Category Archives: Electronics

MSU Engineering researchers turn a flag into a loudspeaker

EAST LANSING — A paper-thin, flexible device created at the Michigan State University College of Engineering not only can generate energy from human motion, it can act as a loudspeaker and microphone as well, nanotechnology researchers reported May 16 in the scholarly journal Nature Communications (https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15310).

The audio breakthrough could eventually lead to such consumer products as a foldable loudspeaker, a voice-activated security patch for computers, and even a talking newspaper.

“Every technology starts with a breakthrough and this is a breakthrough for this particular technology,” said Nelson Sepúlveda, MSU associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and primary investigator of the federally funded project. “This is the first transducer that is ultrathin, flexible, scalable and bidirectional, meaning it can convert mechanical energy to electrical energy and electrical energy to mechanical energy.”

A video explaining the technology may be viewed at https://youtu.be/mXtjKVb__ME.

In late 2016, Sepúlveda and his team successfully demonstrated their sheet-like device – known as a ferroelectret nanogenerator, or FENG – by using it to power a keyboard, LED lights and an LCD touch-screen. That process worked with a finger swipe or a light pressing motion to activate the devices – converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Nelson Sepulveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering pose with his FENG techonology on Wednesday April 5, 2017.

The current breakthrough extends the FENG’s usability. The researchers discovered the high-tech material can act as a microphone (by capturing the vibrations from sound, or mechanical energy, and converting it to electrical energy) as well as a loudspeaker (by operating the opposite way, converting electrical energy to mechanical energy).

To demonstrate the microphone effect, the researchers developed a FENG security patch that uses voice recognition to access a computer. The patch was successful in protecting an individual’s computer from outside users. “The device is so sensitive to the vibrations that it catches the frequency components of your voice,” Sepúlveda said.

To demonstrate the loudspeaker effect, the FENG fabric was embedded into an MSU Spartan flag. Music was piped from an iPad through an amplifier and into the flag, which then reproduced the sound flawlessly.

“The flag itself became the loudspeaker,” Sepúlveda said. “So we could use it in the future by taking traditional speakers, which are big, bulky and use a lot of power, and replacing them with this very flexible, thin, small device.”

Imagine a day when someone could pull a lightweight loudspeaker out of their pocket, slap it against the wall and transmit their speech to a roomful of people, Sepúlveda said.

“Or imagine a newspaper where the sheets are microphones and loudspeakers,” he said. “You could essentially have a voice-activated newspaper that talks back to you.”

Wei Li, an MSU engineering researcher and lead author of the paper in Nature Communications, said other potential applications of the FENG include noise-cancelling sheeting and a health-monitoring wristband that is voice-protected.

“Many people are focusing on the sight and touch aspects of flexible electronics,” Li said, “but we’re also focusing on the speaking and listening aspects of the technology.”

The process of creating the FENG starts with a silicone wafer, which is then fabricated with several thin layers of silver, polyimide and polypropylene ferroelectret. Ions are added so that each layer in the device contains charged particles. Electrical energy is created when the device is compressed by human motion, or mechanical energy.

The research is funded by the National Science Foundation. Other co-authors are David Torres, Ramon Diaz and Chuan Wang from MSU, and Zhengjun Wang, Changsheng Wu and Zhong Lin Wang from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

A research breakthrough by Nelson Sepúlveda, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, could eventually lead to consumer products such as a foldable loudspeaker, a voice-activated security patch for computers, and talking newspaper.

(Story and photo courtesy MSU Today.)

A Stretchable Smart Screen? MSU Says Yes

EAST LANSING — Engineering researchers at Michigan State University have developed the first stretchable integrated circuit that is made entirely using an inkjet printer, raising the possibility of inexpensive mass production of smart fabric.

Imagine: an ultrathin smart tablet that can be stretched from mini-size to extra large. Or a rubber band-like wrist monitor that measures one’s heartbeat. Or wallpaper that turns an entire wall into an electronic display.

Continue reading A Stretchable Smart Screen? MSU Says Yes

New Test Unit From Wixom’s DSpace

WIXOM — The test equipment and electronics manufacturer dSpace has introduced an additional processing unit for its Scalexio hardware-in-the-loop test systems.

Equipped with an eight-core Intel Xeon Processor E5, dSpace officials say the new processing unit is ideal for the parallel execution of complex and computationally intensive simulation models. This enables engineers to use high-fidelity, physically realistic models, increases model accuracy, and makes hardware-in-the-loop simulations more realistic.

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Four companies to invest $15.6 million, add 366 jobs in Michigan

LANSING – Four business expansions – which combined will generate nearly $15.6 million in total investment and create 366 jobs around the state – have received Michigan Strategic Fund support, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced.

The projects are as follows:

* DornerWorks Ltd. received a $200,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support an expansion at its Grand Rapids headquarters, creating 25 engineering jobs and investing $710,000. DornerWorks provides electronic engineering services for the aerospace, medical, automotive, and other industrial markets. The funds will help offset recruitment and training costs for the 25 new jobs. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in Arizona, Ohio, and Wisconsin, where the company has strong customer bases. In addition, other MEDC local partners including The Right Place, West Michigan Works, and the city of Grand Rapids have supported this project with economic and workforce development tools. For information about careers with DornerWorks, visit http://dornerworks.com/careers. “We have been asked by several customers to open additional design and development engineering centers close to their locations, but we are dedicated to West Michigan and we wanted to expand here,” said DornerWorks President and CEO David Dorner. “The Right Place understood our business and the competitive situation we were in. Thanks to their efforts, along with their partners, we are able to continue growing in Grand Rapids.”

* OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy received a $500,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support a new location in Kalamazoo County’s Oshtemo Township, which will generate $1.2 million in capital investment and create 77 new jobs. OptiMed provides personalized medication management and research-based clinical support. OptiMed specializes in caring for individuals with rare and complex conditions such as: immune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV, hepatitis C and multiple sclerosis. Michigan was chosen over competing sites in California and Louisiana due to the area’s economic diversity, broad talent pool, and community support. Southwest Michigan First is supporting the project in the form of staff time and resources. For more information about careers with OptiMed Pharmacy, Inc., visit http://www.optimedspecialtyrx.com/careers. “We are very excited that we have the opportunity to build our national headquarters here, in Kalamazoo, surrounded by the community that has continually inspired and empowered our organization,” said Andrew Reeves, CEO of OptiMed Specialty Pharmacy.

* Shipston Aluminum Technologies (Michigan) Inc. received a $600,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support an expansion in Ottawa County’s Spring Lake Township that will generate $10 million in capital investment and create 114 new jobs. Shipston is a manufacturer of aluminum components for the auto industry. Spring Lake Township is offering support through a property tax amendment related to the project. In addition, other MEDC local partners, The Chamber of Commerce Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg and West Michigan Works, have supported this project with economic and workforce development tools. For more information about careers with Shipston Aluminum Technologies (Michigan) Inc., visit http://www.shipstonaluminumtech.com/careers/.

* Karma Automotive LLC received a $450,000 Michigan Business Development Program performance-based grant to support a new automotive engineering and purchasing office in Troy to support the company’s California-based supply chain activities and automotive production. The office is expected to generate $3.6 million in capital investment and create up to 150 jobs. Karma, a subsidiary of the Chinese auto supplier Wanxiang, designs and manufactures luxury hybrid vehicles. Karma Automotive will debut its first vehicle, the Karma Revero, later this year. Michigan was chosen over a competing site in California. The city of Troy is supporting the project in the form of marketing and promotional assistance. For more information about careers with Karma Automotive, visit https://careers-karmaautomotive.icims.com.

For more on the MEDC and its initiatives, visit michiganbusiness.org. For Michigan travel news, updates and information, visit michigan.org. Michigan residents interested in seeking employment should check mitalent.org, where more than 98,000 jobs are currently available in a variety of industries.

State Aid OK’d for Business Expansions Adding 123 Jobs, $21M Investment

LANSING – Three business expansions – which combined will generate more than $21 million in capital investment and create 123 jobs around the state – have received Michigan Strategic Fund approval for support, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. announced.

Continue reading State Aid OK’d for Business Expansions Adding 123 Jobs, $21M Investment

New CEO at Hemlock Semiconductor

HEMLOCK — Mark Bassett has been named chairman and CEO of Hemlock Semiconductor, effective June 1.

Bassett, who currently serves as global vice president of Dow
Chemical Co.’s polyurethanes business, replaces Denise Beachy,
who has been named commercial director for Europe, Middle East, Africa and India for Dow’s Elastomers, and Electrical and Telecommunications business.

Continue reading New CEO at Hemlock Semiconductor

Visteon Sets June 9 Shareholders Meeting

VAN BUREN TWP. — Visteon Corporation (NYSE: VC) announced that it will conduct its 2016 annual shareholders meeting at 11 a.m. Eastern time on June 9 at Grace Lake Lodge on the campus of Visteon’s headquarters and innovation center in Van Buren Township.

Further details will be included in the company’s proxy materials for the annual meeting, which will be made available in April.

Visteon provides instrument clusters, head-up displays, information displays, infotainment, audio systems, and telematics products to the transportation industry. It has nearly 11,000 employees at 50 locations in 19 countries and posted sales of $3.25 billion in 2015.

More at http://www.visteon.com.

Harman Unveils New Automotive HQ

NOVI — The Stamford, Conn.-based electronics and audio products manufacturer Harman International Industries Inc. (NYSE:HAR), said it has opened its new North American automotive headquarters in Novi.

The 188,000-square-foot building was developed by Northern Equities Group and anchors the 400-acre Haggerty Corridor Corporate Park. It is home to about 1,000 employees involved in creating products for the connected car, automotive audio and cloud services.

The new headquarters replaces a 60,000-square-foot headquarters in Farmington Hills and two other buildings in the area totaling about another 60,000 square feet.

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GE Aviation, Farmington Hills Firm Working On Advanced Army Electronics

GRAND RAPIDS — GE Aviation said Monday it had received a contract for the research and development of silicon carbide-based power electronics supporting the high-voltage next generation ground vehicle electrical power architecture for the United States Army. A Farmington Hills electronics manufacturer will assist in the work.

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Auto Supplier Continental Debuts Electronically Darkened Car Windows

AUBURN HILLS — The German auto supplier Continental, which has its American headquarters in Auburn Hills, has developed a new generation of film technology for shading of car windows.

The “Intelligent Glass Control” uses special films that are inserted into the glass and change transparency through electric control signals. Continental will demonstrate the technology at CES, formerly the International Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s largest technology show, in Las Vegas Jan. 6-9.

Continue reading Auto Supplier Continental Debuts Electronically Darkened Car Windows