NASA wants to print a spacecraft, but first it’s printing the electronics


PARC — home of the laser printer, ethernet, the graphical user interface and the Alto computer — is best known for its role in Silicon Valley’s past. But in late July, a window in the belly of the center’s Palo Alto campus provided a look at the future: printable electronics that could someday go into space.

The window led to PARC’s clean room, where bodysuit-protected researchers milled about while a printer the size of an office copy machine whirred. For three or four months now, a PARC team has been working with NASA on printing heat and light sensors that would be ideal for environmental sensing on the surface of Mars. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory lead researcher Kendra Short said that eventually they’ll be able to print other types of electronics that take in solar energy, communicate wirelessly and more.

The electronics are printed on thin plastic sheets. Ideally, they could be released on…

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We might need new types of chip designs for the internet of things


If we’re going to embed chips into roads, bury them in fields and even slap them on produce at the grocery store, we’re going to have to dump the battery. They are expensive, bulky, require changing and can also leak toxins into the environment. And while many people are focused on how to best to power these future sensors, the chip architecture firm ARM(s armh) is thinking about how to build chips for sensors that harvest their own energy.

Maybe these sensors are gathering power from RF signals in the air, kinetically, or even through a chemical reaction that they are built to recognize and report. No matter how they gather the energy, if they can’t store it then the way the chips use that power may have to change. At least that’s what Mike Muller, the CTO of ARM, told Peter Clarke of EETimes last week. In

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