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Archive for November, 2013

Topological insulators: Breaking symmetry for faster computers

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Article Source: Tokyo Institute of Technology, Center for Public Information

A new compound developed at Tokyo Tech shows highly unusual conducting properties that could be used in future electronic components. The details are described in the November 2013 issue of Tokyo Institute of Technology Bulletin:

Ordinary insulating solids, such as diamond, have energy bands that are fully occupied by electrons. The conducting band is so far away from the valence band in diamond that electrons do not have sufficient energy to move – the ‘band gap’ is large – therefore no electric current can be carried.

In recent years, researchers have become interested in materials called topological insulators (TIs), which act as insulators on the inside, but are highly conductive on their surfaces. In TIs, an exceptionally strong spin-orbit interaction inverts the energy gap between occupied and empty states, so that electrons at the surface can flow across the gap. These properties are intrinsic to the material, meaning a TI remains conductive even if its surface is not perfect.

Now, an international team of scientists from Japan, the UK and the USA, led by Takao Sasagawa at Tokyo Institute of Technology, have successfully developed a new TI from bismuth, tellurium and chlorine (BiTeCl). Their new TI is inversion asymmetric, meaning it has different electronic states, and therefore different polarities, on each crystal surface. As a result, it exhibits many topological effects that have not been seen experimentally before.


Unravelling the mind-body connection with power-efficient IC chip jointly developed by A*STAR IME, NTU and NUS

Monday, November 25th, 2013

Article source: IME

Despite the advances in neuroscience research, the human brain remains a complex puzzle with questions unanswered on how it controls human behaviour, cognitive functions and movements.  Scientists from A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics (IME), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National University of Singapore (NUS) have jointly developed and demonstrated an integrated circuit (IC) chip with record-low power consumption for direct recording of brain activities. This breakthrough minimises the patient’s exposure to electromagnetic radiation and heat during the recording process, making it possible to integrate greater number of channels (>100 channels) to acquire more comprehensive profile of brain signals, paving the way to unlock the mystery behind the complex mind-body connection.

Neural recording system is a vital tool to acquire and process brain signals, and is also applied in artificial limb control (or neural prosthesis) treatments for paralyzed patients. The system comprises multiple electrodes for data acquisition and is implanted within the skull during the operation. The implantability of the system places tight limits on its size and power consumption, while at the same time demanding sufficient performance to record good quality data.


S2C: FPGA Base prototyping- Download white paper

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