GPU post-processing in data acquisition systems.

Register now for this free webinar!

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