Take a look at the evolution of the original Land Rover into the Defender over the decades.

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    As we welcome the new 2020 Land Rover Defender, it seems like a good time to look back at the original rough-and-ready models, which ran from 1948 to 2016. Land Rover marked the end of production with a ceremony at its Solihull plant that gathered the classics back to their birthplace, providing a trove of modern photos of classic Land Rovers to enjoy.

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1948 Land Rover 90

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1956 Land Rover Series I Fire Tender

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1967 Land Rover Series IIA 88-inch prototype

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1979 Land Rover Series III 109-inch Station Wagon

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    Classic Land Rover reunion

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    Classic Land Rover parade

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1994 Defender 90 convertible

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    2001 Land Rover Defender, Tomb Raider movie vehicle

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    2012 Land Rover Defender

  • 2013 Land Rover Defender

  •  Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    2015 Land Rover Defender 110 official Rugby World Cup vehicle

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    Final 2016 Land Rover Defender

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

Image source: Hagerty magazine

The 10 hottest collector cars for 2020

Classic car insurance magazine Hagerty compiled the 2020 Bull Market List based on cars with the fastest-rising values.

Image source: Tesla

10 hottest rides from the 2019 LA Auto Show

New off-roaders star in this year’s LA Auto Show.

Image source: Ford Motor Co.

10 Mutant Mustangs: Maybe the ‘rules’ are really more like ‘guidelines’

Ford has stretched the definition of what Mustang means from the very beginning.

Image source: General Motors Co.

10 Videos that Break Down the Engineering of the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette

Chevy breaks down the new ‘Vette’s tech in a series of videos about its significant technical features.

Image source: Lexus

8 Great Concept Cars From the Tokyo Motor Show

The Tokyo show always includes adventuresome technology demonstrations.

Image source: Molex

The 4 Major Challenges of Wireless In-Vehicle Charging

Wireless charging is the best way for automakers to meet consumer demand for better charging performance in their vehicles. But there significant challenges to getting this innovation to market.

Image source: public domain

8 of the Greatest Fathers in Engineering History

The apple doesn’t always fall far from the tree. We’re taking a look at eight renowned engineers and their children who followed in (and sometimes surpassed) their footsteps. 

Image source: General Motors Co.

10 Green Principles For EV Sustainability

Recently published guidelines could help ensure that new battery technologies are sustainable and environmentally sound.

Image source: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

A Look at 10 Hot New Internal Combustion Engines

The internal combustion engine marches on, with innovations ranging from variable compression ratios to cam-less valve trains. 

Image source: Bugatti Automobiles S.A.S.

9 red hot sports cars you can’t afford

Lamborghini, Bugatti, Ferrari and others rolled out their latest and greatest supercars at the Geneva Motor Show

Image source: American Honda

The Ten Most Reliable Vehicles for 2019

A philosophy that stresses evolution over revolution lead one automaker to dominate the reliability ratings

Image source: Tesla

The Ten Most Unreliable Vehicles for 2019

Cadillac, Tesla, and Jaguar prove that luxury doesn’t necessarily translate to reliability

(Image source: Jaguar Land Rover)

Since its debut at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1948, the utilitarian Land Rover has been synonymous with can-do off-road capability in the furthest reaches of the globe. How many documentaries on African wildlife would have ever been made without the participation of Land Rover?

The ubiquitous Land Rover gained the Defender moniker in 1991. The idea was to distinguish the traditional model from the then-new Discovery. But all along, it has been available in 90-inch short wheelbase two-door and 110-inch long wheelbase four-door variants, and they are identified by those numbers.

The previous Land Rover Defender 90 and 110 went on hiatus in late 2016 and it is returning now in rejuvenated contemporary form for 2020. While Mercedes chose to leave the outer appearance of its G-Class SUVs largely unchanged when it redesigned that vehicle, Land Rover chose to look forward rather than back, with styling that honors the original Defender without mimicking it.

While styling may seem superficial, plenty of tough engineering work went into producing a suitably upright, boxy design that slips through the air with minimal blunt force trauma. By carefully finessing the new Defender’s surfaces and using accessories as aerodynamic aids, the Land Rover aerodynamic team was able to whittle the Defender’s coefficient of drag down to 0.38, reported chief engineer Mark Wilson. That’s the same as Land Rover’s sleek-looking Range Rover Sport model.

The Defender’s traditionally abbreviated front and rear overhangs remain, ensuring good approach (38 degrees) and departure (40 degrees) angles for traversing steep obstacles. At the same time, however, take note of details like the circular-square openings in the front bumper fascia, which are optimized for airflow. “They are not some random size,” Wilson pointed out. “They’ve been engineered.”

(Image source: Jaguar Land Rover)

Air ducts through the fascia’s intake vents to jet out ahead of the front tires in the wheelwells, creating an air curtain that steers airflow away from the drag-intensive spinning tires. Speaking of tires, take a look at the spare tire mounted on the rear of the Defender. It is carefully positioned as an aerodynamic aid, to optimize the vehicle’s wake, according to Wilson.

