June 13/20, 2001   

   Stressed chips go faster
People tend to do worse under stress but the opposite is true for silicon. Forcing silicon's atoms to spread out lowers its resistance to electrons, which speeds up current flowing through it. If IBM can reproduce its research results on the manufacturing line, chipmakers will have another way to speed up computers.
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Artificial synapses copy brain dynamics
The brain's synapses aren't simple switches that turn on and off one after the other. The timing and strength of neural signals is much more subtle than that, which is probably why artificial neural networks pale in comparison to the real thing. But that may be changing as researchers get a better understanding of how the brain works.

DNA device detects light signals
Researchers are tapping the ability of DNA's four bases to connect to themselves and each other to make a range of electronic devices. A team in Italy has found a way to turn a base into a semiconducting film that carries electric current when light shines on it.

Lightwaves channel atoms to make chips
It's hard to imagine light pushing matter around, but when the matter in question is a vapor of atoms and the lightwaves are the right frequency, light rules. Rain two types of atoms down through a standing lightwave and you can make one type land everywhere and the other only where the light sends it.

Process promises better LCD production
If you are reading this on a liquid crystal display, one step in the process of making your screen involved rubbing it with a piece of velvet. This antiquated and imprecise technique could be on its way out, to be replaced by decidedly high-tech ion guns.

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