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China's Advanced Sciences

Discussion in 'China & Asia Pacific' started by Martian, Apr 16, 2010.

  1. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Metallic glasses: Down to the wire

    Metallic glasses: Down to the wire : featured highlight : NPG Asia Materials

    "Metallic glasses: Down to the wire
    NPG Asia Materials featured highlight | doi:10.1038/asiamat.2011.23
    Published online 14 February 2011

    Glassy metallic wires can be controllably manufactured by drawing from a supercooled rod

    [​IMG]
    Photograph of a thin, flexible metallic glass fiber (left) and an electron microscopy image of a metallic glass rope weaved from such fibers (right).

    The metals we are most familiar with adopt a periodic, crystalline atomic arrangement. Metallic glasses, on the other hand, have an amorphous structure that is well suited for certain fabrication processes such as casting. Glassy metallic wires with widths of micrometers or nanometers are also less brittle than their bulk metallic counterparts, but such wires have proved difficult to fabricate. Wei Hua Wang and colleagues from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing have now developed a simple method for producing well-controlled and defect-free metallic glass wires[1].

    An ideal fabrication process for such wires should be able to produce narrow wires with uniform surfaces that are free of defects, and should also be applicable to a wide variety of starting materials. Existing methods have not been able to satisfy all of these requirements simultaneously, often because they involve a foreign material, for cooling or filling, that comes in contact with the wires during fabrication.

    Wang and his colleagues developed a method that avoided such contact by placing a bulk metallic glass rod inside a steel cylinder, which was then heated by a magnetic induction coil. The rod was heated rapidly from a solid to a ‘supercooled’ liquid state—meaning that it became liquid despite being heated to below its melting point. An ultrathin wire could then be drawn from the low-viscosity liquid using a suspended weight or a rotating shaft.

    The researchers found that the resulting wires had high structural uniformity. Their surfaces were as smooth as those of industrial silica glass fibers, and the wires could tolerate a much greater bending angle, in excess of 90° (see image). The diameters of the wires were easily controlled by adjusting the drawing force, allowing the researchers to draw wires as thin as 70 nm—ten times thinner than any wires produced previously.

    This work increases the feasibility of using metallic glass fibers as building blocks for microscale and nanoscale devices, with possible applications in composites, sensors, intelligent fabrics, circuit interconnects and optical waveguides.
    It also holds considerable intrinsic scientific interest, says Wang. “Our fibers can be used as a model system to study many fundamental issues in metallic glasses.”

    Reference

    1. Yi, J., Xia, X. X., Zhao, D. Q., Pan, M. X., Bai, H. Y., & Wang, W. H. Micro-and nanoscale metallic glassy fibers. Adv. Eng. Mater. 12, 1117 (2010). | article

    Author affiliation

    Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100080, China"
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011
  2. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Surface chemistry: A close look at hydrophobicity

    Surface chemistry: A close look at hydrophobicity : research highlight : NPG Asia Materials

    "Surface chemistry: A close look at hydrophobicity
    NPG Asia Materials research highlight | doi:10.1038/asiamat.2011.25
    Published online 14 February 2011

    Direct 3D imaging of the interface between water and a superhydrophobic surface provides insights with potential industrial applications.

    [​IMG]
    Confocal laser scanning microscopy images and schematic diagrams showing the state of a water droplet on a superhydrophobic surface.

    A water droplet on a hydrophobic surface can adopt one of two states: a ‘Wenzel’ state in which the droplet makes intimate contact with the rough ups and downs of a surface, or a ‘Cassie’ state in which the droplet sits high on top of the peaks. The Cassie state is of particular interest in the development of superhydrophobic surfaces—like the surface of a lotus leaf—for industrial applications such as self-cleaning surfaces. Observing these two states directly, however, has proved to be remarkably difficult. Jian Wang and colleagues at the South China University of Technology and the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics in China have now obtained three-dimensional images of the interface between water and a hydrophobic surface and observed the transition between the Wenzel and Cassie states in real time[1].

    Using a technique known as confocal laser scanning microscopy, the team observed the buried contact between a droplet and a superhydrophobic surface prepared from carbon nanotubes and Nafion, an ionic polymer. Their microscopy technique revealed 10 μm-thick pockets of air between the droplet and the surface—evidence of the Cassie state. It is the trapped air that produces the superhydrophobic state, allowing the droplet to roll easily off the surface. Using ultrasound or by adding a surfactant, the researchers were able to trigger and image the transition from the Cassie state through a mixed-state to the Wenzel state in real time (see image), providing valuable insight into the mechanism of superhydrophobicity.

    Wang and his colleagues plan to build on the success of the current study and continue to explore interactions on various surfaces to gain a further understanding of the underlying mechanisms. The ability to actively control the state of water on a surface could have a range of applications in the fields of superhydrophobic materials, microchannel flow and protein folding. “We like to explore natural processes and apply our knowledge to industrial processes,” says Wang. “The understanding of natural phenomena, which satisfies our intellectual development, is as important as the technical advances that may help people live a better life.”

