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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

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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

Water splitter produces clean-burning hydrogen fuel 24/7

An inexpensive renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry
June 23, 2015

Unlike conventional water splitters, the device developed in Associate Professor Yi Cui's lab uses a single low-cost catalyst to generate hydrogen bubbles on one electrode and oxygen bubbles on the other (credit: L.A. Cicero/Stanford University)

In an engineering first, Stanford University scientists have invented a low-cost water splitter that uses a single catalyst to produce both hydrogen and oxygen gas 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The researchers believe that the device, described in an open-access study published today (June 23) in Nature Communications, could provide a renewable source of clean-burning hydrogen fuel for transportation and industry.

“We… read more

Scientists create synthetic membranes that grow like living cells

June 23, 2015

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Chemists and biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in designing and synthesizing an artificial cell membrane capable of sustaining continual growth, just like a living cell.

Their achievement will allow scientists to more accurately replicate the behavior of living cell membranes, which until now have been modeled only by synthetic cell membranes without the ability to add new phospholipids.

“The… read more

Micro-tentacles for tiny robots can handle delicate objects like blood vessels

June 23, 2015

A micro-tentacle developed by Iowa State engineers spirals around an ant (credit: Jaeyoun (Jay) Kim/Iowa State University)

Iowa State University engineers have developed microrobotic tentacles that could allow small robots to safely handle delicate objects.

As described in an open-access research paper in the journal Scientific Reports, the tentacles are microtubes just a third of an inch long and less than a hundredth of an inch wide. They’re made from PDMS, a transparent elastomer that can be a liquid or a soft,… read more

Google, Facebook, Amazon advance machine-learning applications

Teaching machines to read/comprehend websites, recognize and group faces, and reject fake reviews
June 22, 2015

Syncing photos to friend in Moments (credit: Facebook)

Three new significant developments in machine-learning were announced last week.

Reading and comprehending natural-language documents

Google DeepMind in London said it has developed a way to teach machines to read natural-language documents and comprehend them, and like Watson, answer complex questions with minimal prior knowledge of language structure — at least for CNN and Daily Mail websites.

As noted by the researchers in an… read more

How to make instant carbon nanoparticles at home for cool biomedical uses

Molasses: check. Honey: check. Pig: um, check.
June 19, 2015

controlled drug-delivery ft

How would you like to produce carbon nanoparticles small enough to evade the body’s immune system, that reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection in the body, and even carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues — all in the privacy of your own home?

If so, well, University of Illinois bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava have a DIY recipe for you.… read more

A computational algorithm for fact-checking

Yet another "computers can't..." myth busted
June 19, 2015

truth scores-ft

Computers can now do fact-checking for any body of knowledge, according to Indiana University network scientists, writing in an open-access paper published June 17 in PLoS ONE.

Using factual information from summary infoboxes from Wikipedia* as a source, they built a “knowledge graph” with 3 million concepts and 23 million links between them. A link between two concepts in the graph can be read as a… read more

The sixth mass extinction is here, say Stanford researchers

June 19, 2015

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There is no longer any doubt: we are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by a group of scientists including Paul Ehrlich, the Bing Professor of Population Studies in biology and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. Ehrlich and his co-authors call for fast action to conserve threatened species, populations and habitat, but… read more

Tissue scaffold technology could help rebuild large organs

June 18, 2015

Membrane interactions of the protein–polymer-surfactant complexes. Schematic showing that in solution, the polymer–surfactant corona surrounding myoglobin (cyan) adopts a compact conformation with the hydrophobic nonylphenyl tails (red) buried by the poly(ethylene glycol) chains (yellow). Contact with the hydrophobic phospholipid bilayer results in a conformational reorganization of the corona that allows the alkyl chains to anchor the complex to the cell membrane. (credit: James P.K. Armstrong et al./Nature Communications)

Researchers at the Universities of Bristol and Liverpool have developed a new tissue scaffold (support structure) technology that could one day make it possible to engineer large organs.

Currently, tissue engineering has been limited to growing small pieces of tissue, because larger dimensions reduce the oxygen supply to the cells in the center of the tissue.

The team of researchers, led by Adamread more

A lifelike bionic hand

June 18, 2015

bebionic small hand perfectly mimics the functions of a real hand via 14<br />
different precision grips (credit: Steeper)

Nicky Ashwell has become the first UK user to receive what the makers call “the world’s most lifelike hand” — the  Stepper bebionic small. The myoelectric device uses miniaturized components designed to provide true-to-life movements, mimicking the functions of a real hand.

The Bebionic small hand works using sensors triggered by the user’s muscle movements that connect to individual motors in each finger and  microprocessors.… read more

How to control GMOs with molecular ‘lock and key’

June 18, 2015

benzothiazole-ft

UC Berkeley researchers have developed a low-cost, easy method of biocontainment of bacteria to contain accidental spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The used a series of lock-and-key genetic mutations (in addition to the GMO mutations) that render the microbe inactive unless the right molecule (the key) is added to to the expressed protein to enable its viability.

The work appears this week in the journal ACS Syntheticread more

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