Land Rover achieved the Defender’s remarkable aerodynamic performance by “tweaking ever single surface around the car,” Wilson said. “The engineers all pulled together and they’ve really gone after it.” 


Classic car insurance magazine Hagerty compiled the 2020 Bull Market List based on cars with the fastest-rising values.

  • Image source: Dean Smith, courtesy of Hagerty

    Hagerty magazine’s annual roundup of the hottest collector cars of the year looks at which cars have the fastest-rising values to identify emerging interest in previously overlooked models.

    Past years have pointed to the rise of interest in the classic Ford Bronco and the square body Chevrolet pickups of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. This year also includes some vintage SUVs, but also reflects the increasing interest by younger drivers in more modern cars, that were built in the 21st century.

    “The high school graduates of the late ’90s are now in their late thirties, and like every generation before them, they are investing in the cars of their youth,” said Hagerty editor in chief Larry Webster. 

    “The difference is they love imports, SUVs and cars that are more modern, affordable and fun to drive than conventional classics. It’s great to see them put their stamp on the hobby.”

  • Image source: Honda

    1997-2001 Acura Integra Type R 

    Hagerty’s take: “Although front drive is generally shunned, the Type R is widely considered the best-handling front-driver of all time. These are huge with millennials; half the quotes are from them. Type Rs are super rare and hard to find in good shape, and only newly added to our price guide because three years ago sales were scant.”

  • Image source: BMW

    1998-2002 BMW M Roadster 

    Hagerty’s take: “M Cars are way up, but the M roadster was overlooked for a long time because it looks so much like a regular Z3. They are getting their due now. The coupe has already popped, and the roadster values are up 22 percent on the later 315-hp cars and 31 percent (starting from a lower value) on the earlier 240-hp cars. Yet, good M roadsters are still half the price of good M coupes.”

  • Image source: Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles

    1996-2002 Dodge Viper GTS 

    Hagerty’s take: “Generation Xers and millennials are now 64 percent of the quotes on this car. Vipers have a reputation for being crude and uncompromising, but it’s a driver’s car and a visceral experience. The outlandish design has aged well, and attrition has worked in the Viper’s favor, meaning there aren’t a lot of good ones left. The early cars are now seen as desirable.”

  • Image source: Ferrari

    1999-2005 Ferrari 360 

    Hagerty’s take: “More of these cars are coming off normal insurance policies and onto Hagerty policies, with the number rising 211 percent in the past three years. They are gaining more of a reputation as an enthusiast or collectible car rather than a used exotic. The design has aged well and looks elegant in a way a lot of cars from that era don’t. The F1 transmissions were more common, but the gated shifter is what collectors want.”

  • Image source: Dean Smith, courtesy of Hagerty

    1971-’80 International Harvester Scout

    Hagerty’s take: “The vintage SUV craze has been going strong for eight years, but Scouts haven’t really popped yet like the FJ40s, Broncos, and Blazers. Most Scouts rotted away, but you’re starting to see them being restored. Gen X is 56 percent of the quotes, and if Gen X likes it, the values are going to go up.” 

  • Image source: Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles

    1984-2001 Jeep Cherokee

    Hagerty’s take: “A relative bargain compared with other legitimate SUVs of its era such as the FJ60 Land Cruiser. Everyone loves a Jeep, and this one has classically rugged good looks in a reasonably-sized package with tons of aftermarket support. Definitely appeals more to younger buyers than the same vintage Ford Explorer.”

  • Image source: Honda

    1988-’91 Honda CRX Si 

    Hagerty’s take: “These filled every high-school parking lot in the 1990s, and millennials are now 60 percent of the quotes. As one of the first front-wheel-drive sporting Japanese cars to get widespread recognition from enthusiasts, they are symbolic of the golden age of Honda, quick and go-kart-like and able to make any drive fun.”

  • Image source: Jaguar Land Rover

    1970-’95 Land Rover Range Rover

    Hagerty’s take: “This is a vehicle that appeals to millennials and Gen Xers, and they’re affordable because they’re known to be troublesome. The brand’s current success gets people to look back at the catalog of past vehicles, and this one established a lot of the design cues that guide Land Rover now and have been copied by other manufacturers.”

  • Image source: Porsche

    1970-’76 Porsche 914 

    Hagerty’s take: “Only the third car that Porsche ever designed is still the cheapest way to get into a vintage Porsche, and the 914 is being reevaluated for its great handling and affordability. The VW association that once tarnished it carries less of a knock now among younger buyers.”

  • Image source: Volkswagen

    1990-’95 Volkswagen Corrado 

    Hagerty’s take: “This car appeals equally to all age groups. With cars in excellent condition going for $6,500, it’s a cheaper entry point than a GTI of the same vintage but rarer. Our insurance quotes are up 25 percent on this car from 2018, so the interest is growing.”

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

(Image source: General Motors Co.)

During most of the Corvette’s 67-year history, the nameplate has been a technology leader, even if its image in that regard has dimmed in recent decades as upgrades have become distinctly incremental.

The Corvette was heralded as a pioneer of technologies like composite bodywork, fuel injection, independent rear suspension, uni-directional tires, magnetically adjustable shock absorbers, twin-vortex supercharging, and aluminum frame design.

