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Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems?

An "artificial atom" makes photons behave like exotic matter
September 12, 2014

Oscillations of photons create an image of frozen light. At first, photons in the experiment flow easily between two superconducting sites, producing the large waves shown at left. After a time, the scientists cause the light to 'freeze,' trapping the photons in place. Fast oscillations on the right of the image are evidence of the new trapped behavior. (Credit: Princeton University)

Researchers at Princeton University have “crystallized” light. They are not shining light through crystal — they are actually transforming light into crystal, as part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors.

The researchers locked together photons so that they became fixed in place. “It’s something that we have never seen before,” said Andrew Houck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and… read more

Cool electrons enable transistors with low energy consumption

September 12, 2014

A chip, which contains nanoscale structures that enable electron cooling at room temperature, is pictured (credit: UT Arlington)

UT Arlington researchers have discovered a way to cool electrons to -228 °C at room temperature, which could lead to a new type of transistor that can operate at extremely low energy consumption levels.

The process involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating. The team detailed its research in Nature Communications (open access) on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

“We… read more

New synthetic gene circuits can perform complex bio-logic tasks

Programming synthetic cells for tasks such as production of biofuels, environmental remediation, and treatments for human diseases
September 11, 2014

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Kansas Medical Center are using multiple chimeric transcription factors as logic circuits to perform complex tasks in cells. The circuits are triggered when modular protein domains sense the presence of specific chemical combinations in a cell. (Credit: Bennett Lab/Rice University)

Researchers at Rice University and the University of Kansas Medical Center are making genetic circuits that can perform complex tasks by swapping protein building blocks.

The modular genetic circuits,  which are engineered from parts of otherwise unrelated bacterial genomes, can be set up to handle multiple chemical inputs simultaneously with a minimum of interference from their neighbors.

The work, reported in the American Chemical… read more

Reprogramming your brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation

September 11, 2014

A mouse (happy and awake) receiving LI-rTMS (credit: University of Western Australia)

Weak repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied to mice can shift abnormal neural connections to more normal locations in the brain, researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France have demonstrated.

The discovery has implications for treatment of nervous system disorders related to abnormal brain organization, such as depression, epilepsy, and tinnitus.

To better… read more

’1 in 5 chance’ Ebola will spread to the US in September

Ebola cases "increasing exponentially ... many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming 3 weeks" --- World Health Organization
September 10, 2014

Air traffic connections from West African countries to the rest of the world (credit: PLOS Currents: Outbreaks)

The number of new cases in Liberia is “increasing exponentially,” according to a statement Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO), and “many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming 3 weeks.”

There’s also a 20% chance that that the Ebola epidemic (as it is now called) will reach the U.S. by the end of September, according to experts writing in… read more

First direct brain-to-brain communication between human subjects

EEG and TMS signals enable first successful brain-to-brain transmission
September 10, 2014

BCI-CBI ft.

An international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers have demonstrated the first direct remote brain-to-brain communication between two humans located 5,000 miles away from each other and communicating via the Internet, as reported in a paper recently published in PLOS ONE (open access).

In India, researchers encoded two words (“hola” and “ciao”) as binary strings and presented them as a series of cues on a computer monitor. They recorded… read more

Slowing down the aging process by ‘remote control’

September 10, 2014

Activating a gene called AMPK in the nervous system induces the anti-aging cellular recycling process of autophagy in both the brain and intestine. Activating AMPK in the intestine leads to increased autophagy in both the intestine and brain. Matthew Ulgherait, David Walker and UCLA colleagues showed that this 'inter-organ' communication during aging can substantially prolong the healthy lifespan of fruit flies. (Credit: Matthew Ulgherait/UCLA)

UCLA biologists have identified a gene that can slow the aging process throughout the entire body when activated remotely in key organ systems.

Working with fruit flies, the life scientists activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells; it gets activated when cellular energy levels are low.

Increasing the amount of AMPK in fruit flies’ intestines increased their lifespans by about 30 percent… read more

Milestone reached in building replacement kidneys in the lab

September 10, 2014

Clotting of kidney's blood vessels (left) with previous kidney-implant process not found with new process (right) (credit: In Kap Ko et al./Technology)

Regenerative medicine researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina have developed what they say is the most successful method to date to keep blood vessels in new human-sized pig kidney organs open and flowing with blood — a major challenge in the quest to build replacement kidneys in the lab.

The work is reported in the journal Technology.

“According to the… read more

Discovery shows route to industrial-scale production of graphene

September 9, 2014

A model of the intercalation of Brønsted acid molecules between single-atomic layers of graphene (credit: Mallouk Lab, Penn State University)

A team of Penn State scientists has discovered a route to making single-layer graphene that has been overlooked for more than 150 years and that makes it easier to ramp up to industrial scale.

