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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Death Head moth (Acherontia styx)

There is still a lot of fauna left in Bangalore. Photographed this beauty is a dark corridor of my house on 20th July 2007. Beautiful specimen. The lighting used was a 50 lm 1 W power led driven 350 mA 4000K flashlight at a viewing angle of about 40 deg supplemented by the camera's xenon flash. Click on the image for the full res image.

Graphene Nanoelectronics: Making Tomorrow’s Computers from a Pencil Trace

Physorg has this report:
A representation of conduction channels on a graphene nanoribbon interfaced with gold contacts. Researchers believe graphene’s extremely efficient conductive properties can be exploited for use in nanoelectronics.

The world is running out of copper and other metals. This is a very important development.


A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere. -- Groucho Marx

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Nanocrystals Key to Better Fuel Cells

A new way to make cubic zirconia with very small crystal sizes could be key to making hydrogen fuel cells more reliable and cost-effective.

The invention by a team led by Zuhair Munir, distinguished professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis, was recently included in Nanotech Briefs magazine's Nano50 awards for 2007. The awards recognize technologies, products and people most likely to impact the state of the art in nanotechnology.

Fuel cells combine hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to release energy, leaving only water as a waste product. Fuel cells could be an alternative power source for vehicles and other uses, but there are significant challenges to their widespread use. Current fuel cells run at temperatures of 1,500 to 1,800 degrees F (800 to 1,000 degrees C). Just reaching working temperature requires energy, and the heat quickly wears out metal, plastic and ceramic components. Prevailing fuel-cell designs also require an expensive platinum catalyst.

The new technology could allow fuel cells to run at much lower temperatures, 122 to 212 degrees F (50 to 100 degrees C).

Munir, Umberto Anselmi-Tamburini and Sangtae Kim at UC Davis invented a method to make oxides such as cubic zirconia (zirconium oxide) with extremely small grain sizes, on the order of 15 nanometers. A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, or the size of a few atoms. At that scale, the crystals conduct electricity very well, through the movement of protons. The material could be used in fuel cells that are based on chemical oxides.

Munir was also recipient of the 2007 UC Davis Prize for Undergraduate Teaching and Scholarly Achievement. The prize includes a cash award of $35,000, thought to be the largest of its kind in the nation.

A patent application has been filed for the technology. A paper describing the technique was published in the journal Applied Physics Letters last year. The Nano50 awards will be presented during the National Nano Engineering Conference in Boston, Nov. 14 and 15, 2007.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We love kalamari

My kids could feast on this beastie for a year :)
One of the largest giant squid ever found has washed up on a remote Australian beach, sparking a race against time by scientists to examine the rarely seen deep-ocean creature.

The squid, the mantle or main body of which measured two-meters (6.5 feet) long, was found by a walker late on Tuesday on Ocean Beach, near Strahan, on the western coast of island state Tasmania.

"It's a whopper," Tasmanian Museum senior curator Genefor Walker-Smith told local media on Wednesday. "The main mantle is about one meter across and its total length is about eight meters."

Scientists would take samples from the creature, identified by state parks officials as an Architeuthis, which can grow to more than 10 meters (33 feet) in length and weigh more than 275 kilograms (606 pounds). The Tasmanian animal was 250 kg, Pemberton said.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

new Wildlife photo blog

A friend of mine Ulhas Anand has started this very nice blog themed on the photographs that he takes. Ulhas is a long time conservation activist and birdwatcher. Worth looking at especially if you want good pictures of south india flora and fauna.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ACPI standard explained

MIPS / Watt is the ultimate metric to measure the efficacy of computing. With the race to develop faster and quicker machines a proliferation of high power consumption devices have hit the marktet. The article below explains the ACPI standard and how it reduces consumption in modern PC's.
Read more here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ALPL develops worlds smallest LED driver

The title says it all. Hate to boast but i need to :)

Goldman Sachs on renewables

Money like water finds its own level. The buzz on renewables has been getting louder for some time and i guess big money knows when it is time to switch on the sun.
From (where else :)

Goldman Sachs, the investment bank heavyweight long known for its enthusiasm for alternative fuel sources, outlined five events Thursday it says are key to the rising sector's growth.

1 - Enacting renewable portfolio standards - These standards, known as RPS, require utilities to buy a certain amount of power from renewable resources - usually between 10 and 25 percent. The idea is to provide a reliable market where producers of renewable electricity can sell their energy.

About half the states now have them, and the energy bill currently under debate in the Senate includes a proposal to set a national RPS at 15 percent.

But the proposal faces stiff opposition from the electric utility industry and senators from the Southeast. They say some areas of the country, like the relatively windless Southeast, have far fewer renewable resources available, and therefore setting RPS standards should be left up to the states.

2 - Boost enforcement of RPS standards - There are plenty of RPS standards out there and plenty more feel-good proposals, said Tim Kingston, a Goldman managing director, in a speech at the Renewable Energy Finance Forum on Wall Street. "But unless you put real teeth into it, the incentives that drive money into that space are not going to be there."
3 - Enact a carbon cap-and-trade system or a carbon tax - Carbon dioxide is one of the primary greenhouse gases contributing to global warming. Burning fossil fuels is one of the main ways carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere.

There have been several proposals either to cap carbon emissions or impose a tax on fossil fuels in order to cut their use. The United States has so far rejected those calls, instead opting for a voluntary approach that has not resulted in an overall reduction of carbon emissions.

But with the Democrats now in control of Congress, Kingston expects the prospect of a cap or a tax to be revisited.

"We're confident one or the other will be implemented soon," he says.

4 - A significant increase in fossil fuel prices - Oil prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, more than tripling since 2002.

Most analysts blame surging demand - mainly from the United States and developing nations - that has led to oil consumption amounts that are nearly equal to the amount the world produces.
The slim difference between production and consumption has deepened the effect of geopolitical tensions, refinery problems, natural disasters and other events, as the world is less able to deal with a disruption in supply. This has pushed prices even higher.

The high prices and high demand have also attracted the attention of investors, further inflating prices.

Some analysts say this scenario is not going to change and may only get worse as the world's oil consumption continues to grow, although this view is by no means unanimous.

5 - The 2008 presidential election - The Bush administration has so far opposed both mandatory carbon regulation and renewable portfolio standards. Most renewable energy investors hope the next administration will be more receptive to these ideas.

New polymer to increase energy density

Science daily reports
North Carolina State University physicists have recently deduced a way to improve high-energy-density capacitors so that they can store up to seven times as much energy per unit volume than the common capacitor. High performance capacitors would enable hybrid and electric cars with much greater acceleration, better and faster steering of rockets and spacecraft, better regeneration of electricity when using brakes in electric cars, and improved lasers, among many other electrical applications.A polymer called PVDF has interested physicists as a possible high-performance dielectric. It exists in two forms, polarized or unpolarized. In either case, its structure is mostly frozen-in and changes only slightly when a capacitor is charged up. Mixing a second polymer called CTFE with PVDF results in a material with regions that can change their structure, enabling it to store and release unprecedented amounts of energy.

The team, led by Vivek Ranjan, concluded that a more ordered arrangement of the material inside the capacitor could further increase the energy storage of new high-performance capacitors, which already store energy four times more densely than capacitors used in industry. Their predictions of higher energy density capacitors are encouraging, but have yet to be experimentally tested.