But when other super sports cars shifted to mid-engine design, starting with the Lamborghini Miura in 1966, Chevrolet’s plans to move the Corvette away from its original front engine layout have been repeatedly postponed until now. With the introduction of the eighth-generation “C8” Corvette Stingray, Chevrolet has finally fulfilled a move originally sought by the Corvette’s first chief engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov.

This pits the Corvette, with its base price of $58,900 and a fully loaded as-tested price of $85,710, against pedigreed European rivals that cost a quarter-million dollars or more. Other competitors, such as the Acura NSX and Audi R8 only cost two or three times as much as the Corvette.

(Image source: General Motors Co.)

The motivation for relocating the engine behind the passenger compartment from under the hood was outlined by vehicle dynamics engineer Mike Hurley during our preview drive of a pre-production prototype on the roads outside Phoenix. 

The challenge for any vehicle driving forward through its rear wheels is providing the rear tires enough traction to both accelerate and turn effectively. When the engine’s mass is at the front of the car, it makes that job more difficult. And when that engine makes Corvette-grade power, well then, the car gets the challenging-to-drive-fast reputation that was tagged to the outgoing 2019 C7 Corvette.


Engineers will find something of interest in these selections, from Heaviside and Silicon Valley, to sustainable manufacturing, organs-on-a-chip, and more.

  • Don’t know what to get the engineer in your life? Here’s a mix of easily understood, yet engaging, books combined with a few hardcore technical works. All of these books were published in 2019, except for two that still remain worthy of note today.

  • The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside: A Maverick of Electrical Science

    By: Basil Mahon

    Publisher: Prometheus

    With the release of the film The Current War, it’s easy to forget the contributions of Oliver Heaviside. While The “current war” focused on the competition between Edison, Westinghouse, and Tesla to bring electricity to all of America, Heaviside (a contemporary of Edison and Westinghouse) was focused on electrical engineering technology to help bring mass communication to the country.

    Heaviside gave us the unit step function (remember calculus class?), coaxial cable, and the small coils placed in series with every telephone line to improve the signal by providing inductive loading.

    From the publisher:

    “This biography of Oliver Heaviside profiles the life of an underappreciated genius and describes his many contributions to electrical science, which proved to be essential to the future of mass communications. Oliver Heaviside (1850 -1925) may not be a household name, but he was one of the great pioneers of electrical science: His work led to huge advances in communications and became the bedrock of the subject of electrical engineering as it is taught and practiced today. His achievements include creating the mathematical tools that were to prove essential to the proper understanding and use of electricity, finding a way to rid telephone lines of the distortion that had stifled progress, and showing that electrical power doesn’t flow in a wire but in the space alongside it.

    At first his ideas were thought to be weird, even outrageous, and he had to battle long and hard to get them accepted. Yet by the end of his life he was awarded the first Faraday Medal. This story will restore long-overdue recognition to a scientist whose achievements in many ways were as crucial to our modern age as those of Edison’s and Tesla’s.”

  • Make, Think, Imagine: Engineering the Future of Civilization

    By: John Browne

    Publisher: Pegasus Books

    From the publisher:

    “Today’s unprecedented pace of change leaves many people wondering what new technologies are doing to our lives. Has social media robbed us of our privacy and fed us with false information? Are the decisions about our health, security and finances made by computer programs inexplicable and biased? Will these algorithms become so complex that we can no longer control them? Are robots going to take our jobs? Will better health care lead to an aging population which cannot be cared for? Can we provide housing for our ever-growing urban populations? And has our demand for energy driven the Earth’s climate to the edge of catastrophe? John Browne argues that we need not and must not put the brakes on technological advance. Civilization is founded on engineering innovation; all progress stems from the human urge to make things and to shape the world around us, resulting in greater freedom, health and wealth for all. Drawing on history, his own experiences and conversations with many of today’s great innovators, he uncovers the basis for all progress and its consequences, both good and bad. He argues compellingly that the same spark that triggers each innovation can be used to counter its negative consequences. This book provides an blueprint for how we can keep moving towards a brighter future.”

  • The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America

    By: Margaret O’Mara

    Publisher: Penguin

    Margaret O’Mara worked in the White House of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in the earliest days of the commercial Internet. There she saw firsthand how deeply intertwined Silicon Valley was with the federal government–and always had been–and how shallow the common understanding of the secrets of the Valley’s success actually was.

    In this work, she tells the story of mavericks and visionaries, but also of powerful institutions creating the framework for innovation, from the Pentagon to Stanford University. It is also a story of a community that started off remarkably homogeneous and tight-knit and stayed that way, and whose belief in its own mythology has deepened into a collective hubris that has led to astonishing triumphs as well as devastating second-order effects.

  • The Design of Coffee: An Engineering Approach

    By: William Ristenpart, Tonya Kuhl

    Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

    Here’s another work that was published a few years ago but is relevant this year for its emphasis on cross-discipline collaboration, a trend noted in the chemistry industry.

