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Freiburg, Germany

News Article
Site: http://www.reuters.com

A flooded embankment along the Ganges river is seen in this aerial view taken from an Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter in the Cyclone-hit area of Patharpatima Island in the Sundarbans delta, about 100 km (62 miles) south from the eastern Indian city of Kolkata, May 27,... Men push their bicycles through the flooded banks of the river Ganges after heavy rains in Allahabad, India, July 16, 2015. Bangladesh started work on the proposed Ganges Barrage Project during the tenure of the previous ruling Awami League government in the late 1990s. The country has already completed a feasibility study and the design for the proposed 2.1 kilometer-long dam, due to be constructed at Pangsha in Rajbari district, about 100 km downstream from the Farakka Barrage in India’s West Bengal state. The Ganges, known as the Padma River in Bangladesh, is one of the major sources of surface water in the southwest of the country. Water scarcity and water salinity - made worse by climate change - are common problems in the region, which is why Bangladesh has given the barrage project top priority. Experts say salinity is on the rise in the southwest due to sea-level rise from global warning. The proposed dam would release water through river channels to help dilute the salt levels. However, experts say it will be difficult to push forward with the project in the absence of support from India. New Delhi sent a letter to the Bangladesh government in early 2015 saying Indian technical experts had evaluated project documents sent by Dhaka and were concerned the dam could cause flooding in India. The Ganges flows out of India on flat terrain from West Bengal. India in the letter predicted that even a slight increase in the river’s water level would cause huge submergence in areas of India bordering Bangladesh. New Delhi asked Dhaka to send the full feasibility study, including scientific modeling, so it could be sure there would be no increase in water levels on Indian territory. Bangladesh Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud told the Thomson Reuters Foundation all the documents requested by India were sent last April, but New Delhi had yet to respond. During a visit to India in November, Mahmud met his Indian counterpart, Uma Bharati, who assured him of a response soon. It will be a hard task for Bangladesh to implement the large dam alone, which is why it has sought cooperation from India, experts say. The two countries are currently locked in a range of political squabbles over water, including over how to share the waters of the Teesta, another cross-boundary river. “India may halt the (Ganges) project, showing technical issues that it (says) will pose adverse impacts on Indian territory – which is why Bangladesh has sought cooperation from India” on the project, said Delwar Hossain, an international relations professor at Dhaka University. However, any project in a downstream country such as Bangladesh has little possibility to cause harm to upstream countries, Hossain said. He said Bangladesh should push ahead to quickly answer any technical questions India raises. At a meeting with the outgoing Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh in October, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina emphasized the importance of engaging India in the dam project. According to the feasibility study, around $4 billion will be required to implement the project over a seven-year period, but the government has yet to find the funds. Minister Mahmud said the cost of the barrage project would be recovered within five years through increased agricultural and fish production in the Ganges-dependent area, as well as the 113 megawatts of hydropower the project is expected to generate. A Chinese firm, Hydrochina Corporation, has expressed interest in building the dam, and has already held several meetings with Bangladesh’s Water Resources Ministry to discuss financing for the project. According to Hydrochina Corporation officials, the Chinese government is willing to provide $20 billion in concessional loans to South Asian nations over the next five years. “We are keen to implement the proposed Ganges Barrage Project. Funding could be managed with government-to-government negotiations,” said Zhao Yang, business development manager for Hydrochina Corporation. The Ganges Barrage would create a reservoir 165 km long, covering 62,500 hectares and with a capacity of some 2.9 billion cubic liters of water. According to the minister, the water would be diverted to 26 districts through 123 regional rivers. Building the dam would alleviate water shortages and contamination of water supplies in southwest Bangladesh, experts say. The reservoir’s water would be used throughout the year, regulated by water control structures on rivers, to meet demand for irrigation, fisheries, navigation and salinity control. Acting project director Rowshan Ali Khan said the release of water from the reservoir through the Ganges basin river system would help manage siltation problems in river channels and facilitate drainage. It would also preserve biodiversity and forest resources in the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, he added.


