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Faster, cheaper biofuel production

November 22, 2013

Thalassiosira_pseudonana

Researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have developed a method for greatly enhancing biofuel production in tiny marine algae by genetically engineering a key growth component in biofuel.

The researchers say a significant roadblock in algal biofuel research surrounds the production of lipid oils, the fat molecules that store energy that can be produced for fuel: algae mainly produce the desired… read more

Kano: a computer anyone can make

November 22, 2013

ll_ages_over_the_world_kano

Kano is a computer you make yourself. Simple as Lego, powered by Pi.… read more

3D-printing multi-material objects in minutes instead of hours

November 22, 2013

A computer model of a pair of tweezers shows the distribution of materials and degrees of hardness in the object to be 3-D printed in Dr. Yong Chen's lab at USC Viterbi.</p>
<p>Credit: USC Viterbi

In another leap for 3D printing, researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have developed a faster 3D printing process that allows for 3D-printing multi-material objects in minutes instead of hours.

Fabrication time and the complexity of multi-material objects have been a hurdle to widespread use of 3D printing.

Speeding up printing

USC Viterbi researchers developed improved mask-image-projection-based stereolithography (MIP-SL) to drastically… read more

Carnegie Mellon computer searches web 24/7 to analyze images and teach itself common sense

NEIL program labels images, learns associations with minimal help from people
November 22, 2013

eye part of baby

A computer program called the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL) is now running 24 hours a day at Carnegie Mellon University, searching the Web for images, doing its best to understand them. And as it builds a growing visual database, it is gathering common sense on a massive scale.

NEIL leverages recent advances in computer vision that enable computer programs to identify and label objects in images,… read more

World’s smallest FM radio transmitter

Could lead to ultrathin, more-power-efficient cell phones
November 21, 2013

smallest_fm_transmitter

In another major new application of graphene, Columbia Engineering researchers have taken advantage of graphene’s special properties — its mechanical strength and electrical conductivity — to develop a nanomechanical system that can create FM signals — in effect, the world’s smallest FM radio transmitter.

“This is an important first step in advancing wireless signal processing and designing ultrathin, efficient cell phones, Mechanical Engineering Professor Jamesread more

Using a CT scan and 3D printer to recreate a fossil

November 21, 2013

3d_print_of_fossil

Data from computed tomography (CT) scans can be used with 3D printers to make accurate copies of fossilized bones, according to new research published online in the journal Radiology.

Fossils are often stored in plaster casts, or jackets, to protect them from damage. Getting information about a fossil typically requires the removal of the plaster and all the sediment surrounding it, which can lead to loss of material or… read more

Chaotic physics in ferroelectric materials may allow for brain-like computing

November 21, 2013

Unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials explored by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports a new approach to information storage and processing known as memcomputing.<br />
Credit: ORNL

Unexpected behavior in ferroelectric materials explored by researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory supports a new approach to information storage and processing called “memcomputing,” or memristor-based computing.

Ferroelectric materials are known for their ability to spontaneously switch polarization when an electric field is applied.

So using a scanning probe microscope, the ORNL-led team took advantage of… read more

Detecting and zapping Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s with lasers

November 20, 2013

chalmers_laser_brain

It is possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins believed to cause Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (“mad cow”) diseases from normal proteins by using a multiphoton laser technique, researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden the Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have discovered.

Today, amyloid protein aggregates are treated with highly toxic chemicals for detection and removal.

With a multiphoton laser, the chemical treatment would be unnecessary,… read more

Biomaterial-delivered chemotherapy could effectively treat brain tumors

November 20, 2013

Polymer structure

A polymer originally designed to help mend broken bones could be successful in delivering chemotherapy drugs directly to the brains of patients suffering from glioblastoma brain tumors, researchers at The University of Nottingham have discovered.