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] provides a non-mathematical introduction to chemical engineering, as illustrated by the roasting and brewing of coffee. Hands-on coffee experiments demonstrate key engineering principles, including material balances, chemical kinetics, mass transfer, fluid mechanics, conservation of energy, and colloidal phenomena. The experiments lead to an engineering design competition where contestants strive to make the best tasting coffee using the least amount of energy – a classic engineering optimization problem, but one that is both fun and tasty! 

    Anybody with access to a sink, electricity, and inexpensive coffee roasting and brewing equipment can do these experiments, either as part of a class or with your friends at home. The Design of Coffee will help you understand how to think like an engineer – and how to make excellent coffee!”

  • Human Compatible: AI and the Problem of Control

    By: Stuart Russell, Allen Lane

    Publisher: Viking

    From the publisher:

    “Creating superior intelligence would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, according to the world’s pre-eminent AI expert, it could also be the last. In this book on the biggest question facing humanity, the author explains why he has come to consider his own discipline an existential threat to his own species, and lays out how we can change course before it’s too late. There is no one better placed to assess the promise and perils of the dominant technology of the future than Russell, who has spent decades at the forefront of AI research. Through brilliant analogies prose, he explains how AI actually works, how it has an enormous capacity to improve our lives – but why we must ensure that we never lose control of machines more powerful than we are. Here Russell shows how we can avert the worst threats by reshaping the foundations of AI to guarantee that machines pursue our objectives, not theirs.”

  • Organ-on-a-Chip: Engineered Microenvironments for Safety and Efficacy Testing

    By: Julia Hoeng (Editor), David Bovard (Editor), Manuel Peitsch (Editor)

    Publisher: Academic Press/Elsevier

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] contains chapters from world-leading researchers in the field of organ on a chip development and applications, with perspectives from life sciences, medicine, physiology and engineering. The book details the field, with sections covering the major organ systems and currently available technologies, platforms and methods. As readers may also be interested in creating biochips, materials and engineering best practice, these topics are also described. Users will learn about the limitations of 2D in-vitro models and the available 3D in-vitro models (what benefits they offer and some examples). Finally, the MOC section shows how the organ on a chip technology can be adapted to improve the physiology of in-vitro models.”

  • Sustainable Engineering Products and Manufacturing Technologies

    By: Kaushik Kumar (Editor), Divya Zindani (Editor), J. Paulo Davim (Editor)

    Publisher: Academic Press/Elsevier

    From the publisher:

    “[This book] provides the reader with a detailed look at the latest research into technologies that reduce the environmental impacts of manufacturing. All points where engineering decisions can influence the environmental sustainability of a product are examined, including the sourcing of non-toxic, sustainable raw materials, how to choose manufacturing processes that use energy responsibly and minimize waste, and how to design products to maximize reusability and recyclability. The subject of environmental regulation is also addressed, with references to both the US and EU and the future direction of legislation.”

    Finally, sustainability factors are investigated alongside other product considerations, such as quality, price, manufacturability and functionality, to help readers design processes and products that are economically viable and environmentally friendly.”

  • Introductory Electrical Engineering With Math Explained in Accessible Language

    By: Magno Urbano

    Publisher: Wiley

    From the publisher:

    “[This work] offers a text that explores the basic concepts and principles of electrical engineering. The author explains the underlying mathematics involved in electrical engineering through the use of examples that help with an understanding of the theory. The text contains clear explanations of the mathematical theory that is needed to understand every topic presented, which will aid students in engineering courses who may lack the necessary basic math knowledge.”

    “Designed to breakdown complex math concepts into understandable terms, the book incorporates several math tricks and knowledge such as matrices determinant and multiplication. The author also explains how certain mathematical formulas are derived. In addition, the text includes tables of integrals and other tables to help, for example, find resistors’ and capacitors’ values. The author provides the accessible language, examples, and images that make the topic accessible and understandable.”

  • What Is Data Engineering?

    By: Lewis Gavin

    Publisher: O’Reilly Media, Inc.

    From the publisher:

    “The demand for data scientists is well-known, but when it comes time to build solutions based on data, your company also needs data engineers—people with strong data warehousing and programming backgrounds. In fact, whether you’re powering self-driving cars or creating music playlists, this field has emerged as one of the most important in modern business. In this report, Lewis Gavin explores key aspects of data engineering and presents a case study from Spotify that demonstrates the tremendous value of this role.”

  • Lithium-Ion Battery Failures in Consumer Electronics

    By: Ashish Arora, Sneha Arun Lele, Noshirwan Medora, Shukri Souri 

    Publisher: Artech House

    From the publisher:

    “This comprehensive resource caters to system designers that are looking to incorporate lithium ion (li-ion) batteries in their applications. Detailed discussion of the various system considerations that must be addressed at the design stage to reduce the risk of failures in the field is presented. The book includes technical details of all state-of-the-art Li-on energy storage subsystems and their requirements and provides a system designer a single resource detailing all of the common issues navigated when using Li-ion batteries to reduce the risk of field failures.

