25 March 2015

Group creates light-emitting electrochemical cell for use in textiles

light emitting electrochemical cell fiber
Fiber-shaped polymer light-emitting electrochemical cells with tunable colors are twisted together to generate colorful lights. Credit: Zhitao Zhang

A large team of researchers in China has developed a type of light emitting electrochemical cell (LEC) that can be woven into fabric material. As the team notes in their paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, their cells can be used to create wearable electronics. Henk Bolink and Enrique Ortí with the University of Valencia in Spain, offer a News & Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue.

Ever since the development of OLEDs, researchers have been hot on the idea of using them to create wearable electronics, such as clothes that light up like an LED screen. But OLEDs proved too difficult to weave into fiber, which led researchers to LECs, which are essentially OLEDs with salt added to overcome some of the limitations of OLEDs. In this new effort the researchers in China have found a way to create LECs that are both strong enough and flexible enough to allow for weaving into textile fabrics.

To make the LECs, the researchers started with a tiny bare wire, which they coated with zinc oxide nanoparticles; that was followed by applying an electroluminescent polymer and than a transparent layer of carbon nanotubes the result is a cell that is long, flexible and thin allowing for weaving into fabric. Currently, fabrics created with the cells emit just blue and yellow light (when subjected to just a few volts of electricity) but the team reports it will be a simple matter to add many more colors. The team also reports that the process for making the cells can be ramped up easily, which means the cells, and clothes with them, could be available for sale in the very near future.

There is still one down side, however, the light generated by the cells only persists for a few hours after that they grow less and less bright. But that problem may be temporary as well, as other ongoing research with LECs suggests that much longer lasting cells may soon be made. If such wearable electronics do become available it could mark a rapid change in clothing, from body suits that show mood by color, to human billboards, to clothes that light up in artistic ways, sort of like glowing tattoos.

light emitting fibre

Prototype of the light-emitting fibre. Credit: Huisheng Peng

A colour-tunable, weavable fibre-shaped polymer light-emitting electrochemical cell, Nature Photonics (2015) DOI: 10.1038/nphoton.2015.37

Abstract
The emergence of wearable electronics and optoelectronics requires the development of devices that are not only highly flexible but can also be woven into textiles to offer a truly integrated solution. Here, we report a colour-tunable, weavable fibre-shaped polymer light-emitting electrochemical cell (PLEC). The fibre-shaped PLEC is fabricated using all-solution-based processes that can be scaled up for practical applications. The design has a coaxial structure comprising a modified metal wire cathode and a conducting aligned carbon nanotube sheet anode, with an electroluminescent polymer layer sandwiched between them. The fibre shape offers unique and promising advantages. For example, the luminance is independent of viewing angle, the fibre-shaped PLEC can provide a variety of different and tunable colours, it is lightweight, flexible and wearable, and it can potentially be woven into light-emitting clothes for the creation of smart fabrics.

Tech Xplore

Can perovskites and silicon team up to boost industrial solar cell efficiencies?

Tandem cell
1 cm2 monolithic perovskite-silicon tandem solar cell. Credit: Rongrong Cheacharoen/Stanford University

Silicon solar cells dominate 90 percent of the global photovoltaic market today, yet the record power conversion efficiency of silicon photovoltaics has progressed merely from 25 percent to 25.6 percent during the past 15 years meaning the industry is keen to explore alternatives.

A collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford University may be poised to shake things up in the solar energy world. By exploring ways to create solar cells using low-cost manufacturing methods, the team has developed a novel prototype device that combines perovskite with traditional silicon solar cells into a two-terminal "tandem" device.

As the team reports in the journal Applied Physics Letters, their new tandem cells have the potential to achieve significantly higher energy conversion efficiencies than standard single-junction silicon solar cells.

Perovskite is an inexpensive crystalline material that can easily be produced in labs and, as it turns out, stacking it atop a conventional silicon solar cell forms a tandem that has the potential to improve the cell's overall efficiency, a measure of the amount of sunlight the cell can convert into electricity.

The team focused on tandem solar cells because there was big room for improvement in their cost and market penetration. Tandem solar cells have only garnered a worldwide market share of 0.25 percent compared to silicon solar cells' 90 percent. "Despite having higher efficiency, tandems are traditionally made using expensive processes making it difficult for them to compete economically," said Colin Bailie, a Ph.D. student at Stanford and an author on the new paper.

