Looking Beyond The Horizon

Innovative Technologies & Services

Archive for the ‘micron’ Category

Miniature projector coming to make large display ubiquitous – MEMS mirror to help

Posted by evolvingwheel on January 13, 2008

I was surfing through some CES 2008 news this weekend with an eye for some new, upcoming technologies that could change the ways we behave. And, I came across this new pocket sized device, a mini laser powered projector that can display pictures and videos to a size of 100 inches on a wall! It is again the MEMS (microelectromechanical system) tool (a scanning mirror on a silicon chip) that is enabling this innovation. The product is Microvision’s PICO SHOW Projector. For the CES report in Popular Science, read [here]. For Microvision’s product detail, click [here]. accessory_big.jpg

First, thinking about the applications that could derive from this innovation. Microvision has enlisted several display opportunities of their application. But the possibilities could go way beyond that. The whole benefit of getting away from bulky lenses, heat, weight, and cost pays for the invention by itself. However, consider what this development can enable in the mobile device market. First of all, the reality of laser powered projection systems is like a dream coming true. What Microvision did (or doing) is taking the ‘sharpening of the technology’ opensource, well partial opensource at least. They are working with mobile device companies to integrate their tool into the OEM’s interface. Now, what this leads to is collective investment, R&D, and marketing support of PICO’s rapid commercialization and acceptance in the market. I kind of love this method – create a new technology and empower it on other accepted platform with devices from partner businesses powering your own growth.

Next comes MEMS. Again, I am slowly turning into a MEMS’ fanatic and in next 5 years would possibly end up opening a whole cult group for this :). I am pasting here one line from Microvision’s site about the advantage of MEMS in new age – ‘Inherent advantages of MEMS devices are high reliability, low power operation, small size, low cost to manufacture, and high scalability to volume production. If you read the method of projection delivery using these MEMS scanning mirrors, you will really feel the power of these miniature systems… http://www.microvision.com/technology/mems.html. Micro electro-mechanical systems amaze me with their reliability in such small sizes. Further, the scalability and volume integration do not compound the energy requirements like we observe in conventional electrical or mechanical objects!


Posted in Innovation, investment, laser, micron, optics | 1 Comment »

Nanotube radio – world’s smallest: Can it be tied up to MEMS?

Posted by evolvingwheel on November 12, 2007

I love technologyreview.com. Whenever I visit after a while, I always find something enthralling. Something that just pokes my mind and ends up creating a boundless array of imaginative possibilities. This time I came across the article on world’s smallest radio – a carbon nanotube that is able to receive radio-frequency and play the song sent over the carrier wave.

Innovative engineering feat resides in the simplest perspective. When a complicated scientific phenomenon, in this case a radio, is condensed in a nanoscale dimension, the magic is worth watching. Even if there is no immediate commercial prospect of the invention, the concept itself is path-breaking. One of the coolest aspect of the research is the way the radio receives the signal. In conventional radios the antenna receives the electromagnetic signal. Over here the radio starts responding when the frequency of the carrier wave matches the resonating frequency of the carbon nanotube. You can find the detail in the link [here]. nanoradio-timeline-sizes.jpg

I was also reading about the possible applications. One of them worth talking about is the packaging of this radio with MEMS (microelectromechanicalsensors). MEMSare supposed to be injected into the bloodstream and the sensors will record data – blood sugar level, cancer markers, blood pathogens, etc. Once this radio is configured to transmit data, a whole new world will open up (may be already in the process of opening up). MEMS will play an enormous role in preventive diagnostics and this tiny radio can remotely send information to a receiver outside the body. I have to do some more research in biological MEMS now!

Posted in biotech, blood, Communication, Innovation, micron, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

Nano-clothing – Could this be a commercially viable choice anytime soon?

