Nanotech and Apple

Grind for December 26th, 2018
“An association of men who will not quarrel with one another is a thing which has never yet existed, from the greatest confederacy of nations down to a town meeting or a vestry.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

The Headline

MIT researchers successfully shrink objects to 1/1,000th of former size

The Grind

A team of researchers at MIT has figured out how to shrink objects to the nanoscale. The technique, called “implosion fabrication” utilizes the super-absorbent polymer “polyacrylate” found in baby diapers.

Here’s how it works:

— Liquid is added to a polyacrylate scaffold, which causes it to swell

— The scaffold is bathed in a solution containing fluorescein molecules

— Lasers are used to bind the molecules to the scaffold

The fluorescein molecules act as anchor points for whatever object researchers want to downsize.

“You attach the anchors where you want with light, and later you can attach whatever you want to the anchors,” explains researcher Edward Boyden. “It could be a quantum dot, it could be a piece of DNA, it could be a gold nanoparticle.”

Lastly, acid is added to shrink the object down to 1/1,000th of its original size.

The Details

Implosion fabrication could have exciting applications in fields like optics, medicine, and robotics; for example, it could be used to make smaller, more advanced lenses for use in cell phone cameras and microscopes.

Perhaps what is most exciting about this nanotech breakthrough is that many science labs are already equipped with the tools needed to begin experimenting with implosion fabrication.

“There are all kinds of things you can do with this,” says Boyden. “Democratizing nanofabrication could open up frontiers we can’t yet imagine.”

Tech News

The Headline

Apple expands beyond Silicon Valley; shifts focus away from iPhone

The Grind

Apple this month announced it would be adding 1,000 jobs apiece in Seattle, San Diego, and Culver City and is planning to invest $1 billion to build a new campus in Austin designed for 5,000 employees.

As noted in The Wall Street Journal, each location was selected for a specific reason:

— Culver City, CA establishes a Hollywood base as Apple delves into video programming.

— Seattle is a known hotspot for machine-learning, where employees will focus on personalizing software services like Siri and Spotify.

— Austin and San Diego offer talented semiconductor engineers who can work on modem and radio-frequency chips, allowing Apple to ratchet prices up even higher (the new XS Max is priced at $1,099).

Apple’s hiring push, which follows months of declining iPhone sales, suggests a new focus on services and luxury hardware. Earlier this month, Apple said it would stop reporting the number of iPhones sold.

The Details

The decision to expand beyond Silicon Valley is a stark contrast to Steve Job’s insistence that as many employees as possible work at or near the company’s HQ in Cupertino.

The move also reflects a nationwide trend of creating jobs in the USA.

President Trump last week celebrated Apple’s decision with a tweet to Apple CEO Tim Cook: “Thank you @tim_cook for agreeing to expand operations in the U.S. and thereby creating thousands of jobs!”

In September, Trump suggested Apple could avoid tariffs by making its products in the US instead of China.

Did You know… The Space Shuttle main engine weighs 1/7th as much as a train engine but delivers as much horsepower as 39 locomotives.