Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Electronics


Precise control over processing, transport and delivery of ionic and molecular signals is of great importance in numerous fields of life sciences. Integrated circuits based on ion transistors would be one approach to route and dispense complex chemical signal patterns to achieve such control. To date several types of ion transistors have been reported; however, only individual devices have so far been presented and most of them are not functional at physiological salt concentrations. Here we report integrated chemical logic gates based on ion bipolar junction transistors. Inverters and NAND gates of both npn type and complementary type are demonstrated. We find that complementary ion gates have higher gain and lower power consumption, as compared with the single transistor-type gates, which imitates the advantages of complementary logics found in conventional electronics. Ion inverters and NAND gates lay the groundwork for further development of solid-state chemical delivery circuits.

Concepts: Molecule, Chemistry, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Bipolar junction transistor, Electronics, Logic gate, MOSFET


In the 1940s, the first generation of modern computers used vacuum tube oscillators as their principle components, however, with the development of the transistor, such oscillator based computers quickly became obsolete. As the demand for faster and lower power computers continues, transistors are themselves approaching their theoretical limit and emerging technologies must eventually supersede them. With the development of optical oscillators and Josephson junction technology, we are again presented with the possibility of using oscillators as the basic components of computers, and it is possible that the next generation of computers will be composed almost entirely of oscillatory devices. Here, we demonstrate how coupled threshold oscillators may be used to perform binary logic in a manner entirely consistent with modern computer architectures. We describe a variety of computational circuitry and demonstrate working oscillator models of both computation and memory.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Integrated circuit, Oscillation, Computer, Computation, Computer science, Computing, Electronics


In the past 50 y, there has been a decline in average sleep duration and quality, with adverse consequences on general health. A representative survey of 1,508 American adults recently revealed that 90% of Americans used some type of electronics at least a few nights per week within 1 h before bedtime. Mounting evidence from countries around the world shows the negative impact of such technology use on sleep. This negative impact on sleep may be due to the short-wavelength-enriched light emitted by these electronic devices, given that artificial-light exposure has been shown experimentally to produce alerting effects, suppress melatonin, and phase-shift the biological clock. A few reports have shown that these devices suppress melatonin levels, but little is known about the effects on circadian phase or the following sleep episode, exposing a substantial gap in our knowledge of how this increasingly popular technology affects sleep. Here we compare the biological effects of reading an electronic book on a light-emitting device (LE-eBook) with reading a printed book in the hours before bedtime. Participants reading an LE-eBook took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness, reduced melatonin secretion, later timing of their circadian clock, and reduced next-morning alertness than when reading a printed book. These results demonstrate that evening exposure to an LE-eBook phase-delays the circadian clock, acutely suppresses melatonin, and has important implications for understanding the impact of such technologies on sleep, performance, health, and safety.

Concepts: Sleep, Sleep disorder, Circadian rhythm, Electronics, Delayed sleep phase syndrome, Chronotype, Jet lag, Melatonin


Consumer-wearable activity trackers are electronic devices used for monitoring fitness- and other health-related metrics. The purpose of this systematic review was to summarize the evidence for validity and reliability of popular consumer-wearable activity trackers (Fitbit and Jawbone) and their ability to estimate steps, distance, physical activity, energy expenditure, and sleep.

Concepts: Exercise, Reliability, Capacitor, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Recent advances in materials, mechanics, and electronic device design are rapidly establishing the foundations for health monitoring technologies that have “skin-like” properties, with options in chronic (weeks) integration with the epidermis. The resulting capabilities in physiological sensing greatly exceed those possible with conventional hard electronic systems, such as those found in wrist-mounted wearables, because of the intimate skin interface. However, most examples of such emerging classes of devices require batteries and/or hard-wired connections to enable operation. The work reported here introduces active optoelectronic systems that function without batteries and in an entirely wireless mode, with examples in thin, stretchable platforms designed for multiwavelength optical characterization of the skin. Magnetic inductive coupling and near-field communication (NFC) schemes deliver power to multicolored light-emitting diodes and extract digital data from integrated photodetectors in ways that are compatible with standard NFC-enabled platforms, such as smartphones and tablet computers. Examples in the monitoring of heart rate and temporal dynamics of arterial blood flow, in quantifying tissue oxygenation and ultraviolet dosimetry, and in performing four-color spectroscopic evaluation of the skin demonstrate the versatility of these concepts. The results have potential relevance in both hospital care and at-home diagnostics.

