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Flash memory combines graphene and molybdenite

March 21, 2013

Graphene and molybdenite combine into a flash memory prototype. Yellow balls: molybdenite; gray hexagons: graphite  (credit: EPFL)

EPFL scientists have combined two materials with advantageous electronic properties — graphene and molybdenite — into a flash memory prototype that is promising in terms of superior performance, size, flexibility and energy consumption.

An ideal “energy band”

“For our memory model, we combined the unique electronic properties of molybdenite (MoS2) with graphene’s amazing conductivity,” explains Andras Kis, author of the study and director of… read more

Full-brain waves challenge area-specific view of brain activity

March 21, 2013

A still-shot of a wave of brain activity measured by electrical signals in the outside (left view) and inside (right view) surface of the brain. The colour scale shows the peak of the wave as hot colours and the trough as dark colours. (Credit: D.A.)

Our understanding of brain activity has traditionally been linked to brain areas — when we speak, the speech area of the brain is active.

New research by an international team of psychologists shows that this view may be wrong. The entire cortex, not just the area responsible for a certain function, is activated when a given task is initiated.

Furthermore, activity occurs in a pattern: waves… read more

HP invents glasses-free 3D

March 21, 2013

Glasses-free 3D display (credit: HP Labs)

HP researchers have developed a glasses-free, multi-directional diffractive backlight technology that allows for rendering of high-resolution, full-parallax 3D images in a zone up to 180° and up to one meter away, HP Innovation blog reports.

In other words: glasses-free 3D for your mobile device.

The display technology forms 3D images by projecting different 2D images into different regions of space. A viewer located near the display… read more

Amazingly realistic digital screen characters are finally here

March 21, 2013


Meet Zoe: a digital talking head. She can express a range of human emotions on demand with “unprecedented realism” and could herald a new era of human-computer interaction, according to researchers at Toshiba’s Cambridge Research Lab and the University of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who created her.

Zoe, or her offspring, could be used as a visible version of Siri, as… read more

Under the skin, a tiny blood-testing laboratory

March 20, 2013

(credit: EPFL)

EPFL scientists have developed a tiny, portable personal blood testing laboratory: a minuscule device implanted just under the skin provides an immediate analysis of substances in the body, and a radio module transmits the results to a doctor over the cellular phone network.

This feat of miniaturization has many potential applications, including monitoring patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Humans are veritable chemical factories — we manufacture… read more

DARPA seeks more robust military wireless networks

March 20, 2013

Enduring Freedom

DARPA has created the Wireless Network Defense program, which aims to develop new protocols that enable military wireless networks to remain operational despite inadvertent misconfigurations or malicious compromise of individual nodes.

“Current security efforts focus on individual radios or nodes, rather than the network, so a single misconfigured or compromised radio could debilitate an entire network,” said Wayne Phoel, DARPA program… read more

Bringing a virtual brain to life

March 20, 2013

(Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne)

In 2009, Dr. Henry Markram conceived of the Human Brain Project, a sprawling and controversial initiative of more than 150 institutions around the world that he hopes will bring scientists together to realize his dream, as The New York Times notes.

In January, the European Union raised the stakes by awarding the project a 10-year grant of up to $1.3 billion — an unheard-of sum… read more

Can control theory make software better?

March 20, 2013


Researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) and a colleague at Georgia Tech have developed a method for applying principles from control theory — which analyzes dynamical systems ranging from robots to power grids — to formal verification,  a set of methods for mathematically proving that a computer program does what it’s supposed to do.

The result could help computer scientists expand… read more

A 3D-printed Moon base baked from lunar dust

March 20, 2013


Space architects have unveiled a concept for a 3D-printed Moon base called SinterHab near the lunar south pole. Modules would be constructed from lunar dust by microwave sintering and contour crafting, built by a large NASA spider robot.

Unlike an earlier, more bulky concept using a mobile printing array of nozzles on a 6 meter frame to spray a binding solution (glue) onto… read more

New system would let you take a drug by just pressing your skin

March 20, 2013

Controlled release of drug by hand pressure (

An implantable gel material that can release drugs in response to pressure applied by a patient has been developed by researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan.

Oral administration of drugs may be difficult for patients experiencing nausea during cancer chemotherapy, for diabetics (to release insulin), and for other conditions.

The idea is for this controlled-release system is for a doctor… read more

Whole brain cellular-level activity mapping once a second

March 19, 2013


Neuroscientists at Howard Hughes Medical Institute have mapped the activity of nearly all the neurons in a vertebrate brain at cellular resolution, with signficant implications for neuroscience research and projects like the proposed Brain Activity Map (BAM).

The researchers used high-speed light sheet microscopy to image the activity of 80% of the neurons in the brain (which is composed of ~100,000 neurons) of a fish… read more

Seeing a chemical reaction in real time

March 19, 2013

New experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source took an unprecedented look at the way carbon monoxide molecules react with the surface of a catalyst in real time. (credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory)

The ultrafast, ultrabright X-ray pulses of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have enabled unprecedented views of a catalyst in action, an important step in the effort to develop cleaner and more efficient energy sources.

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory used LCLS, together with computerized simulations, to reveal surprising details of a short-lived early state in a chemical reaction occurring at the… read more

DNA tool kit goes live online

Standard control sequences aim to make genetic engineering more predictable
March 19, 2013


BIOFAB, based in Emery­ville, California, which calls itself  “the world’s first biological design-build facility,” has announced availability of DNA sequences that allow precise control of gene activity in the bacterium Escherichia coli, Nature News reports.

Launched in 2009 with a US$1.4-million grant from the National Science Foundation, BIOFAB aims to advance synthetic biology by creating standard biological ‘parts’ in the form of DNA… read more

Scientists transplant neural stem cells from a monkey’s skin into its brain

Proof-of-principle study raises hope for personalized regenerative medicine, possible future Parkinson's treatment
March 19, 2013

University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have transplanted neural cells derived from stem cells from a monkey’s skin into its brain and watched the cells develop into several types of mature brain cells.

After six months, the cells looked entirely normal, and were only detectable because they initially were tagged with a fluorescent protein.

The transplanted cells came from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS cells), which can, like embryonic stem… read more

Engineered artificial human livers for drug testing and discovery

March 18, 2013


Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) researchers have engineered an artificial human liver that mimics the natural tissue environment closely.

The development makes it possible for companies to predict the toxicity of new drugs earlier, potentially speeding up the drug development process and reducing the cost of manufacturing.

The liver is an important target organ for drug testing because all drugs pass through it… read more

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