Photo-Illustration: Edmon de Haro
Photo-Illustration: Edmon de Haro

There was a time when budding inventors were advised to build a better mousetrap. Nowadays, they’d do rather well to build a better lithium-ion battery. These are what power our phones, laptops, portable power tools, an increasing number of cars, even homes. Some places are turning to giant lithium-ion batteries to store energy from solar panels so that it can be used after dark. While lithium-ion cells have gotten incrementally better over the years, they seem set for a big boost in 2019 through the increased use of an element not unfamiliar to the electronics industry: silicon.

The reason lies in some fundamental electrochemistry. Lithium-ion cells work by sending lithium ions from the positive electrode (in a battery, it’s called the cathode) to the negative electrode (the anode) during charging. During discharge, lithium ions move in the opposite direction, from anode to cathode. So charging such a battery amounts to storing lithium in the anode. If your battery could store more lithium, it would store more energy.

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Video Friday: Turkey Sandwich

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos

4 min read
A teleoperated humanoid robot torso stands in a kitchen assembling a turkey sandwich from ingredients on a tray

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

Enjoy today's videos!

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New AI Speeds Computer Graphics by Up to 5x

Neural rendering harnesses machine learning to paint pixels

5 min read
Four examples of Nvidia's Instant NeRF 2D-to-3D machine learning model placed side-by-side.

Nvidia Instant NeRF uses neural rendering to generate 3D visuals from 2D images.

NVIDIA

On 20 September, Nvidia’s Vice President of Applied Deep Learning, Bryan Cantanzaro, went to Twitter with a bold claim: In certain GPU-heavy games, like the classic first-person platformer Portal, seven out of eight pixels on the screen are generated by a new machine-learning algorithm. That’s enough, he said, to accelerate rendering by up to 5x.

This impressive feat is currently limited to a few dozen 3D games, but it’s a hint at the gains neural rendering will soon deliver. The technique will unlock new potential in everyday consumer electronics.

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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.