    Reference

    1. Luo, C.1,2, Zheng, H.1, Wang, L.1, Fang, H.2, Hu,J.2, Fan, C.2, Cao, Y.1 & Wang, J.1 Direct three-dimensional imaging of the buried interfaces between water and superhydrophobic surfaces. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 49, 9145 (2010). | article

    Author affiliation

    1. Key Laboratory of Specially Functional Materials, Ministry of Education, Institute of Polymer Optoelectronic Materials and Devices, South China University of Technology, Guangzhou 510640, China

    2. Laboratory of Physical Biology, Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201800, China"
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  3. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Smart fluids: Switchable viscosity

    Smart fluids: Switchable viscosity : featured highlight : NPG Asia Materials

    "Smart fluids: Switchable viscosity
    NPG Asia Materials featured highlight | doi:10.1038/asiamat.2011.29
    Published online 21 February 2011

    Stimuli-responsive ‘smart fluids’ reversibly change viscosity with pH.

    [​IMG]
    Photographs and transmission electron microscopy images showing the formation of a clear, highly viscous micellar liquid at lower pH (left), and the collapse of that structure to form a cloudy, watery liquid at higher pH (right).

    Materials that change in some way in response to external stimuli are generating considerable interest for a range of potential industrial uses. Such ‘smart’ materials offer the possibility of creating systems that can react to light or electric current, but the smart systems developed to date typically rely on complex, costly molecules that tend to react too slowly for practical applications. Zonglin Chu and Yujun Feng at the Chengdu Institute of Organic Chemistry in China have now developed a low-cost smart material that undergoes rapid changes in viscosity in response to variations in pH[1].

    Under acidic conditions, the smart fluid developed by the research team is a thick, viscoelastic liquid. On the addition of an alkali solution, however, the fluid begins to flow like water within just seconds. The system is based on a molecule that is cheap, simple to produce and easy to separate from the fluid for reuse.

    The smart behavior was achieved by combining maleic acid with a specially structured long-chain molecule called UC22AMPM. Under acidic conditions, the UC22AMPM molecules aggregate into long worm-like arrays or ‘micelles’ with surface charge, making the fluid viscous. As the pH rises with the addition of alkali species to the system, the network falls apart and the fluid becomes highly liquid.

    The ability for a system to change viscosity in response to pH could be of particular interest to the oil industry, says Feng. A process called ‘acidization’ is often employed in the industry to stimulate oil wells by pumping a thick acidic solution down a well to crack any carbonate rock that is blocking the flow of oil. As the acid reacts with the rock, the pH rises—the smart fluid developed by Chu and Feng would become a watery liquid that could carry any dissolved rock back to the surface.

    As well as developing this fluid further for the specific application of oil well stimulation, Feng says the next step will be to make the system more adaptable. “Our current work is focused on multi-responsive micellar systems that could be triggered by pH, temperature, salinity or light—or combinations of these stimuli,†he says.

    Reference

    1. Chu, Z.1,2 & Feng, Y.1 pH-switchable wormlike micelles. Chem. Commun. 46, 9028 (2010). | article

    Author affiliation

    1. Chengdu Institute of Organic Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 610041, China

    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China"
     
  4. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding

    Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding* - Technology Review

    "Physicists Discover Quantum Law of Protein Folding
    Quantum mechanics finally explains why protein folding depends on temperature in such a strange way.
    kfc 02/22/2011

    [​IMG]

    The famous Arrhenius relationship states that things happen faster as they got hotter. In chemistry, that's generally true but there's an important exception: the speed at which proteins fold into their functional shape.

    It's easy to think that proteins ought to fold more quickly as they cool down and then unfold more quickly as they heat up. But the actual relationship is both nonlinear and asymmetric, meaning that unfolding is not the reverse of folding.

    Molecular biologists have put forward various mechanisms to explain this, such as the nonlinear interaction between water and hydrophobic parts of proteins. But none of these are very convincing.

    That looks set to change with the work of Liaofu Luo at the Inner Mongolia University and Jun Lu at the Inner Mongolia University of Technology, both in China. They say that the way folding depends on temperature all becomes clear as soon as you take quantum mechanics into account.

    First, a little background on protein folding. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that become biologically active only when they fold into specific, highly complex shapes. The puzzle is how proteins do this so quickly when they have so many possible configurations to choose from.

    To put this in perspective, a relatively small protein of only 100 amino acids can take some 10^100 different configurations. If it tried these shapes at the rate of 100 billion a second, it would take longer than the age of the universe to find the correct one. Just how these molecules do the job in nanoseconds, nobody knows.

    What they do know, however, is that the rate at which they fold is highly sensitive to temperature and biologists have a significant amount of data showing exactly how these rates vary. Plotting these data leads to various unexpected curves.

    Today, Luo and Lo say these curves can be easily explained if the process of folding is a quantum affair. By conventional thinking, a chain of amino acids can only change from one shape to another by mechanically passing though various shapes in between.

    But Luo and Lo say that if this process were a quantum one, the shape could change by quantum transition, meaning that the protein could 'jump' from one shape to another without necessarily forming the shapes in between.

