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X-ray Detection May Be Perovskites’ Killer App

The wonder crystal could yield imagers that are far more sensitive than commercial detectors

4 min read
The nanocrystals can be fine-tuned to emit colors when irradiated
Better Detectors: Xiaogang Liu (right) and Qiushui Chen at the National University of Singapore developed perovskite nanocrystals that absorb X-rays better than conventional materials do.
Photo: National University of Singapore

The crystalline material known as perovskite makes for a superefficient photovoltaic cell. Researchers are also exploring perovskites’ potential in transistors and LED lighting. But there’s yet another use for this wonder crystal, and it may be the most promising of all: as X-ray detectors.

Dozens of groups around the world are exploring this area, and major X-ray imaging manufacturers, including Samsung and Siemens, are considering perovskite for their next-generation machines. Compared with today’s X-ray imagers, detectors based on perovskite compounds are far more sensitive and use less power. And for certain applications, the materials can be tuned to emit color when irradiated. Lab prototypes of imagers that use perovskite have been demonstrated to be at least 100 times as efficient as their conventional counterparts.

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Are You Ready for Workplace Brain Scanning?

Extracting and using brain data will make workers happier and more productive, backers say

11 min read
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A photo collage showing a man wearing a eeg headset while looking at a computer screen.
Nadia Radic
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Get ready: Neurotechnology is coming to the workplace. Neural sensors are now reliable and affordable enough to support commercial pilot projects that extract productivity-enhancing data from workers’ brains. These projects aren’t confined to specialized workplaces; they’re also happening in offices, factories, farms, and airports. The companies and people behind these neurotech devices are certain that they will improve our lives. But there are serious questions about whether work should be organized around certain functions of the brain, rather than the person as a whole.

To be clear, the kind of neurotech that’s currently available is nowhere close to reading minds. Sensors detect electrical activity across different areas of the brain, and the patterns in that activity can be broadly correlated with different feelings or physiological responses, such as stress, focus, or a reaction to external stimuli. These data can be exploited to make workers more efficient—and, proponents of the technology say, to make them happier. Two of the most interesting innovators in this field are the Israel-based startup InnerEye, which aims to give workers superhuman abilities, and Emotiv, a Silicon Valley neurotech company that’s bringing a brain-tracking wearable to office workers, including those working remotely.

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