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Layered ’2D nanocrystals’ could replace CMOS transistors

April 18, 2013

Researchers are developing a new type of semiconductor technology, pictured here, for future computers and electronics based on "two-dimensional nanocrystals." The material is layered in sheets less than a nanometer thick that could replace today's silicon transistors. (Credit: Birck Nanotechnology Center/Purdue University)

Purdue University researchers are developing a new type of semiconductor technology for future computers and electronics that could replace today’s CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors.

It’s based on “two-dimensional nanocrystals” layered in sheets less than one nanometer thick.

The layered structure is made of a material called molybdenum disulfide, which belongs to a new class of semiconductors — metal di-chalogenides.

The nanocrystals are… read more

Synthetic biologists vs. conservationists

The unintended consequences of tinkering with nature
April 18, 2013

This is a gastric-brooding frog, Rheobatrachus silus, giving oral birth in the lab of Mike Tyler of the University of Adelaide (credit: Mike Tyler/University of Adelaide)

At a first-of-its-kind meeting, held on April 9–11 at the University of Cambridge, leading conservationists and synthetic biologists discussed how synthetic biology could be used to benefit the planet, Nature News reports.

Example might include producing heat-tolerant coral reefs, pollution-sensing soil microbes, ruminant gut microbes that don’t belch methane, and helping frogs to overcome chytridiomycosis, the fungal disease threatening amphibians worldwide that is thought to have contributed to… read more

Yogi alert: a new concept for a bed of needles

No more removal "ouch"
April 18, 2013

The Karp lab invented a bio-inspired flexible microneedle adhesive patch (2 x 2 cm) that can stick to soft tissues (credit: Karp lab)

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have invented a microneedle adhesive more than 3x stronger than surgical staples for skin graft fixation, inspired by Pomphorhynchus laevis, a spiny-headed worm that lives in the intestines of its hosts, in this case fish.

The worm securely attaches to the host’s intestinal wall by penetrating, and then plumping up its elongated, cactus-like head into the intestinal tissue.… read more

Why some stress is good for you

Overworked and stressed out? Look on the bright side.
April 18, 2013

Brain cells called astrocytes (pink) appear to be key players in the response to acute stress. Stress hormones stimulate astrocytes to release fibroblast growth factor 2 (green), which in turn lead to new neurons (blue). Image by Daniela Kaufer & Liz Kirby.

UC Berkeley researchers have uncovered exactly how acute stress — short-lived, not chronic — primes the brain for improved performance.

In studies on rats, Daniela Kaufer, associate professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley and  post-doctoral fellow Elizabeth Kirby they found that significant but brief stressful events caused stem cells in rat brains to proliferate into new nerve cells that,… read more

Training the brain to improve on new tasks

April 17, 2013

800px-Memory_(spel)

A brain-training task that increases the number of items an individual can remember over a short period of time may boost performance in other problem-solving tasks by enhancing communication between different brain areas.

The new study is one of a growing number of experiments on how working-memory training can measurably improve a range of skills — from multiplying in your head to reading a complex paragraph.

“Working memory… read more

Erroneous decision? Blame noisy information, not your brain

April 17, 2013

Rat auditory task-center

Princeton University researchers have found that making an erroneous decision is caused by errors, or “noise,” in the information coming into your brain, rather than errors in how your brain accumulates or processes that information.

The researchers separated sensory inputs from the internal mental process. ”To our great surprise, the internal mental process was perfectly noiseless. All of the imperfections came from noise in the sensory… read more

Turning skin cells directly into cells that insulate neurons

April 17, 2013

myelination

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), the cells that myelinate nerve cells (wrap them in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate) and would work successfully when transplanted into the brains of mice with a myelin disorder.

The current research was done in mice and rats. If the approach also works… read more

Mass. General team develops implantable, bioengineered rat kidney

April 16, 2013

reseeded_rat_kidney

Bioengineered rat kidneys developed by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators successfully produced urine both in a laboratory apparatus and after being transplanted into living animals.

This is important, cutting-edge research by Mass General, which conducts the largest hospital-based research program in the U.S. On Monday, the hospital received 29 patients, eight in critical condition, victims of Monday’s twin explosions near the finish lineread more

New hybrid nanopore system to improve DNA sequencing

April 16, 2013

16-channel nanopore device for DNA sequencing

A DNA sequencing system that combines a solid-state nanopore with a technique known as DNA origami for use in DNA sequencing, protein sensing and other applications, has been developed by Dr. Ulrich Keyser of Cambridge University’s Cavendish Laboratory, along with PhD student Nick Bell and other colleagues.

The technology has been licensed for development and commercialization to UK-based company Oxford Nanopore, which is… read more

Better batteries from waste sulfur

April 16, 2013

plastic_from_sulfur

A new chemical process can transform waste sulfur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a University of Arizona-led team.

The new plastic also has other potential uses, including optical uses.

The team has successfully used the new plastic to make lithium-sulfur batteries.

Next-generation lithium-sulfur, or Li-S, batteries based on the plastic will be better for electric and… read more

Electrical pulse treatment pokes tiny holes to kill cancer

April 16, 2013

Lung tumor before (left) and after (right)

A new, minimally invasive treatment that creates microscopic holes in tumors without harming healthy tissue is a promising treatment for challenging cancers, suggests a preliminary study being presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology‘s 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans.

“Irreversible electroporation (or IRE) is a new way to attack cancer, using microsecond electrical pulses to kill cancer at the cellular level… read more

Organic transistors for brain mapping

April 15, 2013

This micro transistor can now obtain high-quality amplification and brain-signal recording better than ever before. A French scientific team used the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility to develop the prototypes. (Credit: Department of Bioelectronics, Ecole des Mines)

To improve brain mapping, a group of French scientists have produced the world’s first biocompatible microscopic organic transistors that can amplify and record signals directly from the surface of the brain, building on prototypes developed at the Cornell NanoScale Science and Technology Facility (CNF).

This is the first in vivo use of transistor arrays to record brain activity directly on the surface of the cortex… read more

How the Internet (and sex) amplifies irrational group behavior

April 15, 2013

(Credit: New Line Home Video)

New research from the University of Copenhagen combines formal philosophy, social psychology, and decision theory to understand and tackle these phenomena.

“Group behavior that encourages us to make decisions based on false beliefs has always existed.

However, with the advent of the Internet and social media, this kind of behavior is more likely to occur than ever, and on a much larger scale, with… read more

Tiny wireless LED activates neurons to release dopamine

April 15, 2013

This implantable LED light can activate brain cells to release dopamine and is smaller than the eye of a needle (credit: John A Rogers, Ph.D. and Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D./Washington University in St. Louis)

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed tiny devices containing light-emitting diodes (LEDs) the size of individual neurons that activate brain cells with light.

“This strategy should allow us to identify and map brain circuits involved in complex behaviors related to sleep, depression, addiction, and anxiety,” says co-principal investigator Michael R. Bruchas, PhD, assistant… read more

Google Glass: how it works (infographic)

April 15, 2013

google-glass-projector

German artist Martin Missfeldt has created an infographic that attempts to show how Google Glass works, based on various sources (listed below). One correction: an image is actually not projected directly onto the retina; it is refracted by the cornea and focused by the lens.

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