    Luo and Lo explore this idea using a mathematical model of how this would work and then derive equations that describe how the rate of "quantum folding" would change with temperature. Finally they fit the predictions of their model to some real world experiments.

    Their astonishing result is that this quantum transition model fits the folding curves of 15 different proteins and even explains the difference in folding and unfolding rates of the same proteins.

    That's a significant breakthrough. Luo and Lo's equations amount to the first universal laws of protein folding. That's the equivalent in biology to something like the thermodynamic laws in physics.


    Impressive stuff. And don't expect it to end here.

    Various groups are finding evidence of quantum processes at work in everything from photosynthesis to bird navigation.

    If quantum mechanics plays a key role in protein folding, then there can be little question of its importance in the workings of other cellular machines. It can only be a matter of time before the floodgates open for quantum biologists.

    Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1102.3748: Temperature Dependence of Protein Folding Deduced from Quantum Transition"
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2011
  5. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    ‘Walking Cactus’ Called Missing Link for Insects

    Hard-Legged Worm May Be Insects' Missing Link | Arthropods & Evolution | LiveScience

    "‘Walking Cactus’ Called Missing Link for Insects
    by Wynne Parry, LiveScience Senior Writer
    Date: 23 February 2011 Time: 01:01 PM ET

    [​IMG]
    Fossils from an extinct creature, dubbed a walking cactus, may reveal a piece of arthropod history in their jointed legs.
    Jianni Liu

    Fossils of a 10-legged wormy creature that lived 520 million years ago may fill an important gap in the history of the evolution of insects, spiders and crustaceans.

    The so-called walking cactus belongs to a group of extinct worm-like creatures called lobopodians that are thought to have given rise to arthropods. Spiders and other arthropods have segmented bodies and jointed limbs covered in a hardened shell.

    Before the discovery of the walking cactus, Diania cactiformis, all lobopodian remains had soft bodies and soft limbs, said Jianni Liu, the lead researcher who is affiliated with Northwest University in China and Freie University in Germany.

    "Walking cactus is very important because it is sort of a missing link from lobopodians to arthropods," Liu told LiveScience. "Scientists have always suspected that arthropods evolved from somewhere amongst lobopodians, but until now we didn't have a single fossil you could point at and say that is the first one with jointed legs. And this is what walking cactus shows."


    Leggy find

    Liu and other researchers described the extinct creature based on three complete fossils and 30 partial ones discovered in Yunnan Province in southern China. The walking cactus had a body divided into nine segments with 10 pairs of hardened, jointed legs, and it measured about 2.4 inches (6 centimeters) long.

    It's not clear how the leggy worm made its living. It could have used its tube-like mouth called a proboscis to suck tiny things from the mud, or it may have used its spiny front legs to grab prey, Liu said.

    Clues to arthropod evolution are preserved in modern-day velvet worms, which are considered the only living relative to all arthropods. Once mistaken for slugs, these land-dwelling worms are almost entirely soft-bodied except for hardened claws and jaws.

    Where spiders, insects and others came from

    The discovery of the walking cactus helps fill in the evolutionary history between the velvet worms and modern arthropods, which, in terms of numbers and diversity, are the most dominant group of animals on the planet, according to Graham Budd, a professor of paleobiology at Uppsala University in Sweden, who was not involved in the current study.

    The walking cactus is the first and only case of hardened, jointed limbs built for walking appearing in a creature that is not recognizable as an arthropod, Budd said.

    But Budd is not convinced that, as the researchers argue, the walking cactus's hardened legs were passed directly down to modern arthropods.

    "I am not persuaded that it is a direct ancestor or as closely related to living arthropods as they suggest," he told LiveScience. "I would like to see more evidence; the great thing is a lot more material keeps coming up."

    For instance, it is possible that the walking cactus is less closely related to modern arthropods, and that hardened legs evolved multiple times. It is also possible that the bodies of primitive arthropods hardened before their legs did, Budd said.

    New fossils, particularly from China, have helped clarify the evolutionary history of arthropods, and in the last decade or so, scientists have come to more consensus regarding that history, he added."
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
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  6. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Nanowires

    [​IMG]
    A SEM (scanning electron microscope) image of epitaxial nanowire heterostructures grown from catalytic gold nanoparticles.

    Nanowire research at Stevens makes cover of Applied Physics Letters

    "Nanowire research at Stevens makes cover of Applied Physics Letters
    February 23, 2011

    An article by Stevens Institute of Technology researchers featured as the cover page of Applied Physics Letters Volume 98, Issue 7 represents a step forward in techniques for the arrangement of nanowires.

    Professors Dr. Chang-Hwan Choi and Dr. Eui-Hyeok (EH) Yang, and graduate students Wei Xu, Rajesh Leeladhar, and Yao-Tsan Tsai, focused on nanowires, structures that are mere nanometers in diameter but have enormous potential in nanotechnology to create tiny circuits that would make possible nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, and nanobiotechnology. Such devices could forever change the way we harness energy, communicate, and treat disease.

