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New method converts tree leaves into electronic devices

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Scientists have discovered a new method to convert dried tree leaves into a porous carbon material that can be used to produce high-tech electronics. Researchers from Qilu University of Technology in China used a multi-step, yet simple, process to convert phoenix tree leaves into a form that could be incorporated into electrodes as active materials.
The dried leaves were first ground into a powder, then heated to 220 degrees Celsius for 12 hours. This produced a powder composed of tiny carbon micro spheres. These micro spheres were then treated with a solution of potassium hydroxide and heated by increasing the temperature in a series of jumps from 450 to 800 degrees Celsius.
The chemical treatment corrodes the surface of the carbon micro spheres, making them extremely porous. The final product, a black carbon powder, has a very high surface area due to the presence of many tiny pores that have been chemically etched on the surface of the micro spheres.
The high surface area gives the final product its extraordinary electrical properties, said Hongfang Ma of Qilu University of Technology, who led the study published in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy. The researchers ran a series of standard electrochemical tests on the porous micro spheres to quantify their potential for use in electronic devices.
The current-voltage curves for these materials indicate that the substance could make an excellent capacitor. Further tests show that the materials are, in fact, supercapacitors, with specific capacitances of 367 Farads/gramme, which are over three times higher than values seen in some graphene supercapacitors, researchers said. A capacitor is a widely used electrical component that stores energy by holding a charge on two conductors,separated from each other by an insulator.
Supercapacitors can typically store 10-100 times as much energy as an ordinary capacitor, and can accept and deliver charges much faster than a typical rechargeable battery. For these reasons, supercapacitive materials hold great promise for a wide variety of energy storage needs, particularly in computer technology and hybrid or electric vehicles.
The supercapacitive properties of the porous carbon microspheres made from phoenix tree leaves are higher than those reported for carbon powders derived from other bio-waste materials, researchers said. The fine scale porous structure seems to be key to this property, since it facilitates contact between electrolyte ions and the surface of the carbon spheres, as well as enhancing ion transfer and diffusion on the carbon surface.


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Samsung Galaxy A80 With Rotating Camera, In-Display Fingerprint Sensor Launched

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Samsung Galaxy A80 was launched on Wednesday at an event in Thailand. It features a 48-megapixel primary camera. The Galaxy A80 also sports a full-HD+ Super AMOLED display and comes with Dolby Atmos audio integration. The Android Pie-based Samsung phone comes with an in-display fingerprint sensor. Of course, the biggest highlight of the Samsung Galaxy A80 is its rotating camera – the form factor helps in two ways, first, enabling a notchless display, and second, making the high resolution rear camera usable for selfies. The company is also touting the ‘intelligent battery’ that learns the user’s routine to optimise battery life, and also supports 25W ‘Super-Fast Charging’ tech. At the launch event, Samsung also revealed the availability of the Galaxy A70 it had unveiled last week. Read on for more details about the Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date, specifications, and more.

Samsung Galaxy A80 price, release date

The Samsung Galaxy A80 price has been set at EUR 649 (roughly Rs. 50,500). The company added the smartphone will be available in Angel Gold, Ghost White, and Phantom Black colour variants, with the first two having pearlescent effects. The Samsung Galaxy A80 will go on sale from May 29, in markets across Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Hong Kong, Middle East, New Zealand, and Russia. We can expect the Samsung Galaxy A80 price in India to be along the same lines as Europe pricing, though for now, an India release date has not been specified.

 

At the launch event, Samsung also announced the availability of the Samsung Galaxy A70 that it had unveiled last week. It will go on sale from April 26, in Black, Blue, Coral, and White colour variants.

Samsung Galaxy A80 specifications

The dual-SIM Samsung Galaxy A80 runs Android 9.0 Pie with the company’s One UI on top. It sports a 6.7-inch full-HD+ (1080×2400 pixels) Super AMOLED ‘New Infinity Display’ with a 20:9 aspect ratio and no notch. It is powered by the newly unveiled Snapdragon 730G SoC, an octa-core processor with two cores clocked at 2.2GHz and six cores clocked at 1.7GHz. This is coupled with 8GB of RAM. The smartphone sports an in-display fingerprint sensor.

Coming to the highlight of the smartphone, it’s rotating camera with a triple camera setup. It features a 48-megapixel primary sensor with an f/2.0 aperture, a secondary 8-megapixel camera with an ultra wide-angle lens (123-degrees), an f/2.2 aperture. There is also a 3D depth camera on board. An IR sensor rounds off the optics. As for selfies, when the user selects selfie mode, the three cameras automatically pop-up and rotate to the front. Other features on the Samsung Galaxy A80 include Super Steady video mode, Scene Optimizer with detection for 30 scenes, and Flaw Detection.