Designing low-cost perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells

The team's tandem approach focuses on keeping costs low and "integrates perovskite solar cells monolithically building them sequentially in layers onto a silicon solar cell, without significant optical or electrical losses, by using commonly available semiconductor materials and deposition methods," explained Jonathan P. Mailoa, a graduate student in MIT's Photovoltaic Research Laboratory and another co-author on the paper.

Before creating the tandems, the researchers first needed to design an interlayer to facilitate electronic charge carrier recombination without significant energy losses. "Fortunately, the physical concepts already exist for other types of multijunction solar cells, so we simply needed to find the best interlayer material combination for the perovskite-silicon pair," Mailoa said.

To form a connecting layer, known technically as the semiconductor "tunnel junction," between the two sub-cells, the team used degenerately doped p-type and n-type silicon, which facilitates the recombination of positive charge carriers (holes) from the silicon solar cell and negative charge carriers (electrons) from the perovskite solar cell.

Because the two silicon layers are highly doped, "the energy barrier between them is thin enough so that electrons and holes in the semiconductor easily pass through using quantum mechanical tunneling," Mailoa added.

While electrons from a perovskite solar cell won't normally enter this tunnel junction layer, a titanium-dioxide (TiO2) layer commonly used in perovskite solar cells works as an electron-selective contact for silicon. This allows electrons to flow from the perovskite solar cell through the TiO2 layer, eventually passing into the silicon tunnel junction, where they recombine with the holes from the silicon solar cell.

Perovskite

How do perovskite-silicon tandem solar cells work?

Once the tandem is set up, it relies on its multiple absorber layers to absorb different portions of the solar spectrum. "The perovskite absorbs all of the visible photons [higher in energy], for example, while the silicon absorbs the infrared photons [lower in energy]," Bailie said.

Splitting the solar spectrum allows these specialized absorbing layers to convert their range of the spectrum into electrical power much more efficiently than a single absorber can convert the entire solar spectrum on its own.

"This minimizes an undesirable process in solar cells called "thermalization," in which the energy of an absorbed photon is released as heat until it reaches the energy of the absorber's bandgap," Bailie explained. "Using a high-bandgap absorber on top of the low-bandgap absorber recovers some of this energy in the high-energy photons that would otherwise be 'thermalized' if absorbed in the low-bandgap absorber."

Another key part of the tandem's design is that it uses a serial connection, which means that the two solar cells are connected in a manner so that the same amount of current passes through each of the solar cells. In other words, the same amount of light is absorbed in each solar cell and their voltage is added together.

Efficiency evolution ahead

The team's tandem "demonstrated an open-circuit voltage of 1.65 V, which is essentially the sum of top and bottom cells, with very little voltage loss," said Tonio Buonassisi, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MIT who led the research.

An open-circuit voltage of 1.65 V was the highest best-case scenario the team had predicted, which indicates that their tunnel junction performs very well.

But an efficiency evolution is on the horizon. The efficiency record for single-junction perovskite cells ranges from 16 to 20 percent, depending on the formula used. "By contrast, the perovskite in our tandem is based on a technology that achieves only 13 percent in our lab as a single-junction device," said Bailie. "Improving the quality of our perovskite layer will lead to better tandem devices."

Another area for improving the tandem's efficiency is by "reducing parasitic optical losses in other layers of the multijunction solar cell devices and predicting their efficiency potentials through simulation to determine whether or not this approach is truly cost effective," added Mailoa.

The team also plans "to make improvements to the silicon bottom cell," said Buonassisi. "The back contact isn't well passivated, so we lose power at longer wavelengths. But the photovoltaic industry has developed several solutions for this problem...we just need to incorporate one best practice into our next-generation devices."

While their work is still far from becoming commercially available, it frees other researchers to start to focus their efforts on important aspects of the multijunction device to help further improve both its stability and efficiencies in the future.

"This is the first step in the evolution of a technology that has the potential to disrupt the photovoltaic industry," noted Bailie.

"A 2-terminal perovskite/silicon multijunction solar cell enabled by a silicon tunnel junction," by Jonathan P. Mailoa, Colin D. Bailie, Eric C. Johlin, Eric T. Hoke, Austin J. Akey, William H. Nguyen, Michael D. McGehee and Tonio Buonassisi. Applied Physics Letters, March 24, 2015. DOI: 10.1063/1.4914179

American Institute of Physics

phys

24 March 2015

Researchers working on to bring back wooly mammoth

wooly mammoth

A team of researchers working at Harvard University has taken yet another step towards bringing to life a reasonable facsimile of a woolly mammoth a large, hairy elephant like beast that went extinct approximately 3,300 years ago. The work by the team has not been published as yet, because as team lead George Church told The Sunday Times, recently, they believe they have more work to do before they write up their results.