    "This highly promising research can lead to the development of reliable nano-actuators which in turn stand to benefit fields and applications as diverse as biomaterials, nano robots, artificial muscles, and high frequency nano antenna applications and is an affirmation of the cutting edge research that is taking place in the Micro/Nano Devices Laboratory," says Dr. Constantin Chassapis, Deputy Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science and Department Director of Mechanical Engineering.

    The precise arrangement of nanowires on a large scale is crucial for any practical application. However, many current techniques for the controllable arrangement of nanowires suffer limitations.

    The article, entitled, "Evaporative self-assembly of nanowires on superhydrophobic surfaces of nanotip latching surfaces," reports a technique that is highly effective in assembling nanowires. A colloid droplet of nanowires (i.e., nanowires dispersed in a water droplet) is placed on a nano-engineered superhydrophobic surface. As the droplet evaporates, two forces cause the nanowires to self-assemble on the specially-designed surface: hydrodynamic forces inside the droplet and capillary forces of the receding contact line of the droplet. Simple and convenient, the new self-assembly technique offers a high yield rate, improving the controlled arrangement of nanowires which may be used in nanodevices."
     
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  7. MiG-23MLD

    MiG-23MLD Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Last edited: Feb 26, 2011
  8. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    China's Homemade Supercomputer May be the Most Efficient Ever

    China's Homemade Supercomputer May be the Most Efficient Ever - Technology Review

    "China's Homemade Supercomputer May be the Most Efficient Ever
    Technology Review
    Published by MIT
    Christopher Mims 03/01/2011

    As processors hit the power wall, performance per watt means everything.

    China's home-grown supercomputer, the Dawning 6000, finally has a launch date: Summer 2011. In terms of raw performance, the machine is not going to be a record breaker, but it will be the first machine in the Top500 to be powered entirely by chips designed entirely by China's Institute of Computing Technology. Long term, they could be a major threat to Intel, AMD, NVIDIA and their ilk.

    [​IMG]
    Dawning 6000 chassis with 10 Godson 3B-powered blade servers installed

    Weiwu Hu, lead architect of the Loongson line of chips, announced the launch of the forthcoming supercomputer at the International Solid State Circuits Conference held last week. (Technology Review has been covering the development of this supercomputer for over a year, since the first intimation of its construction in January 2010.)

    What's new as of Hu's latest announcement is the scale of the machine: 300 teraflops, achieved with 3,000 of the 1-Ghz, 8-core Godson 3B chips. That's a far cry from the #1 position on the world's list of the top 500 supercomputers, currently occupied by the 2.56 petaflop Tianhe-1A machine, also built in China, but with Intel CPUs and NVIDIA GPUs.

    The absolute power of the machine might not matter much, however, because as the platform matures, performance per watt will become the dominant metric, as it has for all other high performance systems (and even the chips in your laptop and cell phone). As HPC Wire reports, "[T]he Godson-3B appears to be a very power-efficient design, and the upcoming Dawning machine could rival even Blue Gene/Q systems for performance per watt supremacy."

    This efficiency is achieved because of the relatively low clock speed of the Godson 3B -- only 1.0 GHz -- and the chips reliance on the MIPS architecture, which is also used in set-top boxes and is making its way into the smartphone market.

    Significantly, in June 2010 the Chinese government was rumored to be contemplating the purchase of a 20 percent stake in MIPS Technologies, holder of the rights to the MIPS instruction set.

    Hu also announced the launch in 2012 or 2013 of the Godson 3C chip, which at twice the clock speed and twice the cores of the 3B, will be four times as fast. This chip will be used to build a petascale supercomputer. Were such system to debut today, it would likely be among the ten fastest supercomputers on earth."
     
  9. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

    Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip

    "Godson: China shuns US silicon with faux x86 superchip
    Who needs GPU co-processors?
    By Timothy Prickett Morgan
    Posted in HPC, 25th February 2011 21:07 GMT

    ISSCC If the Chinese government is scaring the world with its hybrid CPU-GPU clusters, what do you think the reaction will be when Chinese supercomputers shun American-made x64 processors and GPU co-processors and start using their own energy-efficient, MIPS-derived, x86-emulating Godson line of 64-bit processors?

    Apoplexy? Disbelief? A polite bow of respect? A bunch of orders for Godson chips is more likely, once you see what China is up to.

    One of the more interesting presentations at this week's International Solid-State Circuits Conference, hosted by the IEEE in San Francisco, was by Weiwu Hu, the lead designer of the Godson family of processors being created by Institute of Computing Technology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    China started developing its own processor since 2002, explained Hu, and the Godson family of chips, which is based on the MIPS architecture created by Silicon Graphics, is part of a holistic technology investment program. The Godson chip effort is one of 16 different projects, in fact, that are each funded with between $5bn and $10bn.

    The massive projects focus on specific technology areas that China reckons are key for its technological independence and economic future, including processors and operating systems, chip process technology, 4G wireless networks, nuclear fission power plants, water pollution control and treatment, aircraft design and construction, high-resolution satellite imaging, and manned spaceflight and lunar exploration.

