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Scientists bypass spinal column non-invasively to trigger walking

Could allow paraplegics to walk some day
August 18, 2014

An artificial connection from brain to locomotion circuit (credit: Yukio Nishimura)

Japanese researchers have created an “artificial neural connection” (ANC) from the brain directly to the spinal locomotion center in the lower thoracic and lumbar regions of the spine, potentially one day allowing patients with spinal-cord damage, such as paraplegics, to walk.

The study led by Shusaku Sasada, research fellow, and Yukio Nishimura, associate professor, both of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS), was published… read more

‘Shape-memory polymer’ material could help reconstruct faces

New material molds itself precisely to the shape of the bone defect without being brittle and also supports the growth of new bone tissue
August 18, 2014

A new material that changes shape upon heating could help heal bone lesions caused by injuries, tumor removal or birth defects, such as cleft palates. (The white bar is 1 cm, or less than half an inch long.) (Credit: Melissa Grunlan, Ph.D.)

Texas A&M University researchers have developed a “self-fitting” material that expands with warm salt water to precisely fill bone defects and also acts as a scaffold for new bone growth, as they reported last week at the 248th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Currently, the most common method for filling bone defects in the head, face or jaw (known as the cranio-maxillofacial… read more

A self-organizing thousand-robot swarm

August 15, 2014

The Kilobots, a swarm of one thousand simple but collaborative robots. (Credit: Mike Rubenstein and Science/AAAS.)

The first thousand-robot flash mob has assembled at Harvard University.

“Form a sea star shape,” directs a computer scientist, sending the command to 1,024 little bots simultaneously via an infrared light. The robots begin to blink at one another and then gradually arrange themselves into a five-pointed star. “Now form the letter K.”

The ‘K’ stands for Kilobots, the name given to these extremely simple robots, each just… read more

Could ‘genetically edited’ fruits avoid the GMO backlash?

August 15, 2014

Genetically edited apples that don't brown when sliced could be possible (credit: iStock)

Recent advances in precise editing of genomes now raise the possibility that fruit and other crops might be genetically improved without the need to introduce foreign genes, as in  genetically modified organisms (GMOs), say researchers writing in the Cell Press publication Trends in Biotechnology on August 13.

The notion is that “genetically edited” fruits might be met with greater acceptance than GMOs. This could mean “super bananas” that produce more vitamin… read more

Complex 3D physical tissue model simulates live cortex biochemical and electrical behavior

August 15, 2014

(Credit: Tufts University)

Tufts University researchers have developed the first reported complex three-dimensional model made of material that simulates cortical tissue’s biochemical and electrophysiological responses.
“Rather than reconstructing a whole-brain network, we aimed at reducing the structural complexity to fundamental features that are relevant to tissue-level physiological functions,” the authors note in a paper in the August 11 Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Funded by… read more

Could hemp nanosheets topple graphene for better supercapacitor electrodes?

No, you can't smoke the supercapacitor
August 14, 2014

Hemp field in Côtes-d'Armor, Brittany, France (credit: Barbetorte, Creative Commons)

As hemp* makes a comeback in the U.S. after a decades-long ban on its cultivation, scientists are reporting that fibers from the plant can pack as much energy and power as graphene, long-touted as the model material for supercapacitors.

David Mitlin, Ph.D., explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered.

Unlike today’s rechargeable… read more

Eco-friendly ‘pre-fab’ self-assembling nanoparticles could revolutionize nano manufacturing

August 14, 2014

Pre-assembly of molecules and polymer chains from the<br />
molecular scale to form nanoscale "pre-fab" building modeules will<br />
allow making large, mesoscale assemblies for devices.  In this way<br />
the mesoscale patterns can utilize the improved electronic properties<br />
in the pre-assembled modules.

University of Massachusetts Amherst scientists have developed a breakthrough technique for creating water-soluble nano-modules and controlling molecular assembly of nanoparticles over multiple length scales.

The new method should reduce the time nanotech manufacturing firms spend in trial-and-error searches for materials to make electronic devices such as solar cells, organic transistors, and organic light-emitting diodes.

