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‘Microswimmer’ robots to drill through blocked arteries within four years

Controlled by an external magnetic field, nanoscale bacteria-like chains could replace stents and angioplasty balloons
June 30, 2015

spiral-shaped microswimmer-ft

Swarms of microscopic, magnetic, robotic beads could be used within five years by vascular surgeons to clear blocked arteries. These minimally invasive microrobots, which look and move like corkscrew-shaped bacteria, are being developed by an $18-million, 11-institution research initiative headed by the Korea Evaluation Institute of Industrial Technologies (KEIT).

These “microswimmers” are driven and controlled by external magnetic fields, similar to how nanowires from … read more

Engineers more than double data transmission capacity over fiber-optic cables

June 29, 2015

A wideband frequency comb ensures that the crosstalk between multiple communication channels within the same optical fiber is reversible. (credit: UC San Diego Photonics Systems Group)

University of California, San Diego electrical engineers have invented a technology that could allow between a two- and fourfold increase in data transmission capacity for the backbone of  Internet, cable, wireless, and landline networks over long distances, while reducing cost and latency (delay).

The new system addresses a problem known as the “Kerr effect”: distortion of optical signals that travel on optical fibers over distances, requiring the… read more

Creating a better semiconductor in femtoseconds with ‘photo-doping’

June 29, 2015

Certain compounds can exhibit multiple quantum phases, including Mott insulator, superconductor, and spin or charge density wave (CDW) states based on subtle physical tunings, including applying heat and photo-doping (credit: Tzong-Ru T. Han et al./Science Advances)

Michigan State University (MSU) researchers have developed a “photo-doping” process by shooting an ultrafast laser pulse into a semiconductor* material — rapidly changing its properties as if it had been chemically “doped.”

Changing the electrical properties of semiconductors formerly required a complex, expensive process of adding different dopants, or trace chemical impurities.

The new research could lead to development of next-generation electronic materials and even optically controlled… read more

Swedish scientists create an artificial neuron that mimicks an organic one

Could remotely stimulate neurons based on specific chemical signals received from different parts of the body, or doctors could artificially bridge damaged nerve cells and restore neural functions
June 29, 2015

Glutamate drops are added to a dish containing a biosensor (green) that generates electronic signals (e–), which (via hardware/software) regulate hydrogen ion delivery  (white tube) to another dish, where pH is monitored microscopically (video). (credit: Daniel T. Simon et al./Biosensors and Bioelectronics)

Scientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet and Linköping University have built what they claim is a “fully functional neuron” that mimicks the functions of a human nerve cell.

The “organic electronic biomimetic neuron” combines a biosensor and ion pump. It senses a chemical change in one dish and translates it into an electrical/ionic signal that travels along an “axon” to a “synapse” and releases chemical signals… read more

D-Wave Systems breaks the 1000 qubit quantum computing barrier

June 26, 2015

(credit: D-Wave Systems)

D-Wave Systems has broken the quantum computing 1000 qubit barrier, developing a processor about double the size of D-Wave’s previous generation, and far exceeding the number of qubits ever developed by D-Wave or any other quantum effort, the announcement said.

It will allow “significantly more complex computational problems to be solved than was possible on any previous quantum computer.”

At 1000 qubits, the new processor considers 21000 possibilities… read more

Could stretching a thin crystal create a better solar cell?

Stretched molybdenum disulfide crystal could absorb more solar energy than conventional solar-cell materials
June 26, 2015

This colorized image shows an ultra thin layer of semiconductor material stretched over the peaks and valleys of part of a device the size of a pinkie nail. Just three atoms thick, this semiconductor layer is stretched in ways enhance its electronic potential to catch solar energy. The image is enlarged 100,000 times. (credit: Hong Li, Stanford Engineering)

Stanford University researchers have stretched an atomically thin Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) semiconductor crystal to achieve a variable bandgap (defined as the amount of energy it takes to move an electron in a material).

That could lead to solar cells that absorb more energy from the sun by being sensitive to a broader spectrum of light, and could also find applications in next-generation optoelectronics.

Crystalline semiconductors like silicon… read more

Transparent, stretchable conductors using nano-accordion structure

Could this material be used as an interface for your future cell phone?
June 26, 2015

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created stretchable, transparent conductors that work because of the structures' "nano-accordion" design. The material is shown here, rolled up to highlight its flexibility. (credit: Abhijeet Bagal)

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have created stretchable, transparent conductors based on a “nano-accordion” design inspired by springs.

Why is this important?

