New RFID Tag Could Mean the End of Bar Codes
Lines at the grocery store might become as obsolete as milkmen, if a new tag that seeks to replace bar codes becomes commonplace.

Researchers from Sunchon National University in Suncheon, South Korea, and Rice University in Houston have built a radio frequency identification tag that can be printed directly onto cereal boxes and potato chip bags. The tag uses ink laced with carbon nanotubes to print electronics on paper or plastic that could instantly transmit information about a cart full of groceries.

The new tag, reported in the March issue of IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices, costs about three cents to print, compared to about 50 cents for each silicon-based tag. The team hopes to eventually bring that cost below one cent per tag to make the devices commercially competitive. It can store one bit of information — essentially a 1 or a 0 — in an area about the size of a business card.

“The work is impressive,” comments Thomas N. Jackson of Penn State University in University Park, who is also developing flexible electronics. He thinks it will be difficult to compete with silicon, which is well established in the realm of consumer products packaging. But similar technology could be used to do things silicon can’t do, he says, such as make smart bandages that can sense infections or freshness-sensing food packaging.

And for those who would rather not have their food broadcast radio waves after getting it home, fear not. Tour says the signals can be blocked by wrapping groceries in aluminum foil.

Sunchon National University

Rice University

Pohang Institute of Intelligent Robotics (PIRO) presents Windoro. Its two halves, that cling together via powerful magnets, scrub both sides of a window at once with their on-board cleaning solution.


  There is indeed a cool breakthrough in OLED efficiency, but we hear about the "breakthroughs" so often that we kind of want to say, "Bring it already!" Despite the mini fit of frustration and sarcasm, we can't deny a bit of giddiness behind the possibility that a new technology could reduce OLED energy consumption by (a super duper) 75%.

According to OLED Info, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) has figured out a way to use surface plasmon. Brace yourself for a little geek-speak. Surface plasmon is, essentially, fluctuation in the electron density at the boundary of two materials. The interaction between the light emitting layer in OLEDs and surface plasmons affect efficiency. So, researchers tweaked the process and were able to squeeze out a 75% higher efficiency rate without sacrificing the intensity of the lighting.

Researchers expect the new findings will go far in improving OLED technologies, especially for flexible OLEDs. Indeed, if they keep making improvements at this rate, next thing we know we'll be adding power to the grid every time we flip on an OLED device.


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