Custom 'headphones' boost atomic radio reception 100-fold

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have boosted the sensitivity of their atomic radio receiver a hundredfold by enclosing a small glass cylinder of cesium atoms inside what looks like ...

Laser bursts drive fastest-ever logic gates

A long-standing quest for science and technology has been to develop electronics and information processing that operate near the fastest timescales allowed by the laws of nature.

Silicon-carbide modulator overcomes decades long 'missing block'

A collaboration with Harvard University has led to the development of a new-generation electro-optic modulator that could stamp out its bulky predecessor through the creation of a smaller, stronger, cooler, faster and cost-effective ...

Identifying the basic structure of the language of fungi

Andrew Adamatzk, a professor at the University of the West of England's Unconventional Computing Laboratory, UWE, in the U.K. has found that the electrical signal clusters sent by several types of fungi resemble human vocabularies. ...

Quantum physics sets a speed limit to electronics

How fast can electronics be? When computer chips work with ever shorter signals and time intervals, at some point they come up against physical limits. The quantum-mechanical processes that enable the generation of electric ...

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Signal (electronics)

In the fields of communications, signal processing, and in electrical engineering more generally, a signal is any time-varying or spatial-varying quantity.

In the physical world, any quantity measurable through time or over space can be taken as a signal. Within a complex society, any set of human information or machine data can also be taken as a signal. Such information or machine data (for example, the dots on a screen, the ink making up text on a paper page, or the words now flowing into the reader's mind) must all be part of systems existing in the physical world – either living or non-living.

Despite the complexity of such systems, their outputs and inputs can often be represented as simple quantities measurable through time or across space. In the latter half of the 20th century, electrical engineering itself separated into several disciplines, specializing in the design and analysis of physical signals and systems, on the one hand, and in the functional behavior and conceptual structure of the complex human and machine systems, on the other. These engineering disciplines have led the way in the design, study, and implementation of systems that take advantage of signals as simple measurable quantities in order to facilitate the transmission, storage, and manipulation of information.

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