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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.

A Prosthesis for Speech

July 7, 2008

Boston University researchers are developing brain-reading computer software that is in the early stage of translating thoughts into speech, starting with vowels.

An implanted electrode picks up nerve signals related to movement of the mouth, lips, and jaw. These signals are sent wirelessly to a computer, where software analyzes them for patterns that most likely denote a particular sound, generating formant frequencies (the resonant frequencies of the vocal tract).… read more

A protein ‘passport’ that helps nanoparticles get past immune system

February 26, 2013

penn_protein_passport

The body’s immune system exists to identify and destroy foreign objects, whether they are bacteria, viruses, flecks of dirt or splinters. Unfortunately, nanoparticles designed to deliver drugs, and implanted devices like pacemakers or artificial joints, are just as foreign and subject to the same response.

Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science and Penn’s Institute for Translational Medicine andread more

A protein that makes breast cancer spread

March 13, 2008

University of California Berkeley scientists have discovered a protein that determines if breast cancer will spread and become deadly.

The protein–SATB1–changes the levels at which more than a thousand genes are expressed in breast cancer cells, seemingly controlling whether cancer cells will survive elsewhere.

The scientists say the protein–found inside the nuclei of cells–would be difficult and potentially dangerous to target with drugs. However, SATB1 levels could be… read more

A quantum computing solution for unstructured search

June 26, 2013

Bose-Einstein condensate

Tom Wong, a graduate student in physics and David Meyer, professor of mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, have proposed a new algorithm for quantum computing, that will speed up unstructured search.

The goal is to locate a particular item within an unsorted pile of data. Solving this problem on a classical computer, which uses 1s and 0s stored on magnetic media, is… read more

A Quantum Leap in Battery Design

December 21, 2009

A “digital quantum battery” concept proposed by a physicist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign could provide orders-of- magnitude-greater energy storage capacity.

The concept calls for billions of nanoscale capacitors and would rely on quantum effects to suppress arcing, which wastes stored power.

The digital part of the concept derives from the fact that each nanovacuum tube would be individually addressable. Because of this, the devices could… read more

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