Aja B.,Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics | Aja B.,University of Cantabria | Schuster K.,IRAM | Schafer F.,MPIfR | And 11 more authors.
IEEE Microwave and Wireless Components Letters | Year: 2011

Two broadband very low-noise amplifiers operating in the frequency range from 4 to 12 GHz at cryogenic temperature are presented. The amplifier circuits have been developed using a 100 nm gate length InAlAs/InGaAs metamorphic high electron mobility transistor (mHEMT) technology. The three-stage amplifiers are monolithic microwave integrated circuit (MMIC) chips manufactured in coplanar technology. At cryogenic temperature the first MMIC amplifier achieved a linear gain of 22 dB and an average noise temperature of 11.6 K with a power dissipation of 41 mW. The second MMIC amplifier, with external input matching network, exhibited a gain of 26 dB, and an excellent average noise temperature of 8.1 K with a power dissipation of 12 mW. Both LNA units demonstrate broad bandwidth, high gain, low noise temperature, and compact chip size. The results obtained prove that mHEMT technology is suitable for applications in large instantaneous bandwidth cryogenic receivers for radio astronomy applications. © 2011 IEEE. Source


News Article
Site: http://www.greencarcongress.com/

« AC Transit Board greenlights a $108M, 9.5-mile infrastructure project for first Bus Rapid Transit line; diesel-hybrid buses | Main | BMW Connected North America makes its world debut at Microsoft Build 2016; powered by Azure » Fraunhofer researchers have developed a new, high-frequency radar scanner that can monitor its environment in a 360-degree radius. Increasing connectivity of production systems in “smart” industry 4.0 operations is driving the interaction between people and machines. The trend is moving towards industrial robots that operate without protective barriers. A prerequisite for this level of co-working is that people must not be endangered at any time—but that is precisely the Achilles’ heel of collaboration between people and robots. Currently, laser scanners are used to monitor the danger zone around machinery, and to stop the machine as soon as a person enters the zone. However, optical sensors do not always achieve reliable results under changing light conditions. They also do not work if smoke, dust or fog limits visibility. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF have developed a compact modular 360-degree radar scanner that is superior to optical sensors in many respects. This makes it suited for safety applications for human-machine collaboration. The radar works with millimeter waves that are reflected by the objects to be observed, such as people. Transmitted and received signals are processed and evaluated using numerical algorithms. Based on the calculations, it is possible to determine the distance, position and speed of the objects. If several radar units are used, an object’s location in the room can also be determined as can the direction in which it is moving. A laser scanner can reliably measure the distance and the position of a target—a person, for instance—only if the target is working in an unobstructed line of sight. However, IAF’s 360-degree radar can penetrate optically opaque material, which means it can identify the employee even if there are boxes, cardboard walls or other obstacles in the way. Previous millimeter wave radar systems—based on waveguides—are bulky and expensive. IAF’s scanner has a diameter of only 20 centimeters and is 70 centimeters high. The high-frequency module featuring indium gallium arsenide semiconductor technology is no larger than a pack of cigarettes and is located in the base of the scanner. The high-frequency module, which is the key component of the radar scanner, was developed by IAF researchers in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institutes for Reliability and Microintegration IZM and for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. In addition to the signal processor, the complete system comprises a transmitting and receiving antenna with a dielectric—that is, electric non-conducting—lens. A self-turning mirror affixed at a 45 degree angle deflects the millimeter waves, guides them, and evaluates the entire room. Thanks to the use of a dielectric antenna, the angle of aperture can be freely selected. That means nearby objects as small as a centimeter in size can be detected as easily as large surfes that are far away. The system’s range of operation is dependent on the application and can be up to several hundred meters. The scanner includes an Ethernet interface and is therefore suitable for industry 4.0 applications. In order to evaluate the measurement accuracy and reliability of the 360-degree radar, the researchers carried out hundreds of measurements in the lab. Maximum deviation from the mean was less than a micrometer; standard deviation was 0.3 micrometers. The researchers will present a system demonstrator at Hannover Messe (Hall 2, Booth C16/C22) from 25-29 April 2016 and again at the SENSOR+TEST in Nuremberg (Hall 5, Booth 5-248) from 10-12 May 2016.


