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First human climbing of glass wall, using gecko-inspired paddles

June 13, 2014

During testing, an operator climbed 25 feet vertically on a glass surface using no climbing equipment other than a pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles (credit: : DARPA)

The first known human climbing of a glass wall using gecko-inspired climbing devices has been demonstrated by DARPA’s Z-Man program.

A 218-pound climber ascended and descended 25 feet of glass with no climbing equipment other than a pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles (he also carried an additional 50-pound load in one trial).

A gecko is able to climb on glass by using… read more

Paralyzed person wearing brain-controlled exoskeleton to kick off the World Cup today

June 12, 2014

The first ceremonial kick of the World Cup game (Brazil 2014) may be made by a paralyzed teenager wearing a robotic body suit (credit: Walk Again Project)

A paralyzed person wearing a brain-controlled robotic exoskeleton is expected to make the first kick during the opening of the FIFA 2014 World Cup in Brazil on June 12.

The Walk Again Project is an international collaboration of more than 100 scientists, led by Prof. Miguel Nicolelis of Duke University and the International Institute for Neurosciences of Natal, Brazil.… read more

Terahertz detectors using carbon nanotubes may lead to major imaging improvements

Could allow a handheld detector to replace MRI machines
June 12, 2014

This illustration shows an array of parallel carbon nanotubes 300 micrometers long. Attached to electrodes, they display unique qualities as a photodetector (credit: Francois Leonard, Sandia National Laboratories)

Researchers at three institutions have teamed up to develop new terahertz detectors based on carbon nanotubes that could lead to significant improvements in medical imaging, airport passenger screening, food inspection, and other applications.

The research at Sandia National Laboratories, Rice University and the Tokyo Institute of Technology is described in a paper in Nano Letters journal. The technique uses carbon nanotubes to detect… read more

Researchers create miniature human retina in a dish

June 11, 2014

These are rod photoreceptors (in green) within a "mini retina" derived from human iPS cells in the lab (credit: Johns Hopkins Medicine)

Johns Hopkins researchers have created a miniature human retina in a dish that can sense light.

The work, reported online June 10 in the journal Nature Communications, “advances opportunities for vision-saving research and may ultimately lead to technologies that restore vision in people with retinal diseases,” says study leader M. Valeria Canto-Soler, Ph.D., an assistant professor of ophthalmology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.… read more

3D-bioprinting improved artificial blood vessels

The future: transplantable tissues customized to each patient's needs or be used outside the body to develop safe, effective drugs
June 11, 2014

Artificial blood vessels are created using hydrogel constructs that combine advances in 3-D bioprinting technology and biomaterials (credit: Khademhosseini Lab)

A Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) team has created artificial blood vessels using a three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technique.

The study is published online this month in Lab on a Chip.

“Engineers have made incredible strides in making complex artificial tissues such as those of the heart, liver and lungs,” said senior study author, Ali Khademhosseini, PhD, biomedical engineer, and director of the BWH Biomaterialsread more

New molecular self-assembly process scales up from nanometers to millimeters

June 10, 2014

Schematics and electron microscope image of self-assembled polymeric nanostructure (credit: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland)

Finnif

Finnish and Italian researchers have developed a way to align molecular self-assemblies from nanometers to millimeters, an alternative to conventional top-down lithography approaches for creating electronic devices.

Molecular self-assembly, a concept derived from biology, leads to spontaneous organization of molecules into more complex and functional supramolecular structures.

Molecular self-assembly has been used for “templating” (using a pattern to cut or shape) functional devices, molecular… read more

Nanoparticle thin films that self-assemble in one minute

Could generate new families of optical coatings for solar energy, nanoelectronics, and computer memory storage
June 10, 2014

Upon solvent annealing, supramolecules made from gold nanoparticles and block copolymers will self-assemble into highly ordered thin films in one minute (credit: Berkeley Labs)

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers have devised a technique that allows  supramolecules (self-assembling nanoparticle arrays) to form a highly ordered thin film over macroscopic (large-scale) distances in one minute, instead of hours.