    As El Reg reported a year ago when China's ICT was bragging about its plans to build a petaflops-scale supercomputer with server maker Dawning, ICT originally got access to MIPS technology through its partnership with wafer-baker STMicroelectronics. But in June 2009, as it got serious about its Godson chips (also known by the name Loongson) it licensed the MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures straight from MIPS Technologies, the chip-designing division of Silicon Graphics that was spun out in an initial public offering in 1998.

    The initial Godson-1 processors were 32-bit chips running at a mere 266 MHz, and the Godson-2 moved to 64-bits and was revved up to 1.2 GHz. With the Godson-2F chip in 2007 and 2008, ICT came out with a design that has a four-issue core running at 800 MHz, rated at 3.2 gigaflops. The Godson-3A chip was delayed nearly a year and was aimed solely at servers. ICT shifted a four-core design and also did something else very clever: it added x64 instruction emulation right into the hardware. Hu only alluded to this emulation capability, but as El Reg explained a year ago, the Godson-3 chips have instructions added to help the QEMU hypervisor (the one that's at the heart of Red Hat's KVM hypervisor) to translate instructions from x86 to MIPS format. According to early benchmarks, the emulation penalty is about 30 per cent.

    [​IMG]
    ICT's Godson family of chips for servers, PCs, and consumer electronics

    The Godson-3A chip was implemented in a 65 nanometer process and ran at 1 GHz to deliver 16 gigaflops of floating point oomph. The chip has 425 million transistors, an area of 174.5 square millimeters, and burned only 10 watts under load. The chip included two 16-bit HyperTransport ports (licensed from Advanced Micro Devices), 4 MB of L2 cache, and two on-chip memory controllers that support either DDR2 or DDR3 main memory.

    Oh Godson!

    With the Godson-3B, which is what Hu was there to talk about in San Francisco, ICT is sticking with the same 65 nanometer CMOS process and running the chip at the same 1 GHz. But the chip is bumped up to eight cores from four and has two 256-bit vector co-processors per core. The chip has two HyperTransport ports and two DDR3 memory controllers, and weighs in at 583 million transistors in a 300 square millimeter area. Running at 1 GHz, peak performance on those vector units is 128 gigaflops, with the chip only emitting 40 watts. According to early tests, the cores burn about 28.9 watts, while the uncore parts of the chip (HT, memory controllers, and crossbar switches for linking chips together) consume 11.1 watts.

    According to Hu, the vector extension unit in the Godson-3B and Godson-2H processors have 128-entry, 256-bit register files and have more than 300 SIMD instructions that have been added to the MIPS architecture.

    Here's what the Godson-3B chip looks like:

    [​IMG]
    ICT's Godson-3B MIPS processor, x86 emulation included

    The Godson-3B processor will be used in the Dawning 6000 petaflops supercomputer, which China will be tweaking in 2012. Here's an early version of the blade equipped for the Godson-3B chips:

    [​IMG]
    Dawning's two-socket Godson-3A and Godson-3B blade server

    And this is what the blade server chassis looks like for the Dawning 6000:

    [​IMG]
    The Dawning 6000 supercomputer blade server chassis

    The Dawning 6000 blade design is used by the National Supercomputing Center in Shenzhen for its hybrid Xeon 5650-Nvidia M2050 system, which ranked number three on the Top 500 list from November 2010. That machine had an aggregate 1.27 petaflops of sustained performance running the Linpack Fortran benchmark test.

    Another Dawning 6000 blade cluster with 3,000 of the Godson-3B chips, and rated at around 300 sustained teraflops, is expected to be up and running this summer, Hu said. (That would be about 384 peak theoretical teraflops just counting the vector units, not the cores.)

    Those Dawning 6000 blades are by no means the highest density that ICT can come up with. Check out this system board for a 1U rack server that Hu showed off at ISSCC this week:

    [​IMG]
    ICT's 1U2T Godson-3B system board

    This IU2T system board packs 16 of the eight-core Godson-3B processors onto a single board, rated at 2 teraflops. So a rack of these puppies would yield 42 teraflops. So instead of hundreds of cabinets to reach 1 petaflops of raw number-crunching performance, as it can take with big x64-based machines, ICT could, in theory, do it with 24 racks.

    ICT is not going to stop here. The Godson-3C design will shift to a 28 nanometer process and will come in eight-core variants like the Godson-3B as well as a 16-core variant. The Godson-3C will have faster clock speeds, too, running at between 1.5 GHz and 2 GHz. The roadmap says the chip is also capable of expanding up to 16 cores, too. ICT says the Godson-3C will deliver 512 gigaflops of raw performance on math work, and the way the math works, that is twice as much math moving from 1 GHz to 2 GHz and then a doubling again as the core count goes from 8 to 16. This chip is expected sometime around late 2012 or early 2013.

    Wouldn't it be funny if Silicon Graphics started building systems with these Godson-3 chips? They could dust off Irix and take it out for a spin on some new iron and allow it to run x64-based Linux applications in emulation mode."
     
