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Building Programmable Jigsaw Puzzles with RNA

December 20, 2004

Researchers have achieved reliable prediction and design of the three-dimensional structure of artificial RNA building blocks to generate molecular jigsaw puzzle units called tectosquares.

This shows that small RNA structural motifs can code the precise topology of large molecular architectures. With its underlying modular and hierarchical construction displaying a minimal set of primitive operations, the tectosquare system could possibly be a Turing-universal computing molecular system.

The tectosquares can… read more

Building powered by algae growing on its facade

October 24, 2012


The BIQ house in Germany features a “bio-adaptive façade” that uses microalgae to generate renewable energy and provide shade, PSFK reports.

Designed for the International Building Exhibition in Hamburg, the zero-energy house will be the first real-life test for the new façade system.

Algae in the bio-reactor façades grow faster in bright sunlight to provide more shade. The bio-reactors power the building by capturing solar thermal… read more

Building organs using ‘biological Legos’

May 14, 2010

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology built this tubular tissue by encasing cells in polymer "bricks" and attaching them to a tube-shaped template. (Javier Gomez Fernandez)

Researchers at the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST) have come up with a new way to assemble artificial tissues by encapsulating living cells in cubes and arranging them into 3-D structures.

The new “micromasonry” technique employs a gel-like material that acts like concrete, binding the cell “bricks” together as it hardens.

To obtain single cells for tissue engineering, researchers have to first break tissue apart,… read more

Building Organs Even the Prudish Can Handle

February 15, 2008

Dr. Carla Pugh, a surgeon at the Northwestern University medical school, has developed low-cost simulators for training doctors to do “uncomfortable” examinations of breast, pelvic, and prostate areas.

Building One Big Brain

July 9, 2010

Technology is weaving humans into electronic webs that resemble big brains — corporations, online hobby groups, far-flung N.G.O.s, suggests author Robert Wright. “And I personally don’t think it’s outlandish to talk about us being, increasingly, neurons in a giant superorganism; certainly an observer from outer space, watching the emergence of the Internet, could be excused for looking at us that way…. If we don’t use technology to weave people together… read more

Building large-scale quantum computers

September 3, 2010

Dr. Suzanne Gildert will speak on “Building large-scale quantum computers: Fundamentals, technology and applications” at Teleplace, September 4, 10 a.m. PST.

“The talk will explain why quantum computers are useful, and also dispel some of the myths about what they can and cannot do,” she says. “It will address some of the practical ways in which we can build quantum computers and give realistic… read more

Building electronics bottom-up

January 16, 2013

Nanodots of iron oxide were laid out in a highly ordered pattern without the use of templates. The average diameter of the particles was 25 nanometers, with regular spacing of 45 nm. (Credit: Christopher G. Hardy et al./University of South Carolina)

University of South Carolina’s Chuanbing Tang is out to turn the microelectronics industry upside down.

Currently, modern electronics are primarily fabricated by etching the smooth surface of a starting material — say, a wafer of silicon, using micro- or nanolithography to establish a pattern on it. This top-down method might involve a prefabricated template, such as a photomask, to establish the pattern.

But the approach… read more

Building DIY research equipment

September 14, 2012

filter wheel

The open-source paradigm is now enabling creation of open-source scientific hardware by combining three-dimensional (3D) printing with open-source microcontrollers running on free and open-source software (FOSS), says Michigan Technological University scientist Joshua M. Pearce in the current issue of Science.

A key enabling open-source hardware project is the Arduino electronic prototyping platform. The $20 to $30 Arduino is a versatile yet easy-to-learn microcontroller that can run a number of associated scientific instruments, including Arduino Geiger (radiation detector), pHduino (pH meter), Xoscillo (oscilloscope), and OpenPCR… read more

Building customized DNA nanotubes step by step

Potential applications include optoelectronics, drug delivery
February 24, 2015

Schematic illustration of the molecular details for the imaging experiment; the bottom-up self-assembly materials are shown, together with a foundation rung (FR) labeled with two fluorophores (red and green) (credit: Amani A. Hariri et al./Nature Chemistry)

McGill University researchers have developed a new low-cost method to build DNA nanotubes block by block. It could help pave the way for scaffolds made from DNA strands for applications such as optical and electronic devices or smart drug-delivery systems.

The current method of constructing DNA nanotubes is based on spontaneous assembly of DNA in solution, which is vulnerable to structural flaws.

The new… read more

Building crowds of humans into software

August 29, 2011

Enabling software to punt its toughest tasks to humans should result in smarter mobile apps and other programs, say the founders of MobileWorks. It makes it possible for programmers to build human intelligence into their software using crowdsourcing  — the practice of parceling out relatively small parts of a larger problem to many different people over the Web.

Existing crowdsourcing services involve a person filling out an… read more

Building complex objects from Lego-like blocks

April 22, 2011

Building blocks for objects (credit: MIT/New Scientist)

Jonathan Bachrach, an MIT researcher, has developed a fabrication machine that will assemble real structures based on digital building blocks — a Lego set for grown-ups.

Once the outline of an object has been determined, the system overlays a 3D grid and assesses which cells will touch the exterior. Then it assigns a particular block shape to each square and decides on its orientation, so that a digital assembler… read more

Building Chips, One Molecule at a Time

May 21, 2001

Hewlett-Packard is researching molecular computers, using rotaxanes.

UCLA professor James Heath and his team have succeeded in attaching their minuscule switches to tiny wires and have developed a redundant wiring technique that routes signals around imperfect molecular switches.

Heath thinks he might be able to build a rudimentary computer within a couple of years.

Building Character, Wrinkle by Wrinkle, in a 3-D World

May 13, 2004

A 3-D graphics technique called normal mapping (aka polybump mapping) permits game designers to first create a richly detailed model, such as wrinkled clothing, by using millions of polygons. Then special software is used to map the rich detail onto the same object in a model made with far fewer polygons.

The result is a realistic-looking object that, because it is made up of few polygons, does not require… read more

Building block of a programmable neuromorphic substrate: a digital neurosynaptic core

June 22, 2012

Neurosynaptic core (credit: IBM)

The Cornell – IBM SyNAPSE team has fabricated a key building block of a modular neuromorphic architecture: a neurosynaptic core, IBM Almaden scientist Dr. Dharmendra S Modha’s Cognitive Computing Blog reports.

The core incorporates central elements from neuroscience, including 256 leaky integrate-and-fire neurons, 1024 axons, and 256x1024 synapses using an SRAM crossbar memory. It fits in a 4.2mm square area, using a 45nm SOI process.

A design prototype of the… read more

Building biomimetic synthetic membrane channels out of DNA

November 22, 2012

Schematic illustration of the<br />
channel formed by 54 double-helical DNA domains packed on a honeycomb<br />
lattice. Cylinders indicate double-helical DNA domains. Red denotes transmembrane<br />
stem; orange strands with orange ellipsoids indicate cholesterol-modified<br />
oligonucleotides that hybridize to single-stranded DNA adaptor strands.

Physicists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) and the University of Michigan have constructed synthetic membrane channels using DNA molecules as programmable building materials for custom-designed, self-assembling, nanoscale structures.

Synthetic membrane channels could be used as molecular sensors, antimicrobial agents, and drivers of novel nanodevices.

To wall off the insides of cells from the outside world, organisms in all three domains of life use the… read more

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