January 15/22, 2003   

   Heat's on silicon
Sooner or later the laws of physics are going to trump Moore's Law, at least as far as today's silicon technology is concerned. Moore's Law says computer chips double in performance every 18 months, but faster chips mean smaller circuits and useful circuits can only be so small. The question is when will silicon reach the end of its road. According to a specialist in thermodynamics, it could be sooner than we think.
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Remote monitoring aids data access
Accessing huge amounts of data over the Internet can be slow, especially if you want to interact with the information in real-time. The solution may be to tap into the way many scientists, doctors and businesspeople view the information -- literally. Visualization software turns oceans of numbers stored on hard drives into understandable images displayed on a computer monitor. Sandia scientists have shown that piping a computer monitor's video input over the Internet rather than sending the data itself can speed long distance data relationships.

Metal stores more hydrogen
Launching the era of clean hydrogen energy could come down to finding the right metal to hold the fuel. Storing hydrogen could be more practical than generating it on-the-fly. One thing holding it all back is no one has figured out practical ways of storing useful amounts of hydrogen. A new substance points to a promising possibility.

Device demos terabit storage
When it is no longer possible to cram more bits into magnetic disk drives, ferroelectrics could pick up the load. Ferroelectric materials' atoms are electrically rather than magnetically aligned. Switching from ferromagnetics to ferroelectrics, however, means finding a way to fabricate tiny bits and a figuring out how to read and write them. A research team has come up with both.

Plastic process produces puny pores
By dipping a particular plastic in water of a certain acidity, MIT researchers can control how porous the plastic becomes. Fine control over the size of these microscopic pores means the plastic can be used as an antiglare coating and in biotechnology. It could even have a role in fighting cancer.

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