  10. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    How To Turn A Laser Into A Tractor Beam

    How To Turn A Laser Into A Tractor Beam - Technology Review

    "How To Turn A Laser Into A Tractor Beam
    Technology Review
    Published by MIT
    kfc 02/28/2011

    Physicists work out how to generate a backward pulling force from a forward propagating beam.

    [​IMG]

    A photon has a small momentum which it can impart to anything it hits, as Arthur Compton and Peter Lebedev discovered at the beginning of the last century. We now know that photons can be used to push anything from electrons to solar sails.

    Today, Jun Chen from Fudan University in China and a few pals demonstrate the counterintuitive result that photons can pull things too. In other words, they've worked out how to generate a backward pulling force from a forward propagating beam.

    Chen and buddies say this is possible when the system meets two conditions. First, it works only for beams in which the momentum in the direction of propagation is small, as is the case for beams that merely glance off an object. Second, the photons must simultaneously excite several multipoles within the particle, which scatter the beam.

    If the scattering angle is just right, the total momentum in the direction of propagation can be negative, meaning the particle is pulled back towards the source and the light becomes a tractor beam.

    This must not be confused with various "optical tweezer" type mechanisms in which particles trapped in a beam follow the intensity gradient of the light. In this case, the particles always reach some point of equilibrium where the intensity reaches a maximum.

    Chen and co's new force works when there is no gradient. Given the chance, their tractor beam will pull a particle all the way back to the source.

    That's a handy additional tool in the nanomanipulator's box of tricks. "This may open up new avenues for optical micromanipulation, of which typical examples include transporting a particle backward over a long distance and particle sorting," say Chen and co.

    This is a theory paper so there's one piece of the puzzle left to fit. All they have to do now is demonstrate that their tractor beam works.

    Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1102.4905: Backward Pulling Force From A Forward Propagating Beam"

    Note: You can read the scientific paper at http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1102/1102.4905.pdf
     
  11. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    World's first 660 KV transmission system sends power across China

    World's first 660 KV DC transmission system sends power across China

    "World's first 660 KV transmission system sends power across China
    2011-02-28 16:15:32

    [​IMG]
    Photo taken on Feb. 28, 2011 shows a transformer site for the 660 kV DC power transmission line in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The world's first 660 kV DC power transmission line, linking Ningxia with east China's Shandong Province, was officially put into operation on Monday. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

    [​IMG]
    Technicians work at a power plant in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, on Feb. 28, 2011. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

    [​IMG]
    Photo taken on Feb. 28, 2011 shows a transformer site for the 660 kV DC power transmission line in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)

    YINCHUAN, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- The world's first 660-kilovolt direct current power transmission system began to supply energy from northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region to the eastern Shandong Province on Monday.

    The 10.4-billion-yuan (1.58 billion U.S. dollars) project is part of China's west-east power transmission program.

    The cable system has a current-carrying capacity of 4 million kilowatts of electricity traveling over a distance of 1,333 km through five provinces and regions.

    To generate the same amount of electricity, about 13 million tons of coal would be needed and 650,000 20-ton trucks to deliver the coal.


    Therefore, the cable system not only eases Shandong's energy needs, but also helps relieve traffic pressures on the roads.

    Cui Jifeng, general manager of Ningxia Power Co., a subsidiary of the China Power Grid Co., said the system was built to supply hydropower generated on the upper reaches of the Yellow River, as well as thermal power produced in Ningxia to coastal Shandong.

    The system was independently designed, produced, built and tested by Chinese companies, he noted.

    China's coal resources are mainly based in the west and north, which are economically underdeveloped compared with the east. The west-east power transmission program was begun in 2000.

    The State Grid Corp. plans to build six cable systems, including three west-east facilities and three north-south systems, between 2011 and 2015.

    For coal-rich provinces, the cables will make their coal mines more profitable, said Pan Jiazheng, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    The revenues from mining and delivering 13 million tons of coal by truck are about 2.59 billion yuan, while those of transmitting electricity generated by an equal amount of coal can be 6.5 billion yuan, according to Pan."
     
  12. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Molecular motor design breakthrough - first molecular piston capable of self-assembly

    Molecular motor design breakthrough - first molecular piston capable of self-assembly

    "Molecular motor design breakthrough - first molecular piston capable of self-assembly
    March 04, 2011

    French researchers from CNRS and the Universite de Bordeaux, in collaboration with a Chinese team, have developed the first molecular piston capable of self-assembly. Their research represents a significant technological advance in the design of molecular motors. Such pistons could, for example, be used to manufacture artificial muscles or create polymers with controllable stiffness.

    [​IMG]
    a) side view of the crystal structures of the host-guest complex 1É8 with single helix 1 in tube representation and rod 8 in CPK representation. b) Top view and c) side view of 1É8 with both rod and helix in CPK representation. Carbon atoms of the thread are shown in grey, nitrogen atoms in light blue, oxygen atoms in red and hydrogen atoms in white. Single helix 1 is shown in red. Isobutyl side chains and included solvent molecules have been removed for clarity.

