Moore’s law expresses the observation that the number of transistors on a computer processor (CPU) doubles every two years. This increase is usually coupled  with a decrease in the size of several electronic components. For example, transistors in current technology are 22 nm in size. At this pace, microscopic effects can take place. We need quantum mechanics to understand what is going on. Source: Intel, Wiki Commons

The next big step in computers: what can physics offer us?

By Juan Andrés Muniz and Su-Peng Yu Few scientific breakthroughs of the past century have had as big an impact as the development of electronics and computer related technology: starting with the gigantic prototype computers that occupied several rooms, and then becoming the modern mobile devices that can fit in our pockets. This boom resulted…

Figure 2: This unique building in Singapore implements green roof to lower heat gain into its interior.

Implementing existing and new ideas toward sustainable building design

by Rotana Hay The building sector cannot be overlooked in any vision of a sustainable future. Buildings and infrastructure constitute the largest consumer of natural resources. During their life time, buildings also consume a tremendous amount of energy. The sector constitutes about 40% of total primary energy use and 30% of annual anthropogenic greenhouse gas…

Figure 2 (Images adapted from TECA and Snyder et al., 2008 Nature Materials, 105-114). Thermoelectric devices have no moving parts, and transform heat into electricity through a phenomenon known as the Seebeck effect: a difference in temperature along a thermoelectric material creates a voltage, which can be used to drive electric current. The size of a thermoelectric device is scalable to the application; devices can be bigger than a person, or microscopically integrated into a microprocessor. The device on the left is roughly 3 cm in length, and consists of many pairs of thermoelectric legs, shown in detail on the right.

From trash to treasure: Making electricity from waste heat

by Michael Gaultois Governments are clamouring to secure stable energy resources for the future. Much attention is focused on developing clean, sustainable, and renewable energy sources. However, the often invisible alternative is to be more efficient with the energy we already produce. This is not to say that we won’t need more energy, but rather that…