There’s gold all around us, embedded in our electronics. There are people who collect e-waste and use various methods to extract gold from them. However, it is hard to qualify it as a “get rich quick” scheme because the amount of gold recovered is usually minute. Still, if you can do volume, you can make some money and recycling is always a good idea. At the University of Manchester, they have a better way to extract gold from e-waste using graphene. You can see a brief video about the process below, or read the full paper.
The process is relatively simple. You dissolve the e-waste in a solvent, add some graphene oxide, and the gold appears bound to the graphene. You pull out the graphene and burn it off to result in the gold you want. A gram of graphene can grab 2 grams of gold and graphene is relatively cheap per gram compared to gold.
Graphene oxide nanosheets are processed using ascorbic acid into a colloid suspension. The chemical process converts gold bound with chlorine into elemental gold. After diving into why the process works, they were able to increase the selectivity of the process by manipulating the pH so that the majority of the residue is actually gold.
The team believes they can build a continuous process that takes liquefied e-waste and extracts gold as it flows through the system. If you’d rather go with the traditional method, here’s a start for you. Then again, there are other metals to recover besides gold.
Continue reading “There’s Gold In That There Graphene”
With the never ending march of technological progress, arguably the most complex technologies become so close to magic as to be impenetrable to those outside the industry in which they operate. We’ve seen walkthrough video snapshots of just a small part of the operation of modern semiconductor fabs, but let’s face it, everything you see is pretty guarded, hidden away inside large sealed boxes for environmental control reasons, among others, and it’s hard to really see what’s going on inside.
Let’s step back in time a few decades to 1983, with an interesting tour of the IC manufacturing facility at Bell Labs at Murray Hill (video, embedded below) and you can get a bit more of an idea of how the process works, albeit at a time when chips hosted mere tens of thousands of active devices, compared with the countless billions of today. This fab operates on three inch wafers, producing about 100 die each, with every one handled and processed by hand whereas modern wafers are much bigger, die often much smaller with the total die per wafer in the thousands and are never handled by a filthy human.
Particle counts of 100 per cubic foot might seem laughable by modern standards, but device geometries back then were comparatively large and the defect rate due to it was not so serious. We did chuckle somewhat seeing the operator staff all climb into their protective over suits, but open-faced with beards-a-plenty poking out into the breeze. Quite simply, full-on bunny suits were simply not necessary. Anyway, whilst the over suits were mostly for the environment, we did spot the occasional shot of an operator wearing some proper protective face shielding when performing some of the higher risk tasks, such as wafer cleaning, after all as the narrator says “these acids are strong enough to eat through the skin” and that would certainly ruin your afternoon.
No story about integrated circuit processing would be complete without mentioning the progress of [Sam Zeloof] and his DIY approach to making chips, and whilst he’s only managing device counts in the hundreds, this can only improve given time.
Continue reading “Integrated Circuit Manufacturing At Bell Labs In 1983”
Moving air with spinning blades is the most popular way, but it is not the only way. Using the PCB actuator technology he has been working on for the past few years, [Carl Bugeja] built a small electromagnetic flapping fan using a custom flexible PCB.
Inspired by expensive piezoelectric fans ($400 for a 30mW fan), [Carl] wanted to see if a cheaper alternative could be made. Using a similar design to his other PCB actuators, he had a custom flexible PCB made with an integrated coil, which can flex on two thin supports. These supports also contain the power traces for the coil. By sticking the base of the PCB between two neodymium magnets, it can flap back and forth when driven by an alternating current. It produces a bit of airflow, but nearly enough to be useful. The power traces in the thin supports also break after an extended period of 180° flapping.
Although this probably won’t be a viable replacement for a rotary fan, it would be interesting to see how far one can push this approach by optimizing the design and magnet arrangement.