“The old way can take years,” says materials chemist Paul Lahti,… read more

Blood-brain-barrier disruption with high-frequency pulsed electric fields

August 14, 2014

A cortical microvessel stained for blood–brain barrier protein ZO-1 (credit: Nathan S. Ivey/Wikimedia Commons/)

A team of researchers from Virginia Tech and Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences have developed a new technique for using pulsed electric energy to open the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) for treating brain cancer and neurological disorders.

Their Vascular Enabled Integrated Nanosecond pulse (VEIN pulse) procedure consists of inserting minimally invasive needle electrodes into the diseased tissue and applying multiple bursts of 850-nanosecond pulsed electric… read more

Robot-assisted ultrasound imaging supported in two research studies

August 13, 2014

Telerobotic ultrasound

Two recent research studies “lift robotic imaging and telemedicine to the next level,” says Sherif F. Nagueh, MD, Medical Director of the Echocardiography Laboratory at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in Houston, Texas in JACC-Imaging.

In Germany, Partho P. Sengupta, MD, of Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai used a small, lightweight robotic-arm connected to a personal computer in Munich to do… read more

Implanted neuronal stem cells generate neurons and synapses, becoming a functioning part of mouse brain

August 13, 2014

Part of a brain slice in which a transplanted induced neural stem cell is fully integrated in the neuronal network of the brain (blue) to develop into a complex and functional neuron (credit: University of Luxembourg)

Scientists at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg have grafted induced neuronal stem cells (iNSC) into the brains of mice, with long-term functionality and stability, for the first time. Six months after implantation, the new neurons, reprogrammed from skin cells, became fully and functionally integrated into the brain, creating synapses and glial cells.

This successful implantation of neurons raises… read more

Nanocubes of magnetic material align into DNA-like helical structures

Research could lead to future novel self-assembled materials
August 12, 2014

SEM image of a well-defined double helix (credit: Weizmann Institute of Science)

Weizmann Institute scientists have found that given the right conditions, cube-shaped nanoparticles self-assemble into unexpectedly beautiful and complex helical structures.

The scientists describe their research in the journal Science.

Rafal Klajn, PhD, and postdoctoral fellow Gurvinder Singh, PhD, of the Institute’s Organic Chemistry Department used nanocubes of an iron oxide material called magnetite, which has magnetic properties.

Together with the research group of… read more

Infrared-based haptic ‘buzz’ device found to work as well as vision in experiment

August 12, 2014

University of Cincinnati psychology grad student Luis Favela has tested the ability of blind people* to navigate a house-like structure using a device called the Enactive  Torch.

Favela found the device enables the visually impaired to judge their ability to comfortably pass through narrow passages, like an open door or busy sidewalk, as well as if they were actually seeing such pathways themselves.

The… read more

3D sketching system ‘revolutionizes’ design interaction and collaboration

University of Montreal researchers present their Hyve-3D system at SIGGRAPH 2014 conference
August 12, 2014


University of Montreal researchers have developed a collaborative 3D sketching system called Hyve-3D (Hybrid Virtual Environment 3D), which they presented at the SIGGRAPH 2014 conference in Vancouver this week.

“Hyve-3D is a new interface for 3D content creation via embodied and collaborative 3D sketching,” said lead researcher Professor Tomás Dorta of the university’s School of Design.

“The system is a… read more

How to synthesize structurally pure carbon nanotubes using molecular ‘seeds’

By smoothing nanotube irregularities, a new process could lead to smaller, faster-switching next-generation electronic and electro-optical components
August 11, 2014

Scanning tunneling microscopy images the precursor, the «folded» end cap, and the resulting carbon nanotube, together with the corresponding structural models. (Credit: Empa/Juan Ramon Sanchez Valencia)

Researchers at Empa and the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research have succeeded in “growing” single-wall carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) with a single predefined structure, with identical electronic properties.

The CNTs self-assembled out of tailor-made organic precursor molecules on a platinum surface, as reported by the researchers in the journal Nature.

With a diameter of roughly one nanometer, SWCNTs should be considered as quantum… read more

Lower-cost high-brightness LEDs possible with ‘wonder material’ perovskite

August 11, 2014

LEDs made from perovskite (credit: Zhi-Kuang Tan)

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich have demonstrated a new hybrid form of perovskite* materials, using them to make high-brightness LEDs that the researchers say will be cheaper and easier to manufacture in the future.

The materials could also be used in flexible color displays.

The results are published in the journal Natureread more

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