October 30/November 6, 2002   

   Nanoscale LED debuts
At about one tenth the size of a red blood cell, a new light emitting diode promises to be a small, low-power light source for fiber-optic communications. If researchers can shrink it even further, the LED could spit out just one photon at a time -- a major boost for quantum cryptography.
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Data transfer demo sets speed mark
Grid computing is all the rage these days, and it's hard not to like a set of technologies that could lead to scientific discoveries, new drugs, and fully immersive, multiuser virtual reality games. But shunting large blocks of data around the world calls for very fast networks. A new grid speed record of 2.8 gigabits per second should whet a few appetites.

Pulling nanotubes makes thread
Pull on a piece of a silkworm cocoon and the material will be drawn into a silk thread. It turns out that the same is true for carbon nanotubes, those microscopic, superstrong rolled up sheets of carbon atoms. Growing a forest of vertical nanotubes on a silicon surface creates a sort of nanotube cocoon. The resulting threads could be woven into materials strong enough to stop bullets.

Text software spots intruders
Software that categorizes Web pages based on their content could take on a new role: detecting computer viruses, Internet worms, hackers and other digital intruders. As it turns out, text categorization software does a decent job of spotting new forms of unwanted intrusions, unlike that virus software on your PC, which has to know in advance what the bad guys look like.

Microwave drill melts concrete
Microwaves cook food, transmit data and reveal cosmic mysteries. The versatile radiation could also be tapped for assembly-line hole drilling. A prototype drill that concentrates microwaves to melt concrete, ceramics and glass is cleaner and quieter than its mechanical cousins.

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