Continue reading “Flapping PCB Fan Blows A Little Bit”
The fastest ground vehicles on earth are not driven by their wheels but by an aircraft jet engine. At world record speeds, they run on an aerodynamic razor’s edge between downforce, which limits speed, and liftoff, which can result in death and destruction. [rctestflight] wanted to see what it takes to run an RC car at very high speeds, so he built a ducted-fan powered car with aerodynamic control surfaces and an aircraft flight controller.
This high-speed car is built on the chassis of a 1/14th scale RC buggy, powered by 4 EDF (electric ducted fans) mounted on a very long aerodynamic foam board shell. It also has an aircraft-style tail with elevons and rudders for stabilization and control at high speed using an ArduPilot flight controller. The flight controller is set up to stabilize in the roll and yaw axis, with only fixed trim in the pitch axis.
[rctestflight] got the car up to 71 MPH (114 km/h), which is fast for most RC cars but well short of the 202 MPH RC car speed record. It was still quite hard to keep in a straight line, and the bumpy roads certainly didn’t help. He hopes to revisit the challenge in the future with larger motors and high voltage batteries.
Continue reading “High-Speed RC Car Needs A Flight Controller”
Change on industrial scales is slow, but if you’re operating your own small farm or simply working in a home garden there are some excellent ways to use water more effectively. The latest tool from [YJ] makes it possible to use much less water while still keeping plant yields high.
This is an improvement on a previous project which automates watering and lighting of a small area or single pot. This latest creation, called FLORA, includes a LoRa module for communication up to 3 kilometers, and the ESP32 on board also handles monitoring of soil moisture, humidity and other sensors. It also includes a pump driver for managing irrigation systems so that smart decisions can be made about when to water. Using this device, the water usage when testing was reduced by around 30% compared to a typical timed irrigation system.
Using a smart system like this is effective for basically any supply of water, but for those who get water from something like an off-grid rainwater system or an expensive water utility, the gains are immediate. If you aren’t already growing your own food to take advantage of tools like this, take a look at this primer to get you started.
It wasn’t long ago I was nostalgic about an old computer I saw back in the 1980s from HP. It was sort of an early attempt at a PC, although price-wise it was only in reach for professionals. HP wasn’t the only one to try such a thing, and one of the more famous attempts was the company that arguably did get the PC world rolling: IBM. Sure, there were other companies that made PCs before the IBM PC, but that was the computer that cemented the idea of a computer on an office desk or at your home more than any computer before it. Even now, our giant supercomputer desktop machines boot as though they were a vintage 1981 PC for a few minutes on each startup. But the PC wasn’t the first personal machine from IBM and, in fact, the IBM 5100 was not only personal, but it was also portable. Well, portable by 1970s standards that also had very heavy video cameras and luggable computers like the Osborne 1.
The IBM 5100 had a brief three-year life from 1975 to 1978. A blistering 1.9 MHz 16-bit CPU drove a 5-inch CRT monitor and you could have between 16K and 64K of RAM along with a fair amount of ROM. In fact, the ROMs were the key feature and a giant switch on the front let you pick between an APL ROM and a BASIC ROM (assuming you had bought both).
Continue reading “IBM’s Early PC Attracts Time Travelers”
Good news, procrastinators and those of you who simply have not yet worked up the nerve to submit! The 2022 Hackaday Supercon Call for Proposals has been extended one more week. You’ve been waiting until the last minute? Well, it’s now one minute past the last minute, but we’ve got your back. You have until Thurs, Sep. 1 to get your talk or workshop proposal in. (We’re not extending it twice!)
Everyone has a good story to share. Whether it’s a tale of software or hardware, or that tricky “firmware” that falls somewhere in the middle, we have a crowd who would love to hear it. You almost never leave a project as the same person who entered it, and you should tell us your story. We have two talk tracks, one for shorter talks and demos of around 20 minutes, and one for epic sagas of 45 minutes or so. Whether you’re a first-time presenter or a seasoned pro, we’d like to hear about your hacks.
To sweeten the pot, all presenters get in free. So what are you waiting for? Send in your ideas now – you’ve got a couple months to get the slides into shape.