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A new supercapacitor for energy storage at high temperatures

September 5, 2013


Rice University researchers who have developed a supercapacitor that can operate at very high temperatures, using clay as a key ingredient.

The supercapacitor is reliable at temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), and could be useful for powering devices for use in extreme environments, such as oil drilling, the military and space, Rice scientist Pulickel Ajayan reported in Nature’s… read more

Creating a low-cost, flexible touchscreen

September 5, 2013

nanowire combinations

Future touchscreens* will be flexible, cheap, and give you finer touch-control.

The secret: replace currently used indium tin oxide (ITO) — which is expensive, rare, and worse, brittle — with cheap, flexible metal nanowires that can even be sprayed on.

Unfortunately, there has been no simple way to design a touchscreen using nanowires that will provide an optimum combination of low resistance, evenness, and transparency.

It’s trial-and-error:… read more

Microencapsulation produces uniform drug release vehicle

September 4, 2013

Composite Spheres

Consistently uniform, easily manufactured microcapsules containing a brain cancer drug may simplify treatment and provide more tightly controlled therapy, according to Penn State researchers.

“Brain tumors are one of the world’s deadliest diseases,” said Mohammad Reza Abidian, assistant professor of bioengineering, chemical engineering and materials science and engineering. “Typically doctors resect the tumors, do radiation therapy, and then chemotherapy.”

The majority of chemotherapy is… read more

‘Biological resynchronization’: stem cells keep cardiac beat in synchrony

September 4, 2013

Regeneration of damaged heart tissue synchronizes its motion (credit: Wiley)

Stem cell therapy used to regenerate injured tissue in the heart restores synchronous pumping, a new study by a team at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota has found.

The team proposes a novel strategy of “biological resynchronization” in which stem cells repair heart muscle damage to reestablish correct cardiac motion, replacing pacing devices,

Heart attacks limit local oxygen, which can kill areas of cardiac tissue —… read more

DNA-based biological nanostructures for controlled drug delivery

September 4, 2013

A DNA cage (at left), with lipid-like molecules (in blue). The lipids come together in a ‘handshake’ within the cage (center image) to encapsulate small-molecule drugs (purple). The molecules are released (at right) in response to the presence of a specific nucleic acid.

Nanoscale “cages” made from strands of DNA can encapsulate small-molecule drugs and release them in response to a specific stimulus, McGill University researchers report in a new study.

The research marks a step toward the use of biological nanostructures to deliver drugs to diseased cells in patients.

The findings could also open up new possibilities for designing DNA-based nanomaterials.

“This research is important… read more

Remembering Frederik Pohl

September 4, 2013


Science Fiction Grand Master Fred Pohl passed away on September 2, at age 93.

“I called Fred the ‘essential’ science fiction author. In much the same way that the other ‘pole’ of science fiction – Poul Anderson – was the greatest natural storyteller I ever knew, Fred Pohl was the SF writer who cared most about the gedankenexperiment or what-if thought experiment,” notes scientist/futurist/science-fiction author David Brin in a moving tribute.… read more

Artificial robot muscles that could lift loads 80 times their weight

A future Iron Man technology?
September 4, 2013

An artificial muscle (the transparent strip with thin black lines running down its length) being pre-stretched

National University of Singapore’s (NUS) engineers have created efficient artificial muscles that could one day carry 80 times their own weight and extend to five times their original length when carrying the load.

The team’s invention could lead to life-like robots with superhuman strength and ability and convert and store energy, which could help the robots quickly charge themselves.

Powerful human-like muscles for robotsread more

World’s most precise clock

September 4, 2013

QuASAR atomic clock. Ytterbium atoms are generated in an oven (cylinder on left) and sent to a vacuum chamber (center) to be manipulated and probed by lasers. Courtesy: NIST

Imagine a clock precise to one second in a period comparable to the age of the universe (more than 13 billion years).

That’s what National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) scientists have built, with funding from DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR) program: two optical

read more

Transparent ‘window to the brain’ allows for laser treatments without repeated surgery

September 3, 2013

A cross section of the head that shows how the transparent skull implant works.

University of California, Riverside researchers have developed a novel transparent skull implant that literally provides a “window to the brain.”

They hope to eventually open new treatment options for patients with life-threatening neurological disorders, such as brain cancer and traumatic brain injury.

The implant is made of the same ceramic material currently used in hip implants and dental crowns and is well-tolerated by the body — yttria-stabilized zirconia… read more

Self-powered nanoparticles instantly deliver healing drugs to bones

Bioelectric field pulls the negatively charged nanoparticles toward the bone crack
September 3, 2013


A novel method for finding and delivering healing drugs to newly formed microcracks in bones has been invented by a team of chemists and bioengineers at Penn State University and Boston University.

The method involves the targeted delivery of the drugs, directly to the cracks, on the backs of tiny self-powered nanoparticles. The energy that revs the motors of the nanoparticles and sends them rushing… read more

Turning genes on and off in cells by reprogramming an RNA sequence

New method for turning genes on and off could enable more complex synthetic biology circuits
September 3, 2013


MIT researchers have shown that they can turn genes on or off inside yeast and human cells by controlling when DNA is copied into messenger RNA — an advance that could allow scientists to better understand the function of those genes.

The technique could also make it easier to engineer cells that can monitor their environment, produce a drug or detect disease, says… read more

Fiber-optic/nanocrystal system enables live nanoscale sensing

Can sense changes to a single living cell in the human body in response to chemical signals
September 3, 2013


Researchers have identified the “world’s most sensitive nanoparticle” and can measure it from a distance, using light.

The discovery, by a team of researchers from Macquarie University, the University of Adelaide, and Peking University, opens the way for rapid localization and measurement of cells within a living environment at the nanoscale.

These super-bright, photostable nanocrystals enable a new approach to highly advanced sensing technologies using… read more

Fluorescent organic nanoparticles operating as cell tracers outperform existing methods for long-term tracking of living cells

September 3, 2013

AIE dot

An Asian research team has developed a method for continually tracking biological processes for long periods of time, using noninvasive fluorescent organic tracers, overcoming the limitations of inorganic quantum dots and other methods.

Bin Liu and Ben Zhong Tang of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore and their co-workers developed inorganic quantum dots (nanocrystals) composed of a small number of organic… read more

Spanish doctor performs first surgery transmitted live via Google Glass

September 2, 2013

Spanish surgeon with Glass

Dr. Pedro Guillén, Head of Traumatology Service at Clínica CEMTRO in Madrid, is the first surgeon in the world to perform surgery transmitted live via Google Glass.

The surgery, performed on June 21, 2013, pre-dated surgery performed at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center on August 21, 2013, which was the first such surgery performed in the U.S., as previously reported on… read more

Improved thermoelectric materials may give a push to Moore’s law

Could also lead to improved 3D chips and “system on chip” integrated circuits, reduced energy consumption of cars, environmentally clean alternatives to current materials
September 2, 2013


Heat build up in computer chips is a key factor leading to progress in chips hitting the “power wall” — blocking  increases in chip speed and slowing down the doubling of chip-transistor density (Moore’s law).

One solution is thermoelectric materials, which convert heat into electricity that can be used for cooling (also used in solid-state refrigerators)*.

But progress in developing these materials has also hit a wall.… read more

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