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Coming Soon: Smarter Soldiers

June 3, 2003

Soldiers of 2011 will step into wired uniforms that incorporate all the equipment they need. The uniforms will monitor vital signs and plug them into a massive network of satellites, unmanned planes and robotic vehicles.

Voyage of the Bacteria Bots

October 31, 2008
(The NanoRobotics Laboratory, Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal)

Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal have coupled live, swimming bacteria to 150-nanometer beads to develop a self-propelling “nanobot” device steered through the body using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The bacteria swim at 200 microns/second using tiny corkscrewlike tails, or flagella, and are just two microns in diameter–small enough to fit through the smallest blood vessels in the human body. The beads are treated with antibodies… read more

Nano Switches that Store More Data Head to Market

September 1, 2010


Hewlett-Packard announced today that it has entered an agreement with the Korean electronics manufacturer Hynix Semiconductor to make memristors, starting in 2013. Storage devices made of memristors will allow PCs, cellphones, and servers to store more and switch on instantly.

“The goal is to be at least double whatever flash memory is in three years–we know we’ll beat flash in speed, power, and endurance, and we want to… read more

Photon detector is precursor to broadband in space

March 22, 2006

MIT researchers have nearly trebled the efficiency of a miniscule detector capable of capturing single photons of light.

The technology could one day be used to receive information through a laser stream of data sent from Mars to Earth and could lead to speedier, reliable relays of huge amounts of data across interplanetary distances, setting up a form of broadband communication in space.

Decorations improve nanowire electrical and catalytic performance

May 1, 2012


Stanford University engineers have found a novel method for adding chains of nanoparticles to increase the electrical and catalytic performance of nanowires.

The new technique is simpler, faster and provides greater control than earlier methods and could lead to better batteries, solar cells and catalysts.

The development might someday lead to better lithium-ion batteries, more efficient thin-film solar cells and improved catalysts that yield new synthetic… read more

Spring-loaded nanotubes could be used in microcircuits

June 13, 2003

Multiwalled nanotubes can act like telescoping spring-loaded shock absorbers, opening the possibility of use in silicon circuits and optoelectronic devices, according to an article in Nature Materials Update, June 12, 2003.

In experiments at Vanderbilt University, it was found that if the inner tubes are partially pulled out and then released, they spring back inside their sheath, oscillating back and forth at a frequency of around 1 gigahertz until… read more

Chinese, African Genomes Sequenced

November 6, 2008
Illumina flow cell (Illumina)

A male Yoruba from Nigeria and a Han Chinese man joined genetics luminaries James Watson and Craig Venter on Wednesday as the only people to have their genomes sequenced and made publicly available. The two anonymous genomes serve as proof that new sequencing technologies, which are orders of magnitude cheaper than standard methods, are capable of accurately reading the sequence of a complete human genome.

New sequencing… read more

Programming RNA to selectively kill mutated cells

September 9, 2010

Small conditional RNAs selectively kill cancer cells. In lab-grown human brain, prostate and bone cancer cells, small conditional RNAs (light and dark blue) bind to a targeted RNA cancer mutation (orange and green), triggering self-assembly of a long double-stranded RNA polymer that activates an innate immune response (gray turns to red) leading to cell death. No measurable reduction in numbers is observed for cells lacking targeted cancer mutations.  (Suvir Venkataraman, William M. Clemons, Jr. and Niles A. Piercel / Caltech)

What if we had cancer treatments that worked more like a computer program, which can perform actions based on conditional statements? Then, a treatment would kill a cell if–and only if–the cell had been diagnosed with a mutation. Only the defective cells would be destroyed, virtually eliminating unwanted side effects.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), researchers at the California Institute of Technology have created conditional small … read more

Cheaper Fuel Cells

April 5, 2006

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers who developed a new, simple-to-produce material that boosts the performance of fuel cells many times — and could be a major step toward making them affordable.

Remote control

June 26, 2003

Direct brain-to-brain communication is a key goal of DARPA’s $24 million Brain Machine Interface program — almost 10% of DARPA’s basic research budget, according to a Nature June 19 article.

Research also includes:

* A Silicon chip to replace parts of the brain (the hippocampus is first).

* Reminiscent of The Matrix, memory implants to allow pilots to perform moves they may not actually have learned through… read more

Apple Researching Virtual Reality Headsets

November 12, 2008

Apple’s latest patent application covers a personal virtual reality headset in which the image can be adjusted to respond to the user’s movements.

Watching the brain ‘switch off’ self-awareness

April 20, 2006

Researchers conducted a series of experiments using fMRI to pinpoint the brain activity associated with introspection and that linked to sensory function.

They found that the brain assumes a robotic functionality when it has to concentrate all its efforts on a difficult, timed task — only becoming “human” again when it has the luxury of time.

A computer interface that takes a load off your mind

May 14, 2012

A user tries the Brainput system (credit: Erin Treacy Solovey)

Postdoctoral MIT researcher Erin Treacy Solovey and her team have designed Brainput, a system using a headband that recognizes when a person’s workload is excessive and automatically modifies a computer interface to make it easier.

The researchers used a lightweight, portable brain monitoring technology called functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), which senses brain activitythrough the skull (no electrodes neeed).

Analysis of the brain scan data was then fed into a… read more

DNA makes nano barcode

July 8, 2003

Duke University researchers have programmed strands of synthetic DNA to self-assemble into a bar-code-like structure. The process could eventually be used to make templates that will enable molecule-by-molecule construction of electronic circuits.

The method coaxes columns of looped and non-looped strands of DNA to stack into a pattern that is readable by microscope. The researchers programmed the process to produce two different barcodes — 01101 and 10010. The prototype… read more

Billions of particles of anti-matter created in laboratory

November 18, 2008

Lawrence Livermore National Labs scientists have created the largest number yet of anti-matter positrons (anti-electrons), using a short-pulse laser to accelerate electrons through a gold target.

“By creating this much anti-matter, we can study in more detail whether anti-matter really is just like matter, and perhaps gain more clues as to why the universe we see has more matter than anti-matter,” said Peter Beiersdorfer, a lead Livermore physicist.… read more

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