- A transmission algorithm developed at the Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory could ease the transition to high-definition television (HDTV). By compressing the HDTV data stream, the algorithm allows HDTV and standard analog TV signals to be broadcast over the same channel. Broadcasters, who are required to begin transmission of HDTV by 2006, will be able to transmit the digital and analog formats using a single transmission system. Meanwhile, consumers can continue to use existing analog receivers without purchasing add-on converters. In HDTV receivers, the digital signal will be recovered by a software loop. Considered an interim solution, the compression reduces the signal's information content (in bits/pixel) by about 20% when compared with a dedicated HDTV transmission. The lab is now seeking qualified licensees for the technology.
- Researchers at DuPont iTechnologies have developed a low-temperature cofired-ceramic (LTCC) technology that permits the construction of complex 3D shapes and channels within the substrate. Dubbed PI-LTCC, this photo-imageable material system produces high-resolution, fine-pitch via structures with vias as small as 50 µm. Moreover, it promises to deliver these benefits with increased productivity, lower tooling costs, and easier processing. By building channels and cavities within the ceramic body, it's possible to create heat pipes for thermal management. And by metallizing the buried channels, it should be possible to build electrochemical devices such as micro fuel cells and batteries as well as ultra-low-k cavities and electro-optical devices. Developed in conjunction with National Semiconductor in a DARPA-sponsored project, the PI-LTCC has the same fired film chemistry and properties as DuPont's 951 Green Tape. Details about the LTCC technology were presented in "New Photoimageable LTCC Technology for a Wide Range of Ceramic Architectures and Circuits" at the HD International Conference in April. Visit www.hd-international.com for more information.
- The University of Washington (UW) and the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have formed the Joint Institute for Na-noscience and Nanotechnology. Currently, scientists in PNNL's nanoscience facility are designing, manipulating, and characterizing materials on the na-noscale, including quantum dots, nanotubes, and nanoporous films. Under this agreement, post-graduate students and professors at UW will have access to instrumentation and experts that will expand the university's capabilities in nanoscience. This new institute will promote the inclusion of area scientists in the advancement of nanotechnology. According to the agreement, each partner will provide $500,000 in the first year to be used for the administration and support of the joint institute.
- In pursuit of molecular-scale electronic devices, researchers at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Laboratory have achieved a major breakthrough in building transistors using carbon nanotubes. This accomplishment lays the groundwork for new materials and processes in the the future, as silicon will approach its physical limits in the next 10 to 20 years. About 10 atoms across and 500 times smaller than today's silicon-based transistors, carbon nanotubes can compete with silicon in terms of performance, IBM researchers say. The scientists have developed a practical method, called constructive destruction, for building carbon nanotube transistors.