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How to modify a 3-D printer to print high-performance products

January 20, 2016

Ultrasonic waves form tiny glass fibres into a pattern of lines. Each of the fibres is smaller than the thickness of a human hair.  Collectively they create a reinforcing microstructure that gives the component increased strength. (credit: Image courtesy of Tom Llewellyn-Jones, Bruce Drinkwater and Richard Trask © 2016)

University of Bristol engineers have developed a new type of 3-D printing that can print strong composite materials.

The new method is based on a modification of an off-the-shelf 3D printer: mounting a switchable, focused laser module and an ultrasonic alignment apparatus.

The method uses ultrasonic waves to position and align millions of microscopic glass fibers to form reinforcement fibers into a framework that gives the material strength.… read more

Open-source GPU could push computing power to the next level

January 20, 2016

Maxwell, Nvidia’s most powerful GPU architecture (credit: Nvidia)

Nvidia | Mythbusters Demo GPU versus CPU

Binghamton University researchers have developed Nyami, a synthesizable graphics processor unit (GPU) architectural model for general-purpose and graphics-specific workloads, and have run a series of experiments on it to see how different hardware and software configurations would affect the circuit’s performance.

Binghamton University computer science assistant professor Timothy Miller said the results will… read more

NIST simulates fast, accurate DNA sequencing through graphene nanopore

January 19, 2016

NIST concept for DNA sequencing through a graphene nanopore (credit: Smolyanitsky/NIST)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have simulated a new concept for rapid, accurate gene sequencing by pulling a DNA molecule through a tiny chemically activated hole in graphene—an ultrathin sheet of carbon atoms—and detecting changes in electrical current.

The NIST simulation study suggests the method could identify about 66 million bases per second with 90 percent accuracy and no false positives.… read more

Tiny electronic implants monitor brain injury, then melt away

Eliminate the need for additional surgery to remove monitors and reduce risk of infection and hemorrhage
January 19, 2016

rat implantation model ft

Researchers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a new class of small, thin electronic sensors that can monitor temperature and pressure within the skull — crucial health parameters after a brain injury or surgery* — then melt away when they are no longer needed, eliminating the need for additional surgery to remove the monitors and reducing… read more

A self-assembling molecular nanoswitch

A possible future molecular memory device
January 18, 2016

Calculated adsorption geometry of porphine adsorbed at copper bridge site (credit: Moritz  Müller et al./J. Chem. Phys.)

Technical University of Munich (TUM) researchers have simulated a self-assembling molecular nanoswitch in a supercomputer study.

As with other current research in bottom-up self-assembly nanoscale techniques, the goal is to further miniaturize electronic devices, overcoming the physical limits of currently used top-down procedures such as photolithography.

The new TUM research focuses on porphine (C20H14N4, the simplest form of porphyrin* organic molecules), interacting on… read more

‘Bubble pen’ can precisely write patterns with nanoparticles as small as 1 nanometer

Allows for more easily building tiny machines, biomedical sensors, optical computers, solar panels, and other devices --- no complex clean room required; portable version planned
January 15, 2016

bubble pen ft

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have created “bubble-pen lithography” — a  device and technique to quickly, gently, and precisely use microbubbles to “write” using gold, silicon and other nanoparticles between 1 and 100 nanometers in size as “ink” on a surface.

The new technology is aimed at allowing researchers to more easily build tiny machines, biomedical sensors, optical… read more

Microbots individually controlled using magnetic fields

Possible uses include additive manufacturing, cell sorting, cell manipulation, and cancer cell detection
January 15, 2016

This image shows how two microbots can be independently controlled when operating within a group. (Purdue University image/David Cappelleri)

Purdue University researchers have developed a method to use magnetic fields to independently control individual microrobots operating within groups.

The design allows for each microbot to work independently while operating in groups, similar to how ants work.  Until now, it was generally only possible to control groups of microbots to move generally in unison, said David Cappelleri, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.… read more

Why doesn’t my phone understand me yet?

January 13, 2016

context lacking ft

Because machines can’t develop a shared understanding of the people, place and situation — often including a long social history, the key to human communication) — say University of California, Berkeley, postdoctoral fellow Arjen Stolk and his Dutch colleagues.

In other words, machines don’t consider the context of a conversation the way people do.