    Science - Helix-Rod Host-Guest Complexes with Shuttling Rates Much Faster than Disassembly

    Dynamic assembly is a powerful fabrication method of complex, functionally diverse molecular architectures, but its use in synthetic nanomachines has been hampered by the difficulty of avoiding reversible attachments that result in the premature breaking apart of loosely held moving parts. We show that molecular motion can be controlled in dynamically assembled systems through segregation of the disassembly process and internal translation to time scales that differ by four orders of magnitude. Helical molecular tapes were designed to slowly wind around rod-like guests and then to rapidly slide along them. The winding process requires helix unfolding and refolding, as well as a strict match between helix length and anchor points on the rods. This modular design and dynamic assembly open up promising capabilities in molecular machinery.

    English translation of the french press release from CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research

    Supplemental material (72 pages)"
     
  13. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Diamond cousin proposed

    Diamond Cousin Proposed - Science News

    "Diamond cousin proposed
    Researchers predict a new form of carbon
    By Devin Powell
    Web edition : Monday, February 28th, 2011

    Diamond may have a softer side: T-carbon.

    This fluffy form of diamond, simulated in a Chinese supercomputer, could be used for a variety of applications — if someone can make the stuff and prove its stability in the real world.

    [​IMG]
    DIAMOND FLUFF Replacing carbon atoms in diamond with pyramids of carbon could produce a new material that is both lightweight and hard. (Credit: Qing-Bo Yan)

    “What is the most surprising to us is that such an elegant structure has never been proposed before,†says Gang Su, a materials scientist at the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing and a coauthor of an upcoming paper describing T-carbon in Physical Review Letters.

    Inspired by a television show about Egypt’s pyramids, Su calculated how to revamp the crystal structure of cubic diamond by exchanging each carbon atom with a pyramid of four carbon atoms. This arrangement should be 43 percent as dense and 65 percent as hard as diamond.

    “It would be a very light, hard material, so you could imagine a large number of applications,†says Wendy Mao, a geophysicist at Stanford University who was not involved with the research.

    Su and his colleagues hope the material will ultimately prove valuable for the aerospace industry and for storing hydrogen as an energy source. Because of the way electrons would flow through T-carbon, it could also be useful as a semiconductor. The researchers speculate that T-carbon may even be a component of interstellar dust that could help to explain distortions of light in this dust first noticed by astronomers in 1965.

    But other theoretical physicists doubt that these carbon pyramids will ever be built. Because carbon has a remarkable ability to form different kinds of molecular bonds, there are countless ways carbon atoms can be rearranged to form new structures, says Artem Oganov, a crystallographer at Stony Brook University in New York.

    Most of these arrangements, though, are too unstable to exist in an everyday environment. The trick is in finding the few that can actually be created and stick around, and are thus worthy of joining the existing carbon “allotropes,†an exclusive family that includes graphite and amorphous carbons such as soot, both found in nature, as well as substances first discovered in a laboratory, such as graphene, carbon nanotubes and fullerenes.

    “I think there will be problems in synthesizing [T-carbon],†says Oganov.

    Because of T-carbon’s low density, it must be formed at pressures far below everyday atmospheric levels. In contrast, other recent efforts to make new forms of carbon have focused on generating high pressures by squeezing materials. To make T-carbon, Su proposes detonating a chunk of diamond or graphite, or creating negative pressures “somehow by stretching diamond with an extremely large strength.â€

    Renata Wentzcovitch, a materials scientist at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis who was not involved with the research, thinks she may know of a way to make T-carbon from smaller carbon compounds. But she’s not sure whether T-carbon would be stable enough to warrant the effort.

    “Even if it was synthesized, I don’t know if it would hold together,†says Wentzcovitch. Lower-energy structures tend to be more stable. “The energy of this stuff is much, much higher than other forms of carbon,†she says, “and little perturbations might cause the structure to collapse.â€

    Only by making T-carbon in the lab, Wentzcovitch and other researchers agree, can Su demonstrate that the structure deserves to become diamond’s new cousin — and not just its imaginary friend."
     
  14. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Nanoscope Sees Smaller Than Ever

    [​IMG]
    Research Associate Dr. Wei Guo using the microscope

    Figure 2: Microsphere superlens imaging in transmission mode.
    [​IMG]
    (a) Microsphere superlens imaging of 360-nm-wide lines spaced 130 nm apart (top left image taken by scanning electron microscope (SEM)), the optical nanoscope (ON) image (top right image) shows that the lines are clearly resolved. (b) A gold…

    Nanoscope Sees Smaller Than Ever : Discovery News

    "Nanoscope Sees Smaller Than Ever
    Analysis by Marianne English
    Fri Mar 4, 2011 02:27 PM ET

    [​IMG]
    Photo courtesy of the University of Manchester

    What if a microscope were powerful enough to detail the inner workings of a virus hijacking a cell?

    A team of University of Manchester and National University of Singapore researchers designed a nanoscope that creates the possibility of doing just that. Their work allows scientists to image objects better than before by combining the power of an optical microscope with transparent microspheres of glass.

