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Advancing secure communications: a better single-photon emitter for quantum cryptography

April 11, 2013

An atomic force microscope image of a nanowire single photon emitter (credit: Pallab Bhattacharya/University of Michigan)

In a development that could make the advanced form of secure communications known as quantum cryptography more practical, University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated a simpler, more efficient single-photon emitter that can be made using traditional semiconductor processing techniques.

Single-photon emitters release one particle of light, or photon, at a time, as opposed to devices like lasers that release a stream of them.

Single-photon… read more

Ultrasonic lasso can grip and move cells

Could be used to assemble human tissue on a tissue engineering production line
April 11, 2013

The researchers moved a 10micrometer sphere to spell write and S and a T, SonoTweezers is the name of the project that funds the work (credit:

A “sonic lasso” that can grip microscopic objects, such as cells, and move them around has been demonstrated by researchers at the University of Bristol’s Department of Mechanical Engineering  and University of Dundee’s Institute for Medical Science and Technology.

The cells and other small objects are trapped by a spinning ultrasonic vortex, which acts as a lasso that can be controlled and moved.… read more

Nanowire-memristor networks emulate brain functions

April 11, 2013

crann_nanowires

A Trinity College Dublin chemistry professor has been awarded a €2.5 million ($3.2 million) research grant by the European Research Council (ERC) to continue research into nanowire networks.

Professor John Boland, Director of CRANN, a nanoscience institute, and a Professor in the School of Chemistry, said the research could result in computer networks that mimic the functions of the human brain and vastly improve… read more

Google Ventures launches Glass Collective with VC firms

April 11, 2013

glass

Google Ventures is launching a new initiative to fuel the development of Google Glass called Glass Collective, in partnership with venture capital firms Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Forbes reports.

The three firms hope to fund a community of developers to make Google Glass the next major computing platform.

Marc Andreessen of Andreessen Horowitz said Glass would become a platform… read more

‘Spooky action at a distance’ to be tested aboard the ISS

April 11, 2013

International Space Station (credit: NASA)

Researchers at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Austria and the European Space Agency have proposed using the International Space Station (ISS) to test the limits of “spooky action at a distance” (remote quantum entanglement) and potentially help to develop the first global quantum communication network.

Albert Einstein famously described quantum entanglement as “spooky action at distance”; however, up until now, experiments… read more

Creating a transparent brain

BRAIN initiative just got a powerful new mapping tool
April 10, 2013

CLARITY_stained

Combining neuroscience and chemical engineering, researchers at Stanford University have developed a process that renders a mouse brain transparent. The postmortem brain remains whole — not sliced or sectioned in any way — with its three-dimensional complexity of fine wiring and molecular structures completely intact and able to be measured and probed at will with visible light and chemicals.

The process, called CLARITY, ushers in… read more

A ‘light switch’ in the brain illuminates neural wiring

April 10, 2013

Virus-induced optogenetic labeling of neurons. Right: closeup of rectangular area.  (Credit: Sheng-Jia Zhang et al./Science)

In a vivid example of how neuroscientists are meticulously tracing the microwiring of the brain, Norwegian researchers have used an optogenetic light switch to see (literally) which neurons communicate with each other in one small section of the brain.

The researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)’s Kavli Institute of Systems Neuroscience use a virus that acts as a… read more

A video game that teaches how to program in Java

April 10, 2013

One of the characters in the CodeSpells game environment (credit: UC San Diego)

CodeSpells, an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students in elementary to high school how to program in the popular Java language, has been developed by University of California, San Diego computer scientists.

The researchers tested the game on a group of 40 girls, ages 10 to 12, who had never been exposed to programming before. In just one hour of play, the girls… read more

‘Artificial leaf’ gains the ability to self-heal damage and produce energy from dirty water

April 10, 2013

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Another innovative feature has been added to the world’s first practical “artificial leaf,” making the device even more suitable for providing people in developing countries and remote areas with electricity, scientists reported here today.

It gives the leaf the ability to self-heal damage that occurs during production of energy.

Daniel G. Nocera, Ph.D., described the advance during the “Kavli Foundation Innovations inread more

Moving cells with light holds medical promise

April 10, 2013

light-controlled migration

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have shown they can coax cells to move toward a beam of light. The feat is a first step toward manipulating cells to control factors such as insulin secretion or heart rate using light.

Their research is published April 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“We have succeeded in using light as a… read more

Breakthrough in hydrogen fuel production could ‘revolutionize alternative energy market’

April 9, 2013

Sources of hydrogen: plants (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has discovered a way to extract large quantities of hydrogen from any plant, a breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world, the researchers say.

“Our new process could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Y.H. Percival Zhang, an associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agricultureread more

Miniature chip detects rogue cancer cells

April 9, 2013

A cancer cell (left) can cause havoc if it enters the bloodstream. Researchers use micro-scale instruments (right) to hunt for cancer cells in blood samples. (Credit: (left) Emre Ozkumur, (right) Berkin Cilingiroglu/National<br />
University of Singapore)

Researchers at at Massachusetts General Hospital have developed a device that can detect even a single cell of any type of cancer circulating in blood, allowing early treatment of metastasis and new insights into cancer genetics, Science Now reports.

Called the CTC-iChip system (the “i” is for “inertial focusing”), it targets blood cells instead of cancer cells. Sorting by cell size, the first chip skims off small… read more

3D-printing synthetic tissues

April 9, 2013

Schematic of printing in aqueous solution. Aqueous droplets are ejected into a<br />
drop of oil suspended in bulk aqueous solution.

A custom-built programmable 3D printer can create materials with some the properties of living tissues, Oxford University scientists have demonstrated.

The new type of material consists of tens of thousands of picoliter connected water droplets encapsulated within lipid films, which can perform some of the functions of the cells inside our bodies.

These printed “droplet networks” might be interfaced with tissues, used as tissue… read more

The BRAIN Initiative: BAM or BUST?

April 9, 2013

President Barack Obama is introduced by Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health, at the BRAIN Initiative event in the East Room of the White House, April 2, 2013 (credit: Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

What is the BRAIN* Project about? What are its goals?

“Well, nobody knows, actually. I certainly don’t know. But it appears that no one else knows either.” So says Scicurious, a PhD in Physiology and currently a postdoc in biomedical research, on her The Scicurious Brain blog on Scientific American.

“Basically, BRAIN is a very fancy initiative, with a fancy name … and so far,… read more

Solar achieves grid parity in India and Italy, others to follow in 2014

April 8, 2013

Solar panels

Analysts at Deutsche Bank have predicted that the global solar PV sector will transition from a subsidized market to a sustainable market within a year, citing the arrival of “grid parity” in a number of key markets, unexpectedly strong demand and rebounding margins, reports Renew Economy.

The Deutsche Bank team said key markets such as India, China and the U.S. are experiencing strong demand and solar… read more

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