Posted by evolvingwheel on October 10, 2007

Popular Science posted an article about a nanoparticle coated jacket that wards off viruses. Researchers from Cornell have sprinkled the upper cotton layer with silver nanoparticles that deflect bacteria and viruses. Further, palladium nanoparticles sprayed on the neck and upper parts of the jacket acts to breakdown pollutants. This functional clothing does a little bit more than just making one look cool. Read the [article] here.

In the latest trend in nanotextiles, nano-metallic particles are sprayed on the fabric to perform numerous tasks – keeping bigger dirt particles and bad stains off. However, there are some difficulties in creating such cool dresses. A considerable degree of precision is required in spraying nanoparticles evenly across the whole length of the fabric. It is extremely difficult to maintain such a level of accuracy in such a small scale of length. On the other hand, the silver and gold particles are not cost effective for mass production and cheap commercial acceptance. Some of the business aspects that should be considered to make this innovation a household word are:

  1. Commercial entry of high-end devices those are capable of mass-producing nano material layers fast and cheap.
  2. Investing effectively in R&D for finding nanoparticles that are more cost effective than metals like gold and silver.
  3. Create awareness in the community about the strength and efficacy of nanosprayed clothing in defeating daily infections.
  4. Consider the negative effect of nano particles when infused into the eco-system – by disposal, factory run-off, and/or recycling.

Posted in Environment, Innovation, micron, nano assembly, nanotechnology | 2 Comments »

Nanoparticle to fight allergy

Posted by evolvingwheel on June 22, 2007

Its the buckyball – a soccer ball shaped nanoparticle that has been found effective in fighting allergies. Researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University have been able to show that certain carbon based nanoparticles have been able to restrict allergic response during cell culture experiments. This finding is going to contribute to nanoimmunology research significantly.

Nanoparticle research is now the emerging gateway for new inventions in material science, technology, robotics, and healthcare. Micro-scale medicine research that involves binding agents to cells and tissues has been a very exciting domain of exploration. Particles that can attach to extremely small bio entities (like blood cells or tumor cells) are capable of activating, limiting, and catalyzing events in our favor. The buckeyball, with 60 Carbon atoms, is relatively inert and stable. This particle is capable of restrict mast cells from releasing histamine.

As with any early research, university research teams are the pathfinders in early breakthroughs. Healthcare and medical startups in nanoparticle domain will more and more tap on these teams and their findings. However, these findings need to go through more rigorous validations in order to reduce the risk of failure in pilot studies leading to launch. The invention-to-market time for nano materials are lower than pharmacological developments (that often range from 5-10 years) for conventional drugs. This whole new area of nanoimmunology will definitely create a new business model for investments and availability of affordable advanced treatments.

Read the article [here].

Posted in Innovation, investment, Medicine, micron, nanotechnology | 2 Comments »

Lighting Up Bacteria

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 12, 2007

Scientists from the University of Sheffield have designed an innovative sensor that helps to indicate presence of bacteria by giving out a fluorescent signal. The researchers will be able to detect early stage bacterial contamination by using a polymer that will give out visible signal in presence of the pathogen. The technology has serious implications in the healthcare industry, where it often takes more than days to culture bacteria. The new method appears to hold promise in delivering an easy, manageable, and fast way to detect bacteria in wounds. Read the detail [here].

Posted in Innovation, Medicine, micron | Leave a Comment »

Thermoelectric Organic Compund – Beyond just renewable energy

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 9, 2007

This one caught my attention for the properties of the organic molecule – create voltage when heated. The substance doesn’t conduct heat but rather electrons across itself. A very strong candidate for thermoelectricity.

Researchers at UC Berkeley successfully conducted experiments to prove that the molecule indeed generates voltage when exposed to heat. You may read more details about the substance and its properties from the link here. I am more interested in its commercial applications and business investments associated with it.

A lot of energy is lost in the form of heat when we derive power from coal, nuclear reactions, etc. These organic molecules can be stacked across heat exhaust devices generating electricity off the exhaust plume. How noble. However, the current challenge with them is the efficiency. That needs to be enhanced by altering the structure of the molecule. However, abundance and affordability make the research worthwhile. May be they could even try to dope this molecule with some other organic substrate and try to observe any change in efficiency.