News Article | January 21, 2016
Site: http://www.fastcompany.com

As the discussion of deplorable diversity numbers across the tech world continues, it's also important to remember that venture capital dollars, following suit, make their way into the hands of less than 1% of minority or women-led startups. But a growing group of African American women are spearheading values-driven investment capital and identifying smart business opportunities that challenge unconscious bias and bring capital to overlooked and underfunded companies. These investors have set out to change the culture of what it means to invest in diverse talent building platforms that will impact the world. To put the significance of these black female investors into perspective, the odds of their existence in the world of venture capital funding is staggering. An analysis of diversity demographics at the top 71 venture capital firms—which represent more than $160 billion in assets—revealed that 92% of the senior investment team are made up of men; less than 1% are black. Replicating tried-and-true approaches are not always ideal, and many founders, according to the investors, fall into this trap; funding products that are familiar to them. This approach can leave little room for true innovation and creative thinking. "The mostly white, male ‘bro’ culture in Silicon Valley has persisted for far too long, and it’s had a significant influence on the type of technology that gets created," says Mandela Schumacher-Hodge, the portfolio services director at Kapor Capital. "What tech lacks right now is the breadth of diversity that reflects the demographics of America. That omission of experience from the product developmental cycle can really bias the usefulness of technology toward one group." There are enormous untapped opportunities in the startup for products and services that cater to the 80% of the U.S. population that is a person of color, female, or both. Multi-ethnic consumers in the U.S. boast a combined buying power of $3.4 trillion, a number that's anticipated to increase exponentially over the next five years. Diane Henry, an angel investor, also highlights the undue pressure for diverse founders to be the exemplary minority startup, which ultimately interferes with the most important elements of startup success: taking risks and making frequent mistakes in order to learn faster and ultimately win bigger. Instead, minority founders can get caught up in representing the "diversity thing" and the anxiety of not screwing up. The unwritten rule for these founders that do make it into the startup ecosystem is that there is no room for public failure, or they risk access to additional funding, or worse—thwart opportunities for those coming behind them. "When a female or minority startup leader breaks through and achieves traction and funding, too often the media conversation centers on the fact of their being a woman or a minority rather than their ideas and what they are building," says Henry. Henry earned her stripes as a successful real estate broker and entrepreneur in New York City before she turned to investment, providing seed capital to entrepreneurs within high-growth industries. She is an early investor in PartPic—an app that allows users to snap a picture of and order repair parts instantly for gadgets, appliances, hardware, and more—which is also female and minority-founded. She says that she looks beyond race and focuses on the viability and scalability of a founder’s business, but she always remains sensitive to the opportunities that other investors miss out on. "I’ve heard investors complain that they can’t find minority and female founders. I think it’s our job to look for them," says Henry. "We build value in our portfolio by seeking and funding opportunity before others do. It’s sort of what we angels are paid for." For Stefanie Thomas, senior associate of investments at Impact America Fund (IAF), there is no shortage of diverse entrepreneurs building dynamic companies. She says that the problem for most investors—locating dynamic, investment-ready companies—lies in the deficiencies of the network that could connect VCs to diverse, high-growth entrepreneurs. The closed circles and environments tend to restrict the variety of solutions and needs being addressed. Building new business opportunities means these investors don't focus solely on race when it comes to building a portfolio of diverse founders, but rather try to enlist underserved talent as a catalyst to identify leadership in new or untapped, non-traditional markets. "The trend we’re seeing for minority and women-led businesses, is a heavy prioritization on social impact," explains Thomas. "Many of our [portfolio] companies, at some point early in their business models, were overlooked by traditional capital when the road to a sustainable revenue model was nascent." IAF recently invested in Schoolzilla—a software tool that provides teachers and school leaders with the quality data they need to gather meaningful teaching and learning insights. Launched by Lynzi Ziegenhagen nearly five years ago, the business received $10 million in grant funding, allowing Zieghan to prove her concept prior to turning to investors for support. "Yes, diversity is a hot topic but let’s make sure we are highlighting the actual business work that these founders are doing. That will do more for the success of their next funding round than reporting on their views on diversity," says Henry. What can the angel and venture capital industry do to change its narrow investment focus? By self-innovating, increasing accessibility, and remaining accountable for who and how they invest, the industry can dramatically increase its opportunities to find businesses led by diverse founders. "We, as an industry, tend look for the innovation without looking to become innovative ourselves," says Thomas. "We are a part of the archaic, inefficient, non-transparent markets that we recognize need change. We dare to take a chance on "doing VC differently" by looking at ventures that others will not touch because of lack of understanding."