    “The book details the various industry standards that are applicable to the subsystems of Li-ion energy storage systems and how the requirements of these standards may impact the design of their system. Checklists are included to help readers evaluate their own battery system designs and identify gaps in the designs that increase the risk of field failures. The book is packed with numerous examples of issues that have caused field failures and how a proper design/assembly process could have reduced the risk of these failures.”

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.


2019 IEEE IEDM event reveals latest node chips, chiplets, memories for AI, densest thin-film batteries, 400Gbits/s silicon photonics, quantum computing tools and much more.

  • The theme for this year’s 65th IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) was, “Innovative Devices for an Era of Connected Intelligence.” As in previous years, major semiconductor players including and international research organizations (e.g., imec, CEA-Leti, UC universities and others) presented the latest detailed technology for processors, memories, interfaces and power device devices. Additionally, the event included quantum computing advances, medical uses and other newer areas of application.

    Here are 10 of the major semiconductor “reveals” at the show for 2019.

  • Leading Edge 5nm Chip with Super Dense Memory

    Moore’s Law may be hitting the wall but it’s not dead yet. TSMC unveiled a complete 5nm technology platform that advanced silicon chip scaling (miniaturization) to the next process node. Reaching the 5nm node milestone was due in part to advances in lithography and improvements in process and packaging techniques.

    TSMC researchers described a 5nm CMOS process optimized for both mobile and high-performance computing. It offered nearly twice the logic density and a 15% speed gain or 30% power reduction over the company’s 7nm process. The process optimization incorporated extensive use of EUV lithography to replace immersion lithography at key points in the manufacturing process.

    TSMC’s 5nm platform also featured FinFETs and high-density SRAM cells. The SRAM could be optimized for low-power or high-performance applications, and the researchers say the high-density version was the highest-density SRAM ever reported. The researchers say high-volume production was targeted for 1H20.

  • Quantum computing 

    Great strides have been made in quantum computing. At the Semicon West/Electronic System Design (ESD) 2019 conference, IBM displayed it’s  IBM Q Experience, a cloud-based quantum computer available for free to anyone with a web browser and an internet connection.

    Creating a quantum computer has been an amazing technological achievement, but like any computer it needs software. Imec – the international Flemish R&D nanoelectronics organization – presented the first step toward developing a systematic approach to the design of quantum computing devices.

    EDA chip design software such as TCAD is necessary to produce highly accurate models of semiconductor devices and their operation. To date, no analogous tools exist to model qubits, the basis of quantum computing, because the field is so new and complex. If these design tools did exist, the development of quantum computers could take place much more quickly.

    The Imec team has taken a step to create such a software framework using multiphysics simulation methods to develop a comprehensive design methodology for qubits built in silicon. They modeled device electrostatics, stress, micro-magnetics, band structure and spin dynamics. Based on the results of these studies, they say that single-electron qubits in quantum dots can be induced and optimized in silicon MOSFETs with thin (<20nm) gate oxides. The researchers will discuss critical aspects of their methodology, the parameters they modeled, and next steps.

  • 3D Chiplets

    Intel presented a novel 3D heterogeneous integration process for chiplet creation. It is seen as an evolution of Moore’s Law, a way to keep the scaling, size and cost benefits continuing into the foreseeable future.

    Chiplets are a type of advanced packaging which offers a different way to integrate multiple dies into a package or system. There are a number of ways to make chiplets, but all use a library of modular chips – like Lego building blocks. These module chips are assembled in a package that connects them using a die-to-die interconnect scheme.

    There are many other approaches to combining chip dies, i.e., 2.5D dies that are stacked on top of an interposer. But the hope with a chiplet approach is that it’s a faster and less expensive way to assemble various types of third-party chips like processors, memory, interfaces and the like.

    Here are the details: Intel believes that heterogeneous 3D integration will drive scaling. CMOS technology requires both NMOS and PMOS devices. Intel researchers used 3D sequential stacking architecture to combine these different devices. They first built Si FinFET NMOS transistors on a silicon wafer. On a separate Si wafer they fabricated a single-crystalline Ge film for use as a buffer layer. They flipped the second wafer, bonded it to the first, annealed them both to produce a void-free interface, cleaved the second wafer away except for the Ge layer, and then built gate-all-around (GAA) Ge-channel PMOS devices on top of it. The researchers say these results show that heterogeneous 3D integration is promising for CMOS logic in highly scaled technology nodes.

    This images hows a schematic and a cross-section of a fully processed 3D CMOS transistor structure achieved by this process; in the middle is a thickness contour map of the Ge transfer layer, showing good uniformity; and at right is a 3D cross-sectional view of the completed 3D CMOS chip showing Ge-channel GAA transistors on top of Si FinFET NMOS transistors.

  • AI That Does’t Forget

    Embedded STT-MRAM and other non-volatile memories (NVMs) are getting a lot of attention lately. NVMs devices retain their memory even after the power is removed. Embedded SST-NRAM is one NVM that shows particular promise in the embedded memory space for cache memory in IoT and AI applications.

    At IEDM 2019, TSMC described a versatile 22nm STT-MRAM technology for AI while Intel talked about STT-MRAMs for use in L4 cache applications.