The word “bank,” for example, would be interpreted one way if… read more

UCSD spinoffs create lab-quality portable 64-channel BCI headset

Dry electrodes and Bluetooth take the EEG lab to the street, with NSF, DARPA, and Army funding
January 13, 2016

Bioengineers and cognitive scientists have developed the first portable, 64-channel wearable brain activity monitoring system that's comparable to state-of-the-art equipment found in research laboratories. The system also includes a sophisticated software suite for data interpretation and analysis. (credit: Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

The first dry-electrode, portable 64-channel wearable brain-computer interface (BCI) has been developed by bioengineers and cognitive scientists associated with UCSD Jacobs School.

The system is comparable to state-of-the-art equipment found in research laboratories, but with portability, allowing for tracking brain states throughout the day and augmenting the brain’s capabilities, the researchers say. Current BCI devices require gel-based electrodes or fewer than 64 channels.

The… read more

Could this common painkiller become a future cancer-killer?

January 12, 2016

(credit: iStock)

Diclofenac, a common painkiller, has significant anti-cancer properties, researchers from the Repurposing Drugs in Oncology (ReDO) project have found.

ReDO, an international collaboration between the Belgium-based Anticancer Fund and the U.S.- based GlobalCures, has published their investigation into diclofenac in the open-access journal ecancermedicalscience.

Diclofenac is a well-known non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) widely used to treat pain in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, migraine, fever, acute… read more

Self-adaptive material heals itself, stays tough

May be a useful biocompatible material for tissue engineering or a lightweight, defect-tolerant structural component
January 12, 2016

Rice University postdoctoral researcher Pei Dong holds a sample of SAC, a new form of self-adapting composite. The material has the ability to heal itself and to regain its original shape after extraordinary compression. (credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

A flexible adaptive material invented at Rice University combines self-healing and reversible self-stiffening properties.

The material, called SAC (for self-adaptive composite), consists of sticky, micron-scale rubber balls that form a solid matrix. The researchers made SAC by mixing two polymers and a solvent that evaporates when heated, leaving a porous mass of gooey spheres. When cracked, the matrix quickly heals, over and over. And like a sponge, it… read more

DNA ‘lock and key’ allows for precision drug delivery to target cancer and other cells

January 12, 2016

DNA nanopore ft

Scientists at University College London (UCL) and Nanion Technologies in Munich have developed synthetic DNA-based pores that control which molecules can pass through a cell’s wall, achieving more precise drug delivery.

Therapeutics, including anti-cancer drugs, are ferried around the body in nanoscale carriers called vesicles, targeted to different tissues using biological markers. The new DNA-based pore design is intended to improve that process.

DNA Lock-and-key drug delivery

In… read more

Why evolution may be intelligent, based on deep learning

Like neural networks, evolution appears to "learn" from previous experience, which may explain how natural selection can produce such apparently intelligent designs
January 11, 2016

Moth Orchid (credit: Imgur.com)

A computer scientist and biologist propose to unify the theory of evolution with learning theories to explain the “amazing, apparently intelligent designs that evolution produces.”

The scientists — University of Southampton School of Electronics and Computer Science professor Richard Watson* and Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest) professor of biology Eörs Szathmáry* — say they’ve found that it’s possible for evolution to exhibit some of the same intelligent… read more

‘Robotic falcon’ can capture, retrieve renegade drones

January 11, 2016

Mo Rastgaar's drone catcher speeds toward a rogue drone. (credit: Michigan Technological University)

Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, and his team have developed a drone catcher that can pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events, and even the White House — as startled Secret Service officers discovered when one crash-landed on the White House lawn last January.

It’s a simple system (see video below):… read more

A battery that shuts down at high temperatures and restarts when it cools

Good news for future hoverboard and laptop users
January 11, 2016

Stanford researchers have developed a thin polyethylene film that prevents a lithium-ion battery from overheating, then restarts the battery when it cools. The film is embedded with spiky nanoparticles of graphene-coated nickel. (credit: Zheng Chen)

Stanford researchers have invented a lithium-ion battery that shuts down before overheating to prevent the battery fires that have plagued laptops, hoverboards and other electronic devices. The battery restarts immediately when the temperature cools.

The design is an enhancement of a wearable sensor that monitors human body temperature invented by Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. The sensor is made of a plastic material… read more

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