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Science & Technology News Bulletin

Every week, we editorially select the best S&T stories released from major news outlets. These stories are then ranked and posted (with appropriate credit and references to the originals) on our Blog by Friday afternoon. Hema Viswanath curates this content and has been doing so for ASDR&E's Office of Net Technical Assessments and Office of Technical Intelligence for over seven years before performing the same work for us. Currently, we are experimenting with distributing this content through a free, advertising-supported model. We intend to continue experimenting using paywalls, direct e-mail subscriptions and donations. Hosting this content is important to us and we would like to retain it on at least a revenue-neutral basis. We are also experimenting with enriching the content to make it more relevant to our Government clients.

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of January 15, 2021

01. Studying chaos with one of the world’s fastest cameras
02. Electrically switchable qubit can tune between storage and fast calculation modes
03. Nanosheet-based electronics could be one drop away
04. New state of matter in one-dimensional quantum gas
05. Researchers report quantum-limit-approaching chemical sensing chip
06. Scientists tame photon-magnon interaction
07. Trapping light without back reflections
08. Using electricity to increase the amount of data that can be stored by DNA
09. Bound-charge engineering: A new strategy to develop nanowire transistors
10. The changing paradigm of next-generation semiconductor memory development

And others…

10 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2021
Calculations Show It’ll Be Impossible to Control a Super-Intelligent AI
Creating Silicon Valley 2.0
Expert prognosis for the planet – we’re on track for a ghastly future
Number of people suffering extreme droughts will double

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of January 8, 2021

And others…

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of January 01, 2021

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of December 25, 2020

RECENT POSTS

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of January 15, 2021

01. Studying chaos with one of the world’s fastest cameras
02. Electrically switchable qubit can tune between storage and fast calculation modes
03. Nanosheet-based electronics could be one drop away
04. New state of matter in one-dimensional quantum gas
05. Researchers report quantum-limit-approaching chemical sensing chip
06. Scientists tame photon-magnon interaction
07. Trapping light without back reflections
08. Using electricity to increase the amount of data that can be stored by DNA
09. Bound-charge engineering: A new strategy to develop nanowire transistors
10. The changing paradigm of next-generation semiconductor memory development

And others…

10 Exciting Engineering Milestones to Look for in 2021
Calculations Show It’ll Be Impossible to Control a Super-Intelligent AI
Creating Silicon Valley 2.0
Expert prognosis for the planet – we’re on track for a ghastly future
Number of people suffering extreme droughts will double

Bound-charge engineering: A new strategy to develop nanowire transistors

Phys.org  January 13, 2021
Low-dimensional materials can have a relatively small number of free charges and weak screening compared to 3-D materials. This screening is especially crucial for the development of tunnel field-effect transistors, which heavily rely on the quantum tunneling of electrons across junctions. By atomistic quantum transport simulations researchers in Canada show how bound charges can be engineered at interfaces of Si and low- oxides to strengthen screening. To avoid compromising gate control, low- and high- oxides are used in conjunction. They demonstrated that in Si nanowire tunnel field-effect transistors bound charge engineering increases the on-state current by orders of magnitude, and the combination of oxides yields minimal subthreshold swing. They concluded that the proposed bound-charge engineering paves a way toward improved low-power transistors…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Image of one of the silicon nanowires that Prentki simulated in his work. Each sphere represents a silicon atom, and each bar represents an atomic bond between two neighboring silicon atoms. Credit: Prentki et al.

Calculations Show It’ll Be Impossible to Control a Super-Intelligent AI

Science Alert   January 14, 2021
Superintelligence is a hypothetical agent that possesses intelligence far surpassing that of the brightest and most gifted human minds. Considering recent advances in machine intelligence, several scientists, philosophers, and technologists predict potentially catastrophic risks entailed by such an entity. An international team of researchers (Spain, Germany, USA – UC San Diego, Chile) trace the origins and development of the neo-fear of superintelligence, and some of the major proposals for its containment. They argue that total containment is, in principle, impossible, due to fundamental limits inherent to computing itself. Assuming that superintelligence will contain a program that includes all the programs that can be executed by a universal Turing machine on input potentially as complex as the state of the world, strict containment requires simulations of such a program, something theoretically (and practically) impossible…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

