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A gripper using soft robotics

January 14, 2014

versaball

A robot gripper invented by researchers at the University of Chicago and Cornell University is now available commercially from Empire Robotics as VERSABALL for industrial automation, scheduled to ship later in January.

Company officials believe the technology might also be useful for prosthetic devices that can assist with work tasks, for in-home assistive devices, and in mobile military robots.

How it works

Robotic grippers that… read more

Wafer-scale, flexible thin-film electronics

Can even wrap around a human hair
January 14, 2014

ultrathin_electronic_membrane

Researchers at ETH Zurich are developing thin-film transistors, sensors, and other electronic components that are thin and flexible enough to be wrapped around a wide range of surfaces without damaging the electronics.

The aim is to weave these types of components into textiles or apply them to the skin to make “smart,” unobtrusive, comfortable sensors  that can monitor various functions of the body, aka “temporary tattoo” biosensors.… read more

Extending future electric-car battery life, range

January 12, 2014

A hybrid anode made of graphite and lithium could quadruple the lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries (credit: Huang et al, Nature Communications)

A hybrid anode developed at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) could quadruple the life of the lithium-sulfur batteries proposed for use in electric vehicles.

“Lithium-sulfur batteries could one day help us take electric cars on longer drives and store renewable wind energy more cheaply, but some technical challenges have to be overcome first,” said PNNL Laboratory Fellow Jun Liu. “PNNL’s new anode… read more

Organic flow battery promises breakthrough for renewable energy

Harvard technology could economically store energy for use when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.
January 12, 2014

flow-battery_650

A team of Harvard scientists and engineers has demonstrated a new type of battery that could fundamentally transform the way electricity is stored on the grid, making power from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar far more economical and reliable.

The new “flow” battery design relies on the electrochemistry of naturally abundant, inexpensive, small organic (carbon-based) molecules called quinones, which are similar to molecules that… read more

A theoretical metamaterial that acts as an analog computer

Computational metamaterials could almost instantly perform certain complex mathematical operations
January 12, 2014

Edge detection - featured

Metamaterials can be designed to do “photonic calculus” as a light wave goes through them, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, The University of Texas at Austin and University of Sannio in Italy have discovered.

A light wave, when described in terms of space and time, has a profile in space that can be thought of as a curve on a… read more

IBM forms new Watson group for cloud-delivered cognitive innovations, with $1 billion investment

January 12, 2014

IBM Watson Group Unveils Cloud-Delivered Watson Services

IBM has announced it will establish the IBM Watson Group, a new business unit dedicated to the development and commercialization of cloud-delivered cognitive innovations.

Headquartered in NYC’s “Silicon Alley,” the move signifies a strategic shift by IBM to accelerate into the marketplace a new class of software, services and apps that think, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of… read more

Crowdsourcing forecasts on science and technology events and innovations

George Mason University's just-launched SciCast is largest and most advanced science and technology prediction market in the world
January 10, 2014

SciCast forecast

George Mason University launched today, Jan. 10, the largest and most advanced science and technology prediction market in the world: SciCast.

The federally funded research project aims to improve the accuracy of science and technology forecasts. George Mason research assistant professor Charles Twardy is the principal investigator of the project.

SciCast crowdsources forecasts on science and technology events and innovations from aerospace to zoology.

For… read more

Creating improved inkjet-printable materials for electronics and photonics

January 10, 2014

Inkjet printing MoS2

National University of Singapore (NUS) scientists have developed a new method for creating a chemical solution of molybdenum disulfide for use in printable optoelectronic devices such as thin film solar cells, flexible logic circuits, photodetectors, and sensors.

Molybdenum disulfide, combined with gold atoms, is being studied for development of ultrafast, ultrathin logic devices, as noted previously on KurzweilAI.

The process:

1. Chemically exfoliate… read more

World’s fastest organic transistor could lead to low-cost transparent electronics

January 10, 2014

transparent - featured

Engineers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Stanford University have created thin-film organic transistors that could operate more than five times faster than previous examples of this experimental technology, with the potential to achieve a new generation of cheap, transparent devices such as high-resolution television screens and sensor arrays.

For years, engineers have been trying to use inexpensive, carbon-rich molecules and plastics to create organic semiconductors… read more

Conductive ink for drawing circuits for flexible electronic books, displays, wearables

January 10, 2014

metal_ink

Chinese researchers have developed a novel conductive metal ink made of  copper nanosheets that can be used in a pen to draw a functioning, flexible electric circuit on regular printer paper.

This development could be a step beyond the inkjet-printed circuits that KurzweilAI previously reported. The new process could pave the way for a wide range of new bendable gadgets, such as electronic books that look and… read more

On-demand vaccines possible with engineered nanoparticles

January 9, 2014

On-Demand-Vaccine

University of Washington engineers hope a new type of vaccine they have shown to work in mice will one day make it cheaper and easy to manufacture on-demand vaccines for humans. Immunizations could be administered within minutes where and when a disease is breaking out.

Vaccines usually are made en masse in centralized locations far removed from where they will be used. They are expensive to ship… read more

Anti-inflammatory luteolin concentrated in nanocapsules in the blood inhibits lung-cancer growth

January 9, 2014

nano-luteolin

Researchers at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered a more effective drug delivery system using nanoparticles that could one day significantly affect cancer prevention.

The study, published in Cancer Prevention Research, involved the use of microscopic amounts of the naturally occurring antioxidant, luteolin, that were encapsulated in a water-soluble polymer. When injected into mice, the nano-luteolin inhibited growth of lung cancer and… read more

Creating living brain cells from deceased Alzheimer’s patients’ biobanked brain tissue

New stem cell lines will allow researchers to “turn back the clock” and observe how Alzheimer’s develops in the brain, potentially revealing the onset of the disease at a cellular level
January 9, 2014

Biobank IPS cells shown to retain pluripotency

Scientists at The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute, working in collaboration with scientists from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), have for the first time generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells lines from non-cryoprotected brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

These new stem cell lines will allow researchers to “turn back the clock” and observe how Alzheimer’s develops in the brain, potentially revealing the… read more

First personal thermal-imaging device for consumers

See-in-the-dark device acts as case for iPhone 5/5s; app captures photos, videos
January 9, 2014

FLIR ONE (Credit: FLIR)

FLIR Systems launched at CES the FLIR ONE, the first consumer-oriented thermal imaging system for a smartphone.

Acting as a case for the Apple iPhone 5 or 5s smartphone, the FLIR ONE displays a live thermal image on the phone’s screen, letting you see in complete darkness.

FLIR ONE senses heat rather than light, using the same professional thermal imaging technology that FLIR uses in its… read more

Cloning quantum information from the past

January 8, 2014

In the film "Looper," time travel is invented by the year 2074 and, though immediately outlawed, is used by criminal organizations to send those they want killed into the past where they are killed by "loopers." (Credit: TriStar Pictures)

It is theoretically possible for time travelers to copy quantum data from the past, according to three scientists in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters.

It all started when David Deutsch, a pioneer of quantum computing and a physicist at Oxford, came up with a simplified model of time travel to deal with the Grandfather paradox*.  He solved the paradox originally using a slight change to quantum theory,… read more

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