The new optical isolators—a way to control particle motions on 2-D materials

Researchers have uncovered a new way to control particle motions on 2D materials such as graphene, separating quasiparticles called plasmons into two streams moving in opposite directions without requiring strong magnetic fields.

MIT associate professor of mechanical engineering Nicholas X. Fang, recent PhD graduate Anshuman Kumar, and four other researchers from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the University of Minnesota conducted the research.

The separated flows had previously been accomplished by other researchers but the separation required the use of powerful magnetic fields, something that may not be practical in real life applications.

This research group discovered a process that shies away from needing magnetic fields, but instead uses optical effects, generated with beams of circularly polarized light.

When the light is shone on graphene ribbons it causes electrons in that material to separate into two distinct valleys. Another beam of light can be used to detect transmission to measure the effects.

This is very useful and exciting news, especially for those using photonic systems that require optical isolators. Optical isolators keep beams of light from causing interference, which can happen if the beams of light reflect back to the source. Optical isolators are useful and much needed in many cases, but can be bulky.

With the new particle motion discovery, optical isolation can be done without a magnetic field, on a chip scale. This advancement could lead to lots of new technology that is less cumbersome, and more immune to interference.

While optical isolators have their place in current technology and may still be needed in various applications in the future, this represents an exciting shift in current technology.

Within the industry, manufacturers and researchers are looking for ways to create smaller, more powerful chips that can last longer and work harder within devices. The new particle motion control technology is such that, were it similarly powered by a magnetic field, it would have to be contained in a research facility due to the strength of magnet required.

The research done by this group points toward a growing interest in technology that is lighter and more portable, which translates to lighter, more portable devices. We may still use optical isolators in other applications, but for companies that want to avoid using strong magnetic fields, this is certainly an exciting discovery.

Intel Corp announced it could invest up to $5.5 billion in a plant in China, dedicated to manufacturing semiconductors. The firm is looking for ways to up revenue while its core computer processing chips sales lose steam.

Intel is looking at converting a facility in Dalian, where it would make advanced memory chips called 3D NAND chips, starting in the latter half of 2016.

Various other companies involved in the semiconductor industry have made their own global expansions as China is predicted to use several billion dollars’ worth of NAND chips this year, as it works to bring up its own economy.

The potential deal between Intel and China is just one sign of a booming semiconductor market. All aspects of this industry are in demand, from die attach products to barrier coatings and optical isolators. More and more applications and products require heavy duty semiconductor support, and companies are looking to increase their capacity to produce the semiconductors their clients need.

If Intel does invest in a plant in China they will likely see success, as recent research has shown that semiconductor sales will only grow in the next several years. It makes sense that tech giants are moving toward investing in this particular product, knowing that industries from health care to auto manufacturing will need semiconductors and related products.

While Intel has not made any type of official announcement about the potential plant as of yet, aside from indicating they may invest, this is a business deal worth watching if you are interested in the semiconductor industry. Intel may set the stage for other tech giants to make similar moves, which could drastically change the market.

When larger companies invest in memory chips it helps with innovation, as they are likely to invest in research and development as well. This means consumers and manufacturers alike will benefit from better products with faster technology, leading to more robust devices and products that require less energy to run.

These major investments may also cut down on the prices of some high tech semiconductor products, as the research and innovation shows manufacturers where they can cut costs to make their products more attainable for all industries.

By keeping an eye on the potential Intel deal, you will be able to see history in the making, and get a better idea of industry trends.

Scientists have been working to uncover whether or not humans can communicate with machines via brain activity and nothing else.

Researchers indicate that, because speech is produced in the cerebral cortex, brain waves associated with said speech can be recorded with electrodes placed on the surface of the cortex. Studies have shown that the actual speech can often be reconstructed with these waves, and the appropriate text can then be generated.

If you consider your brain to be a bit like a computer itself, you can understand how the messages and signals it sends out could be intercepted and used by technology and machines. Brain waves can work a lot like other electrical impulses, telling machines what to do, and when to do it. In the case of a thought to speech device, the speech brain waves would tell the device how to interpret the waves, and direct it to generate the associated text so the patient can “speak.”

The Brain-to-Text mechanism is currently based on audible speech, but researchers are using this data as a starting point for recognizing speech that is simply though, rather than spoken out loud.

This information is hugely important both in the medical and the technological world.

For patients who are unable to speak out loud, for whatever medical reason, the concept of Brain-to-Text is hugely beneficial. Humans who have lost their speech would be able to communicate, still, with the actual words they are thinking, solely through thought.

On the technological side of things, the concept of Brain-to-Text is exciting as it represents a combination of industrial and human application. In a world filled with highly complex parts like optical isolators, contrast enhancement materials, and vinyl chloride/vinyl acetate copolymers resins, researchers can sometimes lose sight of the human aspects of design and technology.

Knowing that people can control technology just through though, potentially, opens many doors within the industry. How else can humans use their bodies and brains to control and affect machines and other technology, and what benefits can this provide?

Researchers are still learning more about Brain-to-Text, and hoping to make true thought controlled machinery a real thing in the future. For the medical industry, for technology, and for patients currently suffering without a real way to communicate, this represents a huge leap in capabilities.