science + technology news

Minuscule, flexible compound lenses magnify large fields of view

May lead to miniaturized lenses in cameras, cell phones, and other optical devices
November 5, 2015


Drawing inspiration from an insect’s multi-faceted eye, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have created miniature lenses with a vast range of vision. They’ve created the first flexible Fresnel zone plate microlenses with a wide field of view — a development that could allow everything from surgical scopes to security cameras and cell phones to capture a broader perspective at a fraction of the size required by conventional… read more

Graphene could take night-vision thermal imagers beyond ‘Predator’

November 5, 2015

predator alient view ft

In the 1987 movie “Predator,” an alien who sees in the far thermal infrared region of the spectrum hunts down Arnold Schwarzenegger and his team — introducing a generation of science-fiction fans to thermal imaging.

The ability of humans (or aliens) to see in the infrared allows military, police, firefighters, and others to do their jobs successfully at night and in smoky conditions. It also helps… read more

Fastest brain-computer-interface speller developed

Allows paralyzed patients to communicate at 60 characters per minute
November 5, 2015

SSVEP-based BCI speller-ft

Brain–computer interface (BCI) spellers allow a paralyzed patient to spell out words by looking at letters on a screen. Paralyzed patients can communicate by gazing at different letters to spell out a word.

Currently, the most advanced systems for doing this use “steady state visually evoked potential” (SSVEP). This method tags different characters on a screen by flashing each character at a different frequency (from… read more

3-D printed ‘building blocks’ of life

Could be used to build tissue structures and eventually micro-organs
November 4, 2015

3D printed cellular model-ft

Chinese and U.S. scientists have developed a 3-D printing method capable of producing embryoid bodies — highly uniform “blocks” of embryonic stem cells. These cells, which are capable of generating all cell types in the body, could be used to build tissue structures and potentially even micro-organs.

The results were published Wednesday Nov. 4 in an open-access paper in the journal Biofabrication. “The embryoid body is… read more

A new 3-​​D printing method for creating patient-​​specific medical devices

Especially valuable for creating catheters for prema­ture babies
November 4, 2015

Preemie (credit: March of Dimes)

Northeastern University engineers have devel­oped a 3-D printing process that uses mag­netic fields to shape com­posite materials (mixes of plas­tics and ceramics) into patient-specific biomedical devices, such as catheters.

The devices are intended to be stronger and lighter than cur­rent models and the cus­tomized design could ensure an appro­priate fit, said Ran­dall Erb, assis­tant pro­fessor in the Depart­ment of Mechan­ical and Indus­trial Engi­neering.

The magnetic field… read more

Chemical storage advance may enable more cost-effective concentrated solar-power storage

New thermochemical energy storage system is twice as efficient, with 10 times higher energy density
November 4, 2015

An advance in the storage of concentrated solar thermal energy may reduce reduce its cost and make it more practical for wider use. (credit: Kelvin Randhir, courtesy of the University of Florida)

Oregon State University (OSU) engineers have developed an innovation in chemical storage of concentrated solar thermal energy that may reduce its cost and make it more practical for wider use.

The new system uses thermochemical storage, in which chemical transformation is used in repeated cycles to hold heat, use it to drive turbines to create electricity, and then be re-heated to continue the cycle. Most commonly, this… read more

Engineers design enhanced magnetic protein nanoparticles to better track cells

November 3, 2015



MIT engineers have designed magnetic protein nanoparticles that can be used to track cells or to monitor interactions within cells. The particles, described Monday (Nov. 2) in an open-access paper in Nature Communications, are an enhanced version of a naturally occurring, weakly magnetic protein called ferritin.

“We used the tools of protein engineering to try to boost the magnetic… read more

Semantic Scholar uses AI to transform scientific search

November 3, 2015

Semantic Search

The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2) launched Monday (Nov. 2) its free Semantic Scholar service, intended to allow scientific researchers to quickly cull through the millions of scientific papers published each year to find those most relevant to their work.

