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‘Bubble pen’ can precisely write patterns with nanoparticles as small as 1 nanometer

Allows for more easily building tiny machines, biomedical sensors, optical computers, solar panels, and other devices --- no complex clean room required; portable version planned
January 15, 2016

bubble pen ft

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have created “bubble-pen lithography” — a  device and technique to quickly, gently, and precisely use microbubbles to “write” using gold, silicon and other nanoparticles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size as “ink” on a surface.

The new technology is aimed at allowing researchers to more easily build tiny machines, biomedical sensors, optical… read more

Microbots individually controlled using magnetic fields

Possible uses include additive manufacturing, cell sorting, cell manipulation, and cancer cell detection
January 15, 2016

This image shows how two microbots can be independently controlled when operating within a group. (Purdue University image/David Cappelleri)

Purdue University researchers have developed a method to use magnetic fields to independently control individual microrobots operating within groups.

The design allows for each microbot to work independently while operating in groups, similar to how ants work.  Until now, it was generally only possible to control groups of microbots to move generally in unison, said David Cappelleri, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.… read more

Why doesn’t my phone understand me yet?

January 13, 2016

context lacking ft

Because machines can’t develop a shared understanding of the people, place and situation — often including a long social history, the key to human communication) — say University of California, Berkeley, postdoctoral fellow Arjen Stolk and his Dutch colleagues.

In other words, machines don’t consider the context of a conversation the way people do.

The word “bank,” for example, would be interpreted one way if… read more

UCSD spinoffs create lab-quality portable 64-channel BCI headset

Dry electrodes and Bluetooth take the EEG lab to the street, with NSF, DARPA, and Army funding
January 13, 2016

Bioengineers and cognitive scientists have developed the first portable, 64-channel wearable brain activity monitoring system that's comparable to state-of-the-art equipment found in research laboratories. The system also includes a sophisticated software suite for data interpretation and analysis. (credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

The first dry-electrode, portable 64-channel wearable brain-computer interface (BCI) has been developed by bioengineers and cognitive scientists associated with UCSD Jacobs School.

The system is comparable to state-of-the-art equipment found in research laboratories, but with portability, allowing for tracking brain states throughout the day and augmenting the brain’s capabilities, the researchers say. Current BCI devices require gel-based electrodes or fewer than 64 channels.

The… read more

Could this common painkiller become a future cancer-killer?

January 12, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Diclofenac, a common painkiller, has significant anti-cancer properties, researchers from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project have found.

ReDO, an international collaboration between the Belgium-based Anticancer Fund and the U.S.- based GlobalCures, has published their investigation into diclofenac in the open-access journal ecancermedicalscience.

Diclofenac is a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) widely used to treat pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, fever, acute… read more

Self-adaptive material heals itself, stays tough

May be a useful biocompatible material for tissue engineering or a lightweight, defect-tolerant structural component
January 12, 2016

Rice University postdoctoral researcher Pei Dong holds a sample of SAC, a new form of self-adapting composite. The material has the ability to heal itself and to regain its original shape after extraordinary compression. (credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

A flexible adaptive material invented at Rice University combines self-healing and reversible self-stiffening properties.

The material, called SAC (for self-adaptive composite), consists of sticky, micron-scale rubber balls that form a solid matrix. The researchers made SAC by mixing two polymers and a solvent that evaporates when heated, leaving a porous mass of gooey spheres. When cracked, the matrix quickly heals, over and over. And like a sponge, it… read more

DNA ‘lock and key’ allows for precision drug delivery to target cancer and other cells

January 12, 2016

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Scientists at University College London (UCL) and Nanion Technologies in Munich have developed synthetic DNA-based pores that control which molecules can pass through a cell’s wall, achieving more precise drug delivery.

Therapeutics, including anti-cancer drugs, are ferried around the body in nanoscale carriers called vesicles, targeted to different tissues using biological markers. The new DNA-based pore design is intended to improve that process.

DNA Lock-and-key drug delivery

In… read more

Why evolution may be intelligent, based on deep learning

Like neural networks, evolution appears to "learn" from previous experience, which may explain how natural selection can produce such apparently intelligent designs
January 11, 2016

Moth Orchid (credit: Imgur.com)

A computer scientist and biologist propose to unify the theory of evolution with learning theories to explain the “amazing, apparently intelligent designs that evolution produces.”

