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High-speed CMOS sensors are used here to control production machinery. Credit: Fraunhofer IMS.

High-speed CMOS sensors provide better images

CMOS image sensors have long been the solution of choice for digital photography. They are cheaper to produce than existing sensors, and they are also superior in terms of power consumption and handling. However, these optical semiconductor chips are now reaching their limits: while miniaturization in consumer electronics is leading to increasingly smaller pixels around 1 micrometer across, certain applications require larger pixels in excess of 10 micrometers. To solve the problem, Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new optoelectronic component, the lateral drift field photodetector (LDPD). To produce the new component, the researchers improved upon the currently available CMOS chip manufacturing process based on the 0.35 µm standard. The high-speed CMOS sensors are ideal candidates for applications that require large pixels and a high readout speed, such as astronomy, spectroscopy or state-of-the-art X-ray photography.

The art of molecular carpet-weaving

Stable two-dimensional networks of organic molecules are important components in various nanotechnology processes. However, producing these networks, which are only one atom thick, in high quality and with the greatest possible stability still poses a great challenge. A team of physicists headed by Dr. Markus Lackinger from the Technische Universität München and Professor Thomas Bein from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München has  developed a process by which they can build up high-quality polymer networks using boron acid components. The “carpets” consist of ordered two-dimensional structures created by self-organized boron acid molecules on a graphite surface. By eliminating water, the molecules bond together in a one-atom thick network held together solely by chemical bonds. The regular honey-comb-like arrangement of the molecules results in a nanostructured surface whose pores can be used, for instance, as stable forms for the production of metal nanoparticles.

Temporary license application for Lynas Advanced Materials plant

Lynas Corporation Limited has completed all requirements for the application to the Malaysian Atomic Energy Licensing Board for a temporary license for the Lynas Advanced Material Plant, in Gebeng, Malaysia. A temporary license will allow Lynas to commission the LAMP and, subject to continuous oversight by the Malaysian regulatory authorities, progressively ramp up the plant to nameplate capacity and sell its products. A temporary license has a duration of 2 years. If the temporary licence is granted, and if Lynas complies with the requirements of the temporary license, a permanent operating license can be issued within the 2 years.

NSF turns to ancient pottery to improve modern heat resistant ceramics

In order to better understand how ceramics are able to resist heat, the National Science Foundation has awarded grants totaling half a million dollars to three research groups to look into how the ancient Greeks made their pottery, a process which allowed for as many as 100,000 vases to survive from ancient antiquity to now – a period of some twenty five hundred years. The hope is that such research will reveal more about the nature of iron-spinel chemistry, which is what gives ceramics an ability to withstand heat while remaining chemically stable. Getting a better grip on how ceramics work is critical to future space flight technological efforts, as ceramics are used to help space vehicles withstand both extreme hot and cold temperatures.

Ceramic membranes can reduce wastewater filtration costs

New ceramic membranes for water filtration and purification for use in industrial wastewater treatment processes are being developed by Morgan Technical Ceramics. Traditionally polymer or ceramic tubular membranes are used to clean and conserve water in industrial wastewater applications. However, polymer systems need replacing regularly, especially if not tailored to the application, and ceramic tubular membranes need high water flow rates to operate effectively. The reliability of the ceramic membranes enable businesses to reduce maintenance and energy usage and make associated cost savings.