Graphene — a tightly bound single layer of carbon atoms with super strength and the ability to conduct heat and electricity better than any other known material — has potential industrial uses that include flexible… read more

Ultrasensitive biosensor using molybdenite semiconductor outshines graphene

74-fold higher sensitivity than graphene; may lead to "true evidence-based, personalized medicine"
September 9, 2014

MoS2_biosensor

An atomically thin, two-dimensional, ultrasensitive semiconductor material for biosensing developed by University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers promises to push the boundaries of biosensing technology in many fields, from health care to environmental protection to forensic industries.

It’s based on molybdenum disulfide, or molybdenite (MoS2), which KurzweilAI has been covering as an alternative to graphene.

Molybdenum disulfide — commonly used as a dry… read more

How to ‘switch off’ autoimmune diseases

September 8, 2014

Aggressor cells, which have the potential to cause autoimmunity, are targeted by treatment, causing conversion of these cells to protector cells. Gene expression changes gradually at each stage of treatment, as illustrated by the color changes in this series of heat maps. (Credit: University of Bristol/Dr. Bronwen Burton)

University of Bristol researchers have discovered how to stop cells from attacking healthy body tissue in debilitating autoimmune diseases (such as multiple sclerosis), where the body’s immune system destroys its own tissue by mistake.

The cells were converted from being aggressive to actually protecting against disease.

The study, funded by the Wellcome Trust, was published September 3 in Nature Communications (open access).

The researchers hope the finding… read more

Atomically seamless, thinnest-possible semiconductor junctions created

September 8, 2014

As seen under an optical microscope, the heterostructures have a triangular shape. The two different monolayer semiconductors can be recognized through their different colors. (Credit: University of Washington)

University of Washington researchers have have developed what they believe is the thinnest-possible semiconductor, a new class of nanoscale materials made in sheets only three atoms thick.

They joined two different single-layer semiconductor materials in a heterojunction.

The new finding  could be the basis for next-generation flexible and transparent computing, better light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and solar technologies.

“Heterojunctions are fundamental elements of electronic… read more

These bots were made for walkin’

A resilient untethered soft robot
September 8, 2014

Soft Robotics, a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly online with Open Access options and in print, combines advances in biomedical engineering, biomechanics, mathematical modeling, biopolymer chemistry, computer science, and tissue engineering to present new approaches to the creation of robotic technology and devices that can undergo dramatic changes in shape and size in order to adapt to various environments. Led by Editor-in-Chief Barry A. Trimmer, PhD and a distinguished team of Associate Editors, the Journal provides the latest research and developments on topics such as soft material creation, characterization, and modeling; flexible and degradable electronics; soft actuators and sensors; control and simulation of highly deformable structures; biomechanics and control of soft animals and tissues; biohybrid devices and living machines; and design and fabrication of conformable machines. Tables of content and a sample issue can be viewed on the Soft Robotics website. (Credit: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers)

An autonomous shape-changing soft robot that walks on its own four “legs” has been developed by advanced materials chemist George Whitesides, PhD and colleagues and is featured (open access) in the current issue of Soft Robotics, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

Imagine a 0.65-meter-long (2 feet), non-rigid, shape-changing, four-legged robot walking at 18 meters (59 feet)… read more

A robot vacuum cleaner with 360° vision

September 5, 2014

Dyson 360 Eye

James Dyson, Founder and Chief Engineer of Dyson, introduced Thursday the Dyson 360 Eye robot vacuum cleaner, with a 360° vision system.

The robot builds a detailed floor plan to navigate around a room and track its position.

Infrared sensors work in conjunction with a lens on the top of the machine that houses a 360° panoramic camera.

Infrared sensors work in conjunction… read more

Atomically thin molybendum disulfide opens door to high-speed integrated nanophotonic circuits

September 5, 2014

Far-field photons excite silver nanowire plasmons. The wire plasmons propagate to the wire's distal end where they efficiently interact with the two-dimensional material semiconductor molybdenum disulfide (MoS2). The plasmons are absorbed in the MoS2 creating excitons that subsequently decay converting back into propagating photons. (Credit: Illustration by Michael Osadciw, Creative Services, University of Rochester)

Scientists at the University of Rochester and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have devised an experimental circuit consisting of a silver nanowire and a single-layer atomically thin flake of molybendum disulfide (MoS2) — a step toward building computer chips capable of transporting digital information at light speed.

The researchers used a laser to excite electromagnetic waves called plasmons (vibrating electron clouds)… read more

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