News Article
Site: http://phys.org/technology-news/

Increasing connectivity of production systems in "smart" industry 4.0 operations is driving the interaction between people and machines. The trend is moving towards industrial robots that operate without protective barriers. A prerequisite for this level of co-working is that people must not be endangered at any time – but that is precisely the Achilles' heel of collaboration between people and robots. Currently, laser scanners are used to monitor the danger zone around machinery, and to stop the machine as soon as a person enters the zone. However, optical sensors do not always achieve reliable results under changing light conditions. They also do not work if smoke, dust or fog limits visibility. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF have developed a compact modular 360-degree radar scanner that is superior to optical sensors in many respects. This makes it a perfect choice for safety applications for human-machine collaboration. The radar works with millimeter waves that are reflected by the objects to be observed, such as people (see box: Radar with 360-degree vision). Transmitted and received signals are processed and evaluated using numerical algorithms. Based on the calculations, it is possible to determine the distance, position and speed of the objects. If several radar units are used, an object's location in the room can also be determined as can the direction in which it is moving. "Our radar is not focused on one point. Instead, it sends out millimeter waves in a club shape. Unlike a laser scanner, the signals are reflected even when visibility is obstructed by an object," explains IAF scientist Christian Zech. The laser scanner can reliably measure the distance and the position of a target – a person, for instance – only if the target is working in an unobstructed line of sight. However, IAF's 360-degree radar can penetrate optically opaque material (see box), which means it can identify the employee even if there are boxes, cardboard walls or other obstacles in the way. Previous millimeter wave radar systems – based on waveguides – are bulky and expensive. IAF's scanner has a diameter of only 20 centimeters and is 70 centimeters high. The high-frequency module featuring indium gallium arsenide semiconductor technology is no larger than a pack of cigarettes and is located in the base of the scanner. "These days, millimeter wave applications are dominated by waveguides that are extremely expensive to produce. Thanks to a cost-effective mounting and interconnection technology as well as specially developed circuit boards, we can replace the wave guides with our high-frequency module that has been integrated onto a board measuring just 78 x 42 x 28 millimeters," says Zech. The high-frequency module, which is the key component of the radar scanner, was developed by IAF researchers in close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institutes for Reliability and Microintegration IZM and for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA. In addition to the signal processor, the complete system comprises a transmitting and receiving antenna with a dielectric – that is, electric non-conducting – lens. A self-turning mirror affixed at a 45 degree angle deflects the millimeter waves, guides them, and evaluates the entire room. Thanks to the use of a dielectric antenna, the angle of aperture can be freely selected. That means nearby objects as small as a centimeter in size can be detected as easily as large surfes that are far away. The system's range of operation is dependent on the application and can be up to several hundred meters. The scanner includes an Ethernet interface and is therefore suitable for industry 4.0 applications. In order to evaluate the measurement accuracy and reliability of the 360-degree radar, the researchers carried out hundreds of measurements in the lab. Maximum deviation from the mean was less than a micrometer; standard deviation was 0.3 micrometers. The researchers will present a system demonstrator at Hannover Messe (Hall 2, Booth C16/C22) from April 25-29, 2016 and again at the SENSOR+TEST in Nuremberg (Hall 5, Booth 5-248) from May 10-12, 2016. The human eye cannot see through wood, paper, or plastic. But a radar developed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF now makes it possible to see the invisible: The radar works with millimeter waves at a frequency of 94 GHz and a bandwidth of 15 GHz. In contrast to optical sensors, millimeter waves penetrate all dielectric materials, and therefore optically non-transparent materials, such as clothing, plastics surfaces and paper, but also dust, rain, snow and fog. This makes it possible to use the W band – that is, the frequency range between 75 and 110 GHz – to detect small objects several kilometers away, even in conditions with poor visibility. The higher the frequency and bandwidth, the better the spatial resolution. The system's distinctive feature is that it detects and visualizes its surroundings in a 360-degree view, making the scanner suitable for a broad range of applications – from area monitoring and access surveillance to industrial sensor technology, logistics and flight safety through to non-destructive materials testing.

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