University of Wisconsin–Madison materials engineers have created carbon nanotube transistors that, for the first time, outperform state-of-the-art silicon transistors. This breakthrough points the way to future high-performance nanotube electronics.
“This achievement has been a dream of nanotechnology for the last 20 years,” said Michael Arnold, who led the research team with Padma Gopalan. “Making carbon nanotube transistors that are better than silicon transistors is a big milestone.”
This breakthrough in carbon nanotube transistor performance is a critical advance toward exploiting carbon nanotubes in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies.”
Arnold and Gopalan are materials science and engineering professors at UW-Madison. The research results are reported in an article titled “Quasi-ballistic carbon nanotube array transistors with current density exceeding Si and GaAs,” published in Science Advances on September 2. The article is open access.
This advance indicates that carbon nanotube electronics could soon replace silicon electronics in the computer industry quest to keep pace with the Moore’s Law – the observation that the performance of computing components doubles approximately every two years. Moore’s Law holds since the 1960s, but there are indications that silicon electronics could be approaching its performance limits. According to the UW-Madison researchers, the new carbon nanotube transistors are particularly promising for wireless communications technologies that require a lot of current flowing across a relatively small area.
In fact, the nanotube’s ultra-small dimension permits rapidly varying the current that flows through, which could lead to substantial gains in the bandwidth of wireless communications devices. The nanotube transistors used in the UW study achieved a current 1.9 times higher than silicon transistors.
Nanotube Electronics Catching Up With Previous Hype
The enthusiasm for nanotechnology started with Eric Drexler’s cult book “Engines of Creation – The Coming Era of Nanotechnology,” published in 1986. While Engines of Creation was mostly focused on visionary dreams of unlimited power and abundance enabled by nanotechnology, Drexler’s last book, “Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization,” published in 2013, is more focused on practical applications, which shows how the initially over-hyped sector is maturing.
Drexler explores in detail the concept, essentially equivalent to 3D nano-printing, of additive manufacturing at the nanoscale, or Atomically Precise Manufacturing (APM) – building precisely manufactured goods from the bottom up, one atom or molecule at the time.
Carbon nanotube electronics can be seen as a low-hanging fruit on the nanotechnology tree. Carbon nanotubes are extremely thin cilindrical nanostructures of carbon atoms (see the cover image above) with extraordinary thermal conductivity, mechanical, and electrical properties, which are finding applications as additives to advanced nano-engineered materials. Due to their high electrical conductivity, carbon nanotubes have long been considered as a promising material for next-generation transistors.
In theory, nanotube transistors should be able to perform five times faster or use five times less energy than silicon transistors. However, metallic impurities disrupt the semiconducting properties of nanotubes, and so far it has been difficult to manufacture nanotubes sufficiently pure for applications in electronics. Placement and alignment of the nanotubes have also been difficult to control.
The UW-Madison researchers used polymers to selectively sort out the semiconducting nanotubes, achieving a solution of ultra-high-purity semiconducting carbon nanotubes, with less than 0.01 percent metallic nanotubes, and found ways to remove residues from the nanotubes after they are processed in solution, precisely align the nanotubes, and ensure good electrical contacts with the metal electrodes of the transistor.
“In our research, we’ve shown that we can simultaneously overcome all of these challenges of working with nanotubes, and that has allowed us to create these groundbreaking carbon nanotube transistors that surpass silicon and gallium arsenide transistors,” said Arnold, adding that, while past hype about carbon nanotubes has promised too much and delivered too little, the hype is ultimately justified.
“It has just taken decades of work for the materials science to catch up and allow us to effectively harness these materials.”
In October, Hacked covered IBM’s announcement of a major engineering breakthrough that could open the way to replacing silicon transistors with carbon nanotubes in future electronics and computing technologies. According to IBM researchers, nanotube electronics could be operational sooner than expected, perhaps within the decade.
The prediction is supported by other recent advances. ZDNet notes that, earlier this year, Nantero announced the use of carbon nanotubes for storage that can be fabricated on DRAM, flash, and system production lines.
