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The first flexible, transparent, and conductive material

Could finally lead to a fully foldable cell phone or television screen
February 6, 2014

UH Au nanomesh

University of Houston researchers have developed a new stretchable and transparent electrical conductor, bringing the potential for a fully foldable cell phone, or a flat-screen television that can be folded and carried under your arm, closer to reality.

Such a material has to be transparent, flexible, and conductive. Some materials have two of the components, but until now, finding one with all three has remained difficult.

Zhifeng Ren,… read more

MITRE-Harvard nanocomputer may point the way to future computer miniaturization

February 6, 2014

Fig. S3. Fabricated chip. (A) SEM image of the final chip having 204 contact pads on the outer periphery of the chip. The pads match the pins of a probe card that is connected to the test system. (Scale bar, 500 μm.) The metal pads and fan-in interconnect lines appear bright in the image. (B) SEM image of the inner layout of the fabricated chip as indicated in the dashed box in A. The red dashed box region corresponds to the three-tile circuit shown in Fig. 1E. (Scale bar,<br />
100 μm.) (Credit: Jun Yao et al./PNAS)

An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University have taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore’s Law. They designed and assembled, from the bottom up, a functioning, ultra-tiny control computer (nanocontroller) that they say is the densest nanoelectronic system ever built.

The “nanoelectronic finite-state machine” (“nanoFSM”) or nanocomputer measures 0.3 x 0.03… read more

First single-molecule LED

February 5, 2014


The first single-molecule LED has been created by researchers at IPCMS in Strasbourg and the Institut Parisien de Chimie Moléculaire (CNRS/UPMC).

The device, formed from a single polythiophene chain placed between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope and a gold surface, emits light only when the current passes in a certain direction.

This experiment sheds light on the interactions between electrons and photons at the… read more

Virus-free, cord-blood-derived stem cells repair retinal tissue in mice

February 5, 2014


Investigators at Johns Hopkins report they have developed human induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) capable of repairing damaged retinal vascular tissue in mice.

The stem cells, derived from human umbilical cord-blood and coaxed into an embryonic-like state, were grown without the conventional use of viruses, which can mutate genes and initiate cancers, according to the scientists. Their safer method of growing the cells has drawn increased support among scientists, they… read more

DNA-origami nanotubes self-align with self-organized nanoscale patterns to create nanoelectronic circuits

February 5, 2014


As we start to reach physical limits, one approach to continued miniaturization of microelectronics is with “DNA origami,” in which strands of DNA are formed into nanostructures to act as scaffolds for manufacturing nanoelectronic components, such as nanowires.

But forming entire circuits with this method requires precisely controlled positioning of these nanostructures on a surface, requiring very elaborate techniques.

Researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany… read more

Will ‘borophene’ replace graphene as a better conductor of electrons?

February 5, 2014


Researchers from Brown University have found evidence for a theoretical material they call “borophene” — a boron-based competitor to graphene.

Boron is carbon’s neighbor on the periodic table. Borophene has 36 boron atoms in a flat disc with a hexagonal hole in the middle.

Borophene is predicted to be fully metallic, whereas graphene is a semi-metal. That means borophene might end up being a better conductor… read more

Do autistic brains create more information at rest or do they have weaker connectivity — or both?

February 4, 2014

Information gain in the brain's resting state. (A) Schematic black-box representation of cortical dynamics in the resting state. (B) The information gain is significantly increased by 42% in autistic relative to non-autistic children. (Credit: José L. Pérez Velázquez1,2 and Roberto F. Galán3*

New research from Case Western Reserve University and University of Toronto neuroscientists finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest — a 42% increase on average.

The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism — withdrawal into one’s own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child’s detachment from their environment.

Published in Frontiersread more

‘Electronic tongue’ identifies brands of beer with 81.9% accuracy

February 4, 2014


Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an “electronic tongue,” with an accuracy of 81.9%.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona used an array of 21 sensors formed from ion-selective electrodes, including some with response to cations (ammonium, sodium), others with response to anions (nitrate, chloride, etc.), and electrodes with generic (unspecified) responses.

The authors recorded the multidimensional response generated by the… read more

Bodily maps of emotions

February 4, 2014

bodily maps featured

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have compiled maps of emotional feelings associated with culturally universal bodily sensations, which could be at the core of emotional experience.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions… read more

Antibiotic ‘smart bomb’ can target specific strains of bacteria

February 4, 2014

CRISPR figures-mBio

North Carolina State University researchers have developed an antibiotic “smart bomb” that can identify specific strains of bacteria and sever their DNA, eliminating the infection. The technique offers a potential approach to treat infections by multi-drug-resistant bacteria.

“Conventional antibiotic treatments kill both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria, leading to unintended consequences, such as opportunistic infections,” says Dr. Chase Beisel, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at… read more

Storage system dramatically speeds access to ‘big data’

February 3, 2014


MIT researchers have developed a storage system for big-data analytics that can dramatically reduce the time it takes to access information by using a network of flash storage devices.

Currently, information tends to be stored on multiple hard disks on a number of machines across an Ethernet network.

With the new flash-based storage system, data in a large dataset can typically be randomly accessed in microseconds. That’s about… read more

Training your brain using MEG neurofeedback

February 3, 2014

Electra Neuromag (credit: Elekta, Inc.)

Magnetoencephalography (MEG) can be used as a potential therapeutic tool to control and train specific targeted brain regions, a study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The Neuro), McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre has demonstrated.

MEG has important clinical applications for numerous neurological and neuropsychiatric conditions, the researchers say.

MEG is a non-invasive imaging technology that measures magnetic fields generated… read more

‘Rogue’ asteroids may be the norm

February 3, 2014


A new map of asteroids developed by researchers from MIT and the Paris Observatory charts the size, composition, and location of more than 100,000 asteroids throughout the solar system, and shows that rogue asteroids are more common than previously thought.

Particularly in the solar system’s main asteroid belt — between Mars and Jupiter — the researchers found a compositionally diverse mix of asteroids.

The new asteroid… read more

Quantum engineers make a major step towards a scalable quantum computer

Quantum interference on a chip
February 3, 2014

(Credit: Nature)

Scientists and engineers from an international collaboration led by Mark Thompson from the University of Bristol have, for the first time, generated and manipulated single photons on a silicon chip — a major step forward in the race to build a quantum computer, achieved by shrinking down key components and integrating them onto a silicon microchip, according to the researchers.

Previous attempts have required external… read more

Quantum espionage

February 3, 2014

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Will a future NSA quantum computer really be capable of cracking nearly every kind of encryption, as reported in The Washington Post (based on documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden)?

Not likely, say some experts. “Even if a quantum code cracker can be built, it might be defeated by encryption algorithms already in the works — or by another technology, called quantum key distribution,… read more

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