Church is quick to point out that his team is not cloning the mammoth, instead they are rebuilding the genome of the ancient animal by studying its DNA, replicating it and then inserting the copy into the genome of an Asian elephant the closest modern day equivalent. They are not bringing forth a new mammoth yet either all of their work is confined to simple cells in their lab. What they have done, however, is build healthy living elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them. Their work is yet another step towards that ultimate goal, realizing the birth of a wooly mammoth that is as faithful to the original as is humanly possible.

Talk of cloning a mammoth began not long after scientists learned how to actually do cloning mammoth carcasses have been found in very cold places which preserved remains, which of course, included DNA. But not everyone has been onboard with the idea some claim it is stepping into God's territory, others suggest it seems ridiculous considering all of the species that are nearing extinction, including those of elephants. Why not use those financial resources that are now going towards bringing back something that has gone extinct, to saving those that are still here?

The technique the team is using is called Crispr, it allows for reproducing exact copies of genes in this case 14 mammoth genes, which are then inserted into elephant genes. As Church explains, the team prioritizes which genes are replicated and inserted, based on such factors as hairiness, ear size, and subcutaneous fat, which the animal needed to survive in its harsh cold environment.

Not clear as yet is when or if the team at Harvard has plans to produce an actual living mammoth, or if they will leave that to other teams working on similar projects.

Phys

23 March 2015

Man uses 3D printer to create "world's smallest" power drill

teeny-tiny drill made with an Ultimaker 2 3D printer

The teeny-tiny drill, made with an Ultimaker 2 3D printer (Photo: Lance Abernethy)

Should you ever feel the need to carefully bore a hole through the top layer of skin on your finger, there's now a drill that can do it. Using his Ultimaker 2 3D printer, Auckland, New Zealand maintenance engineer Lance Abernethy has created what is unofficially the world's smallest working power drill.

According to a report on 3DPrint.com, Abernethy started out by creating a computer model using Onshape 3D software, utilizing his full-size drill for reference. He then proceeded to print out the two halves of the drill's body, along with its chuck. The whole printing process took about 25 minutes.

teeny-tiny drill made with an Ultimaker 2 3D printer

It subsequently took Lance about three hours to stuff in a tiny motor, power button, hearing aid battery, and wiring from a stripped headphone cable.

The finished product measures 17 x 7.5 x 13 mm, uses a 0.5-mm bit, and can reportedly drill through soft objects. Abernethy says that he's seen other drills claimed to be the world's smallest, but that his is smaller. Not one to rest on his laurels, though, he already has plans to make an even tinier drill, using a smaller battery that he has on hand.

In the meantime, you can see his existing drill in action, in the video below.



Source: 3DPrint.com via gizmag

New mobile system concept captures high-resolution images inside the eye

Retina smartphone image

It’s crunch time for smartphones to prove what they can do in the medical world. The second killer app, the one to follow the Alivecor heart monitor, has yet to decisively emerge. For many reasons the next device to take its place within the tricorder trinity handhelds that combine sensing, computing, and recording might be expected to use fancy optics to see inside the body. Few better places for a first application exist than the eye. Seizing upon these truths, researchers at Rice have developed a smartphone peripheral they call Mobilevision to image the most sensitive part of the eye in high definition.

When the researchers talked to eye care specialists about what is needed in the business, the response they typically got was “Can you image the macula?” The macula is the sensitive part of the eye, the part that includes the both the fovea and adjacent regions with a high density of photoreceptors. Patients with diabetes or other issues that lead to degeneration in the eye need regular scans to catch issues before they snowball. In reality, few folks adhere to the strict monthly maintenance plan their condition requires.

The main problem is that not only does the patient have to go to the instrument for a scan, but they also need to have their eyes dilated with drugs in order to get a decent picture. A smarter way for everyone involved is to not have to do either of those things. A smartphone accessory that can go instead to the patient fixes the first problem, and letting the pupil dilate in the dark on its own time solves the second. While it sounds like a no-brainer to do this, the instrument has to at least be fast enough (within a few hundred milliseconds) to snap some decent images during the brief illumination pulse before the pupil re-contracts.


