Monthly Archives: August 2017

Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS)

Nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are a class of devices integrating electrical and mechanical functionality on the nanoscale. NEMS form the logical next miniaturization step from so-called microelectromechanical systems, or MEMS devices. NEMS typically integrate transistor-like nanoelectronics with mechanical actuators, pumps, or motors, and may thereby form physical, biological, and chemical sensors. The name derives from typical device dimensions in the nanometer range, leading to low mass, high mechanical resonance frequencies, potentially large quantum mechanical effects such as zero point motion, and a high surface-to-volume ratio useful for surface-based sensing mechanisms. Uses include accelerometers, or detectors of chemical substances in the air.

Overview

As noted by Richard Feynman in his famous talk in 1959, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom,” there are many potential applications of machines at smaller and smaller sizes; by building and controlling devices at smaller scales, all technology benefits. Among the expected benefits include greater efficiencies and reduced size, decreased power consumption and lower costs of production in electromechanical systems. In 2000, the first very-large-scale integration (VLSI) NEMS device was demonstrated by researchers at IBM. Its premise was an array of AFM tips which can heat/sense a deformable substrate in order to function as a memory device. Further devices have been described by Stefan de Haan. In 2007, the International Technical Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS) contains NEMS Memory as a new entry for the Emerging Research Devices section.

Atomic force microscopy

A key application of NEMS is atomic force microscope tips. The increased sensitivity achieved by NEMS leads to smaller and more efficient sensors to detect stresses, vibrations, forces at the atomic level, and chemical signals. AFM tips and other detection at the nanoscale rely heavily on NEMS.

Approaches to miniaturization

Two complementary approaches to fabrication of NEMS can be found. The top-down approach uses the traditional microfabrication methods, i.e. optical, electron beam lithographyand thermal treatments, to manufacture devices. While being limited by the resolution of these methods, it allows a large degree of control over the resulting structures. In this manner devices such as nanowires, nanorods, and patterned nanostructures are fabricated from metallic thin films or etched semiconductor layers. Bottom-up approaches, in contrast, use the chemical properties of single molecules to cause single-molecule components to self-organize or self-assemble into some useful conformation, or rely on positional assembly. These approaches utilize the concepts of molecular self-assembly and/or molecular recognition. This allows fabrication of much smaller structures, albeit often at the cost of limited control of the fabrication process. A combination of these approaches may also be used, in which nanoscale molecules are integrated into a top-down framework. One such example is the carbon nanotube nanomotor.

Digital scent technology 

Digital scent technology (or olfactory technology) is the engineering discipline dealing with olfactory representation. It is a technology to sense, transmit and receive scent-enabled digital media (such as web pages, video games, movies and music). This sensing part of this technology works by using olfactometers and electronic noses.

History

1950s–1960s

In the late 1950s, Hans Laube invented the Smell-O-Vision, a system which released odor during the projection of a film so that the viewer could “smell” what was happening in the movie. The Smell-O-Vision faced competition with AromaRama, a similar system invented by Charles Weiss that emitted scents through the air-conditioning system of a theater.Variety dubbed the competition the battle of the smellies.

Smell-O-Vision did not work as intended. According to a Variety review of the mystery comedy film Scent of Mystery (1960), which featured the one and only use of Smell-O-Vision, aromas were released with a distracting hissing noise and audience members in the balcony complained that the scents reached them several seconds after the action was shown on the screen. In other parts of the theater, the odors were too faint, causing audience members to sniff loudly in an attempt to catch the scent. These technical problems were mostly corrected after the first few showings, but the poor word of mouth, in conjunction with generally negative reviews of the film itself, led to the decline of Smell-O-Vision.

1990s–2000s

In 1999, DigiScents developed a computer peripheral device called iSmell, which was designed to emit a smell when a user visited a web site or opened an email. The device contained a cartridge with 128 “primary odors”, which could be mixed to replicate natural and man-made odors. DigiScents had indexed thousands of common odors, which could be coded, digitized, and embedded into web pages or email. After $20 million in investment, DigiScents was shut down in 2001 when it was unable to obtain the additional funding it required. In 2000, AromaJet developed a scent-generating device prototype called Pinoke. No new announcements have been made since December 2000. In 2003, TriSenx (founded in 1999) launched a scent-generating device called Scent Dome, which by 2004 was tested by the UK internet service provider Telewest. This device was about the size of a teapot and could generate up to 60 different smells by releasing particles from one or more of 20 liquid-filled odor capsules. Computers fitted with a Scent Dome unit used software to recognize smell identifying codes embedded in an email or web page.