Concepts: Blood, Skin, Photodiode, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Digital, Multi-touch


This work demonstrates an attractive low-cost route to obtain large area and high-quality graphene films by using the ultra-smooth copper foils which are typically used as the negative electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. We first compared the electronic transport properties of our new graphene film with the one synthesized by using commonly used standard copper foils in chemical vapor deposition (CVD). We observed a stark improvement in the electrical performance of the transistors realized on our graphene films. To study the optical properties on large area, we transferred CVD based graphene to transparent flexible substrates using hot lamination method and performed large area optical scanning. We demonstrate the promise of our high quality graphene films for large areas with ~400 cm(2) flexible optical modulators. We obtained a profound light modulation over a broad spectrum by using the fabricated large area transparent graphene supercapacitors and we compared the performance of our devices with the one based on graphene from standard copper. We propose that the copper foils used in the lithium-ion batteries could be used to obtain high-quality graphene at much lower-cost, with the improved performance of electrical transport and optical properties in the devices made from them.

Concepts: Optics, Semiconductor, Chemical vapor deposition, Rechargeable battery, Lithium-ion battery, Electronics, Photonics, Optoelectronics


The miniaturization of electronic devices has been the principal driving force behind the semiconductor industry, and has brought about major improvements in computational power and energy efficiency. Although advances with silicon-based electronics continue to be made, alternative technologies are being explored. Digital circuits based on transistors fabricated from carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have the potential to outperform silicon by improving the energy-delay product, a metric of energy efficiency, by more than an order of magnitude. Hence, CNTs are an exciting complement to existing semiconductor technologies. Owing to substantial fundamental imperfections inherent in CNTs, however, only very basic circuit blocks have been demonstrated. Here we show how these imperfections can be overcome, and demonstrate the first computer built entirely using CNT-based transistors. The CNT computer runs an operating system that is capable of multitasking: as a demonstration, we perform counting and integer-sorting simultaneously. In addition, we implement 20 different instructions from the commercial MIPS instruction set to demonstrate the generality of our CNT computer. This experimental demonstration is the most complex carbon-based electronic system yet realized. It is a considerable advance because CNTs are prominent among a variety of emerging technologies that are being considered for the next generation of highly energy-efficient electronic systems.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Carbon nanotube, Computer, Diode, Electronics, Electronic engineering


IN THE RAPIDLY CHANGING CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR INCREASINGLY DIGITAL WORLD, READING IS ALSO BECOMING AN INCREASINGLY DIGITAL EXPERIENCE: electronic books (e-books) are now outselling print books in the United States and the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, many readers still view e-books as less readable than print books. The present study thus used combined EEG and eyetracking measures in order to test whether reading from digital media requires higher cognitive effort than reading conventional books. Young and elderly adults read short texts on three different reading devices: a paper page, an e-reader and a tablet computer and answered comprehension questions about them while their eye movements and EEG were recorded. The results of a debriefing questionnaire replicated previous findings in that participants overwhelmingly chose the paper page over the two electronic devices as their preferred reading medium. Online measures, by contrast, showed shorter mean fixation durations and lower EEG theta band voltage density - known to covary with memory encoding and retrieval - for the older adults when reading from a tablet computer in comparison to the other two devices. Young adults showed comparable fixation durations and theta activity for all three devices. Comprehension accuracy did not differ across the three media for either group. We argue that these results can be explained in terms of the better text discriminability (higher contrast) produced by the backlit display of the tablet computer. Contrast sensitivity decreases with age and degraded contrast conditions lead to longer reading times, thus supporting the conclusion that older readers may benefit particularly from the enhanced contrast of the tablet. Our findings thus indicate that people’s subjective evaluation of digital reading media must be dissociated from the cognitive and neural effort expended in online information processing while reading from such devices.

Concepts: United Kingdom, Memory, Eye tracking, Computer, Electronics, E-book, Digital, Theta rhythm


Clinical documentation has undergone a change due to the usage of electronic health records. The core element is to capture clinical findings and document therapy electronically. Health care personnel spend a significant portion of their time on the computer. Alternatives to self-typing, such as speech recognition, are currently believed to increase documentation efficiency and quality, as well as satisfaction of health professionals while accomplishing clinical documentation, but few studies in this area have been published to date.

Concepts: Health care, Medicine, Epidemiology, Clinical trial, Randomized controlled trial, Speech recognition, Electronics, Electronic engineering


Today’s consumer electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and other portable electronic devices, are typically made of non-renewable, non-biodegradable, and sometimes potentially toxic (for example, gallium arsenide) materials. These consumer electronics are frequently upgraded or discarded, leading to serious environmental contamination. Thus, electronic systems consisting of renewable and biodegradable materials and minimal amount of potentially toxic materials are desirable. Here we report high-performance flexible microwave and digital electronics that consume the smallest amount of potentially toxic materials on biobased, biodegradable and flexible cellulose nanofibril papers. Furthermore, we demonstrate gallium arsenide microwave devices, the consumer wireless workhorse, in a transferrable thin-film form. Successful fabrication of key electrical components on the flexible cellulose nanofibril paper with comparable performance to their rigid counterparts and clear demonstration of fungal biodegradation of the cellulose-nanofibril-based electronics suggest that it is feasible to fabricate high-performance flexible electronics using ecofriendly materials.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Electricity, Integrated circuit, Transistor, Capacitor, Electronics, Radio, Electronic engineering