06/02/08 — Someday, you might read the morning's news headlines on the back of your cereal box. That's the latest possibility demonstrated by the EECS Organic Electronics Group. They have recently been experimenting with zinc oxide, a familiar ingredient in sunblock and diaper cream that has the special properties of working as a semiconductor while also being 93 percent transparent. The researchers already have a palette of inks that can deposit conducting, semiconducting and insulating materials-the building blocks of all solid-state electronics-on a variety of surfaces.
Devices & inventions
05/02/08 — Computer mice are a weighty matter for BingYune Chen. Chen, a senior who graduates this month in bioengineering, is studying how weight affects the speed, accuracy and ease of use of a computer mouse. “It's a new issue,” says the 22-year-old Chen, who helped conduct a pilot project as an undergraduate researcher at the UCSF–UCB Ergonomics Laboratory, where he is now an employee. While extensive research has been done on the design of computer mice, Chen says, little is known about mouse weight and its impact on performance.
04/02/08 — For years, nanoengineers have known how to create tiny wire transistors, sensors, light emitters and other useful components, but there's been no sure way to assemble them into integrated circuits because they're too small to manipulate. “You could look at things under a microscope, but you couldn't touch them,” explains EECS professor Ming Wu. But Wu and his research group have developed “optoelectronic tweezers” that can individually address wires and other nanoscale objects and convey them to precise locations. This has been the field's most challenging problem, and solving it paves the way for an entire class of devices from microdisplays to medical imaging tools.
03/02/08 — UC Berkeley just conducted an unprecedented collaborative experiment involving 100 cars equipped with GPS-enabled cell phones to monitor real-time traffic flow over a seven-hour period on a 10-mile stretch of I-880. You can read more details about the project and its success in Abby Cohn's delightful story in this month's issue.
03/02/08 — Early in his career, Network Appliance cofounder James Lau ventured out in hopes of developing one of the first hand-held personal computers. His PDA would have used a stylus to enter notes, appointments and other data, but after six months of work in 1991, he scrapped the project. But Lau never regretted his unsuccessful quest. When it comes to innovation, “there's no guarantee,” he says. “That's part of the exploration. You just need to move on.” Move on, he did. Today, Network Appliance has Fortune 1000 status, and last month James Lau received the 2007 Berkeley Engineering Innovation Award for lifetime achievement.
03/02/08 — On February 8, 26-year-old mechanical engineering student Kenneth Armijo hit the road in a unique experiment exploring the use of GPS-equipped cell phones as traffic monitors. Nearly 150 UC Berkeley students were behind-the-wheel participants in the “Mobile Century” test. Navigating a fleet of 100 cars carrying special mobile phones, the student drivers traveled up and down a 10-mile stretch of the Nimitz Freeway for more than seven hours. The result was a computerized map bristling with tiny flags for each car and its velocity, creating a detailed picture of actual traffic conditions.
02/02/08 — For 10 years, mechanical engineering professor Dennis Lieu moonlighted as an instructor in the martial art of taekwondo. Concerned about safety, he began testing commercial martial arts headgear that had become standard and required for competitions. His results were startling: many of the helmets failed his tests and would not prevent injuries. His continued research has produced the first technical standard for martial arts protective headgear.
01/02/08 — EECS undergraduate Henry Wang had never heard of Enrico Caruso until last year. That's a surprising admission given that the 21-year-old senior now spends hours weekly scrutinizing the famed tenor's rendition of La Donna è Mobile. Wang is part of an ambitious project that seeks to preserve historic collections of music, speeches and other audio recordings dating back to the earliest days of recorded sound.
01/02/08 — In remote villages along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast, the seemingly simple act of switching on a light is anything but simple. It's usually impossible. Mathias Craig (B.S'01 CEE) wants to change that. Craig, 29, is cofounder of blueEnergy, a nonprofit organization that is harnessing the power of the wind to illuminate homes, schools and rural clinics in an impoverished region where nearly 80 percent of the population have no electricity. Since 2004, blueEnergy has brought wind turbines to six Nicaraguan communities, providing electricity to some 1,500 people.
12/02/07 — Using a device that's roughly the size and price of an upscale cell phone, Berkeley Engineers hope to halt the spread of diseases afflicting millions in the developing world. Dubbed SeroScreen, the handheld instrument will test blood and other bodily fluids for the presence of infection and deliver an on-site diagnosis within minutes for influenza, skin infections, mosquito-borne viruses and other ailments.