The Rice instrument not only can do all this automatically, but it lets the user, ‘the patient one,’ do this on their own time. As the video shows, the device gives a visual cue when everything is in focus. Then the user presses a button to trigger the action. The device itself, likely a prototype, looks like it could be shrunk even further by replacing the optical hardware that holds critical components (lens, beamsplitters, or whatever else one might expect) in place with a mass-produced casting.

The researchers note that the eye is the only region of the body where you can do direct, noninvasive imaging of internal blood vessels. While we see why they claim that, there are perhaps other potential portals to consider for the future. Over a decade ago, I went to a small startup company in the Northeast area to demo a unique device. It was a fiber-optic wand bearing blue light that, if placed on the tissue below the tongue, could image individual red blood cells squeezing through your capillaries. It was incredible to see: your own working cells large as life, right on the screen right in front of you.

I don’t fully know how that particular gadget worked, and whether it has been commercialized since. But once a couple of these devices are out there, we may quickly see a whole new era of medical diagnostics unfold before us.

(Retinal image credit: Adam Samaniego/Rice University)

Extremetech

New materials theory for predicting strength of composites

new material

To most of us, the mother-of-pearl found in the shells of mollusks is just a decorative leftover. But material scientists see something else when they look at it. Mother-of-pearl (more formally known as nacre) is an organic-inorganic composite material with excellent mechanical properties that are hard to replicate in artificially produced composites. This inspired researchers from Rice University to develop a better way to judge the usefulness of composite materials before they’re ever produced.

There are a multitude of considerations that go into the design of a new composite material. Different use cases require a different mixture of toughness, strength, and stiffness. While these terms are often used interchangeably in casual conversation, to material scientists they have very different and specific meanings.

For example, the strength of a material indicates how well it holds up to being stretched or compressed. Stiffness describes a material’s ability to resist deformation. As for toughness, that is a measure of how much energy a material can absorb before failing. It’s tricky to judge the performance of a new man-made composite in each of these categories before you make it, but the Rice University team used nacre as a starting point to do just that.

Rice researchers Rouzbeh Shahsavari and Navid Sakhavand studied the structure of nacre under the microscope. Nacre is known as a platelet-matrix composite, which means it’s composed of overlapping disk-like structures held together with natural polymers. It’s like a brick wall on the microscopic scale with high strength and toughness.


Designing similar platelet-matrix materials in the lab has proven difficult, because there hasn’t been any good way to evaluate the relationship between structure and materials. The design map created by Shahsavari and Sakhavand provides the necessary guide.

If you need something with high stiffness and strength, for example, you can plug the design variables into equations and see where it falls on the map. It took three years of intensive calculations to create this map, which accurately predicts the mechanical properties of a variety of composites. How do they know the theory is accurate? Shahsavari and Sakhavand evaluated a number of synthetic and natural materials to see if the real-world performance matched the theoretical predictions made by the map. They found a very close match between theory and practice.

The Rice University design map could become a useful tool in many manufacturing industries. Any time engineers need a material that has specific properties, they could test a variety of designs virtually without actually going to the trouble of making them. The design map basically guides material scientists to the right composite without all the trial and error.

Extremetech

Scientists developed worlds darkest material that absorbs 99.96 percent of surface light

worlds darkest material Vantablack
Vantablack is produced using a patented, low-temperature carbon nanotube growth process

A newly produced material is believed to be the "blackest" ever created. Vantablack is a pure carbon coating and absorbs 99.96 percent of incident radiation (solar energy as it hits the material's surface). Manufacturer Surrey NanoSystems believes that is the highest such figure ever recorded.

Vantablack was created in partnership with the National Physical Laboratory and the ABSL Space Products division of Enersys as part of the UK Technology Strategy Board's Space for Growth program. The program aimed to help space related technologies to reach their full commercial potential.

Speaking to Gizmag, Surrey NanoSystems CTO Ben Jensen explained that some work had already been done on creating super-black materials by NASA and other organizations. The materials were being developed in part for use in aircraft and spacecraft. Titanium and silicon substrates were being used on which to grow the materials.

Weight is, of course, a major issue where air and space travel is concerned. Additionally, the use of high temperatures when creating carbon nanotube materials means they cannot be directly applied to sensitive electronics or materials with low melting points. As such, Vantablack was developed through a need to use aluminum as a more suitable substrate.

Surrey NanoSystems has created a new type of "super-black" material known as Vantablack
Surrey NanoSystems has created a new type of "super-black" material known as Vantablack

Surrey NanoSystems produces Vantablack using a low-temperature carbon nanotube growth process that's usually used when working with silicon. The process utilizes photothermal chemical vapor deposition, with which a solid material is deposited on the substrate from a gas.

