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A Plastic That Chills

August 12, 2008

Thin films of a new polymer developed at Penn State change temperature in response to changing electric fields (the electrocaloric effect).

This could lead to new technologies for cooling computer chips and environmentally friendly refrigerators.

A Plastic Wrapper Today Could Be Fuel Tomorrow

April 9, 2007

A “fuel-latent plastic,” designed for conversion, can be used like ordinary plastic, but when it is waste, the “bioplastic” can easily be turned into a substitute diesel fuel.

A Portable DNA Detector

September 24, 2008
(University of California, Berkeley)

University of California, Berkeley researchers have developed a portable DNA analyzer that performs real-time analysis of blood samples left at the scene of a crime in six hours or less, packing microfluidics, electronics, optics, and chemical detection technology into a single briefcase-sized unit.

A Portable Refinery Powered by Garbage

February 14, 2007

Researchers at Purdue University have led development of a portable “tactical” biorefinery for the U.S. Army that turns a variety of waste streams into a mixture of ethanol and methane gas, which are burned in a modified diesel engine to produce electricity.

A possible solution to a critical barrier to producing fusion energy

April 24, 2012

The Alcator C-Mod tokamak experiment at the MIT Plasma Science and Fusion Center. Overview showing the device itself (under concrete shielding) and diagnostics in surrounding bay. (Credit:  Wikimedia Commons)

Princeton physicists have discovered a possible solution to a mystery that has long baffled researchers working to harness fusion as a source of power.

If confirmed by experiment, the finding could help scientists eliminate a major impediment to the development of fusion as a clean and abundant source of energy for producing electric power.

An in-depth analysis by scientists from the U.S. Department of… read more

A powerful lens technology inspired by the human eye

November 15, 2012

These light-gathering polymer lenses are 3.5 times more powerful than glass, and are the first commercial nanolayered product to come out of many years of R&D at Case Western Reserve University. To create the lenses, a 4,000-layer film is coextruded, and then 200 layers of film are stacked to create an 800,000-nanolayer sheet. (Credit: Michael Ponting/PolymerPlus)

Drawing heavily upon nature for inspiration, a team of researchers has created a new artificial lens made up of thousands of nanoscale polymer layers that is nearly identical to the natural lens of the human eye.

The lens may one day provide more natural performance in implantable lenses to replace damaged or diseased human eye lenses, as well as consumer vision products; it also may lead to… read more

A powerful microscale actuator for microrobotics and drug delivery

Can deliver a force 1000 times greater than human muscle of the same weight
December 18, 2012

transforms from a metal into an insulator at a critical temperature near room temperature

A powerful new microscale actuator that can flex like a miniature beckoning finger has been developed by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley.

It is based on a material that expands and contracts dramatically in response to a small (15 degrees C) temperature variation. It is smaller than the width of a human hair and… read more

A Practical Fuel-Cell Power Plant

November 1, 2006

GE’s advance allows for a solid-oxide fuel cell to use coal-based fuels at costs approaching that of conventional power plants.

The final product can be built for about $800 a kilowatt, which starts to approach the $500-to-$550-per-kilowatt cost of building a conventional gas-fired power plant.

A precise new quantitative brain-scan measurement method

Can quantify the volume of specific brain tissues, a critical measurement of the progression of brain diseases
November 19, 2013

The image is of the macromolecule tissue volume (MTV)  map in a  3D view within a human brain.

An interdisciplinary Stanford team has developed a new method for quantitatively (using numbers) measuring human brain tissue using MRI (which formerly provided mostly qualitative, such as “bright” or “dark,” information).

The team members measured the volume of large molecules (macromolecules) within each cubic millimeter of the brain. Their method may improve how doctors diagnose and treat neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

“We’re moving from qualitative… read more

A pressure switch inside the head

November 8, 2012

View of the not yet completely enclosed intracranial pressure sensor (credit: Dr. Thomas Velten/Fraunhofer IBMT)

An increase in cerebral pressure may cause dementia or even destroy the brain, but there’s no reliable sensor available (they quickly corrode), and current intracranial pressure systems keep patients in a hospital for days or weeks.

So Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering (IBMT) researchers have developed a small implantable sensor for cerebral pressure that’s waterproof, using a casing made from high-grade titanium. It’s… read more

A Prettier Way to Browse the Social Web

July 21, 2010

Flipboard, a start-up that is unveiling its iPad app on Wednesday, builds a personalized magazine full of updates, photos and articles shared by a reader’s friends or by people they choose to follow on Twitter and Facebook. Soon it plans to incorporate material from other sources, such as Flickr, Foursquare, Yelp and perhaps e-mail messages and attachments.

Flipboard arranges status update so they look like pull quotes and… read more

A Price Drop for Solar Panels

May 1, 2008

A shortage of the silicon used in solar panels is almost over, industry analysts predict. This could lead to a sharp drop in prices over the next couple of years, making solar electricity comparable to power from the grid.

Added silicon production capacity is now starting to begin operations. While only 15,000 tons of silicon were available for use in solar cells in 2005, by 2010, this number could… read more

A projector the size of a sugar cube

September 13, 2006

No larger than a sugar cube, a video projector developed by researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems contains just a single mirror which can be rotated around two axes.

A promising new direction for organ regeneration and tissue repair

Promising effects for liver, kidney and lung regeneration and wound healing
August 2, 2013

Liver regeneration

Most human tissues do not regenerate spontaneously. But now, researchers have identified an entirely new approach to enhance normal tissue growth, a finding that could have widespread therapeutic applications, according to a team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center.

Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS)read more

A Prosthesis for Balance

April 1, 2008

Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary neuroscientists have built a prosthesis to replace the balance function of the inner ear’s vestibular system and are testing it in monkeys.

The prosthesis mimics the orientation-sensing semicircular canals. An external motion sensor measures body rotation and a microprocessor processes and transfers that data to an electrode implanted into the inner ear. This is similar to how a cochlear implant works for hearing.

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