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A bandwidth breakthrough

October 23, 2012

Speed test (credit: Speedtest.net)

Academic researchers have improved wireless bandwidth by ten times — not by adding base stations, tapping more spectrum, or cranking up transmitter wattage, but by using algebra to banish the network-clogging task of resending dropped packets, Technology Review reports.

By providing new ways for mobile devices to solve for missing data, the technology not only eliminates this wasteful process but also can seamlessly weave data streams from… read more

A Bang, a Whimper, and Another Bang?

April 16, 2008

The relatively quiet black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy could one day reignite, spewing forth so much radiation that the sky would never darken.

That grim scenario has become more likely based on a new survey by Liverpool John Moores University astronomers. They used data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey to survey spectral lines from 360,000 relatively nearby galaxies. Nearly 20% showed active galactic… read more

A baseball cap that reads your mind

May 19, 2008
(Chin-Teng Lin, et al./IEEE)

A team of researchers from Taiwan has designed a non-invasive mobile and wireless EEG-based brain-computer interface (BCI) system for continuously monitoring high-temporal resolution brain dynamics without requiring conductive gels applied to the scalp.

The system has online EEG signal acquisition and real-time signal processing. It can be used in many applications, such as alerting drivers to drowsiness.

The cap contains five embedded dry electrodes on the… read more

A battery made of wood: long-lasting, efficient, environmentally friendly

June 23, 2013

wood_fibers

University of Maryland researchers have developed and tested a battery with anodes made of tin-coated wood that are a thousand times thinner than a piece of paper.

Using sodium instead of lithium (which is used in many rechargeable batteries) makes the battery environmentally benign. Also, while sodium doesn’t store energy as efficiently as lithium, its low cost and use of commonly available materials would make… read more

A battery made up of billions of nanoscale batteries

November 11, 2014

A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp. (Credit: NEES, a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center)

Imagine a battery made up of billions of nanoscale batteries — the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage.

That’s what researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have invented, using a structure based on a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end.

The researchers note in a paper in Nature Nanotechnology that such a… read more

A Battery-Free Implantable Neural Sensor

November 6, 2009

(Brian Otis, University of Washington)

Electrical engineers at the University of Washington have developed an implantable neural sensing chip that needs less power, drawing power from a RFID reader radio source up to a meter away.

The NeuralWISP is a collection of smaller, more low-power components, such as a specialized signal amplifier, on a circuit board just over two centimeters long. A future version will integrate all components onto a single chip that’s one… read more

A batteryless cardiac pacemaker based on self-winding wristwatch

September 2, 2014

The energy harvesting device is sutured directly onto the myocardium (credit: European Society of Cardiology)

A new batteryless cardiac pacemaker controlled by a self-winding wristwatch mechanism that is powered by heart motion has been developed by researchers in the Cardiovascular Engineering Group at ARTORG, University of Bern, Switzerland.

The device was presented at European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2014 by Adrian Zurbuchen a PhD candidate.

“Batteries are a limiting factor in today’s… read more

A Better Artificial Skin

January 12, 2007

University of Cincinnati scientists have grown artificial skin cells, using collagen scaffolds. They could ultimately produce a type of artificial skin that can sweat, tan, and fight off infection more effectively.

A better brain implant: listening to single neurons

November 12, 2012

SEM image of a fully assembled, functional microthread electrode (credit: Takashi Kozai)

A thin, flexible electrode developed at the University of Michigan is 10 times smaller than the nearest competition and could make long-term measurements of neural activity practical.

This kind of technology could also be used eventually to send brain-computer-interface (BCI) signals to prosthetic limbs, overcoming inflammation caused by larger electrodes, resulting in damage to both the brain and the electrodes.

Existing electrodes are stiff and enormous… read more

A Better Brain Scanner

July 20, 2007

New brain scanners promise to deliver images of higher resolution than any now available from a commercial instrument.

By using multiple sensors placed close to the head, the device can generate accurate images in less time, which could ultimately aid in the diagnosis of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.

MRI machines in medical centers typically have up to 12 coils, but the new devices under development have… read more

A Better Bug for Biofuels

September 25, 2009

Researchers are developing genetically engineered microbial sources of biofuels that do not rely on food sources or agricultural land, unlike ethanol made from corn or sugarcane.

A better insulator for miniaturized integrated circuits

July 24, 2001

Highly insulating new honeycomb material may allow microelectronic integrated circuits to be made even smaller, increasing the power of microchip and computer technology.
When electronic devices get very small, insulating silica films must be shrunk to the same proportions. Too thin, they become leaky and electrical currents seep out, creating problems such as crosstalk between different parts of the circuit.

Leakage could become a problem once the dimensions of… read more

A Better Network for Outer Space

October 27, 2008

Having designed the networking protocols that launched the Internet, Vint Cerf now wants to put the same kind of robust communications network in outer space.

A Better Recommendation Engine

November 8, 2007

Cleverset thinks it has the secret to the next-generation recommendation system.

It weighs the importance of the relationship among individual shoppers, their behavior on the site, the behavior of similar shoppers, and external factors. Using these ever-changing relationships, Cleverset’s system serves up products that are statistically likely to match what the customer will find interesting.

A better way to grow stem cells

August 23, 2010

humanembryonicstemcells

MIT scientists have devised a synthetic surface that includes no foreign animal material and allows stem cells to stay alive and continue reproducing themselves for at least three months. It’s also the first synthetic material that allows single cells to form colonies of identical cells, which is necessary to identify cells with desired traits and has been difficult to achieve with existing materials.

The research team, led by Professors… read more

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