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A new low-cost way to create 3D nanostructures

December 9, 2014

A variety of asymmetric hollow-core 3D nanostructures can be created (credit: Xu Zhang)

Researchers from North Carolina State University (NC State) have developed a new low-cost lithography technique that can create three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures for biomedical, electronic, and photonic applications, replacing laborious stacking of two-dimensional (2D) patterns to create 3D structures.

“Our approach reduces the cost of nanolithography to the point where it could be done in your garage,” says Dr. Chih-Hao Chang, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at… read more

Is this a path to quantum transistors?

December 9, 2014

Samarium hexaboride, abbreviated SmB6, is a compound made of the metal samarium and the rare metalloid boron. University of Michigan researchers have confirmed its unusual electrical properties and shown how it could advance the development of next-generation transistors for quantum computers. (Credit: Gang Li)

Physicists at the University of Michigan (U-M) and several other universities have discovered or confirmed several properties of the compound samarium hexaboride (SmB6) at low temperature that raise hopes for finding the “silicon” of the quantum era.

In an open-access paper in the journal Science, the U-M researchers say they provide the first direct evidence that samarium hexaboride (SmB6) is a “topological insulator” — a… read more

Australian researchers set new world record in solar-energy efficiency

December 8, 2014

Spectrum splitting prototype (credit: UNSW)

University of New South Wales (UNSW) solar researchers have converted more than 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, “the highest efficiency ever reported for sunlight conversion into electricity,” UNSW Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics (ACAP) Professor Martin Green said.

“We used commercial solar cells, but in a new way, so these efficiency improvements are readily accessible to the solar… read more

Spray-on solar sensors for random surfaces

December 8, 2014

Kramer built his sprayLD device using parts that are readily available and rather affordable—he sourced a spray nozzle used in steel mills to cool steel with a fine mist of water, and a few regular air brushes from an art store. (Credit: UofT)

Canadian researchers have invented a fast, low-cost way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs).

“My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” said Illan Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada’s… read more

Wireless brain sensor-transmitter could unchain neuroscience from cables

December 8, 2014

head-mounted transmitter

A team of scientists led by Brown University has developed a high-data-rate, low-power, wireless brain-sensor and transmitter system for acquiring high-fidelity neural data during animal behavior experiments.

The new system solves a fundamental problem in neuroscience research: cables, which are needed to connect brain sensors to computers, constrain movement of subjects, limiting the kinds of research that are possible.

“We view this as a platform device for tapping… read more

Fabrics that transmit biomedical data

December 5, 2014

Smart fabric is durable, malleable, and can be woven with cotton or wool. Horizontal lines are antennas. (Credit: Stepan Gorgutsa, Universite Laval)

Canadian researchers have developed “smart textiles” able to monitor and transmit wearers’ biomedical information via wireless or cellular network by superimposing multiple layers of copper, polymers, glass, and silver.

“The fiber acts as both sensor and antenna. It is durable but malleable, and can be woven with wool or cotton, and signal quality is comparable to commercial antennas,” explained Professor Younes Messaddeq at Université Laval’s Faculty of Science and Engineering… read more

Robotic-leg prosthetic allows amputees to walk normally

Simplified gait model eliminates need for complex designs and team of physical-rehabilitation specialists
December 5, 2014

Amputee with robot-inspired artificial leg can walk at normal speed on a treadmill (credit:  University of Texas at Dallas)

Wearers of a new robotic leg can walk on a moving treadmill almost as fast as an able-bodied person, said inventor Robert Gregg, PhD, a University of Texas at Dallas professor, who applied robot control theory to enable powered prosthetics to dynamically respond to the wearer’s environment and help amputees walk.

“We borrowed from robot control theory to create a simple, effective new way to analyze the human… read more

The Pentagon wants your advice on tech for the year 2030 time frame

December 4, 2014

(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is asking for ideas from the private sector on breakthrough technologies to guide military investment for the next decade and beyond, according to an article by futurist Patrick Tucker Wednesday in Defense One newsletter.

“On Wednesday, Defense Department officials issued a request for information calling on interested parties ‘to identify current and emerging technologies … that could provide significant military advantage to the United… read more

Rewritable paper

December 4, 2014

Yadong Yin’s lab at the University of California, Riverside has fabricated novel rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes. (Credit: Yin Lab, UC Riverside)

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) have fabricated a novel rewritable “paper” process in the lab, based on the color-switching property of commercially available chemicals called redox dyes.

Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the masked portions for the text on the paper. The prototype rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss… read more

Buckyballs enhance capture of carbon-dioxide emissions

December 4, 2014

Carbon-60 molecules, also known as buckyballs, were combined with amines in a compound that absorbs a fifth of its weight in carbon dioxide. It shows potential as an environmentally friendly material for capturing carbon from natural gas wells and industrial plants. (Credit: the Barron Research Group/Rice University)

Rice University scientists have discovered an environmentally friendly carbon-capture method that could draw carbon dioxide emissions from industrial flue gases and natural gas wells, using a combination of amine-rich compounds and carbon-60 molecules.

The research is the subject of an open-access paper published Wednesday (Nov. 4) in Nature’s online journal Scientific Reports.

“We had two goals,” Rice chemist Andrew Barro said. “One was to make the compound 100… read more

Stephen Coles 1941 — 2014

Eminent gerontologist tracked supercentenarians on Gerontology Research Group
December 4, 2014

Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D

Stephen Coles, M.D., Ph.D, passed away on December 3 of complications of pancreatic cancer. He was 73.

L. [Leslie] Stephen Coles was a Lecturer in Gerontology at the University California, Los Angeles, in the department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Since he started teaching at UCLA in 1986, he taught for the Computer Science Department, the Surgical Department, and the Fiat Lux Program for Freshman.

He tracked the oldest… read more

Mediterranean diet linked to longer life

December 3, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

The Mediterranean diet appears to be associated with longer telomere length — a marker of slower aging and thus long life, a  study published in the BMJ this week suggests.

The Mediterranean diet has been consistently linked with health benefits, including reduced mortality and reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

The diet is based on a high intake of vegetables, fruits,… read more

Feeling virtual objects in mid-air using ultrasound

December 3, 2014

Focused ultrasound creates haptic shape of a virtual sphere (credit: Bristol Interaction and Graphics group, University of Bristol)

University of Bristol researchers have developed a method for using ultrasound to generate an 3D haptic shape that can be added to 3D displays so that invisible images can be felt in mid-air.

The new technology could enable surgeons to explore a CT scan by enabling them to feel a disease, such as a tumor, using haptic feedback.

By focusing ultrasound from a phased array of transducers,… read more

A magnetic levitating gear system for zero friction and wear

December 2, 2014

Credit: UC3M

Researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are developing a new gear transmission mechanism with no touching parts, based on magnetic forces that prevent friction and wear and make lubrication unnecessary.

The device has potential applications in railroad and aircraft industries, as well as in space travel and exploration.

The design uses a magnetic gear reducer, that is, a mechanism that transforms speed from an input axle… read more

Replacing wires with light, future computers may operate faster with less energy

Stanford optical device splits a beam of light into different colors and bends the light at opposite right angles, based on wavelength
December 2, 2014

This tiny slice of silicon, etched with a grating pattern that resembles a bar code, is a key step toward linking computer components with light instead of wires (credit: Vuckovic Lab)

Stanford engineers have designed and built a prism-like silicon device that can split a beam of light into different colors and bend the light at right angles — a development that could eventually lead to computers that use nanophotonics to transmit data faster and more efficiently than electricity.

They describe this “optical link” —a tiny slice of silicon etched with a pattern that resembles a bar code — in… read more

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