According to Surrey NanoSystems, Vantablack has the highest thermal conductivity and lowest mass-volume of any material that can be used in high-emissivity applications. Such applications are those that require the use of materials that can better radiate energy. In addition, the material is said to be able to withstand launch shock, staging and long-term vibration, making it suitable for coating internal components.

"When you look at a surface it will just look very black," explains Jensen to Gizmag. "When you look at a 3D surface, you can't see any 3D shape. It's just completely black."

Jensen believes that Vantablack is a major breakthrough for the application of nanotechnology to optical instrumentation. "Its ultra-low reflectance improves the sensitivity of terrestrial, space and airborne instrumentation," he says.

Vantablack is commercially available now and the first shipments are now being delivered.

Source: Surrey NanoSystems,Via gizmag

Microsoft desperately wants you to move to Windows 10

Windows 10

Microsoft wants everyone to be using its latest operating system and with good reason. It took over a decade after Windows XP’s release to persuade many consumers to move on from it, and Windows 7 users are carrying that torch now, thanks in large part to what happened with Windows 8. To combat this, Microsoft seems completely willing to forego the sticker price of Windows 10 in hopes of persuading everyone to move to the newest OS.

Back in January, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would be a free update for anyone running Windows 7 or Windows 8 PCs. Earlier this week, The Verge reported that Microsoft will even allow this Windows 10 upgrade path for those among us with pirated copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8. So theoretically, you can benefit from a completely legitimate copy of Windows 10 even if you’ve never spent a dime on a Microsoft product. Frankly, that’s an extremely ballsy move from Redmond.

Windows 10 screenshot

Of course, Apple has made OS X free in recent years, but that’s a slightly different situation. OS X can only (legally) run on Apple’s own hardware, so presumably Apple is making money no matter what. On the other hand, Windows is designed to work on just about anything, so Microsoft doesn’t make money off of most hardware sales. The move towards free OS updates is inherently more risky for Microsoft a software company first and foremost.

Mind you, any money lost here will be mitigated by the fact that the Dells and HPs of the world still sell Windows alongside the vast majority of their consumer hardware. You can buy Linux desktops or build your own PC from scratch, but most people in North American and Europe end up buying a Windows license whenever they buy a new computer. Microsoft’s initiative is really focused on converting a massive number of software pirates in Asia and South America.

Perhaps the bigger impact here is Microsoft’s willingness to give Windows 10 away on non-traditional PCs. Raspberry Pi 2 owners will get Windows 10 for free, and tablets with screens under nine inches in size already get Windows at no cost. If the PC becomes less and less relevant over time, these business decisions could make a huge difference (positively or negatively) for the future of Microsoft.

Companies like Google and Valve are nipping at Redmond’s heels, and Windows is facing the stiffest competition it has ever seen from the likes of Android, Chrome OS, and SteamOS. Microsoft’s domination is slowly eroding, and it’s clear these major policy shifts are trying to right the ship. But whether or not Nadella’s gambit will work remains to be seen.

Extremetech

22 July 2014

Talk breathes new life into the alternative communication device market

Talk is an augmentative and alternative communication device
Talk is an augmentative and alternative communication device that allows people to spell out words using different lengths of breath

For people with disabilities that affect their ability to speak, communicating with others can be very difficult. A new device known as Talk, however, is designed to help such people to do so. It senses dots and dashes made by the person using their breath, in order to spell out words.

Talk was produced for the Google Science Fair, and is one of the regional finalists from the Asia Pacific and Japan section in the 15-16 age group. It also is up for two additional awards within the Science Fair. The inventor of the device, 16 year-old Arsh Shah Dilbagi, says he believes it is the only augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device to use breath as an input, that it is the most affordable AAC device available, and that it has the fastest speaking rate of any AAC device.

The Google Science Fair is a science and technology competition open to individuals and teams from ages 13 to 18 years old. It seeks to find projects that have the potential to change the world. Viewing the submissions of the young entrants will fill you with a mixed sense of inadequacy, resigned awe and hope for humanity. Many of them display the kind of lateral thinking long since ground out of adults.

Talk is no different. Conscious that AAC devices can be costly, slow and bulky, Dilbagi set himself the task of improving upon existing products. The design, he felt, should be generic, affordable, faster than comparable devices, portable and should consume less power.

