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IEEE Spectrum

China’s quantum link from Beijing to Shanghai is near completion

Researchers from the University of Science and Technology in China are about to finish a 2,000 kilometer fiber optic link which will be used to connect quantum networks in four cities in the country. The link will start from Beijing and end in Shanghai and will be intended for secure communications that cannot be hacked theoretically. The process to be accomplished is called quantum key distribution (QKD), which creates shared cryptographic keys, sequences of random bits, that can be used to encrypt and decrypt data. A quantum science satellite has already been launched in August that will test the distribution of keys beyond China's borders. QKD technology has already been used in 2007 to secure the sending of votes from an election in Sweden. It was also accomplished by a firm in the US called Battelle to transmit information securely from a company's headquarters to its production facility.

Key Takeaway: 

China’s quantum link, a 2-kilometer fiber optic link which will serve as the backbone for secure quantum communications and will run from Beijing to Shanghai, is near completion.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
October 26, 2016

Harvard researchers the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip

Researchers at the Harvard Wyss Institute were the first to 3D print an organ-on-a-chip resembling a human heart which can be used to test drugs. The organ-on-a-chip has integrated sensors that automates the collection of data from the device, making it easier and more precise to measure its performance. This new method allows for the automated and mass production of organs-on-a-chip, leading to faster drug screening. Its 3D printing system can also be programmed to print other organs-on-a-chip such as the lung, gut, vascular system and more. The Wyss team plans to print 10 organ-on-a-chips and connect them to simulate the human body. 

Key Takeaway: 

Researchers from Harvard’s Wyss Institute have produced the first 3D printed organ-on-a-chip, a heart chip, with a system that can lead to the mass production of other organs-on-a-chip, resulting to faster screening of drugs without the need to test on animals or humans.

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Publication Date: 
October 27, 2016

Device increases microprocessors' multi-core processing speed

Engineers at North Carolina State University and Intel have discovered that adding a set of logic circuits called Queue Management Device or QMD can speed up communication across multiple cores in a microprocessor. The team replaced the software queues which manage the transfer of information between cores with QMD logic circuits and found that the latter performed faster, such as in packet processing. As the number of cores increased, improvement in performance become more pronounced. For 16 cores, QMD was 20 times as fast as the software. More logic circuits also increased the speed of other core communications-dependent functions such as MapReduce, which distributes work to different cores and collects the results. The next step is to discover other hardware tweaks to software that can improve the performance and energy efficiency of microprocessors.

Key Takeaway: 

A set of logic circuits called Queue Management Device can potentially solve the communication bottleneck experienced between a microprocessor’s many cores, making information processing faster.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
September 12, 2016

Global connected grid could supply clean electricity by 2050

Japan, South Korea, China and Russia as well as power and utility companies, universities and equipment manufacturers from 14 countries formed a non-profit organization called the Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) that aims to connect electric grids of different countries to create a global grid powered by renewables. The backbone infrastructure will send electricity across grids from various regions, countries and continents with a capacity of more than 10 gigawatts at more than 1,000 kilovolts AC and 800 kilovolts DC. Challenges for the organization include connecting the supply of renewable energy, which are in North Africa, central Asia, east Russia and north Asia, to areas that have great demand for power like Europe, southern Africa, and East and Southeast Asia, as well as political constraints. According to GEIDCO lead Liu Zhenya, the global grid network may be achieved by 2050 and will aid in the world's transition to sustainable and low carbon energy.

Key Takeaway: 

The Global Energy Interconnection Development and Cooperation Organization (GEIDCO) plans to connect the world's electric grids to clean energy sources by 2050, which can help transition the global economy from fossil fuels to renewables.

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Publication Date: 
September 13, 2016

Electronic patch powered by a smartphone monitors health data

Researchers have made a stretchable wearable electronic patch that can monitor and transmit health data without a built-in battery. Instead the patch is powered by a user's smartphone through near field communications, resulting in a thin device that is 5-10 times slimmer than other wearable health tracking devices with batteries. It has embedded sensors for measuring heart rate, blood oxygen levels, skin temperature and changes in skin color, and an ultraviolet sensitive material to monitor ultraviolet radiation exposure. When powered by a smartphone, the patch has to be within a 2 centimeter range from a mobile device, but with long range readers, the required distance could extend to a meter. The researchers are currently testing the technology on hospital patients and are planning to add more sensors to the device.

Key Takeaway: 

A stretchable wearable electronic patch that can track and send health data uses near field communications from a smartphone to power itself, resulting to an ultra-thin device.

Publication: 
Publication Date: 
August 3, 2016

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