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Smart windows can change the opacity

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New Delhi: Researchers from Harvard University have developed a technique that can quickly change the opacity of a window, turning it cloudy, clear or somewhere in between with the flick of a switch.

Previous technologies used in “tunable” windows relied on electrochemical reactions and were very expensive.

“However, the new technology uses geometry to adjust the transparency of a window which is a much cheaper option,” said David Clarke from Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

The “tunable” window is comprised of a sheet of glass or plastic, sandwiched between transparent, soft elastomers sprayed with a coating of silver nanowires, too small to scatter light on their own.

With an applied voltage, the nanowires on either side of the glass are energised to move toward each other, squeezing and deforming the soft elastomer.

Since the nanowires are distributed unevenly across the surface, the elastomer deforms unevenly.

The resulting roughness causes light to scatter, turning the glass opaque in less than a second.

“It’s like a frozen pond. If the frozen pond is smooth, you can see through the ice. But if the ice is heavily scratched, you can’t see through,” added postdoctoral fellow Samuel Shian in a paper that appeared in the journal Optics Letters.

“Because this is a physical phenomenon rather than based on a chemical reaction, it is a simpler and potentially cheaper way to achieve commercial tunable windows,” Clarke noted.

The team is now working on incorporating thinner elastomers, which would require lower voltages, more suited for standard electrical supplies. (IANS)

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Apple Expands Its Campus to Austin, East and West U.S.

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy

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Apple, Campus, China
A customer is entering the Apple store in Fairfax, Virginia. VOA

Apple will build a $1 billion campus in Austin, Texas, break ground on smaller locations in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California, and over the next three years expand in Pittsburgh, New York and Colorado.

The tech giant said Thursday that the new campus in Austin, less than a mile from existing Apple facilities, will open with 5,000 positions in engineering, research and development, operations, finance, sales, and customer support. The site, according to Apple, will have the capacity to eventually accommodate 15,000 employees.

The three other new locations will have more than 1,000 employees each.

Early this year, Apple said that it would make more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. over the next five years. That, the company said in January, would create more than 20,000 new jobs at existing and new campuses that Apple planned to build.

Apple, Campus, Tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an event to announce new products, Oct. 30, 2018, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. VOA 

Where U.S. companies open new facilities or plants has always had the potential for public and political backlash.

That potential has intensified under the Trump administration, which has pushed companies to keep more of their operations inside the country’s borders.

While CEO Tim Cook has steered mostly clear President Donald Trump’s ire, Apple did receive some push back three months ago from the White House.

Apple sent a letter to the U.S. trade representative warning that the burgeoning trade war with China and rising tariffs could force higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Trump in a tweet told Apple to start making its products in the U.S., and not China.

Apple uses a lot of facilities overseas to produce components and its products, including China.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
A guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, California. VOA

Top tech executives from Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm gathered at the White House earlier this month to discuss strained ties between the administration and the industry, and trade tensions with China. Cook was not among them, nor was Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

There are already 6,000 Apple employees in Austin, its largest operation outside of company headquarters in Cupertino, California, where 37,000 people are employed.

“Apple has been a vital part of the Austin community for a quarter century, and we are thrilled that they are deepening their investment in our people and the city we love,” said Austin Mayor Steve Adler in a prepared statement Thursday.

Apple said nearly a year ago that it would begin canvassing the U.S. for another campus.

Cities offered incentives to lure the company, but Cook avoided a high-profile competition that pitted them against one another as Amazon did over the last year and a half.

Apple, Tim Cook, Campus
iPhone 8 was also launched with a special edition red colour, Pixabay

Amazon, too, expands

Amazon announced in November after a 14-month search it had selected Long Island City, Queens, and Arlington, Virginia, as the joint winners. Each site will employ around 25,000 people.

Cities are eager to bring in more tech employers because companies like Apple and Amazon ladle out six-figure salaries to engineers and other skilled workers.

Also Read: China Bans iPhone Sales Due to Patent Dispute

The infusion of thousands of new and highly paid residents can ripple through an economy, with those employees filling restaurants, theaters, buying property and paying taxes.

Annual pay will vary at the new locations, but Apple workers in Cupertino have an average annual salary of about $125,000, according to a report the company submitted to the city. (VOA)