    The new equipment can provide clear images of objects as little as 50 nanometers wide -- 20 times smaller than previous technologies. For reference, one nanometer equals one billionth of a meter.

    The fact that the technology defies traditional restraints caused by the diffraction of light -- or limits when light encounters objects -- makes the microscope unique.

    This is because microspheres, or tiny round structures, are used to redirect and amplify light lost from the process of diffraction, creating a more detailed picture of samples being imaged. Although current technologies, including electron microscopes, produce high resolution images, they only reveal the surfaces of cells and viruses, not what's occurring inside them.

    Scientists say the nanoscope will allow other researchers to see what really happens when a virus hijacks a cell in real-time. It may also be used to monitor events inside of cells caused by bacteria and other microorganisms.

    Using this technology, the team says it will be possible to make even smaller biological features visible in the future.

    "This is a world record in terms of how small an optical microscope can go by direct imaging under a light source covering the whole range of optical spectrum," leading researcher Lin Li said in a University of Manchester press release. "…Theoretically, there is no limit on how small an object we will be able to see."

    The findings are featured in the journal Nature Communications."

    Optical virtual imaging at 50 nm lateral resolution with a white-light nanoscope : Nature Communications : Nature Publishing Group

    "Nature Communications | Article
    Optical virtual imaging at 50 nm lateral resolution with a white-light nanoscope

    * Zengbo Wang,1
    * Wei Guo,1, 2
    * Lin Li,1
    * Boris Luk'yanchuk,3
    * Ashfaq Khan,1
    * Zhu Liu,2
    * Zaichun Chen3, 4
    * & Minghui Hong3, 4

    * Affiliations * Contributions * Corresponding author

    Journal name: Nature Communications
    Volume: 2,
    Article number: 218
    DOI: doi:10.1038/ncomms1211

    Received 16 August 2010
    Accepted 26 January 2011
    Published 01 March 2011"

    Note: Occasionally, I will highlight the contributions of Overseas Chinese scientists. The "leading researcher Lin Li" is obviously ethnically Chinese. Also, his name is not Anglicized. This strongly implies that he was born in China. However, his nationality is British.

    Given the fact that Mr. Lin Li and six of the eight British researchers are Overseas Chinese, the Chinese community welcomes their scientific achievement.
     
  15. Martian

    Martian Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Lenovo's Laptops Are First to Have Eye-Control Ability

    Lenovo's Laptops Are First to Have Eye-Control Ability | Fast Company

    "Lenovo's Laptops Are First to Have Eye-Control Ability
    BY Kit Eaton
    Tue Mar 1, 2011

    [​IMG]
    Eye-tracking Lenovo Tobii

    Lenovo and Tobii today unveiled what they're calling the "world's first eye-controlled laptop," and they're giving it a public demo at the CeBIT show in Germany. The idea is to add what the makers call a "truly natural interface" into everyday computing situations, allowing users of the laptop to control what happens in the UI using keyboard, mouse and where they glance on the screen--not entirely unlike the hand-eye-coordinated actions we do in non-computing environments. This taps into the current trend of natural user interfaces, and could change how you think about PCs.

    When you work on a computer, your hands are typically glued to a keyboard and mouse or trackpad to control what goes on on the screen--but your eyes scatter and dart around as you focus on specific details. This is something Net researchers have known how to exploit for a while, and Google even uses eye-tracking tech to work out where attention-grabbing hotspots are on its homepage so it can optimize its design to better position interface controls and (yes, of course) adverts.

    Lenovo is exploiting Tobii tech in a much more interactive way. The system is at heart just an infrared light source and a camera that observers a user's eyes--by looking for reflective IR "glints" off your eyeballs. It combines that with clever software that works out where the eyes are positioned in space in front of the computer, and where they're looking--translating the interpreted gaze into a corresponding position on the screen.

    The result is that you can glance at an on-screen object like an icon and the system will pop up more info on that item. Maps can be scrolled or zoomed depending on the area of interest that you're concentrating on, and more subtle UI events can be worked in to improve your workflow. These include things like dimming windows you're not looking at, switching focus between windows based on which ones you what to see, and darkening the display if you're not sitting looking at the machine (a far better way of working out that you're being "idle" than merely timing-out if you don't touch the keyboard or mouse for a certain period). For an idea about how this may work, the video below is of a Tobii eye-track UI developed way back in 2007.

    The makers think this system results in a "thrilling" improvement on the way we interact with computers, and though this initial implementation is a proof of concept rather than a salable product, it's highly likely that we'll all be using similar systems sometime soon--even if they're not from Lenovo.

    That's because Apple is currently championing intuitive UI design, and this sort of natural enhancement to PC control is right up it's alley--it's even patented clever hands-off sensing tech to boost the natural interaction powers of its future iPads and iPhones. Nokia has looked at hands-free control of its smartphones, and Microsoft is pushing its plans for a "natural user interface" in future Windows designs. Now that consumer's are used to touching, stroking and gently taping their consumer electronics, or waving their arms in the air in front of their Xbox to control games (and, in the near future, interactive displays in store windows) then they're likely almost ready to let their PC use eye-tracking info, too."
     

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