Imagine a material that is a flexible, stretchable, and transparent. So it could be attached to human or robot skin (or woven into clothing) for use as a wearable, stretchable, touch-sensitive smartphone display, for example, or used as a… read more

Nanowire implants for remote-controlled drug delivery

June 25, 2015


Purdue researchers have created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug.

The system eliminates the tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications, said team leader Richard Borgens,… read more

How to use graphene as a biosensor by increasing its chemical selectivity

Could be used to create an inexpensive "lab-on-a-chip"
June 25, 2015

The illustration shows how maleimide compounds bind to the graphene surface. The graphene monolayer lies on a thin film of silicon nitride (red) that in turn is on a quartz microbalance (blue) and can be subjected to a potential via a gold contact (yellow). (credit: Marc Gluba/HZB)

Scientists at the HZB Institute for Silicon Photovoltaics in Berlin have succeeded in precisely measuring and controlling the thickness of an organic compound that has been bound to a graphene layer. This could enable graphene to be used as a sensitive detector for biological molecules in the future.

It has long been known that graphene is useful for detecting traces of organic molecules, because the… read more

Spintronics advance brings wafer-scale quantum devices closer to reality

June 25, 2015

Light polarizes silicon nuclear spins within a silicon carbide chip. This image portrays the nuclear spin of one of the atoms shown in the full crystal lattice below. (credit: Courtesy of Peter Allen)

Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Molecular Engineering have taken a crucial step toward nuclear spintronic technologies that use the “spin” — or magnetization — of atomic nuclei to store and process information. The new technologies could be used for ultra-sensitive magnetic resonance imaging, advanced gyroscopes, and quantum computers.

The researchers used infrared light to make nuclear spins line themselves up in a consistent,… read more

Could nanowires be the LEDs of the future?

June 25, 2015

(a) Sketch of an LED nanowire showing the onion-like structure of the layers; (b) Finite element method simulation of strain distribution (credit: Tomas Stankevic, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen)

LEDs made from nanowires with an inner core of gallium nitride (GaN) and a outer layer of indium-gallium-nitride (InGaN) — both semiconductors — use less energy and provide better light, according Robert Feidenhans’l, professor and head of the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

The studies were performed using nanoscale X-ray microscopy in the electron synchrotron at DESY in Hamburg, Germany.… read more

New manufacturing process cuts lithium-ion battery cost in half

June 24, 2015

Cross-sectional diagram shows how the new design for lithium-ion battery cells by 24M increases the thickness of electrode layers and greatly reduces the number of layers needed, reducing manufacturing costs (credit: 24M)

Researchers at MIT and spinoff company 24M have developed an advanced manufacturing approach for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The researchers claim the new process could cut the manufacturing and materials cost in half compared to existing lithium-ion batteries, while also improving their performance, making them easier to recycle as well as flexible and resistant to damage.

“We’ve reinvented the process,” says Yet-Ming Chiang, the Kyocera… read more

Disabled people remotely pilot robot in another country with their thoughts

June 24, 2015

operating the BCI-ft

Using a telepresence system developed at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL ), 19 people — including nine quadriplegics — were able to remotely control a robot located in an EPFL university lab in Switzerland.

A team of researchers at the Defitech Foundation Chair in Brain-Machine Interface (CNBI), headed by professor José del R. Millán, developed a brain-computer interface (BCI) system, using electroencephalography… read more

Bionic eye clinical trial results: long-term safety, efficacy

Patients using Argus II had improved visual function and quality of life
June 24, 2015

The external components of the Argus II System. Images in real time are captured by camera mounted on the glasses. The video processing unit down-samples and processes the image, converting it to stimulation patterns. Data and power are sent via radiofrequency link form the transmitter antenna on the glasses to the receiver antenna around the eye. A removable, rechargeable battery powers the system. (credit: Photo courtesy of Second Sight Medical Products, Inc.)

Three-year clinical trial results of the Argus II retinal implant (“bionic eye”) have found that the device restored some visual function and quality of life for 30 people blinded by retinitis pigmentosa, a rare degenerative eye disease. The findings, published in an open-access paper in the journal Ophthalmology, also showed long-term efficacy, safety and reliability for the device.

Retinitis pigmentosa is an incurable disease that affects about 1… read more

Cocktail of chemicals may trigger cancer

Fifty chemicals the public is exposed to on a daily basis may trigger cancer when combined, according to new research by global task force of 174 scientists
June 23, 2015

acquired-hallmark phenotypes-ft

A global task force of 174 scientists from leading research centers in 28 countries has studied the link between mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals and the development of cancer. The open-access study selected 85 chemicals not considered carcinogenic to humans and found 50 of them actually supported key cancer-related mechanisms at exposures found in the environment today.

According to co-author cancer Biologist Hemad Yasaei from… read more

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