    In STT-RAM writing, an electric current is polarized by aligning the spin direction of the electrons flowing through a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) element. Data writing is performed by using the spin-polarized current to change the magnetic orientation of the information storage layer in the MTJ element. Intel improved the process and stack for L4 cache applications. STT-MRAM technology for L4 cache requires tighter bitcell pitches, which translate into smaller MTJ sizes and reduced available write current.

  • Organ Forceps With a Special Touch

    Our internal organs are slippery because they’re covered with blood and other body fluids, so grasping and pulling them with forceps can be challenging. Although contact-force sensors have been placed on the tips of forceps used in diagnostic laparoscopic and robotic surgeries, there currently is no way to know if they are slipping, other than visually via a monitor, which has limited usefulness. A Kagawa University team described a highly sensitive slip-sensing imager (sub-mm resolution) and novel algorithm that can, in effect, give forceps a sense of touch. The idea is to use the device to visualize the spatial distribution of the grasping force across the organ’s surface. The center of that distributed load is calculated, and as the forceps are moved the algorithm relates any corresponding movements of the load center to slippage. Built on an SOI wafer, the device’s force-sensor pixels consist of a 20µm–thick piezoelectric silicon diaphragm (400µm diameter) with a center contact, and with a force detection circuit integrated on the diaphragm. The diaphragm acts as a strain gauge as it flexes due to varying grasping force.

  • Impedance Sensor for Fingerprint Imaging

    Researchers led by Cornell discussed the monolithic integration of a piezoelectric aluminum nitride (AlN) resonator into a CMOS-controlled, GHz ultrasonic impedance sensor/imager. The device measures changes in surface properties such as surface oxidation, materials, liquid viscosity and others, and is meant for use in wearable, IoT and smartphone systems to detect fingerprints with high resolution, determine tissue states, and for other applications. This is the first time monolithic fabrication – all in one chip or die –  has been successfully demonstrated, and it led to small, power-efficient GHz sensing arrays with improved performance vs. the standard two-chip heterogeneous integration approach, thanks to less parasitic coupling and a higher signal-to-noise ratio.

  • Thin-Film Battery Goes High-Density

    The miniaturization of power sources hasn’t kept pace with the miniaturization of electronics. Although integrated electrochemical capacitors offer high power density, high frequency response and novel form factors, their low energy densities are of limited value for MEMS and autonomous device applications that require long periods between charging. CEA-Leti researchers discussed a thin-film battery (TFB) with the highest areal energy density yet reported (890 µAh/cm-2) and high-power density (450 µAh/cm-2). Built on silicon wafers using UV photolithography and etching for the successive deposition and patterning of each layer, the thin-film battery integrates a 20µm-thick LiCoO2 cathode in a Li-free anode configuration. It showed good cycling behavior over 100 cycles, and the fact it was built using a wafer-level process opens up the possibility to tightly integrate this battery technology with future electronic devices.

  • Physically Unclonable Function (PUF) for Mobile and Smart Devices

    The spread of networked mobile devices and smart gadgets in the IoT landscape has created an urgent need to protect them with lightweight and low-power cryptographic solutions. A physically unclonable function (PUF) is a hardware-intrinsic security primitive, or basic programming element. UC Santa Barbara researchers discussed an ultra-low-power PUF that operates on the varying electrical resistances and current leakages that arised from intrinsic process variations in ReRAM crossbar arrays. The team built 4K-ReRAM passive crossbar circuit arrays fabricated with a CMOS-compatible process suitable for back-end-of-the-line (BEOL) integration. The arrays allow for an extremely large number of challenge-response pairs (a common cryptographic protocol), as well as 4x better density vs. other ReRAM architectures plus a ~100x improvement in power efficiency and more robust security metrics.

  • Silicon photonics

    Very fast speed data races around within data centers via optical fiber, using silicon photonic (light-based) interfaces that operate at 100 Gb/s. But cloud data center traffic is growing at nearly 30% per year and there soon will be a need to increase the data rates. A STMicroelectronics-led team described a new silicon photonics technology platform built on 300mm Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) wafers, yielding devices that operate at 400Gbits/s (each device has 4 channels, each of which operates at 100Gbits/s, for a total of 400Gbits/s).

    Optical coupling and polarization management are key requirements, and their devices incorporate a 60 GHz high-speed photodiode and a high-speed phase modulator. They also built devices with a supplementary SiN waveguide layer for higher coupling efficiency, to meet evolving data-transmission requirements. The researchers say the photonics platform has the potential to meet the requirements of applications other than data centers, too, such as automotive.

    The image is a photo of the chip-on-board assembly of an analog front-end (AFE) function implemented in a 400G-DR4 optical transceiver using the technology, and (2b) are PAM4 signal eye diagrams at 106 Gbits/s per channel, used to measure high-speed signal quality.

  • 5G and beyond

    One of the challenges for chip makers is how to integrate III-V materials with silicon to make ultra-fast devices for 5G and other uses, which are compatible with conventional CMOS technology.  In addition to silicon, III-V compound semiconductors are obtained by combining group III elements (essentially Al, Ga, In) with group V elements (essentially N, P , As, Sb). This gives us 12 possible combinations; the most important ones are probably GaAs, InP GaP and GaN.

