January 26/February 2, 2005   

   Nano bridge builds logic
A conjuring trick that would have impressed the alchemists of old -- producing bits of silver seemingly out of thin air -- is the basis of a nanoscale electrical switch that could one day replace today's semiconductor technology. Prototypes show potential for both memory and logic chips.
Full story
Braille display drives biochip
The tiny channels in labs-on-a-chip resemble blood vessels. This has inspired scientists to try to grow cells and even tissue in the chips in order to test substances like drugs. A key issue is how to make pumps and valves for the devices. A computer-controlled Braille display turns out to be a ready-made solution.

Adaptive lights organize traffic
Big city rush-hour traffic can leave drivers feeling like ants. Some of the self-organizing principles that keep insects communities humming along for traffic management could make for faster commutes. A scheme to allow traffic lights to act on their own in response to local conditions shows promise.

The How It Works Files
Nanotechnology: the physics of the very small

Spray-on photocells harvest infrared... Oil and water drive display... Chemical fuse makes cheap sensors... Metals speed transparent circuits... Plastic records infrared light... Magnetic logic becomes practical... Plastic memory retains data.

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