This is a great consideration for investment analysis – over abundance, cheap versus low efficiency. Should you follow the track for more research or just try to commercialize a draft version and try to get the industry evolve it with changing applications, implementations, and adjustments around it? Another technical goal is to layer the organic molecules between metal sheets to make them thermoelectric. If this could be achieved in a cheap way commercially, the business prospects look promising.

Posted in Energy, Environment, fuel, Innovation, micron, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

How about getting sprayed and then tracked! – Hitachi’s Mu RFID Chip

Posted by evolvingwheel on March 8, 2007

Hitachi recently unraveled a RFID chip which is comparable to the thickness of human hair. This clandestine micro object can literally be embedded in thousands of objects and information on it can be traced by regular RFID readers. The RFID chip even has an in-built antenna. What else do you need to invade invisibly to everyday usage of human beings? 😉

Where will they be embedded? Well.. you can guess very well – any paper or film type objects or on any skin layers. Tickets, bills, cash, food products.. just name it. When this product reaches the market and gets commercialized, how will the dusty tracers be embedded, distributed, and utilized to track information on the move? One place I see them could be tracking slips for mailing and shipments. Spray-em and read-em! Healthcare could be one other potential candidate.

Japan Powder Chip

[Read Article]

Posted in Communication, Innovation, micron | Leave a Comment »

Let there be vision – And there were Retinal Implants

Posted by evolvingwheel on February 28, 2007

People who turned blind from retinal degeneration have got a recent improvement in their ability to see. An improvement in the implants have allowed scientists to embed four times more electrodes in the chap implant from before – and thus a 4-fold increase in resolution. The device, developed by Mark Humayun and his colleagues at USC consists of an array of hair thin electrodes in a tiny chip that is implanted in the retina. The scientific breakthrough has been with stacking the large number of electrodes in the tiny chip bed.

There are few important technological aspects of this development. One is the wireless transmission of the visual data to the chip after the video is processed by an instrumentation clipped to the belt on the waist. The electrical impulse is then transmitted to the electrodes that send electrical stimulus to the retinal cells. However, the hurdle is not just with the packing of thousands of electrodes but making the impulse work identical to the effect of light on the retina. How do they do that? May be they will soon find ways to tweak electrical signals that may trigger stimulations on retinal cells similar to that of light. Guess more research needs to be done on the behavior of the retinal cells, their properties, and their behavior. What type of cellular protiens are located over there and how do they behave to light?

Then comes the packing of electrodes. Nano electrodes may be. How do they stack them though? I have to do a bit more research on the video processing side too. Can something be done on the algorithm side? If more information can be sent by using optimized processing algorithm. Read the article [here].

Posted in Innovation, Medicine, micron, nanotechnology, optics, robots | Leave a Comment »

Quantum Dots For Untapped Energy

Posted by evolvingwheel on January 30, 2007

Recent developments in nanoparticles have emerged possibilities that open new horizons in alternative sources of energy. One of them is solar energy and photovoltaic (PV) cells. Ted Sergent and his colleagues at the University of Toronto have invented a plastic infrared solar cell that is capable of tuning the bandgap in a semiconductor material. The team developed a semiconducting plastic (a polymer) where the size of the nanocrystals can be controlled to optimize the efficiency of the solar cell.

The high cost of fabrication and limited efficiency in converting solar energy to electricity have handicapped the first and second generations of solar cells. The yield versus the investment has limited the growth of this alternative energy source among average consumers globally. However, new developments in nanocrystals and methods of fabricating polymer plastics with quantum dots have created opportunities to implement a technology that promises cheap implementation and extremely high efficiency.