Images from University of Wisconsin-Madison and Shutterstock. Video from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Biotech Dominates July Penny Stock Picks
July brings new opportunities to trade penny stocks, according to the Investopedia top 10 penny stocks to watch. Biotechnology stocks in particular are poised for a breakout. Biotechnology funds broke out of the long-term basing pattern in June, forcing rotational buying pressure, which bodes well for the low-priced sub-sector, with many penny stocks ready to hit multi-year highs.
At the same time, the tech sector is getting sold with equal force in a profit-taking exercise that could deliver a period of under-performance for the sector’s lower-priced issues.
June’s biotechnology picks drew strong buying interest, led by ImmunoGen, Inc.’s 48% advance to a 52-week high. Small China stocks also posted strength, as China Commercial Credit, Inc. gained close to 35%. China Commercial Credit and June’s three biotech picks return to the July top penny stock list, joined by six new penny stocks.
1. ImmunoGen Inc. (IMGN)
ImmunoGen, a provider of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) for the treatment of cancer, jumped from number four in June to the top spot in July.
The stock posted a 12-year high at $20.25 in 2013 and sold off to $5.34 in December 2014. A recovery in 2015 stalled less than a point below the prior peak, creating a decline that continued into an 18-year low at $1.51 in November 2016.
Buyers took over in 2017, generating an uptick that reversed at the 2014 resistance approximately three weeks ago. In June, the stock broke out and made the top 10 list for the first time. It could end up in the $8.00 to $10.00 price zone.
ImmunoGen creates targeted cancer therapeutics using its proprietary ADC technology. The company’s candidate, mirvetuximab soravtansine, is in a Phase 3 trial for an ovarian cancer, and is in Phase 1b/2 testing in combination regimens for earlier-stage disease.
The technology is used in Roche’s Kadcyla, in three other clinical-stage ImmunoGen product candidates, and in programs in development by Amgen, Bayer, Biotest, CytomX, Lilly, Novartis, Sanofi and Takeda.
2. China Commercial Credit, Inc. (CCCR)
China Commercial Credit Inc. (CCCR), which provides business loans and loan guarantee services to small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs), farmers and individuals in China’s Jiangsu Province, jumped from number five in June to second place in July.
The company went public on the U.S. exchanges at $6.50 in August 2013.
The stock experienced a downtrend that bottomed out at 25 cents in February 2016 and began an upward trend that stalled at $3.20 in September. The stock hit a higher low in March 2017 before recovering, testing the 2016 high. A breakout should bring broad buying interest that could support a continued upside that could double the price by year’s end.
The company was founded in 2008 and provides business loans and loan guarantee services to small-to-medium enterprises, farmers and individuals in China’s Jiangsu Province.
3. CymaBay Therapeutics, Inc. (CBAY)
CymaBay Therapeutics Inc. (CBAY), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing therapies to treat specialty and orphan diseases, returns from the June list, where it ranked number 9. The stock rallied to an all-time high at $13.78 in February 2015, then suffered a steep downtrend that continued into the first quarter of 2016. The stock then dropped to an all-time low at 82 cents before bouncing to $3.04 in April, a yearly high, ahead of a pullback that continued into the November low at $1.15.
The stock broke above the 2016 high in February 2017, reaching a two-year high at $4.81.
Net loss for the 2017 first quarter was $5.4 million, or ($0.20) per diluted share, compared to $6.8 million, or ($0.29) per diluted share in the first quarter of 2016. Net loss in the 2017 first quarter was $1.4 million lower compared to the prior year period, primarily due to the recognition of collaboration revenue in 2017.
The rally has now reached a two-year high, attracting buying interest that could move into double digits.
4. Peiris Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (PIRS)
Pieris Pharmaceuticals Inc., a, clinical-stage biotechnology company committed to providing solutions for oncology, respiratory disease and other therapeutic areas, moved from June’s 7th spot to July’s 4th spot. The stock launched on the OTC market in 2014, trading between $2.00 and $4.25 before falling to $1.26 in January 2016. It ground sideways through November, then tested the first-quarter low ahead of a January 2017 breakaway gap that has drawn steady buying interest. The rally gathered momentum in early May after announcing a partnership with AstraZeneca PLC and is currently testing the 2015 high, the all-time high.