"After quite some research, I hypothesized that a pressure sensor can be used to monitor variations in breath and generate two distinguishable signals," explains Dilbagi in his project description. "These signals can be further processed as a binary language and synthesized into speech accordingly."

Dilbagi decided to go forward with his idea of using breath as an input, having found that it was the means that was controllable by the highest proportion of people. A MEMS microphone was found to be sensitive enough to recognize the different breath types, and Dilbagi chose International Morse Code as the device language because it allows the users to dictate words words with the fewest required signals.

An algorithm is used to distinguish between short and long exhales and a computing engine is used to synthesize the inputted words into speech. Dilbagi opted against using a display in conjunction with the device to ensure it remained simple and portable.

Talk was tested amongst family and friends, before being tested successfully with a speech issue sufferer. In his own controlled tests, Dilbagi found that the device had a near 100 percent accuracy level.

The final design comprises a combined lightweight metal ear-clip and microphone. The microphone can be placed in front of the user's nose or mouth depending on what they find most comfortable. It can be used in communication mode for spelling out words, or command mode for triggering predefined words with abbreviated forms (such as "W" for "water"). An accompanying piece of software helps users to learn how to use the device and what the different Morse Code signals are.

Dilbagi is raising money for its production on Indiegogo where, if the campaign is successful, individuals can secure a Talk ear-clip for US$99. He will find out if his project is a global finalist in the Google Science Fair in August.

Source: Talk,Via gizmag

New technique could boost internet speed 5 to 10 times

random linear network coding

Mathematical equations can make Internet communication via computer, mobile phone or satellite many times faster and more secure than today. Results with software developed by researchers from Aalborg University in collaboration with the US universities the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and California Institute of Technology (Caltech) are attracting attention in the international technology media.

New technique could boost internet speed 5 to 10 times
Researchers Morten Videb and Janus Heide (Photo: Aalborg University)

A new study uses a four minute long mobile video as an example. The method used by the Danish and US researchers in the study resulted in the video being downloaded five times faster than state of the art technology. The video also streamed without interruptions. In comparison, the original video got stuck 13 times along the way.

- This has the potential to change the entire market. In experiments with our network coding of Internet traffic, equipment manufacturers experienced speeds that are five to ten times faster than usual. And this technology can be used in satellite communication, mobile communication and regular Internet communication from computers, says Frank Fitzek, Professor in the Department of Electronic Systems and one of the pioneers in the development of network coding.

switch to 5G networks might bring more intelligence at the node level
The switch to 5G networks might bring more intelligence at the node level (Image: Franz Fitzek)

Goodbye to the packet principle

Internet communication formats data into packets. Error control ensures that the signal arrives in its original form, but it often means that it is necessary to send some of the packets several times and this slows down the network. The Danish and US researchers instead are solving the problem with a special kind of network coding that utilizes clever mathematics to store and send the signal in a different way. The advantage is that errors along the way do not require that a packet be sent again. Instead, the upstream and downstream data are used to reconstruct what is missing using a mathematical equation.

With the old systems you would send packet 1, packet 2, packet 3 and so on. We replace that with a mathematical equation. We don’t send packets. We send a mathematical equation. You can compare it with cars on the road. Now we can do without red lights. We can send cars into the intersection from all directions without their having to stop for each other. This means that traffic flows much faster, explains Frank Fitzek.

Network coding has a large application field for Internet of Things (IoT), 5G communication systems, software defined networks (SDN), content centric networks (CCN), and besides transport also implication on distributed storage solutions.

eavesdropper would need to intercept all the packets to decode the information
The system is much safer than the current Internet protocols, because an eavesdropper would need to intercept all the packets to decode the information (Image: Franz Fitzek)

Presence in Silicon Valley

In order for this to work, however, the data is coded and decoded with the patented technology. The professor and two of his former students from Aalborg University, developers Janus Heide and Morten Videbæk Pedersen, along with the US colleagues, founded the software company "Steinwurf." The company makes the RLNC technology (Random Linear Network Coding) available to hardware manufacturers and they are in secret negotiations that will bring the improvements to consumers. As part of the effort Steinwurf has established an office in Silicon Valley but the company is still headquartered in Aalborg.

I think the technology will be integrated in most products because it has some crucial and necessary functions. The only thing that can stop the development is patents. Previously, individual companies had a solid grip on patents for coding. But our approach is to make it as accessible as possible. Among other things, we are planning training courses in these technologies, says Frank Fitzek.

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