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A solar-to-fuel roadmap for crystalline silicon

March 5, 2013


An MIT research team has published a detailed analysis of all the factors that could limit the efficiency of an “artificial leaf” — a small device that, when placed in a container of water and exposed to sunlight, would produce bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen for storing energy.

The new analysis lays out a roadmap for a research program to improve the efficiency of these systems, and… read more

A Soldier, Taking Orders From Its Ethical Judgment Center

November 26, 2008

“My research hypothesis is that intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can,” said Ronald C. Arkin, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech, who is designing software for battlefield robots under contract with the Army.

He and others say that the technology to make lethal autonomous robots is inexpensive and proliferating, and that the advent of these robots on the battlefield is only a… read more

A Soldier’s (Robotic) Best Friend

February 24, 2009

The U.S. Army has released new footage of the BigDog robot–a sophisticated, four-legged “pack-bot” designed to carry 340-pound payloads across all kinds of terrain–up or down hills, through ice, sand, snow, and dirt–by monitoring sensors in its legs and adjusting its posture accordingly.

A solid case of entanglement

January 12, 2010

For the first time, physicists have convincingly demonstrated that physically separated particles in solid-state devices can be quantum-mechanically entangled.

The experiment, which used electrons in a superconductor in place of photons in an optical system, forming entangled “Cooper pairs” over a micron or so, was conducted by a team of physicists from France, Germany and Spain.

A solid-state sequencer

February 25, 2013


Nabsys has developed a solid-state gene sequencing machine that will allow researchers to determine the structural organization of long stretches of DNA, MIT Technology Review reports.

This differs from most existing sequencing methods, which read DNA in short snippets that are later stitched together by software. The new system will, at first, complement existing methods, but it could eventually offer cheaper and faster sequencing than… read more

A Sound Way To Turn Heat Into Electricity

June 4, 2007

University of Utah physicists have developed small devices that turn heat into sound and then into electricity. The technology holds promise for changing waste heat into electricity, harnessing solar energy and cooling computers and radars.

A space-time crystal clock that will last forever

Berkeley Lab researchers propose a way to build the first space-time crystal
September 25, 2012


Imagine a clock that will keep perfect time forever, even after the heat-death of the universe — a four-dimensional “space-time crystal” with periodic structure in time as well as space.

With such a 4D crystal, scientists would have a new and more effective way to study how complex physical properties and behaviors emerge from the collective interactions of large numbers of individual particles, the “many-body problem” of physics. A space-time crystal… read more

A Special Drug Just for You, at the End of a Long Pipeline

November 8, 2005

The age of personalized medicine is on the way. Increasingly, experts say, therapies will be tailored for patients based on their genetic makeup or other medical measurements. That will allow people to obtain drugs that would work best for them and avoid serious side effects.

A Species in a Second: Promise of DNA ‘Bar Codes’

December 14, 2004

If it works as promised, DNA bar coding will assist in the urgent task of cataloging unknown species before their ranks are decimated by extinction.

The technique depends on analyzing part of just one gene, the same gene in all cases, for every species.

If and when a DNA bar code database of all terrestrial plant and animal species is established, a field biologist could take a tiny… read more

A spinning black hole at a galaxy’s center

September 28, 2012


An international team, led by researchers at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, has for the first time measured the radius of a black hole at the center of a distant galaxy — the closest distance at which matter can approach before being irretrievably pulled into the black hole.

Black holes that can be billions of times more massive than our sun may reside at the heart of most galaxies.… read more

A Sponge’s Guide to Nano-Assembly

June 6, 2006

University of California, Santa Barbara researchers, using clues gleaned from marine sponges, have developed a method of synthesizing semiconducting materials with useful structures and novel electronic properties.

The first applications could be ways to make materials for more powerful batteries and highly efficient solar cells at a lower price.

A spray-on computer is way to do IT

August 25, 2003

Researchers at Edinburgh University are developing spray-on computers using tiny semiconductor specks the size of a grain of sand that can sense, compute and communicate wirelessly.

They plan to spray the devices on the chests of coronary patients to record a patient’s health and transmit information back to a hospital computer, eliminating the need to lug a large machine around or hospital visits.

A sprinkling of nanotubes makes plants shoot up

October 5, 2009

Tomato seeds planted in growth medium that contained carbon nanotubes germinated sooner and seedlings grew faster, University of Arkansas researchers have found.

The nanotubes appear to penetrate the thick seed coat, which would allow water to enter the dry seeds more rapidly.

A Spy Machine of DARPA’s Dreams

May 21, 2003

Going beyond the controversial Total Information Awareness database project, DARPA is currently asking businesses and universities for research proposals for its LifeLog research project, intended to gather every bit of information about a person’s life and activities, index it, and make it searchable.

LifeLog would combine this information with information gleaned from a variety of sources: a GPS transmitter to keep tabs on where that person went, audio-visual sensors… read more

A Star Trek ‘tractor’ beam for microscopic objects

January 28, 2013

In the experimental system, a light beam is converted into a pulling device that gathers microscopic polystyrene spheres just like when using a chain (credit: University of St Andrews)

A miniature “tractor” beam that allows a beam of light to attract objects (as featured in Star Trek movies) has been created by researchers from the University of St Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments (ISI) in the Czech Republic.

This is the first time a light beam has been used to draw objects towards a light source. It generates a special optical field… read more

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