The company’s product includes immuno-oncology multi-specifics tailored for the tumor microenvironment, an inhaled Anticalin protein to treat uncontrolled asthma as well as a half-life-optimized Anticalin protein to treat anemia. Anticalin proteins, proprietary to Pieris, are a class of therapeutics validated in the clinic and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Anticalin is a registered trademark of Pieris.
5. 22nd Century Group, Inc. (XXII)
22nd Century Group, Inc. (XXII), a plant biotechnology company that is a provider of tobacco harm reduction and development of proprietary hemp/cannabis strains, broke out above multi-year resistance near $1.50 in 2013, rallying to a record high a few months later at $6.36. The stock then began a persistent decline through August 2015 before finding support at 56 cents, followed by a bounce to $1.75.
The stock has traded within those boundaries for 22-months, bouncing at support three times and reversing at resistance in equal measure. The price returned to that level a fourth time, improving odds for a breakout that could double the price in the year’s second half.
22nd Century Group is a plant biotechnology company focused on genetic engineering and plant breeding that allows the increase or decrease of the level of nicotine in tobacco plants and the level of cannabinoids in cannabis plants. The company’s main goal in tobacco is to reduce the harm caused by smoking. The main goal in cannabis is to develop proprietary hemp/cannabis strains for new medicines and agricultural crops.
The stock last month joined the Russell Microcap Index, when FTSE Russell reconstituted its U.S. and global equity indexes. Membership in the Russell Microcap Index means automatic inclusion in the appropriate growth and value style indexes. FTSE Russell determines membership for its Russell indexes primarily by objective, market-capitalization rankings and style attributes.
6. Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. (CVRS)
Corindus Vascular Robotics, Inc. (CVRS), a developer of precision vascular robotics, returned to the national market in 2015 following a trading halt, topping out around $4.50 and starting a decline that continued to reach new lows in January 2017 when it bottomed at around 40 cents. Since that time, the price activity has been constructive, with high volume rally bursts moving the stock into 2016 resistance at $1.75. The bullish behavior has created a cup and handle basing pattern that points to an uptrend into the 2015 high following a breakout.
Revenue for the first quarter of 2017 was $0.8 million compared to $1.1 million for the same period in the prior year. The decrease is due mainly to the deferral of system revenue associated with a future obligation to upgrade multiple customer units from the company’s CorPath 200 System to the CorPath GRX System.
The company installed three new CorPath Systems in the first quarter of 2017, increasing its total installed base to 48 CorPath Systems.
Gross loss was $1.1 million for the 2017 first quarter, compared to a gross profit of $0.03 million for the 2016 first quarter. The cost of revenues for the first 2017 quarter continued to include the effect of under-utilization of production facilities and the cost of CorPath GRX System upgrades that installed pursuant to pre-existing contractual arrangements.
The company continues to expect the full year 2017 revenue to be in the range of $13.
7. RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA)
RADA Electronic Industries, Ltd. (RADA), a defense electronics system of advanced electronic systems for airborne and land applications, fell into a multi-decade decline after it joined the Nasdaq in the 1990s. The stock ground out a series of lower highs and lows through January 2016’s all-time 54-cent low.
The stock spent 16 months moving sideways in a narrow basing pattern before turning higher in May 2017 and rallying back to 2016 resistance at $1.78. The bullish activity completed a cup and handle breakout pattern that could point to a fast rally into the August 2015 gap between $3.70 and $2.50.
Revenues totaled $4.7 million in the 2017 first quarter, up 91% compared to revenues of $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2016.
Gross profit totaled $1.7 million in the first 2017 quarter of 2017, a gross margin of 35.7%, compared to gross profit of $6,000 (gross margin of 0.2%) in the 2016 first quarter.
Operating income was $0.4 million in the first 2017 quarter compared to an operating loss of $1 million in the 2016 first quarter.
Net income attributable to RADA’s shareholders in the 2017 first quarter was $0.4 million, $0.02 per share, versus a net loss of $1.8 million, or $0.23 per share, in the 2016 first quarter.
