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Watch scientists ‘herd’ cells with electric fields for controlled tissue engineering

March 12, 2014

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Researchers at UC Berkeley found that an electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, an achievement that could establish the basis for more controlled forms of tissue engineering and for potential applications such as “smart bandages” that use electrical stimulation to help heal wounds.

In the experiments, described in a study published this week in the journal Nature Materials, the… read more

Rice bioengineers invent systems for ‘genetic circuit analysis’

"Light tube array," "bioscilloscope," "function generator" test, debug genetic circuits
March 12, 2014

‘Light tube array” (credit: Rice University)

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice University bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

“Life is controlled by DNA-based circuits, and these are similar to the circuits found in electronic devices like smartphones and computers,”… read more

Super-resolution atom-by-atom laser machining method allows for making nanoscale devices

March 11, 2014

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Australian researchers have discovered how to use laser light to pick apart a substance atom by atom, allowing for creating new nanoscale diamond devices.

“Lasers are known to be very precise at cutting and drilling materials on a small scale — less than the width of a human hair, in fact — but on the atomic scale they have notoriously poor resolution,” says lead researcher Associate Professorread more

A telescope bigger than a galaxy

March 11, 2014

Abell 2744 cluster (credit: STScI)

Astronomers have announced a view of the universe though a lens more than 500,000 light years wide, as part of a program called “Frontier Fields” to search for the first galaxies.

The “lens” is actually a massive cluster of galaxies known as Abell 2744. As predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the mass of the cluster warps the fabric of space around it. Starlight passing by… read more

One-molecule-thick material could lead to ultrathin, flexible solar cells and LEDs

March 11, 2014

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A team of MIT researchers has used a novel material that’s just a few atoms thick to create devices that can harness or emit light.

This proof-of-concept design could lead to ultrathin, lightweight, and flexible photovoltaic cells, light emitting diodes (LEDs), and other optoelectronic devices, the researchers say.

The research was published in the March 9 issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Researchers at Vienna Universityread more

Robotic prosthesis turns drummer into a three-armed cyborg

March 10, 2014

This robotic drumming prosthesis has motors that power two drumsticks. One is controlled by muscle sensors. The other is autonomous. (Credit: Georgia Tech)

Georgia Tech Professor Gil Weinberg has created a robotic drumming prosthesis that can be attached to amputees.

It has motors that power two drumsticks. The first stick is controlled both physically by the musicians’ arms and electronically using electromyography (EMG) muscle sensors. The other stick “listens” to the music being played and improvises.

“The second drumstick has a mind of its own,” said Weinberg, founding director… read more

NASA tests new robotic refueling technologies

March 10, 2014

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NASA has successfully concluded a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer hazardous oxidizer — a type of propellant — into the tanks of satellites in space today.

NASA is also incorporating results from this test and the Robotic Refueling Mission on the International Space Station to prepare for an upcoming ground-based… read more

A small step toward seeing habitable planets

March 10, 2014

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University of Arizona researchers have snapped images of a planet outside our solar system with an Earth-based telescope using a CCD imaging sensor, which is also found in digital cameras, instead of an thermal infrared detector.

“This is an important next step in the search for exoplanets because imaging in visible light instead of thermal infrared is what we likely have to do if we want to… read more

Three-part nanoparticles for biomedicine eliminate biocompatibilty, storage problems

March 10, 2014

two nanoparticles

Researchers in the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Nanoparticles by Design Unit have created nanoparticles for biomedicine that address current problems with biomedically relevant nanoparticles,  such as:

  • Nanoparticles are primarily made using chemicals, which may be harmful to the patient.
  • The fabrication process takes several steps, the size of the particles is difficult to control, and the particles can only survive in

read more

Imaging small biomolecules inside live cells

March 7, 2014

Images of stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) microscopy coupled with alkyne tags for visualizing a broad spectrum of small molecule dynamics in live cells and animals, including metabolic incorporation of small molecule precursors of nucleic acids for de novo synthesis of DNA (magenta image) and RNA (cyan image), amino acids for newly synthesized proteins (red image), lipids for choline phospholipids (yellow image) and triglycerides (blue image); and delivery pathways of small molecule drugs in mouse ear tissues (green image). (Credit: Lu Wei of Columbia University)

Researchers at Columbia University have made a significant step toward visualizing small biomolecules inside living biological systems with minimum disturbance, a longstanding goal in the scientific community.

In a study published March 2nd in Nature Methods, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Wei Min’s research team has developed a general method to image a broad spectrum of small biomolecules, such as small molecular drugs and nucleic acids, amino acids,… read more

Optical nano-tweezers allow for manipulating molecules, other nanoscale objects

March 7, 2014

The image on the left is an electron beam microscopy image of the extremity of the plasmon nano-tweezers. The image on the right is a sketch illustrating the trapping of a nanoparticle in the bowtie aperture. (Credit: Institute of Photonic Sciences)

Researchers at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Catalonia have invented nano-optical tweezers capable of trapping and moving an individual nano-object in three dimensions using the force of light.

“This technique could revolutionize the field of nanoscience since, for the first time, we have shown that it is possible to trap, 3D-manipulate, and release a single nano-object without exerting any mechanical contact or other invasive action,” said Romain… read more

‘Multiferroics’ advances promise increased power efficiency for future computer processors

March 7, 2014

Multiferroic_Materials

A team led by researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has made major improvements in computer processing using an emerging class of magnetic materials called “multiferroics,” and these advances could make future devices far more energy-efficient than current technologies.

With today’s microprocessors, electric current passes through transistors (electronic switches). Because current involves the movement of electrons, this process produces heat —… read more

Credit card-sized device could analyze biopsy, help diagnose pancreatic cancer in minutes

Use in diagnosis of other cancers also planned
March 6, 2014

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University of Washington scientists and engineers are developing a low-cost device that could help pathologists diagnose pancreatic cancer* earlier and faster.

The prototype can perform the basic steps for processing a biopsy, relying on fluid transport instead of human hands to process the tissue.

“This new process is expected to help the pathologist make a more rapid diagnosis and be able to determine more accurately how… read more

Supplement added to a standard diet improves health and prolongs life in mice

March 5, 2014

Representative photographs from blinded histopathological analysis of kidney, liver, and lung panels for mice on standard diet (SD) and SRT1720 supplementation

Activating a protein called sirtuin 1 extends lifespan, delays the onset of age-related metabolic diseases, and improves general health in mice. The findings, which appear online February 27 in the Cell Press journal Cell Reports, point to a potentially promising strategy for improving health and longevity.

Sirtuin 1, or SIRT1, is known to play an important role in maintaining metabolic balance in multiple tissues, and studies in… read more

Robotic-assisted prostate surgery offers better cancer control, study finds

March 5, 2014

da Vinci Si robot (credit: Intuitive Surgical)

An observational study from UCLA‘s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center has found that prostate cancer patients who undergo robotic-assisted prostate surgery have fewer instances of cancer cells at the edge of their surgical specimen and less need for additional cancer treatments like hormone or radiation therapy than patients who have traditional “open” surgery.

The study, published online Feb. 19 in the journal European Urology, was led… read more

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