science + technology news

Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity

April 23, 2015

This image shows zigzag and armchair defects in graphene (credit: Rajaram Narayanan/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which could increase battery storage capacity.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability (energy density) of capacitors for potential uses… read more

Interactive biotechnology learning and design using games and remote-control labs

April 22, 2015

biotic game with controller

Stanford Engineering | Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his team have created three related projects that begin to define the new field of interactive biotechnology.

Stanford bioengineers have developed a new approach to teaching and experimenting, using “interactive biotechnology,” with  “Biotic processing units” (BPUs) that allow for remotely interacting with biological materials and performing experiments.

“Biotechnology today is very similar to where computing… read more

How to identify which cancer drugs work best for each patient

Implantable device could allow doctors to test cancer drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy
April 22, 2015

At top, the researchers can use this device to measure how far a given drug spreads over time. At bottom, they used the device to measure the spread of four different cancer drugs. (credit: Oliver Jonas et al/Science)

More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer, but predicting which ones will help a particular patient is an inexact science at best. Now a new implantable device developed at MIT can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs promises to allow researchers to measure how effectively each one kills the patient’s cancer cells.

Such a device could eliminate much of the guesswork… read more

High-speed MRI technique captures complex vocal movements at 100 frames per second

Demonstrated with Wizard of Oz song "If I Only Had a Brain"
April 22, 2015

High-speed MRI

Beckman Institute | New Super-Fast MRI Technique: Singing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’

Scientists at the University of Illinois Beckman’s Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) have developed a real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique capable of showing dynamic images of vocal movement at 100 frames per second — the fastest MRI speed in the world, according to the scientists.

“Typically, MRI is able to acquire maybe 10 frames… read more

New WiFi system uses LED lights to boost bandwidth tenfold

April 21, 2015

LED transmission system-ft

Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology called WiFiFO (WiFi Free space Optic) that can increase the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using optical transmission via LED lights.

The technology could be integrated with existing WiFi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops, and in homes where several people have multiple WiFi devices.

Experts… read more

Acoustically driven controls go beyond a smartphone’s touch screen

April 21, 2015

Acoustruments doll-ft

Overcoming the limits of touch screens, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative: a hardware toolbox of physical knobs, sliders, and other mechanisms that can be readily added to any device.

The researchers drew inspiration from wind instruments in devising these mechanisms, which they call “Acoustruments.” The idea is to use simple 3-D-printable plug-in plastic tubes and other structures to connect the… read more

How to communicate human emotions to a hand through air

Another "computers can't...." myth bites the dust
April 21, 2015

University of Sussex researchers used a system called UltraHaptics to stimulate areas of the hand to evoke different emotions. A soft structure was used to keep the hand position steady. (credit: SCHI Lab, University of Sussex)

A University of Sussex-led study has shown that human emotions can be transferred to another person by stimulating different parts of the hand with short blasts of air to convey feelings such as happiness, sadness, excitement, or fear.

The “UltraHaptics” system sends air pulses to the area around the thumb, index finger and middle part of the palm to generate excitement; slow, moderate stimulation of the outer palm and… read more

Disney Research 3-D printer can combine fabrics, wiring

April 20, 2015

layered fabric 3D printed objects-ft

A team from Disney Research, Carnegie Mellon University and Cornell University have devised a 3-D printer that layers together laser-cut sheets of fabric to form soft, squeezable objects such as phone cases and toys. These objects can have complex geometries and incorporate circuitry that makes them interactive.

“Today’s 3-D printers can easily create custom metal, plastic, and rubber objects,” said Jim McCann, associate… read more

Nano ‘sandwich’ improves rechargeable lithium batteries

April 20, 2015

Molybdenum disulfide sheets-ft

The key to better cellphones and other rechargeable electronics may be tiny “sandwiches” made of nanosheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), according to Kansas State University assistant professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering Gurpreet Singh and his research team.

The research is focused on improving rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. The team has focused on lithium cycling of sheets, which Singh describes as a “sandwich” of… read more

Ultra-high-res nondestructive 3-D imaging of biological cells with picosecond ultrasound

April 20, 2015

conventional vs picosecnd-ultrasonic

A team of researchers in Japan and Thailand reports the first known nondestructive 3-D scan of a single biological cell using a revised form of “picosecond* ultrasound.”

This new technique can achieve micrometer (millionth of a meter) resolution of live single cells, imaging their interiors in slices separated by 150 nanometers (.15 micrometer), in contrast to the typical 0.5-millimeter (500 micrometers) spatial resolution of a standard medical MRI scan.… read more

A thumbnail track pad

Unobtrusive wearable sensor could operate digital devices or augment other device interfaces
April 17, 2015


Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory are developing a new wearable device that turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad (for controlling the position of a cursor on a screen, for example).

They envision that the technology could let users control wireless devices when their hands are full — answering the phone while cooking, for instance.

It could also augment other interfaces, allowing someone texting… read more

Double-walled carbon nanotubes can be tuned for specific electronic properties

Could lead to nanotube transistors
April 17, 2015

nanotube with two zigzag components-ft

Using atomic-level models of double-walled carbon nanotubes, Rice University scientists have found that it may someday be possible to tune double-walled tubes for specific electronic properties by controlling their configuration, chiral angles, and distance between walls.

The open-access research reported in Nanotechnology was chosen as the journal’s “publisher’s pick” this month. The journal also published an interview with the study’s lead author, Rice graduate student Matías Soto.… read more

Alpha-rhythm brain stimulation shown to boost creativity

Sets stage to potentially treat depression
April 17, 2015


By applying weak 10-Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) to the scalp to alter the brain’s alpha-wave oscillations, University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine researchers have increased creativity in healthy adults by an average of 7.4 percent.

Now they’re testing the same experimental protocol to alleviate symptoms in people with depression.

This research, published in the journal Cortex, showed that sending a current through electrodes attached to the… read more

NASA’s Mars Rover-like autonomous vehicle for Earth

April 17, 2015


NASA has released a video of their electric “extreme dexterity” Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) in operation at the Johnson Space Center, emulating NASA’s self-driving Rover.

The vehicle is designed to be driven autonomously, by a human, or teleoperated, according to a NASA document.

NASA | Modular Robotic Vehicle (MRV) created by NASA at the Johnson Space Center

Nissan teams up with NASA forread more

Are populations aging more slowly than we think?

60 is the new middle age
April 16, 2015

(credit: iStock)

Increases in life expectancy do not necessarily produce faster overall population aging, according to new open-access research published in the journal PLOS ONE.

This counterintuitive finding was the result of applying new measures of aging, developed at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to future population projections for Europe up to the year 2050.

IIASA World Population Program Deputy Director Sergei Scherbov led… read more

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