PeLEDs: Using Perovskites To Create LEDs Which Also Sense Light

With both of the dominant display technologies today – LCD and OLED – being far from perfect, there is still plenty of room in the market for the Next Big Thing. One of the technologies being worked on is called PeLED, for Perovskite LED. As a semiconductor material, it can both be induced to emit photons as well as respond rather strongly to incoming photons. That is a trick that today’s displays haven’t managed without integrating additional sensors. This technology could be used to create e.g. touch screens without additional hardware, as recently demonstrated by [Chunxiong Bao] and colleagues at Linköping University in Sweden and Nanjing University in China.

Their paper in Nature Electronics describes the construction of photo-responsive metal halide perovskite pixels, covering the typical red (CsPbI3−xBrx), green (FAPbBr3), and blue (CsPbBr3−xClx) wavelengths. The article also describes the display’s photo-sensing ability to determine where a finger is placed on the display. In addition, it can work as an ambient light sensor, a scanner, and a solar cell to charge a capacitor. In related research by [Yun Gao] et al. in Nature Electronics, PeLEDs are demonstrated with 1 microsecond response time.

As usual with perovskites, their lack of stability remains their primary obstacle. In the article by [Chunxiong Bao] et al. the manufactured device with red pixels was reduced to 80% of initial brightness after 18.5 hours. While protecting the perovskites from oxygen, moisture, etc. helps, this inherent instability may prevent PeLEDs from ever becoming commercialized in display technology. Sounds like a great challenge for the next Hackaday Prize!

Korean Multifunction Counter Teardown

[Thomas Scherrer] likes to tear down old test equipment, and often, we remember the devices he opens up or — at least — we’ve heard of them. However, this time, he’s got a Hung Chang HC-F100 multifunction counter, which is a vintage 1986 instrument that can reach 100 MHz.

Inside, the product is clearly a child of its time period. There’s a transformer for the linear supply, through-hole components, and an Intersil frequency counter on a chip. Everything is easy to get to and large enough to see.

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Hackaday Links: July 7, 2024

Begun, the Spectrum Wars have. First, it was AM radio getting the shaft (last item) and being yanked out of cars for the supposed impossibility of peaceful coexistence with rolling broadband EMI generators EVs. That battle has gone back and forth for the last year or two here in the US, with lawmakers even getting involved at one point (first item) by threatening legislation to make terrestrial AM radio available in every car sold. We’re honestly not sure where it stands now in the US, but now the Swiss seem to be entering the fray a little up the dial by turning off all their analog FM broadcasts at the end of the year. This doesn’t seem to be related to interference — after all, no static at all — but more from the standpoint of reclaiming spectrum that’s no longer turning a profit. There are apparently very few analog FM receivers in use in Switzerland anymore, with everyone having switched to DAB+ or streaming to get their music fix, and keeping FM transmitters on the air isn’t cheap, so the numbers are just stacked against the analog stations. It’s hard to say if this is a portent of things to come in other parts of the world, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for the overall health of terrestrial broadcasting. “First they came for AM radio, and I did nothing because I’m not old enough to listen to AM radio. But then they came for analog FM radio, and when I lost my album-oriented classic rock station, I realized that I’m actually old enough for AM.”

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New Battery Has No Anode

Conventional batteries have anodes and cathodes, but a new design from the University of Chicago and the University of California San Diego lacks an anode. While this has been done before, according to the University, this is the first time a solid-state sodium battery has successfully used this architecture.

Sodium is abundant compared to lithium, so batteries that use sodium are attractive. According to the University of Chicago’s news release:

Anode-free batteries remove the anode and store the ions on an electrochemical deposition of alkali metal directly on the current collector. This approach enables higher cell voltage, lower cell cost, and increased energy density…

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C Compiler Exists Entirely In Vim

8cc.vim is a C compiler that exists as pure Vimscript. Is it small? It sure is! How about fast? Absolutely not! Efficient? Also no. But does it work and is it neat? You betcha!

Ever typed :wq to write the buffer and exit in Vim? When you do that, you’re using Vimscript. Whenever one enters command mode : in Vim, one is in fact using a live Vimscript interpreter. That’s the space in which this project exists and does its magic. Given enough time, anyway.

Vimscript itself was created by [Bram Moolenaar] in 1991. The idea was to execute batches of vim commands programmatically. It’s been used for a variety of purposes since then.

8cc is a lightweight C compiler that has been supplanted by chibicc, but that doesn’t matter much because as author [rhysd] admits, this is really just a fun concept project more than anything. It may take twenty minutes or more to compile “hello world”, but doing it entirely from within Vim is a trip.

Custom Microcode Compiler, Made In Google Sheets

When homebrewing a CPU, one has to deal with microcode. Microcode is the low-level nuts and bolts of how, precisely, a CPU executes instructions (like opcodes) and performs functions such as updating the cycle counter or handling interrupt requests. To make this task easier, [Bob Alexander] created a microcode compiler built in Google Sheets to help with his own homebrew work, but it’s flexible and configurable enough to be useful to others, as well.

A CPU’s microcode usually lives in read-only memory, and writing the microcode is only one step in the journey. [Bob]’s tool compiles his microcode into files that can be burned into memory (multiple EEPROM chips, in [Bob]’s case) or used as a Verilog program in the case of implementing the CPU in an FPGA. It’s configurable enough to be adapted for other homebrew CPU projects, though one would of course have to re-write the microcode portion.

A read-only version of the spreadsheet makes for some fun browsing, and if it piques your interest enough to get a copy of your own complete with the compiler script, you can do that here. It uses Google Sheets, and writes the output files into one’s Google Drive.

This kind of low-level project really highlights the finer points of just how the hard work of digital computing gets done. A good example is the Gigatron which implemented a RISC CPU using only microcode, memory, and logic gates in the late 70s. We’ve even seen custom microcode used to aid complex debugging.

A 3D-printed magnetic fidget business card with ID storage.

2024 Business Card Challenge: Magnetic Fidget Card

If you want someone to keep your business card around, you should probably make it really cool-looking, or have it do something useful. It’s kind of the whole point of the 2024 Business Card Challenge. And while we’d normally expect electronics of some persuasion to be involved, we must admit that this magnetic fidget card definitely does something, at least when manipulated. And even when it’s just sitting there, the card has a storage slot for IDs, or whatever you want.

Have you ever played with a magnetic fidget? They are quite satisfying, and making one yourself is likely to be even cheaper than making one of the spinning variety. This one uses a whopping 16 neodymium magnets, which means that it’s probably quite aurally satisfying as well as fun to handle.

And of course, since it’s 3D-printed, you can put whatever you want on the faces and update them easily if something changes. Bonus points to [Bhuvan Bagwe] for designing some for the Hackaday crew!