The changing paradigm of next-generation semiconductor memory development

Nanowerk  January 12, 2021
It has been reported that spins are formed inside a nanomagnet if electric current is applied to the nanomagnet. There have been no studies on the physical results of these spins. Researchers in South Korea have established a theoretical system by developing a spin diffusion equation that describes the spin conductance in magnetic materials. They discovered that when the spins formed by electric current is emitted to the outside, only the sign is opposite to that of the spins injected from the outside, and the effects are the same. Therefore, the directions of the N pole and S pole can be controlled by the nanomagnet itself without external spin injection, and the power consumption can be reduced by up to ~60% compared to that of conventional spin devices. The study provides an academic basis for spin conductance in magnetic materials…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Creating Silicon Valley 2.0

IEEE Spectrum  January 12, 2021
Silicon Valley’s magical concentration of talent, capital, and culture in a single place has led to decades of unparalleled wealth creation. This spectacular success has induced attempts to emulate it in such enclaves as Silicon Mountain (one in the African nation of Cameroon, and another in the U.S. state of Colorado), Silicon Hills (Texas), Silicon Desert (Arizona), and many more. These seedlings may indeed grow to become forests, but the ingredients are there for even more promising transformations—metamorphoses that would bring far greater resources together at abstracted, or virtual, focal points. According to the author the virtual engineering world may develop along different lines but Silicon Valley 2.0, by tapping into worldwide reserves of talent, will far exceed the creative legacy of Silicon Valley 1.0….read more.

Electrically switchable qubit can tune between storage and fast calculation modes

Science Daily  January 11, 2021
An international team of researchers (Switzerland, the Netherland) has created the qubits in the form of “hole spins” that can be switched from a stable idle mode to a fast calculation mode. The spins can be selectively coupled — via a photon, for example — to other spins by tuning their resonant frequencies. They can be coherently flipped from up to down in as little as a nanosecond allowing up to a billion switches per second. For their experiments, the researchers used a semiconductor nanowire made of silicon and germanium wire that has a diameter of about 20 nanometers. As the qubit is extremely small, it should in principle be possible to incorporate millions or even billions of these qubits onto a chip…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Experimental set-up and EDSR. Credit: Nature Nanotechnology (2021)

Expert prognosis for the planet – we’re on track for a ghastly future

Science Daily  January 13, 2021
An international team of researchers (Australia, USA – Stanford University, Virginia Tech, UC Berkeley, industry, Oregon State University, UCLA, Mexico) outlines clearly and unambiguously the likely future trends in biodiversity decline, mass extinction, climate disruption, planetary toxification, all tied to human consumption and population growth to demonstrate the near certainty that these problems will worsen over the coming decades, with negative impacts for centuries to come. It also explains the impact of political impotence and the ineffectiveness of current and planned actions to address the ominous scale of environmental erosion…read moreTECHNICAL ARTICLE

Summary of major environmental-change categories expressed as a percentage change relative to the baseline given in the text… Credit: Front. Conserv. Sci., 13 January 2021

Nanosheet-based electronics could be one drop away

Nanowerk  January 8, 2021
Researchers in Japan overcame the “coffee ring” effect of drop casting by controlled convection using a pipette and a hotplate. They found that dropping a solution containing 2D nanosheets with a simple pipette onto a substrate heated on a hotplate to a temperature of about 100°C, followed by removal of the solution, causes the nanosheets to come together in about 30 seconds to form a tile-like layer. They demonstrated controlled thermal convection by depositing particle solutions of titanium dioxide, calcium niobate, ruthenium oxide, and graphene oxide. They also tried different sizes and shapes of a variety of substrates, including silicon, silicon dioxide, quartz glass, and polyethylene terephthalate. They showed that the surface tension and evaporation rate of the solution could be controlled by adding a small amount of ethanol. They deposited multiple layers of tiled nanosheets, fabricating functional nanocoatings with various features: conducting, semiconducting, insulating, magnetic and photochromic…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Abstract. Credit: ACS Nano 2020, 14, 11, 15216–15226, Date: October 29, 2020.

New state of matter in one-dimensional quantum gas

Phys.org  January 14, 2021
Long-lived excited states of interacting quantum systems that retain quantum correlations and evade thermalization are of great fundamental interest. A team of researchers in the US (Stanford University, City University of New York) created nonthermal states in a bosonic one-dimensional (1D) quantum gas of dysprosium by stabilizing a super-Tonks-Girardeau gas against collapse and thermalization with repulsive long-range dipolar interactions. Stiffness and energy-per-particle measurements show that the system is dynamically stable regardless of contact interaction strength. This enables us to cycle contact interactions from weakly to strongly repulsive, then strongly attractive, and finally weakly attractive. They showed that it is an energy-space topological pump (caused by a quantum holonomy). Iterating the cycle offers an unexplored topological pumping method to create a hierarchy of increasingly excited prethermal states…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE