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Is our universe a bubble in the multiverse?

July 21, 2014

Screenshot from a video of Matthew Johnson explaining the related concepts of inflation, eternal inflation, and the multiverse (see<br />
Credit: Image courtesy of Perimeter Institute

Researchers at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics are working to bring the multiverse hypothesis — we are living in one universe of many — into the realm of testable science.

Perimeter Associate Faculty member Matthew Johnson and his team are looking for clues for the existence of multiverses (a.ka. parallel universes) in the cosmic microwave background data, assumed to be left over from… read more

Generating electricity from water droplets

Camping-cooler-size device could charge a cellphone in 12 hours
July 18, 2014


MIT researchers discovered last year that when water droplets spontaneously jump away from superhydrophobic (water-repelling) surfaces during condensation, the droplets can gain electric charge in the process.

Now the same team has demonstrated that this process can generate small amounts of electricity, which could lead to devices that can charge cellphones or other electronics using just the humidity in the air. As a side benefit, the system… read more

Unusual 3D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage

July 18, 2014

3-D boron nitride featured

An unusual three-dimensional porous nanostructure called pillared boron nitride (PBN) could achieve a balance of strength, toughness, and ability to transfer heat that could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage, and composite materials that perform multiple functions, Rice University engineers have discovered.

Their findings were published online July 14 in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

The 3-D prototypes they made (using computer simulations) fuse one-dimensional boron nitride… read more

Smallest Swiss cross made of 20 single atoms

A step towards next-generation atomic-scale storage devices
July 17, 2014

20 bromine atoms positioned on a sodium chloride surface using the tip of an atomic force microscope at room temperature, creating a Swiss cross with the size of 5.6nm. The structure is stable at room temperature and was achieved by exchanging chlorine with bromine atoms. (Credit: Department of Physics, University of Basel)

University of Basel physicists with teams from Finland and Japan were able to place 20 single bromine atoms on a fully insulated surface at room temperature to form the smallest “Swiss cross,” taking a step towards next-generation atomic-scale storage devices.

Nature Communications has published their results.

Ever since the 1990s, physicists have been able to directly control surface structures by moving and positioning single atoms to… read more

The world’s first photonic router

A step toward building quantum computers
July 17, 2014

Illustration of the photonic router the Weizmann Institute scientists created. At the center is the single atom (orange) that routes photons (yellow) in different directions. (Credit: Weizmann Institute)

Weizmann Institute scientists have demonstrated the first photonic router — a quantum device based on a single atom that enables routing of single photons, a step toward overcoming the difficulties in building quantum computers.

A photonic switch

At the core of the device is an atom that can switch between two states. The state is set just by sending a single particle of light — or… read more

New chip-chemistry process could help extend Moore’s Law

July 17, 2014

The photo resist finish is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. The chemical reaction triggered by that process step is similar to what happens to film material in a film camera the moment you press the shutter button. The photo resist finish that’s exposed to UV light will become soluble. The exposure is done using masks that act like stencils in this process step. When used with UV light masks create the various circuit patterns on each layer of the microprocessor. (Credit: Intel)

An Intel-Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (Berkeley Lab) collaboration has found a new way to create smaller features for future generations of microprocessors by modifying the chemistry of photoresists, which are used to generate the patterns on a chip.

The researchers believe their results could be easily incorporated by companies that make resist, and could be incorporated into manufacturing lines as early as 2017.

The… read more

‘Nano-pixels’ promise thin, flexible, high-resolution displays

July 16, 2014

Oxford University technology can draw images 70 micrometers across, each image is smaller than the width of a human hair. The researchers have shown that using this technology they can create 'nano-pixels' just 100 nanometers in size that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as 'smart' glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens. (Credit: Oxford University

A new discovery will make it possible to create pixels just a few hundred nanometers across that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as smart glasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens.

A team led by Oxford University scientists found that by sandwiching a seven-nanometer-thick layer of a phase-change material called GST between two layers of a transparent electrode,… read more

Microsoft Research demos Project Adam machine-learning object-recognition software

July 16, 2014

(Credit: Microsoft Research)

Microsoft Research introduced “Project Adam” AI machine-learning object recognition software at its 2014 Microsoft Research Faculty Summit.

The goal of Project Adam is to enable software to visually recognize any object — an ambitious project, given the immense neural network in human brains that makes those kinds of associations possible through trillions of connections.

Project Adam generated a massive dataset of 14 million images from the Web… read more

The world’s largest domed city

Will include a 3 million sq. ft. wellness zone with rejuvenation services
July 15, 2014

Image from the planned Mall of the World. (credit: Dubai Holding)

Dubai Holding plans to build the world’s largest domed city: Mall of the World, in Dubai. The temperature-controlled city (also a first) will occupy a total area of 48 million square feet — the largest indoor theme park in the world. It will be covered by a glass dome that will be open during the winter months.

The project will also house the largest shopping mall in the world,… read more

Morphing material could allow robots to switch between hard and soft states

July 15, 2014

Two 3D-printed soft, flexible scaffolds: The one on the left is maintained in a rigid, bent position via a cooled, rigid wax coating, while the one on the right is uncoated and remains compliant (here, it collapses under a wrench). (Credit: Nadia G. Cheng et al.)

A new Terminator T-1000 robot-style material made of wax and foam — and capable of switching between hard and soft states — could be used to build morphing surgical robots that move through the body to reach a desired location without damaging organs or vessels along the way.

Robots built from the material, described in a new paper in the journal Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, could also be used… read more

Innovation management and the emergence of the nanobiotechnology industry

July 14, 2014

Nanobiotechnology subsectors

The confluence of nanotechnology and biotechnology is creating opportunities and an emerging industry, nanobiotechnology, with tremendous potential for economic and social value creation, according to an international research team at MIT, Simon Fraser University, and the University of New South Wales

The medical applications of nanobiotechnology are promising, including effectively targeted drug delivery — imagine highly efficacious cancer treatment with few side effects — and real time,… read more

Boron ‘buckyball’ discovered

"Borospherene" uses unknown, but could serve as a cage for hydrogen storage
July 14, 2014

Researchers have shown that clusters of 40 boron atoms form a molecular cage similar to the carbon buckyball. This is the first experimental evidence that such a boron cage structure exists. (Credit: Wang lab / Brown University)

Researchers from Brown University, Shanxi University and Tsinghua University in China have discovered that a cluster of 40 boron atoms forms a hollow molecular cage similar to a carbon “buckyball.”

“This is the first time that a boron cage has been observed experimentally,” said Lai-Sheng Wang, a professor of chemistry at Brown who led the team that made the discovery.… read more

Computer memory that can store about one terabyte of data on a device the size of a postage stamp

Data density more than 50 times greater than flash memory; now a step closer to to mass production
July 14, 2014

This scanning electron microscope image and schematic show the design and composition of new RRAM memory devices based on porous silicon oxide that were created at Rice University (credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

High-density, next-generation computer memory that can store about one terabyte of data on a device the size of a postage stamp — more than 50 times the data density of current flash memory technology — is now a step closer to to mass production.

That’s because Rice University’s breakthrough silicon oxide technology will allow manufacturers to fabricate “resistive random-access memory” (RRAM) devices at room temperature with conventional production… read more

Arecibo detects mystery radio burst from beyond our galaxy

July 11, 2014

Optical sky image of the area in the constellation Auriga where the fast radio burst FRB 121102 has been detected. The position of the burst, between the old supernova remnant S147 (left) and the star formation region IC 410 (right) is marked with a green circle. The burst appears to originate from much deeper in space, far beyond our galaxy. (Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (

Scientists have discovered a split-second burst of radio waves using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, published July 10 in The Astrophysical Journal.

The finding marks the first time that a “fast radio burst” has been detected using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope in Australia.

Scientists using the Parkes Observatory have recorded a handful of such events, but the lack of any similar findings… read more

A neural device to restore memory

Intended to help military service members with traumatic brain injury (TBI), but could also help with Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy
July 11, 2014

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory (credit: LLNL)

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) up to $2.5 million to develop an implantable neural device with the ability to record and stimulate neurons within the brain to help restore memory.

DARPA’s interest is in traumatic brain injury (TBI), which disrupts memory. DARPA says TBI has affected 270,000 military service members since 2000. It could also help… read more

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