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Link in Superconducting Material Could Lead to Predictive Control

Scientists studying the parent compound of a copper-oxide or cuprate superconductor have discovered a link between its two different states. They have developed a mathematical theory describing the link that better explains how the material becomes superconducting. The scientists want to use this information to design cuprate materials that have specific, desired properties. They found the material’s different states had different topological defects similar to those observed in liquid crystal states, leading those theoretical physicists in the group to develop a theory to explain both the coexistence of the two cuprate states and to predict how they interplay at the atomic scale. This should also help scientists predict how the material will behave, but they aren’t yet certain how this might relate to high-temperature superconductivity. The full results appear in the 22 July issue of Science. ( National Laboratory)(“How Topological Defects Couple the Smectic Modulations and Intra-unit-cell Nematicity of the Cuprate Pseudogap States,” Science (2011).)

Researchers Create Shape-Shifting Antenna

North Carolina State University researchers have created a fluidic antenna able to change its shape, which also enables it to change the frequency at which it resonates. They used a liquid metal alloy called eutectic gallium-indium in a microchannel to make the reconfigurable antenna. The metal forms an oxide skin on its surface that stabilizes it, but the material changes in response to pressure. These changes occur in a controlled, predictable manner. Unlike existing antenna reconfiguration technologies, this approach doesn’t require any external mechanisms. The technology could be used in sensors, RFID tags, or various other applications. The full results were recently published in Applied Physics Letters. ( Carolina State University)(Applied Physics Letters)

Company Develops New, Interactive Document Format

Wolfram Research announced it has created its own document format, designed to add interactivity to files. The Computational Document Format (CDF) reportedly permits users to insert interactive charts, diagrams, and graphics into their documents. This feature could let users adjust or change variables in a chart to determine how increasing a price might change profits. “The idea is to communicate the world’s quantitative ideas much better than has been possible before,” Conrad Wolfram told PCPro. “Anyone who can make an Excel macro should easily be able to make interactivity for CDF.” Those wishing to create CDF documents need to use Wolfram’s Mathematica 8 software; the company has a free CDF Player for viewing documents.
(SlashDot)(PC Pro)(Wolfram Research)

US Feds Announce More Data Center Closings

The federal government has announced it plans to close 40 percent of its data centers over four years. The plan is part of a continuing program designed to reduce the federal IT budget – reputedly the largest in the world, spending about US$80 billion a year on IT – as well as modernize the government’s use of technology. A total of 800 data centers will be closed within the next four years, 178 of them in 2012. In April, the federal government identified 137 computer centers to close by year’s end. The pace of closures, however, is much more rapid than initially expected with 195 closings now scheduled by the end of 2011. The cost savings should exceed US$3 billion a year, but there are additional savings from eliminating each center’s energy use. There were 432 federal data centers in 1998; by 2010, there were more than 2,000. “Redundant systems and applications sprouted like weeds,” the federal CIO Vivek Kundra told The New York Times. “We need to shift resources away from duplicative systems and use them to improve the citizen experience.” Managers within various federal agencies are determining which data centers to close. (The New York Times)(NextGov)(Data.Gov)

Report: Asian IC Foundry Sector Faces Risks in 2012

A report issued by Fitch Ratings says the Asia-Pacific integrated circuit foundry sector faces increased risks beginning in late 2012. The study’s authors contend that aggressive capital expenditure and competition from integrated device manufacturing foundries might have a negative financial impact on the so-called “pure-play” foundries, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and United Microelectronics. They say that second-tier firms, such as China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International, would be more vulnerable during such a downturn. The report noted that GlobalFoundries Inc., which now has a 12 percent global market share, should become a stronger presence in the market while various companies including Samsung Electronics, Intel, and Powerchip Technology are planning to enter the foundry market to, in part, diversify. The analysts note that competitive pricing might ultimately trigger less growth in the semiconductor market. (Taipei Times)(Reuters)

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