8. ChromaDex, Corp. (CDXC)
ChromaDex, Corp. (CDXC), a provider of proprietary health, wellness and nutritional ingredients, that creates science-based solutions to dietary supplement, food and beverage, skin care, sports nutrition and pharmaceutical products, went public in April 2016 at $4.70. The stock rallied to an all-time high at $6.18 in May, then fell one month later to $2.46 in a single session, eventually posting a lower December low. It tested that support level in April 2017, then turned sharply higher, now testing 2017 resistance at $3.80. A breakout could point to a significant upside, taking the stock back to last year’s high.
For the first quarter of 2017, ChromaDex reported net sales of $4.4 million, a decrease of 39% compared to the same period of 2016, due mainly to decreased sales in its ingredients business segment, as a result of dropping its largest customer for fiscal year 2016. The ingredients segment created net sales of $2.1 million for Q1 2017, a decline of 55%, compared to the same 2016 period.
The net loss attributable to common stock holders for Q1 2017 was $1.9 million or ($0.05) per share versus a net income of $0.3 million or $0.01 per share for Q1 2016.
In May, the company announced the closing of the $16.4 million second tranche of the strategic investment of up to $25 million led by Hong Kong business leader Li Ka-shing.
Li Ka-shing has invested in many innovative companies in the last decade, including Facebook, Spotify, DeepMind, Siri, Impossible Foods and Modern Meadow. The new investment will support future ChromaDex developments in the global marketplace.
The $16.4 million second tranche follows an initial $3.5 million tranche that closed on April 27, 2017.
9. Safe Bulkers, Inc. (SB)
Safe Bulkers, Inc. (SB), a player in the hot and cold dry bulk shipping sector, topped out at $11.48 in March 2014, then entered a downtrend reaching an all-time low at 30 cents in January 2016. A recovery wave in November stalled at $2.38, followed by sideways action that has completed a small-scale cup and handle breakout pattern. A buying spike over $2.60 can be expected to set the upside into action, supporting a rally that could surpass $5.00.
The company declared a cash dividend of $0.50 per share on its 8.00% Series B, Series C and Series D Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares for the period from April 30, 2017 to July 29, 2017.
This is the 16th consecutive cash dividend declared on the company’s Series B Preferred Shares, the 13th cash dividend declared on its Series C Preferred Shares and the 12th cash dividend declared on its Series D Preferred Shares since their respective commencement of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
10. Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP)
Ballard Power Systems, Inc. (BLDP) is a provider of clean energy products that reduce customer costs and risks, and helps customers solve challenges in their fuel cell programs. The stock reached an all-time high at $144.95 in 2000 before falling into a downtrend lasting more than 12 years, sending the stock to an all-time low at 56 cents. A 2013 upward trend continued through 2014, hitting an 8-year high at $8.38, followed by a correction that’s now returned to 2015 resistance at $3.10. A breakout could catch fire, pushing the stock to a test of its 2014 high.
Total revenue was $22.7 million in the quarter, an increase of 39% from growth in both power products and technology solutions.
Gross margin was 42% in the quarter, an improvement of 22 points due to a shift in product mix toward higher margin technology solutions and heavy duty motive for the China market, including the establishment of a production line in Yunfu, China for the manufacture and assembly of FCvelocity-9SSL fuel cell stacks.
Cash operating costs were $10 million in the quarter, a 6% increase due to higher research and product development expenditures as well as a stronger Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, since a significant amount of cost is denominated in Canadian dollars.
Low-priced biotech stocks have risen following a long slumber, with steady buying interest likely to continue. This group should offer a variety of profitable penny stock plays during the quiet summer trading season, while low-priced stocks in other sectors move into narrow trading ranges.
Featured image from Shutterstock.
Drones Are a Next-Generation Computing Platform, Says Intel
Intel announced the first Intel drone designed specifically for light shows: the Intel Shooting Star drone. With this drone, the company plans to demonstrate that drone light shows can redefine entertainment and create amazing new experiences in the night sky.
Chinese Physicists Achieve Record-Breaking Quantum Cryptography Breakthrough
Researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China and other Chinese labs, with the collaboration of a lab in the US, have implemented a secure quantum protocol known as Measurement-Device-Independent Quantum Key Distribution (MDIQKD), suitable for practical networks and devices, over a distance of 404 km. The breakthrough, which doubles the previous MDIQKD record, opens the door to secure wide area quantum communication networks.
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