How safe is your swipe?

Used in a variety of products from credit cards to satellite televisions, secure chips are designed to keep encoded data safe. But hackers continue to develop methods to crack the chips’ security codes and access the information within.

NASA hopes to improve computers with tiny carbon tubes on silicon

The life of the silicon chip industry may last 10 or more years longer, thanks to a new manufacturing process developed by NASA scientists. The novel method, announced in the April 14 issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters, includes use of extremely tiny carbon ‘nanotubes’ instead of copper conductors to interconnect parts within integrated circuits (ICs). Carbon nanotubes are measured in nanometers, much smaller than today’s components. A nanometer is roughly 10,000 times smaller than the width of an average human hair. ICs are very small groups of electronic components made on silicon wafers.

Researchers develop flexible, biocompatible polymers — with optical abilities

Researchers have discovered how to transfer the optical properties of silicon crystal sensors to plastic, an achievement that could lead to the development of flexible, implantable devices capable of monitoring the delivery of drugs within the body, the strains on a weak joint or even the healing of a suture. The discovery is detailed in the March 28 issue of Science by a team that pioneered the development of a number of novel optical sensors from silicon wafers, the raw starting material for computer chips.