The scientists — University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science professor Richard Watson* and Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest) professor of biology Eörs Szathmáry* — say they’ve found that it’s possible for evolution to exhibit some of the same intelligent… read more

‘Robotic falcon’ can capture, retrieve renegade drones

January 11, 2016

Mo Rastgaar's drone catcher speeds toward a rogue drone. (credit: Michigan Technological University)

Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, and his team have developed a drone catcher that can pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events, and even the White House — as startled Secret Service officers discovered when one crash-landed on the White House lawn last January.

It’s a simple system (see video below):… read more

A battery that shuts down at high temperatures and restarts when it cools

Good news for future hoverboard and laptop users
January 11, 2016

Stanford researchers have developed a thin polyethylene film that prevents a lithium-ion battery from overheating, then restarts the battery when it cools. The film is embedded with spiky nanoparticles of graphene-coated nickel. (credit: Zheng Chen)

Stanford researchers have invented a lithium-ion battery that shuts down before overheating to prevent the battery fires that have plagued laptops, hoverboards and other electronic devices. The battery restarts immediately when the temperature cools.

The design is an enhancement of a wearable sensor that monitors human body temperature invented by Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. The sensor is made of a plastic material… read more

Do we have free will?

Neuroscientists run the ultimate experiment to find out: a "duel" between human and brain-to-computer interface (BCI)
January 8, 2016

This image shows a participant during the experiment. (credit: Charité, Carsten Bogler)

It’s a question that’s been debated by philosophers for centuries. Now neuroscientists from Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin have run an experiment to find out, using a “duel” game between human and brain-computer interface (BCI).

As KurzweilAI reported last year:
In the early 1980s, University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist Benjamin Libet conducted an experiment to assess the nature of free will. Subjects hooked up to an electroencephalogram (EEG)… read more

Cognitive-stimulation experiment suggests new tools for healthy brain aging

May also have a "preventive and therapeutic role in association with early AD-type neurodegeneration"
January 8, 2016

DMN connections

Neuroscientists in Italy and the U.K. have developed cognitive-stimulation exercises and tested them in a month-long experiment with healthy aging adults. The exercises were based on studies of the brain’s resting state, known as the “default mode network”* (DMN).

In a paper published in Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers explain that in aging (and at a pathological level in AD patients), the posterior (back) region of the DMN in the… read more

‘Fast radio burst’ signals from space a better test of Einstein’s General Relativity theory

January 7, 2016

This is a schematic illustration of CSIRO's Parkes radio telescope receiving the polarised signal from the new 'fast radio burst'. (Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions)

Physicists have developed a new way to test one of the basic principles underlying Einstein’s theory of General Relativity, which states that the geometry of spacetime is curved by the mass density of individual galaxies, stars, planets, and other objects.

The new method uses brief blasts of rare radio signals from space called fast radio bursts (FRBs) (see “Mysterious cosmic burst of radio waves detected by astronomers“… read more

‘Solar thermal fuel’ polymer film can harvest sunlight by day, release heat on-demand

Clothing that keeps you warm and windshields that melt ice are two of the possible uses
January 7, 2016

Solar thermal fuel polymer film comprised of three distinct layers (4 to 5 microns in thickness for each). Cross-linking after each layer enables building up films of tunable thickness. (credit: Courtesy of the researchers)

MIT researchers have developed a new transparent polymer film that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat, whenever needed. The material could be applied to many different surfaces, such as window glass or clothing.

The new material solves a problem with renewable solar energy: the Sun is not available at night or on stormy days. Most solutions have focused on storing and recovering… read more

An 18-inch video display you can roll up like a newspaper

January 6, 2016

(credit: LG)

LG is creating a buzz at CES with its concept demo of the world’s first display that can be rolled up like a newspaper.

LG says they’re aiming for 4K-quality 55-inch screens (the prototype resolution is 1,200 by 810 pixels), BBC reports.

The trick:  switching from LED to thinner, more-flexible OLED technology (organic light-emitting diodes), allowing for a 2.57 millimeter-thin display. One limitation: the screen… read more

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