CAPTION Analyzing seismic waves generated by an Accurately Controlled Routinely Operated Signal System (ACROSS) unit can reveal information about the amount and location of CO2 leakage from an underground store.

Kyushu University-led research group develops innovative method for continuous monitoring of CO2 leaks from underground storage sites 

Carbon capture and storage projects rely on effective monitoring of injected CO2. However, the high number of necessary surveys makes this a costly endeavor. A team of Japanese researchers may have found a means of achieving easier and lower-cost monitoring for leaks of CO2 stored in underground reservoirs. A recently published article from a team led by researchers at Kyushu University's International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) shows how underground CO2 storage sites could be continuously monitored for leaks--a breakthrough for monitoring applications.

Underground storage of CO2 produced from fossil fuel burning, rather than releasing it into the atmosphere, could play an important role in suppressing climate change. However, to safeguard those living at the surface and regulate the climate, ensuring that the CO2 does not leak from the storage site is key.

Current monitoring methods are costly and only carried out periodically, but by using techniques more often used to study earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the team used analysis of seismic waves to show it is possible to detect movement of subterranean fluids and to identify leaks before they reach the surface.

"One of the main issues" lead author Tatsunori Ikeda says, "was that we had to be sure we could distinguish between seismic wave signals from a CO2 leak and noise from other near-surface disturbances."

Drawing on previous work across multiple disciplines, the method was developed and rigorously analyzed using supercomputer simulations, before being field-tested near a busy road in central Japan's Tokai region. "We used an ACROSS unit and a series of geophones to test the method," coauthor Takeshi Tsuji says. Given the success of the experiment, "a real opportunity for application of this work is that microseismic monitoring arrays typically installed at storage sites could provide the data needed to identify any leakages and decrease the need for more costly 4D seismic studies that are the industry norm."

Additional testing to refine the method and further improve its accuracy is one branch of work being carried out as part of I2CNER's interdisciplinary efforts to advance the development of carbon capture and storage and boost efforts for achieving a carbon-neutral society.

  • Brings together the industry’s leading innovators in supercomputing, digital transformation, storage and security
  • EMC stockholders to receive approximately $33.15 per share (based on the assumptions described below) in a combination of cash as well as tracking stock linked to a portion of EMC’s economic interest in the VMware business
  • VMware to remain an independent, publicly-traded company

Dell and EMC have signed a definitive agreement under which Dell, together with its owners, Michael S. Dell, founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell, MSD Partners and Silver Lake, the global leader in technology investing, will acquire EMC Corporation, while maintaining VMware as a publicly-traded company. 

Under the terms of the agreement, EMC shareholders will receive $24.05 per share in cash in addition to tracking stock linked to a portion of EMC’s economic interest in the VMware business. Based on the estimated number of EMC shares outstanding at the close of the transaction, EMC shareholders are expected to receive approximately 0.111 shares of new tracking stock for each EMC share. Assuming, for illustrative purposes, a valuation for each share of tracking stock of $81.78, the intraday volume-weighted average price for VMware on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, EMC shareholders would receive a total combined consideration of $33.15 per EMC share and the total transaction would be valued at approximately $67 billion. The value of the tracking stock may vary from the market price of VMware given the different characteristics and rights of the two stocks.

The EMC Board of Directors approved the merger agreement and intends to recommend that stockholders of EMC approve the agreement. 

DELIVERING FUTURE-READY TECHNOLOGIES TO CUSTOMERS

The combination of Dell and EMC will create the world’s largest privately-controlled, integrated technology company. The company will be a leader in the extremely attractive high-growth areas of the $2 trillion information technology market with complementary product portfolios, sales teams and R&D investment strategies. The transaction combines two of the world’s greatest technology franchises with leadership positions in servers, storage, virtualization and PCs and it brings together strong capabilities in the fastest growing areas of the industry, including supercomputing, digital transformation, software-defined data center, hybrid cloud, converged infrastructure, mobile and security.

Since becoming a private company, Dell has had the flexibility and agility to focus completely on customers and invest for long-term results. The transaction will unite Dell’s strength with small business and mid-market customers with EMC’s strength with large enterprises to fuel profitable growth and generate significant cash flows. The combined company will consist of strategically-aligned businesses and incubated high-growth assets, fostering innovation, enabling customer choice and attracting and retaining world-class talent . 

“The combination of Dell and EMC creates an enterprise solutions powerhouse bringing our customers industry leading innovation across their entire technology environment. Our new company will be exceptionally well-positioned for growth in the most strategic areas of next generation IT including digital transformation, software-defined data center, converged infrastructure, hybrid cloud, mobile and security,” said Mr. Dell. “Our investments in R&D and innovation along with our privately-controlled structure will give us unmatched scale, strength and flexibility, deepening our relationships with customers of all sizes. I am incredibly excited to partner with the EMC, VMware, Pivotal, VCE, RSA and Virtustream teams and am personally committed to the success of our new company, our customers and partners.” 

“I’m tremendously proud of everything we’ve built at EMC – from humble beginnings as a Boston-based startup to a global, world-class technology company with an unyielding dedication to our customers,” said Joe Tucci, chairman and chief executive officer of EMC. “But the waves of change we now see in our industry are unprecedented and, to navigate this change, we must create a new company for a new era. I truly believe that the combination of EMC and Dell will prove to be a winning combination for our customers, employees, partners and shareholders.”

"We are excited and honored to invest in the outstanding businesses built by Joe Tucci and his world-class management team. This is an extraordinary opportunity to continue and expand our partnership with the iconic technology entrepreneur Michael Dell and his talented team,” said Egon Durban, managing partner of Silver Lake. “We believe the strategic integration of EMC and Dell will generate unparalleled depth and breadth across servers, storage, virtualization and the next era of converged infrastructure, creating a global technology platform poised for sustained long term growth and innovation in the years to come. We are doubling down and increasing our investment in this differentiated market leader for the next paradigm of enterprise computing.” 

VMware will remain a publicly-traded company and continue to provide customers value through leading software- defined data center technology, together with its cloud, mobile and desktop offerings. This transaction is expected to accelerate VMware’s growth across all of its businesses through significant synergies with Dell’s solutions and go-to-market channels. VMware remains committed to investing in and partnering with its strong, industry ecosystem.

TRANSACTION TERMS

The transaction is expected to be financed through a combination of new common equity from Michael S. Dell, MSD Partners, Silver Lake and Temasek, the issuance of tracking stock, as well as new debt financing and cash on hand. There are no financing conditions to the closing of the transaction. 

Mr. Dell and related stockholders will own approximately 70 percent of the company’s common equity, excluding the tracking stock, similar to their pre-transaction ownership.

Following completion of the transaction, Mr. Dell will lead the combined company as chairman and chief executive officer. Mr. Tucci will continue as chairman and chief executive officer of EMC until the transaction closes. Dell’s headquarters will remain in Round Rock, Texas, and the headquarters of the combined enterprise systems business will be located in Hopkinton, Mass.

Historically, Dell and EMC have maintained conservative financial policies, and have strong track records of cash flow generation and debt reduction. The transaction is expected to have a neutral to positive impact on Dell’s current corporate credit ratings. The combined company will focus on rapidly de-levering in the first 18 to 24 months following the closing of the transaction, and on achieving and maintaining investment grade debt ratings. 

In connection with the financing of the transaction and prior to or at the time of its closing, Dell expects to redeem any outstanding 5.625% Senior First Lien Notes due 2020.

The transaction is subject to customary conditions, including receipt of required regulatory and EMC stockholder approvals. The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter of Dell’s fiscal year ending February 3, 2017 (within the months of May to October 2016). 

For further information regarding all terms and conditions contained in the definitive merger agreement, please see EMC’s Current Report on Form 8-K, which will be filed in connection with this transaction.