    IOT and 5G applications typically use sensors that transmit wireless data to anedge or cloud network. This requires a combination of RF capabilities with a small form factor and low operating power. A promising approach to achieve this combination is to create single chips that combine the capabilities of silicon CMOS with those of III-V devices, such as gallium nitride (GaN) and indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs). The unique properties of III-V compounds make then well suited for optoelectronics (LEDs) and communications (5G).

    At IEDM, Intel talked described how low-leakage, high-k dielectric enhancement mode GaN NMOS and Si PMOS transistors were built monolithically on a 300mm Si substrate. The goal was to combine GaN’s high-frequency/-temperature/-power attributes with silicon CMOS circuitry’s digital signal processing, logic, memory and analog capabilities, to create compact devices for next-generation solutions for power delivery, RF and system-on-chip (SoC) applications. The researchers say both device types demonstrated excellent performance across a range of electrical specifications.

    III-V materials offer higher electron mobilities than silicon, and HBTs made from them are very fast transistors often used for RF and other high-frequency applications. A key goal is to build them on 300mm silicon wafers instead of other substrates, to take advantage of silicon’s lower manufacturing costs. A team led by imec described how they used a unique nano-ridge engineering technique to build GaAs/InGaP HBTs on a 300mm silicon substrate.


John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier


With vehicle mass at a premium in electric vehicles (EVs), polypropylene (PP) suppliers are developing an array of materials solutions to engineer weight out of autos and extend the range of EVs, and consequently reduce CO2 emissions. Applications include both exterior and interior parts, both structural and non-structural.

The NIO ES8 EV makes extensive use of PP for lightweighting.

Take the plastic tailgate for example. According to Nicholas Kolesch, Head of Marketing, Automotive at Borealis, the metal structure and skin of a conventional tailgate for a c-segment vehicle has weight of approx. 16kg, whereas the same tailgate with a glass-fiber PP structure and PP TPO skin weighs in at 12 kg, a saving of 25%. “Furthermore, the design freedom of thermoplastics versus metal allows for functional integration of other tailgate components including spoilers, antennae, and rear lighting.”

Converting front fenders to PP can also save 2o–30% on weight as demonstrated in the ES8 SUV from China’s NIO. The next phase of car lightweighting will likely be conversion of doors and roofs.

EVs also bring new and unique applications to PP, such as the front trunk liner (frunk) in the Tesla Model 3. And despite the thermal requirement of EV drivetrain-related applications (see article on engineering plastics use in EVs), Borealis believes flame-retardant PP still has a major role to play. “We are looking into PP solutions for multiple aspects of battery systems that achieve V0 flame retardance, including structural applications to replace metal or engineering plastics,” he notes. “These include battery trays, cell holders, covers, and some of the elements of connectivity.”

PP is also playing a major role in the lightweighting of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Here Borealis has developed a series of short glass fiber-reinforced Fibremod PP compounds for use in  front-end modules originally specified in polyamide (PA).

Pedal carrier and air intake manifold applications are also proving that PP can also take the pressure and heat. The Renault B4D engine, for example, uses a PP compound for the air intake manifold that weighs 15% less than a PA manifold and has a 20% lower system cost, all with material performance that is not dependant on humidity.

In interior components, meanwhile, the trend is towards lower talc loadings that deliver a lower density compound, while still achieving the right haptics along with scratch and mar resistance. “Some OEMs have even opted for neat PP, but these vehicles have reportedly achieved low ratings in JD Power surveys, with the components not holding up to wear and tear,” says Kolesch.

One example of a successful application of a low talc PP grade is in the instrument panel lower trims, glove box, and center console of the Skoda Scala. The 10% talc-filled grade from Borealis boasts low emissions, fogging and odor coupled with excellent scratch resistance and zero tackiness.

Another lightweighting tool in the Borealis toolkit is foamed PP. Daploy HMS resins are gaining traction in automotive, driven by lightweighting versus rigid components and recyclability versus alternative foam solutions like cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE). One application in this area is foamed automotive airducts. In this application, Daploy HMS can be processed using blow molding and sheet extrusion.

Daploy HMS resins target a density reduction up to 90% versus rigid PP. The combination of lightweight with increased thermal and acoustic insulation properties, while offering easy and widely available recyclability, make the material a resin of choice for driving the circular plastics economy forward.

  • 1960 CERV I, 1990 CERV III and 1964 CERV II (left to right). Image source: General Motors Co.

    While Chevrolet launched the Corvette in 1953 using an assemblage of uninspiring off-the-shelf parts, including the old standby Stovebolt Six engine (rebranded with sidedraft carburetors as the Blue Flame Six), the car quickly became General Motors’ technology leader.

    Zora Arkus-Duntov, Corvette’s first true chief engineer, pushed the application of the original small block V8 in 1955 and added Rochester Ramjet mechanical fuel injection in 1957. He developed the production Corvette into a legitimate Le Mans racer while GM design boss Bill Mitchell created the one-off Sting Ray Racer prototype in 1959.