Their study, published in the journal  PLOS ONE (open access), shows that the biomaterial can be easily applied to the cavity created following brain cancer surgery and used to release chemotherapy drugs over several… read more

Printing computer displays and solar cells

November 20, 2013

oleds_fraunhofer

Printable curved computer displays, TV screens, signs, clothing, fluorescent wallpaper, and flexible solar cells will soon be possible using a new printing process for flexible, organic light-emitting diodes, or OLEDs, say German scientists.

“Almost any surface can be made into a display,” said Dr. Armin Wedel, head of division at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP.

The first curved OLED screens were demonstrated at… read more

Nanomagnets may replace silicon-based transistors in computers, say UC Berkeley researchers

November 20, 2013

As the current passes through a strip of tantalum, electrons with opposite spins separate. This helps in orienting the nanomagnets  on the top of the tantalum strip such that they can be switched easily, which is also called "clocking". Thus information propagates from the input magnet along a chain of magnets and thus we perform nanomagnetic logic.

New work by University of California Berkeley researchers could one day make nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional power-consuming transistors found in all computers.

“Increased energy consumption of modern day computers is a major challenge that the computer industry faces,” researcher Debanjan Bhowmik explained to KurzweilAI. Bhowmik is a UC Berkeley graduate student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the first author of a paper on this… read more

Quantum world record smashed

Qubits survive at room temperature for a world-record 39 minutes
November 19, 2013

A normally fragile quantum state has been shown to survive at room temperature for a world record 39 minutes by Oxford University researchers. An artistic rendition of a 'bound exciton' quantum state used to prepare and read out information stored in the form of quantum bits.<br />
(Credit: © 2013 Stef Simmons with CC BY)

A normally fragile quantum state has been shown to survive at room temperature for a world record 39 minutes, overcoming a key barrier towards building ultrafast quantum computers, the researchers say.

An international team including Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University‘s Department of Materials report in this week’s Science a test performed by Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University, Canada and colleagues.

Qubits survive at 25 °C for 39 minutesread more

Bacteria incorporate pieces of old DNA in their own genome, scientists discover

What DNA fragments --- some thousands of years old --- from biological waste and wastewater have hospital bacteria incorporated?
November 19, 2013

bacteria_take_dna

From a bacteria’s perspective, the environment is one big DNA waste yard. Now researchers from Denmark and Norway have shown that bacteria can take up small as well as large pieces of old DNA from this scrapheap and include it in their own genome.

This discovery may have major consequences both in connection with resistance to antibiotics in hospitals and in our perception of the evolution of life itself.… read more

First ‘mini-kidney’ structures from human stem cells generated by Salk scientists

Findings may lead to much-needed therapies for kidney disease
November 19, 2013

For the first time, Salk scientists have grown human stem cells into early-stage ureteric buds, kidney structures responsible for reabsorbing water after toxins have been filtered out. In the laboratory, they used mouse embryonic kidney cells (seen here in red) to coax the human stem cells to grow into the nascent mushroom-shaped buds (blue and green). Their discovery is a major step in developing regenerative techniques for growing replacement human kidneys.<br />
Image: Courtesy of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies

A team of researchers led by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies has generated three-dimensional kidney structures from human stem cells for the first time, opening new avenues for studying development and diseases of the kidneys and discovery of new drugs that target human kidney cells.

The findings were reported November 17, 2013 in Nature Cell Biology.

Diseases affecting the kidneys represent a major and… read more

New hologram technology created by nanoantennas on a ‘metasurface’

A potentially revolutionary new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays, and information processing
November 19, 2013

Laser light shines through the metasurface from below, creating a hologram 10 microns above the structure. (Xingjie Ni, Birck Nanotechnology Center)

Researchers have created tiny holograms using a “metasurface” capable of the ultra-efficient control of light, representing a potential new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays and information processing.

The metasurface, thousands of V-shaped nanoantennas formed into an ultrathin gold foil, could make possible “planar photonics” devices and optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing, sensing and telecommunications, said Alexander Kildishev, associate research professor… read more

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