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Stanford lab launches new privacy-based social network

March 14, 2014

Omlet Chat app (credit: MobiSocial Inc.)

With rising public interest in what developers refer to as the “privacy economy,” researchers from the MobiSocial Lab at the Stanford School of Engineering have announced at SXSW a new type of social network, called Omlet that allows users to control their own personal data.

Omlet “shields users from the monetization of their personal lives by giving them total and unquestioned control of their personal… read more

New type of ‘ultracold’ molecule ideal for quantum computing

March 14, 2014

Experimental setup of a magneto-optical trap (credit: Jan Kriege/Wikimedia Commons)

Purdue University researchers have created a new type of “ultracold” molecule, using lasers to cool atoms to about one thousandth of degree above absolute zero using lasers and then gluing them together, a technology that might be applied to quantum computing, precise sensors, and advanced simulations.

At these temperatures, atoms are brought to a near standstill, making possible new kinds of chemical interactions that are predominantly quantum… read more

A new quantum-cryptography scheme to secure anonymous transactions

March 13, 2014

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An international team has demonstrated a form of quantum cryptography that can protect people doing business with others they may not know or trust – a situation encountered often on the Internet and in everyday life — for example, at a bank’s ATM.

“I expect that quantum technologies will gradually become integrated with existing devices such as smartphones, allowing us to do things like identify ourselves securely or generate… read more

A step towards ‘programmable materials’

"Could change the world of mechanics forever"
March 13, 2014

A one-dimensional working model. Each stub has a piezoelectric disc (converts mechanical to electrical energy) and is connected to an external circuit to damp (reduce) a specific resonance frequency. (Credit: A. Bergamini et al./Advanced Materials)

Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have developed a prototype of a selective vibration-damping material that they claim “could change the world of mechanics forever” as a step toward “programmable materials.”

Described in the journal Advanced Materials, this “material of the future” can damp mechanical vibrations completely or selectively suppress specific vibration frequencies or ranges of frequencies.

The one-dimensional working model consists of a… read more

3D acoustic cloaking device makes objects undetectable with sound

March 13, 2014

A close up view of the 3D acoustic cloak. The geometry of the plastic sheets and placement of the holes interacts with sound waves to make it appear as if it isn’t there. (Credit: Duke University)

Using a few perforated sheets of plastic and extensive computation, Duke University engineers have demonstrated the world’s first three-dimensional acoustic cloak.

The new device reroutes sound waves to create the impression that both the cloak and anything beneath it are not there.

The acoustic cloaking device works in three dimensions, no matter which direction the sound is coming from or where the observer is located, and holds potential… read more

New research could help make ‘roll-up’ digital screens a reality

March 12, 2014

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Researchers from the University of Surrey and Philips have identified a new transistor design that could make flexible electronics such as roll-up tablet computers available in the near future.

As reported in a study published in Nature Scientific Reports (open access), they further developed their “Source Gated Transistor” (SGT) to work with next-generation digital circuits.

Previously, the researchers found that SGTs could be applied to many… read more

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

Diamond-Diagram-2-No-Back-Wireframe

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

two_dimensional_material_optoelectronics

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

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