science + technology news

Controlling the magnetic properties of graphene

April 15, 2011

Graphene Magnet

Researchers at the University of Maryland have discovered a way to control magnetic properties of graphene that could lead to new applications in magnetic storage and magnetic random access memory.

The researchers found that missing atoms in graphene, called vacancies, act as tiny magnets. Vacancies have magnetic moments that interact strongly with the electrons in graphene, which carry electrical currents. This gives rise to a… read more

Controlling specific behavior of monkeys with pulsed light

July 30, 2012

Temporal precise optical activation or silencing of cortical neurons (credit: Xue Han/Progress in Brain Research)

Researchers have discovered that they can control the behavior of monkeys by using pulses of blue light to specifically activate particular brain cells.

The findings represent a key advance for optogenetics, a state-of-the-art method for making causal connections between brain activity and behavior. Based on the discovery, the researchers say that similar light-based mind control could likely also be made to work in humans for therapeutic ends.

“We… read more

Controlling Robots with the Mind

September 19, 2002

People with nerve or limb injuries may one day be able to command wheelchairs, prosthetics and even paralyzed arms and legs by “thinking them through” the motions.

Scientists have developed implantable microchips that will embed the neuronal pattern recognition now done with software, thereby eventually freeing the brain-machine interface devices from a computer. These microchips will send wireless control data to robotic actuators.

Controlling prosthetic limbs with electrode arrays

April 26, 2011

Coiled Conduit

To give amputees better control over prosthetic limbs, researchers at Georgia Tech have designed a tubular support scaffold with tiny channels that fit snugly around bundles of nerve cells.

The scaffold begins as a flat sheet with tiny grooves, similar to corrugated iron or cardboard. It is then rolled to form a porous cylinder with many tiny channels suited for healthy nerve-cell growth.

The floors of the conduits… read more

Controlling pain by optogenetic stimulation of the brain’s pain center

February 27, 2015

Pain-reduction experimental setup: (upper) optical fiber mounted via cannula in mouse brain; (lower) saline or Formalin injection in hind paw (credit: Ling Gu et al./PLoS ONE)

A small area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the thalamus can be optically stimulated to control pain, University of Texas at Arlington scientists have found.

The researchers used optogenetic stimulation with a blue laser to control pain sensation in a mouse, created by a chemical irritant (formalin) and mechanical pain, such as that experienced following a pinprick or pinch.

“Our results… read more

Controlling nuclear fusion instabilities

January 19, 2012


École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) physicists have succeeded for the first time in preventing the development of instabilities in a nuclear fusion reactor. It’s an important step forward in the effort to build the ITER fusion reactor, currently in development in Southern France.

Nuclear fusion is an attempt to reproduce the energy of the Sun in an Earth-based reactor system. When gas is heated to several… read more

Controlling neuroprosthetics with your mind

March 6, 2012


Neuroscientists have found that the brain is more flexible and trainable than previously thought, opening the door to development of thought-controlled prosthetic devices to help people with spinal cord injuries, amputations and other impairments.

The new study, by neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Champalimaud Center for the Unknown in Portugal, shows that through a process called plasticity, parts of the brain can be… read more

Controlling movies with brainwaves

April 13, 2011

Mind Wave

MyndPlay, Ltd. is launching a new mind-controlled media platform is being launched at the Gadget Show Live in the UK this week.

The company claims it is the first mind-controlled media player and content development system that connects with EEG brain-computer interface (BCI) technology to allow viewers to change the direction and outcome of a video or movie using only their minds. It connects with NeuroSky’s EEG… read more

Controlling light from nanoparticles

October 3, 2011

Nematic Twist

Polarized light may make it possible to actively control optical antennas and other plasmonic elements, according to new research at Rice University.

A laboratory led by Stephan Link, an assistant chemistry professor, has discovered a way to use polarized liquid crystals to control light scattered from gold nanorods. Nanorods can function as efficient optical antennas for use in improving optical switches for faster… read more

Controlling inflammation to reduce chronic disease risk

August 10, 2015

Two-hit model of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (credit: ILSI Europe)

In an open-access paper in the British Journal of Nutrition, a coalition of 17 experts explain how elevated unresolved chronic inflammation is involved a range of chronic diseases, and how nutrition influences inflammatory processes and helps reduce chronic risk of diseases.

According to the authors, “the nutrition status of the individual with for example a deficiency or excess of certain micronutrients (e.g. folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, vitamin 1, vitamin… read more

Controlling individual cortical nerve cells by human thought

October 28, 2010

Two neurons -- one corresponding to the concept of Marilyn Monroe, and another corresponding to Michael Jackson -- are pitted against each other. The subject is asked to fade in one image on the expense of another. (Moran Cerf and Maria Moon/Caltech)

Five years ago, neuroscientist Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried of UCLA, and their colleagues discovered that a single neuron in the human brain can function much like a sophisticated computer and recognize people, landmarks, and objects, suggesting that a consistent and explicit code may help transform complex visual representations into long-term and more abstract memories.

Now Koch and Fried, along with former… read more

Controlling heat like light

New approach using nanoparticle alloys allows heat to be focused or reflected just like electromagnetic waves
January 15, 2013

An MIT researcher has developed a technique that provides a new way of manipulating heat, allowing it to be controlled much as light waves can be manipulated by lenses and mirrors.

The approach relies on engineered materials consisting of nanostructured semiconductor alloy crystals.

Heat is a vibration of matter — technically, a vibration of the atomic lattice of a material — just as sound… read more

Controlling genes with mental states to release drugs

November 18, 2014

mind-controlled genes ft

ETH Zurich researchers have developed a novel gene regulation method that allows specific brainwaves to control gene expression (conversion of a gene into a protein) for therapeutic purposes.

The concept is a thought-controlled implant that could one day help combat neurological diseases, such as chronic headaches, back pain, and epilepsy.

An EEG-based BCI (brain-controlled interface) would detect the patient’s related brainwave patterns, which would be used to trigger… read more

Controlling devices with a beam of light

Could make possible light-activated microrobotic and biomedical devices --- batteries not required
November 14, 2013

Arch-shaped samples were created using a azobenzene-functionalized polymer that deform when irradiated with light (blue). The design of the device triggers an elastic instability when it reaches a certain configuration when irradiated and “snaps” to deliver a large power at millisecond time-scales of actuation. (Credit: M. Ravi Shankar et al./University of Pittsburgh)

University of Pittsburgh and Air Force Research Laboratory researchers are investigating polymers that “snap” when triggered by light, thereby converting light energy into mechanical work and potentially eliminating the need for traditional machine components such as switches and power sources.

“Learning from ideas observed in the natural world, we created mechanical designs that generate ultrafast actuation when triggered with light,” M. Ravi Shankar, lead author of the… read more

Controlling cells’ environments: a step toward building much-needed tissues and organs

August 30, 2011

Regenerative Cells

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have found reproducible methods to control how pluripotent human embryonic stem cells differentiate (grow into specific heart cells, brain cells, and other kinds of cells).

Past approaches to growing stem cells have involved adding growth-regulating substances to cultures of stem cells growing in the laboratory. These conditions left scientists guessing about exactly what wound up in the stem cells.

The… read more

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