science + technology news

A mind to walk again

May 18, 2012


Dr. José Contreras-Vidal of the University of Houston has designed a pair of bionic legs that respond directly to signals from the brain.

The problem with the current brain-computer interface approach — implanting electrodes into a brain, as in the BrainGate2 system, is that it’s a dangerous procedure and can also lead to infections. It also requires a bulky hardware system.

Contreras-Vidal’s approach gets round these difficulties by… read more

A ‘mini heart’ to help return venous blood

A solution for chronic venous insufficiency, one of the most widespread diseases in the Western world
April 1, 2014

CardioVein snapshot

George Washington University (GW) researcher Narine Sarvazyan, Ph.D., has invented a new organ to help return blood flow from veins lacking functional valves. A rhythmically contracting cuff made of cardiac muscle cells surrounds the vein acting as a ‘mini heart’ to aid blood flow through venous segments. The cuff can be made of a patient’s own adult stem cells, eliminating the chance of implant rejection.… read more

A Miniature Synchrotron: researchers get a new tool to determine protein structures

February 4, 2008

Lyncean Technologies researchers have built a room-sized miniature synchrotron that produces the same quality of x-ray beams as synchrotrons many times larger, offering scientists a new way to perform x-ray experiments in their own labs.

A mobile device for preventing and treating drug use

February 9, 2012

iHeal system architecture

University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers are developing a smartphone-based system called “iHeal” that detects drug cravings and attempts to prevent drug use.

A drug user wears a sensor band around their wrist that measures skin conductance, skin temperature, motion, and pulse — all indicators of arousal or stress. The band wirelessly transmits information to a smartphone, where apps monitor and process the user’s physiological data using… read more

A Modular Robot That Puts Itself Back Together Again

August 4, 2009

University of Pennsylvania researchers have developed a walking robot constructed from modules that are designed to separate on impact, find each other, and reassemble into a working robot.

A molecular database for developing organic solar cells

June 26, 2013


Harvard researchers have released a massive database of more than 2 million molecules that might be useful in the construction of solar cells that rely on organic compounds for construction of organic solar cells for the production of renewable energy.

Developed as part of the Materials Genome Initiative launched by the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) the goal of… read more

A ‘molecular flashlight’ that illuminates brain tumors in mice

August 14, 2013

illuminates mouse medulloblastoma (credit: Sarah J. Moore et al./PNAS)

In a breakthrough that could have wide-ranging applications in molecular medicine, Stanford University researchers have created a bioengineered peptide that enables imaging of medulloblastomas, among the most devastating of malignant childhood brain tumors, in lab mice.

The researchers altered the amino acid sequence of a cystine knot peptide — or knottin — derived from the seeds of the squirting cucumber, a plant native to Europe, North Africa… read more

A molecular light-driven nanosubmarine

Potential medical and other uses
November 16, 2015

Rice University scientists have created light-driven, single-molecule submersibles that contain just 244 atoms (credit: Loïc Samuel/Rice University)

The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour has created single-molecule, 244-atom submersibles with motors powered by ultraviolet light, as they reported this month in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

With each full revolution, the motor’s tail-like propeller moves the sub forward 18 nanometers, but with the motors running at more than a million RPM, that translates into almost 1 inch per second —… read more

A molecular map for aging in mice

November 29, 2007

Researchers at the National Institute of Aging and Stanford University have used gene arrays to identify genes whose activity changes with age in 16 different mouse tissues.

The study describes how aging affects different tissues in mice, and ultimately could help explain why lifespan is limited to just two years in mice.

A Molecular Map of Aging

December 4, 2007

Researchers at Stanford University and the National Institute on Aging have generated a database that catalogues how gene expression–a measure of how active a gene is–changes in different parts of the body as the animals age.

The findings suggest that different tissues age very differently, and this could help pinpoint when it is appropriate to use mice as a model of human aging–and when it’s not.

A molecular ‘switch’ to reprogram control pathways in cells

"Molecular network diverter" can tweak the control systems that regulate the inner workings of cells, leading to future medical interventions to switch off diseased states or turn on healthy processes
August 20, 2013

molecular diverter2

Stanford University bioengineer has helped develop a technology dubbed a “molecular network diverter” that can tweak the control systems that regulate the inner workings of cells, pointing the way toward future medical interventions that could switch off diseased states or turn on healthy processes.

This molecular diverter uses the concerted action of three biological sub-systems to redirect signaling pathways — complex networks of molecular interactions that… read more

A ‘molecule scanner’ — world’s smallest teraHertz detector

August 7, 2013

Experimental setup to demonstrate the feasibility of generating THz field at nanoscale. A nanojunction, consisting of a ∼10 nm wide nanowire with a<br />
∼10 nm insulating barrier, is fabricated a<br />
interface with c-AFM lithography. Ultrafast (∼30 fs) optical pulses from a Ti:Sapphire laser are divided into “pump” and “probe” beams by a Mach−Zehnder interferometer.

Molecules could soon be “scanned” in a fashion similar to imaging screenings at airports, thanks to a detector developed by University of Pittsburgh physicists.

The detector may have the ability to chemically identify single molecules using terahertz radiation — a range of light far lower in frequency (0.1 to 30 THz) than visible light but higher than microwaves.

Terahertz radiation is commonly used in airport scanners.… read more

A Moment Of Tooth

January 6, 2009

The tooth will probably be the first complex organ to be completely regenerated from stem cell, University of Southern California researchers say.

Groups in Japan and Taiwan and at the University of Michigan are using stem cells to create hard and soft tissue in humans. The idea is to take a tooth about to fall out and reconnect it firmly.

A more powerful ‘lab-on-a-chip’ for genetic analysis

August 2, 2011

Microfluidic chip (credit: University of British Columbia)

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) have invented a microfluidic silicone chip that could make genetic analysis more sensitive, rapid, and cost-effective by allowing individual cells to fall into place like balls in a pinball machine.

The UBC device — about the size of a nine-volt battery — allows scientists to simultaneously analyze 300 cells individually by routing fluid-carrying cells through microscopic tubes… read more

A More Robust Grid for Manhattan

May 28, 2007

Supercooled, superconducting power cables are being examined as a way to add redundancy in the cramped quarters of Manhattan’s local power grid, potentially protecting against natural disruptions and terrorist attacks.

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