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NC State patents multifunctional smart sensors, looks to 'revolutionize energy and communications infrastructure'

Darren Murph
October 4, 2010
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Bold words coming from a program that choked in epic fashion this past Saturday in front of 58,000+, don't you think? Thankfully for those who are actually involved in the global energy and communications infrastructure (not to mention depressed alumni), NC State's athletics department is far removed from its research labs, and the university's latest development was born and bred in the latter. A team of researchers have managed to patent a new technology that is expected to enable the development of "high-power, high-voltage and high-current devices that are critical for the development of energy distribution devices, such as smart grid technology and high-frequency military communications." The secret? Integrating gallium nitride (GaN) sensors and devices directly into silicon-based computer chips, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by any team prior. According to Dr. Jay Narayan, this newfangled integration has "enabled the creation of multifunctional smart sensors, high-electron mobility transistors, high-power devices, and high-voltage switches for smart grids," and it also makes a broader range of radio frequencies available -- something that'll obviously be beneficial in the advancement of communications. Best of all, a US-based corporation is already in the process of licensing the technology, so it's likely that we'll see this in use in the not-too-distant future. An ACC championship, however, remains far more elusive.

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