In 2004, Tsuji Wellness and France Telecom developed a scent-generating device called Kaori Web, which comes with 6 different cartridges for different smells. The Japanese firm, K-Opticom, had placed special units of this device in their internet cafes and other venues until the end of the experiment on March 20, 2005. Also in 2004, the Indian inventor Sandeep Gupta founded SAV Products, LLC and claimed to show a scent-generating device prototype at CES 2005. In 2005, researchers from the University of Huelva developed XML Smell, a protocol of XML that can transmit smells. The researchers also developed a scent-generating device and worked on miniaturising its size. Also in 2005, Thanko launched P@D Aroma Generator, a USB device that comes with 3 different cartridges for different smells. In 2005, Japanese researchers announced that they are working on a 3D television with touch and smell that would be commercially available on the market by the year 2020.

2010s

During ThinkNext 2010, the Israeli company Scentcom featured a demo of its scent-generating device. In June 2011, a press release from the University of California, San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering announced a paper published in Angewandte Chemie describing an optimization and minitaturization of a component that can select and release scents from 10,000 odors, that is intended to be part of a Digital scent solution for TVs and phones. In March 2013, a group of Japanese researchers unveiled a prototype invention they dubbed a “smelling screen”. The device combines a digital display with four small fans that direct an emitted odor to a specific spot on the screen. The fans operate at a very low speed, making it difficult for the user to perceive airflow; instead he or each perceives the smell as coming directly out of the screen and object displayed at that location. In December 2013 Amos Porat inventor and CTO Of scent2you Israel Company has built several prototypes that can control scents. At GDC 2015, FeelReal unveiled its odor generator VR peripheral. In 2016 Surina Hariri, Nur Ain Mustafa, Kasun Karunanayaka and Adrian David Cheok from Imagineering Institute, Iskandar Puteri, Malaysia experimented with Electrical stimulation of olfactory receptors.

NanoTechnology

Nanotechnology (nanotech) is manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. The earliest, widespread description of nanotechnology referred to the particular technological goal of precisely manipulating atoms and molecules for fabrication of macroscale products, also now referred to as molecular nanotechnology. A more generalized description of nanotechnology was subsequently established by the National Nanotechnology Initiative, which defines nanotechnology as the manipulation of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. This definition reflects the fact that quantum mechanical effects are important at this quantum-realm scale, and so the definition shifted from a particular technological goal to a research category inclusive of all types of research and technologies that deal with the special properties of matter which occur below the given size threshold. It is therefore common to see the plural form “nanotechnologies” as well as “nanoscale technologies” to refer to the broad range of research and applications whose common trait is size. Because of the variety of potential applications (including industrial and military), governments have invested billions of dollars in nanotechnology research. Until 2012, through its National Nanotechnology Initiative, the USA has invested $3.7 billion, the European Union has invested $1.2 billion and Japan has $750 million.

Nanotechnology as defined by size is naturally very broad, including fields of science as diverse as surface science, organic chemistry, molecular biology, semiconductor physics, microfabrication, molecular engineering, etc.  The associated research and applications are equally diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale.

Scientists currently debate the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in nanomedicine, nanoelectronics, biomaterials energy production, and consumer products. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as any new technology, including concerns about the toxicityand environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted

New Technology uses Sound Waves

A researcher at the Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey has created breakthrough new medical technology based on sound waves. The use of sound for healing dates back thousands of years and is considered a branch of vibrational medicine, but this new technology does something different: it’s called time-reversal acoustics, and will, when commercialized, allow doctors to see inside patients’ bodies, conduct non-invasive surgeries, and pinpoint the destruction of tiny tumors or kidney stones, all without a single cut from a scalpel.

The applications of time-reversal acoustics are wide ranging: imaging, surgery, even the recharging of batteries for implanted medical devices. Yet the big story here goes beyond the coolness of this new technology: the science of time-reversal acoustics will open the minds of doctors, surgeons and western medical researchers to the benefits of vibrational medicine. This sort of technology breakthrough — when coupled with the rapid progress in phototherapy, color therapy and homeopathy — promises to bring about a revolution in medicine. We are moving from the outmoded age of chemical medicine (where most diseases were described as “chemical imbalances” by the pharmaceutical companies) to the age of vibrational medicine, where the natural forces of nature are harnessed to help create a healing response in patients. Sound therapy is just one of dozens of exciting fields in vibrational medicine that hold tremendous promise for improving the quality of our health care while dramatically lowering its cost.

The only barrier to the acceptance of vibrational medicine remains the firmly held (and oudated) beliefs of the older doctors and surgeons still practicing medicine. They don’t believe in vibrational medicine, and hence they claim it doesn’t exist. They aggressively attack homeopathy, acupuncture, sound therapy and mind/body medicine even in the face of an overwhelming body of sound evidence (no pun intended) that they work. Younger doctors, however, are far more curious about nature and are increasingly open to exploring and even prescribing these forms of medicine. When the majority of doctors start doing that, we will be firmly in the third age of medicine: vibrational medicine. We’ll treat patients without drugs, without invasive surgery, and without dangerous side effects. Health care costs will plummet, positive results will skyrocket, and the pharmaceutical industry will become practically obesolete.