The supramolecules are based on block copolymers that were combined with gold nanoparticles to create nanocomposites. Under solvent annealing, these quickly self-assembled into hierarchically structured thin films spanning an area of several square… read more

A self-assembling protein nanocage

Could be used for targeted delivery of drugs, vaccine development, and electronic devices
June 10, 2014

This is a computational model of a successfully designed two-component protein nanocage with tetrahedral symmetry (credit: Dr. Vikram Mulligan)

University of Washington (UW) scientists have developed a new computational method for building new customized proteins that self-assemble (like biological systems) to revolutionize things like targeted delivery of drugs, vaccine development, and even electronic devices.

The work is based in the Rosetta macromolecular modeling package, which was developed by David Baker’s laboratory at the UW Institute for Protein Design, in collaboration… read more

How to build an optical invisibility cloak for a diffusive medium

June 9, 2014

In a diffusive light-scattering medium, light moves on random paths (see magnifying glass). A normal object (left) casts a shadow, an object with an invisibility cloak (right) does not.. (Credit: R. Schittny / KIT)

Invisibility cloaks can’t make objects fully invisible in all directions, colors, and polarizations, but Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) physicists have developed a workaround: an ideal invisibility cloak for diffusive light-scattering media, such as fog.

Their results are published in the journal Science.

In diffusive media, light is scattered by the particles in the medium. Examples are fog, clouds, or frosted glass panes that let the… read more

Chatbot ‘Eugene Goostman’ passes Turing Test, Warwick claims

June 9, 2014

Eugene

The Turing Test was passed for the first time by a chatbot called “Eugene Goostman” on Saturday by convincing 33% of the human judges that it was human, according to Professor Kevin Warwick, a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading and Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at Coventry University, in a statement.

The Turing Test, proposed by mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing in a 1950 paper,… read more

Improved supercapacitors for better batteries, electric vehicles

Provides two times more energy and power compared to supercapacitors commercially available today
June 6, 2014

ucr-supercapacitor

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have developed a new graphene-based nanoscale architecture that improves the performance of supercapacitors, a development that could mean faster acceleration in electric vehicles and longer battery life in portable electronics.

A supercapacitor is an energy storage device like a battery. The new design is based on ruthenium oxide anchored on a graphene foam electrode. It could deliver two times… read more

Wires that can store energy like batteries

Imagine being able to power a miniaturized smartphone in the fabric of your jacket, replacing bulky batteries
June 6, 2014

Copper wire surrounded by two supercapacitor layers interfaced with nanowhiskers (credit: UCF)

University of Central Florida researchers have invented a way to store energy in a copper wire by wrapping a supercapacitor* sheath around a core conductor wire, acting as a battery to power a connected device.

Applications could include electrical vehicles, space-launch vehicles, and portable electronic devices. By being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries could become a thing of the… read more

Sperm-inspired microrobots controlled by magnetic fields

May be useful for drug delivery, IVF, cell sorting, and nano/micro assembly
June 5, 2014

microrobot

A team of researchers at the University of Twente (Netherlands) and German University in Cairo has developed sperm-inspired microrobots that can be controlled by weak oscillating magnetic fields.

Described in a cover article in AIP Publishing’s journal Applied Physics Letters, the 322 micron-long robots consist of a head coated in a thick cobalt-nickel layer and an uncoated tail.

When the microrobot is subjected to an oscillating field of… read more

3D material that behaves like graphene discovered

June 5, 2014

Scientists at Oxford, SLAC, Stanford and Berkeley Lab have discovered that a sturdy 3-D material, cadmium arsenide, mimics the electronic behavior of 2-D graphene. This illustration depicts fast-moving, massless electrons inside the material. The discovery could lead to new and faster types of electronic devices. (Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC)

Cadmium arsenide could yield practical devices with the same extraordinary electronic properties as 2D graphene, researchers from Oxford, SLAC, and Berkeley Lab have found.

In addition, the new “semimetal” material exists in a sturdy 3D form that should be much easier to shape into electronic devices such as very fast transistors, sensors and transparent electrodes, the researchers say.

The results are described… read more

Milky Way may have 100 million life-giving planets

“It seems highly unlikely that we are alone.”
June 5, 2014

Milky Way arch as seen from Chile (credit: Bruno Gilli/European Southern Observatory)

There are some 100 million other places in the Milky Way galaxy that could support life above the microbial level, reports a group of astronomers in the journal Challenges (open access), based on a new computation method to examine data from planets orbiting other stars in the universe.

“This study does not indicate that complex life exists on that many planets; we’re saying that there are planetary conditions that… read more

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