There is 128GB of inbuilt storage, which isn’t expandable via microSD card. The Samsung Galaxy A80 sports a 3,700mAh battery with 25W Super-Fast Charging support. It measures 165.2×76.5×9.3mm. Other features on the smartphone include Bixby, Samsung Pay, Samsung Health, and Samsung Knox. The company is also boasting of an Intelligent Performance Enhancer that uses AI for performance optimisation. The Bixby Routines feature looks to automate daily tasks by learning user patterns.

Finally, the Galaxy A80 also features Dolby Atmos technology for improved audio output with headphones or Bluetooth speakers.

Commenting on the launch, DJ Koh, President and CEO of IT & Mobile Communications Division at Samsung Electronics, said, “The Galaxy A Series provides a range of models so everyone can choose a device that fits their unique needs and enables them to pursue their passions. The Galaxy A80 offers premium features for digital natives who want to fully engage in the Era of Live.”

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Acer Nitro 7 Slim Gaming Laptop Launched, Nitro 5 Series for Casual Gamers Updated

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At Acer’s annual hardware event, the company has launched a bunch of new products, while refreshing some of its existing lineup. One of the new launches is the Acer Nitro 7 gaming laptop, which boasts of a metal design, a slim body measuring 19.9mm in thickness, and up to seven hours of battery life. The company has also refreshed its existing Nitro 5 gaming laptop, which now boasts of an 80 percent screen-to-body ratio thanks to the 7.18mm narrow display bezels.

Both the Acer laptops share many of the underlying technologies such as CoolBoost, which features a dual exhaust system for keeping temperatures down when gaming. The NitroSense software allows users to visualise component temperature, loading performance, power usage, and more on both series. The Nitro 7 and Nitro 5 also feature Killer Ethernet E2500 networking card and Acer’s Network Optimizer to prioritise gaming traffic and Waves MaxxAudio for better sound.

Acer Nitro 7 specifications, pricing and availability

 

The new Nitro 7 features a metal chassis that is less than 20mm in thickness, making it quite slim. It features a 15.6-inch display with 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time. It’s powered by 9th generation Intel Core CPUs and the latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 with up to 2TB of mechanical storage and up to 32GB of DDR4 RAM.

The Acer Nitro 7 is available now in the US, starting at $1,000 (roughly Rs. 69,500). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions starting May and June respectively.

Acer Nitro 5 specifications, pricing and availability

The Acer Nitro 5 is available with a full-HD IPS panel in either a 17.3-inch size with slim borders or a 15.6-inch display size. It too packs in the latest 9th generation Intel Core processors, latest Nvidia GPUs, up to two NVMe PCIe SSDs in RAID 0, up to 32GB of RAM and Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2×2 MU-MIMO antennas.

The Acer Nitro 5 is available from April in the US for a starting price of $800 (roughly Rs. 55,650). It will also be available in China and EMEA regions from May 2019.

Finally, Acer also announced the Nitro Stream, which is a dedicated streaming PC with a built-in capture card for streaming PC and console games. Specifications include an 8th generation Intel Core i7 CPU, up to 32GB of RAM, 256SSD and a in-built capture card. The PC is also compact enough to be mounted at the back of a monitor using the VESA mount standard. Pricing details and availability aren’t mentioned as of now.

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Google Home Can Now Remotely Enable Do Not Disturb Mode on Phones

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Google has quietly rolled out a new feature and a behavioural change for the Google Assistant on Google Home smart speakers. Starting with the new feature, users can now activate the Do Not Disturb mode on their smartphone by just saying asking the Google Home speaker to do so via relevant voice command. As for the behavioural change, the Google Home no longer vocally recites every step it is performing that is part of a routine set by users. However, it is not clear when the aforesaid changes went live.

Android Police reports that the Google Home no longer recites every single step of a routine. Earlier, the Google Assistant would alert users about every step of a routine that was in progress. But now, individual steps in a pre-specified routine are not accompanied by a vocal cue every time a routine is executed. However, individual commands that need the Google Assistant to respond vocally as well as standalone actions will still be accompanied by a vocal response.

Moreover, another report from Android Police states that the Google Assistant will now enable the Do Not Disturb mode on a linked smartphone via relevant voice command. For example, users can ask the Google Home to “silence my phone” or “activate DND mode on my phone” to enable the Do Not Disturb mode.

 

But in case the Google account being used for the Google Home is linked to multiple smartphones, users will have to specify the device, on which they want to enable the DND mode. As per Google’s support page, users can also choose to activate DND mode on all devices in a network via voice command. However, it is not clear when the aforementioned changes went live, or if it is available to only a small set of users in certain regions.

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