Morgan Stanley & CO LLC is acting as lead financial advisor to EMC and provided a fairness opinion to EMC’s Board of Directors. Evercore Partners also provided a fairness opinion to EMC’s Board of Directors, and Needham and Company provided financial assistance to EMC. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is acting as legal advisor to EMC. J.P. Morgan is acting as lead financial advisor to Dell and Silver Lake. Credit Suisse and J.P. Morgan (in alphabetical order) are acting as global financing coordinators. Barclays, BofA Merrill Lynch, Citi, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., affiliates of Goldman, Sachs & Co., J.P. Morgan, and RBC Capital Markets (in alphabetical order) are acting as financial advisors and are providing debt financing to Dell. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to Dell and Silver Lake. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is acting as legal advisor to Michael Dell and MSD Partners. 

Rice University scientists make tantalum oxide practical for high-density devices

Scientists at Rice University have created a solid-state memory technology that allows for high-density storage with a minimum incidence of computer errors.

The memories are based ontantalum oxide, a common insulator in electronics. Applying voltage to a 250-nanometer-thick sandwich of graphene, tantalum, nanoporous tantalum oxide and platinum creates addressable bits where the layers meet. Control voltages that shift oxygen ions and vacancies switch the bits between ones and zeroes.

The discovery by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour could allow for crossbar array memories that store up to 162 gigabits, much higher than other oxide-based memory systems under investigation by scientists. (Eight bits equal one byte; a 162-gigabit unit would store about 20 gigabytes of information.) 

Details appear online in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

Like the Tour lab's previous discovery of silicon oxide memories, the new devices require only two electrodes per circuit, making them simpler than present-day flash memories that use three. "But this is a new way to make ultradense, nonvolatile computer memory," Tour said.

Nonvolatile memories hold their data even when the power is off, unlike volatile random-access computer memories that lose their contents when the machine is shut down.

Modern memory chips have many requirements: They have to read and write data at high speed and hold as much as possible. They must also be durable and show good retention of that data while using minimal power.

Tour said Rice's new design, which requires 100 times less energy than present devices, has the potential to hit all the marks.

"This tantalum memory is based on two-terminal systems, so it's all set for 3-D memory stacks," he said. "And it doesn't even need diodes or selectors, making it one of the easiest ultradense memories to construct. This will be a real competitor for the growing memory demands in high-definition video storage and server arrays."

The layered structure consists of tantalum, nanoporous tantalum oxide and multilayer graphene between two platinum electrodes. In making the material, the researchers found the tantalum oxide gradually loses oxygen ions, changing from an oxygen-rich, nanoporous semiconductor at the top to oxygen-poor at the bottom. Where the oxygen disappears completely, it becomes pure tantalum, a metal.

The researchers determined three related factors give the memories their unique switching ability.

First, the control voltage mediates how electrons pass through a boundary that can flip from an ohmic (current flows in both directions) to a Schottky (current flows one way) contact and back.

Second, the boundary's location can change based on oxygen vacancies. These are "holes" in atomic arrays where oxygen ions should exist, but don't. The voltage-controlled movement of oxygen vacancies shifts the boundary from the tantalum/tantalum oxide interface to the tantalum oxide/graphene interface. "The exchange of contact barriers causes the bipolar switching," said Gunuk Wang, lead author of the study and a former postdoctoral researcher at Rice. 

Third, the flow of current draws oxygen ions from the tantalum oxide nanopores and stabilizes them. These negatively charged ions produce an electric field that effectively serves as a diode to hinder error-causing crosstalk. While researchers already knew the potential value of tantalum oxide for memories, such arrays have been limited to about a kilobyte because denser memories suffer from crosstalk that allows bits to be misread.

The graphene does double duty as a barrier that keeps platinum from migrating into the tantalum oxide and causing a short circuit.

Tour said tantalum oxide memories can be fabricated at room temperature. He noted the control voltage that writes and rewrites the bits is adjustable, which allows a wide range of switching characteristics.

Wang said the remaining hurdles to commercialization include the fabrication of a dense enough crossbar device to address individual bits and a way to control the size of the nanopores.

Wang is an assistant professor at the Korea University-Korea Institute of Science and Technology's Graduate School of Converging Science and Technology. Co-authors are former Rice research scientist Jae-Hwang Lee, an assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; and Rice postdoctoral researchers Yang Yang, Gedeng Ruan, Nam Dong Kim and Yongsung Ji.

Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of materials science and nanoengineering and of computer science and a member of Rice's Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology.