Semantic Scholar leverages AI2’s expertise in data mining, natural-language processing, and computer vision, according to according to Oren Etzioni, PhD, CEO at… read more

First complete pictures of cells’ DNA-copying machinery

Electron microscope images reveal that structure of DNA-copying protein complex differs from long-held textbook view
November 3, 2015

These cartoons show the old "textbook" view of the replisome, left, and the new view, right, revealed by electron micrograph images in the current study. Prior to this study, scientists believed the two polymerases (green) were located at the bottom (or back end) of the helicase (tan), adding complementary DNA strands to the split DNA to produce copies side by side. The new images reveal that one polymerase is located at the front end of the helicase. The scientists are conducting additional studies to explore the biological significance of this unexpected location. (credit: Brookhaven National Laboratory)

The first-ever electron microscope images of the protein complex that unwinds, splits, and copies double-stranded DNA reveal something rather different from the standard textbook view.

The images, created by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory with partners from Stony Brook University and Rockefeller University, offer new insight into how this molecular machinery functions, including new possibilities about its role… read more

Just one junk-food snack triggers signals of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes
November 3, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Just one high-calorie milkshake was enough to make metabolic syndrome worse for some people. And overindulgence in just a single meal or snack (especially junk food) is enough to trigger the beginnings of metabolic syndrome, which is associated with the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes (obesity around the waist and trunk is the main sign).

That finding… read more

China plans world’s largest supercollider

CERN also planning High-Luminosity LHC upgrade for 2025
November 2, 2015

large hadron collider ft

Chinese scientists are completing plans for the Circular Electron Positron Collider (CEPC), a supergiant particle collider. With a circumference of 80 kilometers (50 miles) when built, it will be at least twice the size of the world’s current leading collider, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, outside Geneva, according to the Institute of High Energy Physics in Beijing. Work on the collider is expect to start in 2020.… read more

Massive supercomputer simulation models universe from near birth until today

One of the largest cosmological simulations ever run
November 2, 2015

Galaxies have halos surrounding them, which may be composed of both dark and regular matter. This image shows a substructure within a halo in the Q Continuum simulation, with "subhalos" marked in different colors. (credit: Heitmann et al.)

The Q Continuum simulation, one of the largest cosmological simulations ever performed, has modeled the evolution of the universe from just 50 million years after the Big Bang to the present day.

DOE’s Argonne National Laborator led the simulation on the Titan supercomputer at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Over the course of 13.8 billion years, the matter in the universe clumped… read more

Single-agent phototherapy system diagnoses and kills cancer cells

November 2, 2015

Phototherapy-System ft

Researchers at Oregon State University have announced a new single-agent phototherapy (light-based) approach to combating cancer, using a single chemical compound (SiNc-PNP), for both diagnosis and treatment.

The compound makes cancer cells glow when exposed to near-infrared light so a surgeon can identify the cancer. The compound includes a copolymer called PEG-PCL as the biodegradable carrier. The carrier causes the silicon naphthalocyanine to accumulate selectively in cancer… read more

How to build a full-scale quantum computer in silicon

The key is scalable error correction
November 2, 2015

2D donor qubit-array-ft

A new 3D silicon-chip architecture based on single-atom quantum bits has been designed by researchers at UNSW Australia (The University of New South Wales) and the University of Melbourne.

The use of silicon makes it compatible with existing atomic-scale fabrication techniques, providing a way to build a large-scale quantum computer.**

The scientists and engineers from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellenceread more

Is this the ‘ultimate’ battery?

October 30, 2015

False-colour microscopic view of a reduced graphene oxide electrode (black, centre), which hosts the large (on the order of 20 micrometers) lithium hydroxide particles (pink) that form when a lithium-oxygen battery discharges (credit: T Liu et al./Science)

University of Cambridge scientists have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery that has very high energy density (storage capacity per unit volume), is more than 90% efficient, and can be recharged more than 2000 times (so far), showing how several of the problems holding back the development of more powerful batteries could be solved.

Lithium-oxygen (lithium-air) batteries have been touted as the… read more

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