New circuit design allows for elimination of laptop charger brick

Power electronics maker FINsix Corporation announced the development of smallest known laptop adaptor that is one-fourth the size of traditional models and just a sixth of the weight. It comes as a standard wall plug, eliminating the “box on the ground” format so familiar to laptop users. The new adaptor is based a new circuit design by MIT professor David Perreault. Perreault developed a power reclaiming scheme that allows the adapter to run at higher frequencies (between 30MHz and 300MHz—a thousand times faster than conventional adapters). The result is a 65 watt power adapter that can be used to charge a variety of laptops or other devices such as smartphone or tablets (because it comes with a 2.1A USB connector), and it can  charge more than one device at a time. FINSix says the tiny adapter is the first of what will be a  new line of power electronics devices based on the new circuit design—from AC/DC converters to power controllers in devices ranging from air conditioners to more efficient electric motors—all courtesy of the increased frequency range. The new design allows for recycling power that in traditional designs is lost, preventing the loss of efficiency that typically occurs with other circuits when upping the frequency range. Representatives for FINSix say the new design will pave the way for more efficient electronic devices that are also smaller and lighter.

Surmet wins 3-year DARPA funding for fabrication of ALON optical ceramics

DARPA has awarded Surmet a $4.66 million option spread over 36 months for Phase II of DARPA’s Manufacturable Gradient Index Optics (M-GRIN) program. The award follows successful completion of an earlier $1 million Phase II base effort. The continued DARPA funding will help Surmet to demonstrate manufacturing capability for ALON gradient refractive index (GRIN) optics for the visible through the mid-infrared (MWIR) range. Surmet will seek to develop and establish processes that are compatible with large volume specialty manufacturing. DARPA’s M-GRIN program aims to develop sustainable GRIN technology for use by DoD systems and the defense industrial base. The program seeks to address technology maturity by resolving issues in the manufacturing, metrology and design of these material structures. If successful, new GRIN technology would provide significant weight and cost savings for the DOD optical systems. GRIN-based lenses are made in such way that the refractive index is varied within the material in a controlled fashion. The lens guides light along arbitrary paths so that it no longer needs to travel in straight lines, leading to enormous reduction in size, weight and complexity of optical systems. ALON is a polycrystalline transparent ceramic and known for its ballistic performance, hardness, and superior optical clarity. 

David Schneider to retire from Fusion Ceramics

David F. Schneider, vice president of marketing for Fusion Ceramics, Inc., (Carrollton, Ohio) will retire effective December 31, 2013. Fusion Ceramics manufactures frits, glazes and bonds, and glass colors for a number of industries including ceramic whitewares, abrasives, brick, refractory, and glass decorating. Schneider jointed Fusion Ceramics in 1986, and during his tenure, the company expanded its blended product lines and began producing colors for the glass decorating industry. Prior to joining Fusion Ceramics, Schneider was director of sales and marketing at Kentucky–Tennessee Clay Co., in Mayfield, Kentucky.

New advanced ITO film from 3M provides alternative solutions for touch screen manufacturers

3M Electronic Solutions Division launched a new unpatterned indium tin oxide (ITO) film that offers an alternative source for high-quality, high-volume touch sensor films. The film can be used in touch-enabled electronic devices, such as smart phones, tablets, notebooks and all-in-one (AIO) computers. The new film can help touch panel manufacturers and integrators achieve production targets and meet growing demand for the touch screen market, which is forecast to have a 19.5% compound annual growth rate from 2013 to 2016, according to IHS iSuppli Electronics & Media. The etchable touch sensor films offer excellent optical transparency and high conductivity. 3M plans to ramp up its total global touch sensor film manufacturing capacity to more than 600,000 square meters per month in 2014, which includes 3M Patterned Silver Nanowire Touch Sensor Film, 3M Patterned Metal Mesh Touch Sensor Film and 3M Advanced ITO Touch Sensor Film. The advanced ITO film exhibits low electrical resistivity, less than 150 ohms per square—enabling multi-finger, multi-touch applications. With demonstrated sensors at up to 46 inch diagonal, the film is suitable for small and larger format touch modules. The films are made of a flexible material that can be conformed to gently curved surfaces, enabling rounded designs.

2014 Materials Research Exchange showcases UK’s finest materials research

The 2014 Materials Research Exchange will feature a huge exhibition displaying outstanding materials research from the UK’s finest universities and research organisations. A panel of eminent industrialists and academics have been invited by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to review the research with the aim of recommending future opportunities in advanced materials to both EPSRC and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB). The 2014 Materials Research Exchange is the Materials KTN’s flagship event and will also feature a number of talks from industrialists and academics. Exhibitors include the Universities of Oxford, Manchester, Brunel, Leeds and Nottingham, as well as Ceram, TWI and the BP International Centre for Advanced Materials. The event aims to foster closer ties between industry and the UK’s excellent research base, encouraging further funding from both public and private sources. Keynote addresses will be given by the Science Minister and high-profile industrialists, stressing the importance of materials research to their commercial ventures. In addition, TSB and EPSRC will stage a series of seminars and workshops demonstrating the scope of current developments in advanced materials. The event is free, but registration is required.