CAPTION Magnetic skyrmions are a type of swirling magnetic structure that maintains its topology. Physicists at UC Davis and NIST have developed nano dots that induce magnetic skyrmions in a film (arrows show magnetic moments).

An exotic, swirling object with the sci-fi name of a "magnetic skyrmion" could be the future of nanoelectronics and memory storage. Physicists at UC Davis and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have now succeeded in making magnetic skyrmions, formerly found at temperatures close to absolute zero, at room temperature.

"This is a potentially new way to store information, and the energy costs are expected to be extremely low," said Kai Liu, professor of physics at UC Davis and corresponding author of a paper on the work, published in the journal Nature Communications Oct. 8.

Skyrmions were originally described over 50 years ago as a type of hypothetical particle in nuclear physics. Actual magnetic skyrmions were discovered only in 2009, as chiral patterns of magnetic moments -- think of a moment as a tiny compass needle -- in materials close to absolute zero temperature, in the presence of a strong magnetic field.

Magnetic skyrmions fall into two types, Liu said: "Bloch skyrmions," with a hurricane-like spiral pattern of magnetic moments around a perpendicular center, surrounded by magnetic moments oriented in the opposite direction to the center; and "hedgehogs," where the magnetic moments orient like spikes on a hedgehog or sea urchin.

The interesting thing about magnetic skyrmions, Liu said, is that they are "topologically protected:" they can be continuously deformed, in the same way that a coffee mug shape can be deformed into a bagel shape, but they do not readily go back into a state where all the magnetic moments are aligned. That means they can potentially store information at an energy cost much lower than current technology, Liu said.

Together with graduate student Dustin Gilbert, now a postdoctoral fellow at NIST, Liu and colleagues designed a nanosynthesis approach to achieve artificial "Bloch" magnetic skyrmions at room temperature. They created a pattern of magnetic nanodots, each about half a micron across, on a multilayered film where the magnetic moments are aligned normal to the plane. They used ion beam irradiation to modify the interface between the dots and the film to allow "imprinting" of the magnetic moments of the dots into the film.

Using neutron-scattering at NIST Center for Neutron Research, they were able to resolve the magnetic profiles along the depth of the hybrid structure. Combined with magnetic imaging studies at NIST and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, they were able to find the first direct evidence of arrays of stable spiral magnetic skyrmions beneath the nanodots at room temperature, even without an external magnetic field.

The availability of stable magnetic skyrmions at room temperature opens up new studies on their properties and potential development in electronic devices, such as nonvolatile magnetic memory storage.

Coauthors on the paper are Brian Maranville, Andrew Balk, Brian Kirby, Daniel Pierce, John Unguris and Julie Borchers at NIST, and Peter Fischer, LBL and UC Santa Cruz. Nanofabrication work and other characterizations were carried out in Liu's laboratory and at the Center for Nano and Micro Manufacturing at UC Davis. The work was funded by the National Science Foundation.

SYNNEX Fortune 500 ranking of the largest US companies has advanced 40 positions to #220. The Fortune 500 list ranks the largest private and public US companies based on their prior year's annual revenue.  SYNNEX reported $13.84 billion in revenue for the 2014 fiscal year, up 27.6% year-over-year from 2013. SYNNEX debuted on the Fortune 500 list in 2007 with reported fiscal 2006 annual revenue of $6.34 billion, ranking at #360 on the list.

SYNNEX Corporation operates two core businesses:  Technology Solutions, a value-add distributor of IT and CE products and services; and Concentrix, a leader in customer care business process outsourcing. Technology Solutions revenues grew 19.6% year-over-year from market share gains as well as from emerging businesses including Hyve Solutions, which designs and assembles purpose-built energy-efficient infrastructure designed for large scale data centers.  Concentrix' strong revenue growth was primarily driven by the acquisition of the IBM CRM business.

"I am very proud of what SYNNEX has accomplished, building upon our rich history of profitable growth," said Kevin Murai, President and Chief Executive Officer, SYNNEX Corporation. "Our performance underscores our strong team and culture, and our ability to execute our growth strategy."

For more information about the Fortune 500 list, please visit http://www.fortune.com.

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