    Under Duntov, Chevy engineers produced testbeds like the mid-engine, open-wheel 1960 Chevrolet Experimental Research Vehicle (CERV) I, which looked like a mid-engine Indy Car a year before such a car debuted at The Brickyard. Duntov described CERV I as “a design without limit” and an “admirable tool” to instruct Chevy on “what to put in Corvette.”

    The closed-wheel, open-cockpit CERV II of 1964 featured front and rear torque converters in a patented mid-engine all-wheel drive layout.

    The 1990 CERV III was designed as more of a high-performance road car than as a racer, with the aim of developing mid-engine structures for a production model that never arrived. The twin-turbocharged double-overhead cam V8 in CERV III produced 650 horsepower, forecasting the muscle of forced-induction Corvettes like the supercharged 638-hp 2009 Corvette ZR1.

    Finally, with the eighth-generation 2020 Corvette Stingray, Corvette fulfills Duntov’s dream of a mid-engine layout. Just as importantly, Corvette reclaims its mantle as a contemporary technology leader.

  • 1959 Corvette Sting Ray Racer incorporated independant rear suspension and developed styling themes that appeared on the 1963 Corvette. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1960 Corvette, lined up on the starting grid for the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car race. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1960 CERV I, demonstrating the potential of a mid-engine layout for maximum performance. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1960 CERV I. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1960 CERV I. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1964 CERV II. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1964 CERV II. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • The crew of Apollo 15 took the GM fuel-cell-powered lunar rover to the moon in 1971, and drove matching Corvettes on Earth, which at the time were considered suitably high tech transportation for astronauts rather than nostalgiac cars for retirees. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1990 CERV III. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • 1990 CERV III. Image source: General Motors Co.

  • In 2016, Team Chevrolet Corvette Racing won its eighth 24 Hours of Le Mans, demonstrating the company’s dedication to keeping the ‘Vette an authentic sports car even as its customer demographics suggested otherwise. Image source: Image source: Richard Prince for Chevy Racing via General Motors Co.

Image souce: Ford Motor Co.

Like many commuters, Ford Motor Co. is making a morning stop by Mickey Dee’s for coffee. Only Ford’s coffee run is for the chaff of the dried skin that comes off the beans when roasting them. 

McDonald’s USA produces millions of pounds of coffee chaff every year, and now Ford is incorporating some of that waste stream into the creation of injection-molded plastic parts like F-150 pickup truck headlamp housings.

An F-150 headlamp housing. Image source: Ford Motor Co.
Ford’s Sustainability Projects

2007: Soybean-based foam for seats and headliners

2008: Recycled plastic bottles for carpets, wheel liners and fabrics

2009: Wheat straw for storage bins and cup holders

2010: Post-consumer recycled cotton for door and trunk sound-dampening

2011: Recycled tires for seals and gaskets and dandelions for floor mats, cupholders and interior trim pieces

2012: Recycled/shredded US currency for small bins and coin holders and kenaf plant into door bolsters

2013: Rice hulls for electrical harnesses

2014: Tomato skins for wiring brackets and storage bins

2015: Cellulose tree bark for underhood applications

2016: Agave fiber for cup holders and storage bins

2017: Captured CO2 to convert into foams and padding

2018: Bamboo for interior and underhood plastic composite parts

2019: Coffee chaff for headlamp housings and underhood components

The chaff serves as a filler in place of talc, which is normally used to help reduce the weight, increase the strength and improve the heat resistance of plastic parts by blending it into the mixture that is used to make parts

The coffee chaff doesn’t just turn out to be a sustainable alternative to talc, it actually performs even better than the regular material. Of course, if you could just grind up coffee chaff and stir it into plastic materials, suppliers would likely have been doing so already.

Ford’s Research and Innovation Center has developed a process that heats the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen and then mixes it along with other additives into plastic to create the pellets that plastic manufacturers use to create the end product.

Ford and McDonald’s partner with Competitive Green Technologies, which processes the coffee chaff and with Varroc Lighting Systems, which supplies the F-150’s headlamps to Ford. Together, they create parts that are about 20 percent lighter than before and use 25 percent less energy during the molding process, but which have significantly better heat properties than headlight housings made with talc.

“The coffee chaff is even better than the talc material we are replacing,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team. “It is better for the environment, lighter weight and it even has better heat properties.”

While McDonald’s produces millions of pounds of chaff annually, the project with Ford is starting off using 75,000 lbs. “Which really is a lot, but it is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Ian Olson, senior director of global sustainability for McDonald’s. “The potential is unlimited,” he enthused.

Indeed, Ford doesn’t plan to stop with just this one part for one vehicle. “We don’t want to put it on just one car line,” said Mielewski. “We start there and grow it until we do sustainability everywhere we can.”

Ford has a record of using recycled and sustainable materials in its vehicles dating to 2007, when the company employed soybean-based foam for seats and headliners. “This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products,” Mielewski explained.

McDonald’s is planning to have all of its coffee beans be sustainably sourced by 2020, which will further improve the benefits of the project. “Like McDonald’s, Ford is committed to minimizing waste and we’re always looking for innovative ways to further that goal,” said Olson. “By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy.”

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.