The first advantage of quantum dots is their tunable bandgap. By controlling the size of the nanocrystals one can generate high voltage with regular incident sunlight. Quantum dots can improve the efficiency of solar cell by extending the band gap and also by generating more charges from a single photon. Secondly, in contrast to traditional semiconductor materials that are rigid, quantum dots can be molded into different shapes and forms and hence can be implemented as sheets or films – an extremely attractive proposition for commercial impementation. Finally, the ability of the polymer to absorb light in the non-visible range opens a sudden and unexpected realm. Nearly half of the approximately 1000Wm3 of the intensity of sunlight is in the infrared zone. Infrared photovoltaic cells can even capture radiation from heat sources like industrial facilities. This implicates an enormous potential. The devices can be installed in thousands of industrial manufacturing lines to abosrb the energy and convert to electricity, thereby leading to an opportunity of delivering power from non-power generation sectors! [Click here for article]

And the business opportunities? 🙂 

Posted in Innovation, investment, materials, micron, nanotechnology | Leave a Comment »

Innerspace – Part II

Posted by evolvingwheel on January 20, 2007

innerspace2.jpgIts like revisiting Fantastic Voyage.  A recent article in WIRED News (Fantastic Voyage: Departure 2009) sounds like a SciFi story in line with the script of 1987’s Innerspace. James Friend and his buddies at Micro/Nanophysics Research Laboratory are building a flagellated robot of 250 micron capable of swimming upstream through he human arteries and operating at desired locations unreachable by todays’s conventional methods. Isn’t that amazing! Just knocked my socks off when I tried to imagine its implications. What a massive engineering feat. A motor fitted in a capsule as wide as 2 human hairs that is driven by the mechanical pressure exerted by the rushing bloodstream running down the arterial network. The components are mind boggling: a micro level piezoelectric slab, mechanical flagella, a circuit, a power supply – all stacked together in a carrier that travels to a microscopic tumor or a blod clot in the middle of the brain. Innovation at its best.

Now lets dig into the possibilities that diverge from the commercialization of such technology in medical science. What always interests me is the ramification in other industrial developments and scientific researches. There are numerous opportunities. One is definitely material research in micro level. How can we develop materials that operate under severe size and conductive restrictions. May be we will try to mimic the natural phenomenon in artificial devices but in microscopic level. Another industry could be the commercialization of power supplies that are derived from molecular configurations and their alterations. Microbot development could also trigger research in molecular and genetic payloads which are capable of reaching highly sophisticated targets and reacting by chemical interaction to diffuse or instigate actions as required. Molecular genetics will be definitely worth following. I would also like to emphasize on the growth of a sector in medical profession where doctors will be acting like astronauts. Think of Dr. John Doe sitting on his special chair half inclined, with a hi-tech pair of goggles, and his both hands holding two joysticks that drive the microbot to the smallest cavity in the middle of the brain. As he smoothly rotates the stick, his right thumb presses a red button that ejects a micro amount of a synthetic glue to seal a ruptured vein.

It might sound great to have the patient check into the medical center, sit on a half inclined bed, get injected with a bot, and watch a Seinfeld rerun while the doctor finishes a delicate surgery in his brain. But…. but.. any invention is successful only to the extent of its availability. Along with the economics involved with the commercialization, what matters most is its implementation. Currently there are so many life saving drugs waiting for years to get approved by the FDA. Then there are ethical, political, and social questions associated with every aspect of a new drug or a technique. The medical industry doesn’t operate like the software or the hardware industry. Thus, the procedure might need some big shot pharmaceutical or medical device company to bring it to the market. However, in that case we face the inevitable question – will the new method be available at a reasonble price? Will not the implementor try to make huge profits and pass on the cost to the average patient? How receptive will the insurance companies be? So there are so many questions…….. and we will keep looking for answers.. and I ask you to look for too 🙂 

However, for now lets savor the wonderful feeling of crossing the thin line between reality and science fiction! 

Posted in Innovation, micron, nanotechnology, robots | Leave a Comment »