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Indian origin scientist discovers material superior to graphene

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New York: A new one-atom thick flat material, developed by an Indian-origin scientist, is said to be superior to the wonder material graphene due to its remarkable properties. The new material is set to be used in advance digital technology.

Discovered by Madhu Menon, a physicist at the University of Kentucky in the US, the new material is made up of silicon, boron and nitrogen – all light, inexpensive and abundant elements. The material is stable, a property many other graphene alternatives lack.

“We used simulations to see if the bonds would break or disintegrate – it didn’t happen. We heated the material up to 1,000-degree celsius and it still didn’t break,” said Menon, a physicist in the centre for computational sciences. The discovery is reported in a paper in Physical Review B.

Using state-of-the-art theoretical computations, Menon and his collaborators demonstrated that by combining the three elements, it is possible to obtain a one-atom thick, truly 2D material with properties that can be fine-tuned to suit various applications beyond what is possible with graphene.

Menon’s colleagues were Ernst Richter from Daimler in Germany and Antonis Andriotis from Institute for Electronic Structure and Laser (IESL) in Greece.

While graphene is touted as being the world’s strongest material with many unique properties, it has one downside: it isn’t a semiconductor and, therefore, disappoints in the digital technology industry.

The three elements forming the new material all have different sizes; the bonds connecting the atoms are also different.

As a result, the sides of the hexagons formed by these atoms are unequal, unlike in graphene.

The new material is metallic but can be made semiconducting easily by attaching other elements on top of the silicon atoms.

“We know that silicon-based technology is reaching its limit because we are putting more and more components together and making electronic processors more and more compact,” Menon said adding “but we know that this cannot go on indefinitely; we need smarter materials.”

He said they were anxious for this to be made in the lab. “The ultimate test of any theory is experimental verification, so the sooner the better!” Menon added in a paper.

This discovery opens a new chapter in material science by offering new opportunities for researchers to explore functional flexibility and new properties for new applications.(IANS)

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Report: Asia-Pacific Factories Lead in Using Digital Technology

Cisco Systems’ Roy noted that small and medium firms “are at varying stages of maturity in terms of digital adoption” and could use collaboration with governments and corporations

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A robot is seen in the automobile production line of the new Honda plant in Prachinburi, Thailand, May 12, 2016. VOA

She may not be the warmest waitress, but she serves a nice, hot cup of “Joe” at a café on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City.

Though this robotic barista is still getting help from her human counterpart, she is a signal that Asia is ahead of the curve in embracing new technologies ahead of the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

A recent report from PwC Global, a professional services firm, studied 1,155 manufacturing businesses based on how much they were embracing and incorporating innovations in technology, from drones to 3-D printing.

Across the board, companies in the Asia-Pacific region scored higher than their counterparts elsewhere in the world.

In Thailand, for instance, manufacturing companies have widely adopted new technologies to transform their operations.

“Many are using robots to assemble products at their factories to rely less on human labor, reduce costs, and boost overall efficiency,” said Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, consulting lead partner at PwC Thailand.

robot
FILE – An instructor explains the operation of a drone to students at a school run by TT Aviation Technology in Beijing, Oct. 17, 2015. China has quickly emerged as a leading player in the international race for drone manufacturing. VOA

ASEAN catches up

The report graded firms based on questions about the kinds of tools they were introducing into their workplaces. For example, manufacturers were asked if they made use of virtual reality; 44 percent in the Asia Pacific said they did compared with 34 percent in the United States and 19 percent in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

The regional group Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) reports that small and medium enterprises are using new technology to catch up to bigger rivals.

“Digitization is enabling SMEs across ASEAN to participate in cross-border trade, allowing them to grow and scale their businesses while reducing costs,” said Bidhan Roy, a general manager at Cisco Systems Pte Ltd.

Benefits of youth

Observers say the Asia-Pacific region benefits from its youth.

The relatively young population means people are amenable to different work environments and business operations, as well as having a keen interest in using new technology.

Another advantage? The region’s economies are also somewhat young, with many just opening up to global trade in the last two decades. In addition its underdeveloped infrastructure has the ability to adapt for future needs, like public transit or drone deliveries.

robots
An iPal couple social robots help teach children at a kindergarten in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China, July 4, 2018. Designed to offer education, care and companionship to children and the elderly, the 3.5-feet tall humanoid robots come in two genders and can tell stories, take photos and deliver educational or promotional content. VOA

“Asian companies have the advantage of setting up robust digital operations from essentially a blank slate in terms of factory automation, workforce, and even organizational IT [information technology] networks as a whole,” the PwC report said.

Baby steps

But more is needed to make these companies successful.

Cisco Systems’ Roy noted that small and medium firms “are at varying stages of maturity in terms of digital adoption” and could use collaboration with governments and corporations.

PwC Thailand’s Vilaiporn agreed on the benefit of collaboration.

Also Read: Apple Confirms It’s Deal With Oprah Winfrey For Digital Entertainment

“Thailand 4.0 will only be successful if both the government and private sectors understand their roles in fostering investment and focusing on research and development, as well as equipping the workforce with necessary skill sets and capabilities,” he said.

The “4.0” refers to the latest industrial revolution, which goes beyond mechanization and automation. It entails business processes becoming more efficient through a comprehensive application of technology, from smart devices to machine learning. (VOA)