Research & Design

All engineers have an immediate need for a product or solution, but it is equally important that they keep an eye on the future to identify new technologies or methodologies which may enable their next designs.

In this section, New Electronics takes a look over the horizon, pointing out to visitors the developments in research and design which will impact the electronics industry in the next few years, as well as the processes which are being developed to manufacture those products.

GaN reference designs set to play central role in power electronics applications

Gallium nitride (GaN) has been touted as 'the next big thing' in power electronics applications for some time now. In speed, temperature, efficiency and power handling, various implementations of the technology are set to take over as silicon power devices reach their limits, and the hottest topics at recent power exhibitions in the US and Europe have surrounded the introduction of GaN devices.

Lithium sulphur cells set to change the battery landscape

Since the invention of the battery by Volta in the early days of the 19th Century, users have been looking for more performance. Volta's device was superseded in 1859 by the lead acid battery – a device still in widespread use today. By the end of the 19th Century, the nickel cadmium battery had been developed.

LEDs have green fingers

Research has long shown that plants respond better to particular wavelengths of light, specifically in the 400 to 500nm (blue) and 600 to 700nm (red) spectra. Now, the advent of high output, low power, more affordable LED modules configured at specific wavelengths is beginning to revolutionise the horticulture sector.

Embedding computer vision systems

How easy is it to design a camera that can read or that can decide whether a person's eye is open or shut? This is an important question for design engineers, since computer vision is set to become a required function in many applications which today contain no cameras.

How vacuum tube technology is being deployed at the nanoscale

Nothingness might not sound very useful. In fact, the opposite is the case because nothingness – in the form of a vacuum – has played a major role in the history of electronics. Until the invention of the transistor, vacuum tubes were the industry's critical component because they made it possible to amplify, switch and modulate electrical signals.

Large scale fuel cells near commercial application

"Fuel cells are the most promising new form of energy generation – and always will be!" That is the unkind jibe sometimes levelled at this technology, originally invented back in 1839 by Sir William Grove. However, developments in fuel cell technology mean the waiting may be over sooner than many might think.

Affordable imaging technology could help to unlock the brain's secrets

Medical imaging is one of the underrated miracles of modern medicine. Only a few decades ago, the field consisted of little more than X rays; today, electronic and other advances have created a whole series of techniques that have transformed our ability to see what is happening inside the body and, in particular, the brain.

UK graphene research leading the field

The UK is setting the pace in the race to develop and commercialise graphene and this lead looks set to continue with Chancellor George Osborne pledging £50million for a 'Global Research and Technology Hub'. Indeed, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts believes the 'wonder material' has the potential to drive UK economic growth.

Leading research institute sheds light on applications for photonics

The term 'photonics' has, over the last couple of years, come to the forefront in a range of markets. Yet photonics, as a technology, has been around for decades. Today, photonics is seen as technology fundamental to future product development; to the point where it is has been named by the European Commission as one of six key enabling technologies needed to enhance industrial competitiveness.

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