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Controlling brain cells with ultrasound

Sonogenetics may be able to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle, and other cells using ultrasonic waves, similar to optogenetics
September 15, 2015

For the first time, sound waves are used to control brain cells. Salk scientists developed the new technique, dubbed sonogenetics, to selectively and noninvasively turn on groups of neurons in worms that could be a boon to science and medicine. (credit: Salk Institute)

Salk scientists have developed a new method, dubbed sonogenetics, to selectively activate brain, heart, muscle and other cells using ultrasonic waves (the same type of waves used in medical sonograms).

This new method may have advantages over the similar light-based approach known as optogenetics, particularly for human therapeutics. It is described today (Sept. 15, 2015) in the journal Nature Communications.

Sreekanth Chalasani,… read more

Controlling an avatar with your brain

November 1, 2011

fMRI images

The Advanced Virtuality Lab (AVL) at the Interdisciplinary Center Israel, is developing a system for controlling a virtual or physical body using only the mind, Israeli Innovation News reports.

The VERE (Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment) project is one of the first to use an fMRI brain scanner to control a computer application interactively in real time, — an innovation which could help… read more

Controlling acoustic properties with algorithms and computational methods

October 28, 2015

A “zoolophone” with animal shapes automatically created using a computer algorithm. The tone of each key is comparable to those of professionally made instruments as a demonstration of an  algorithm for computationally designing an object's vibrational properties and sounds. (credit: Columbia Engineering)

Computer scientists at Columbia Engineering, Harvard, and MIT have demonstrated that acoustic properties — both sound and vibration — can be controlled by 3D-printing specific shapes.

They designed an optimization algorithm and used computational methods and digital fabrication to alter the shape of 2D and 3D objects, creating what looks to be a simple children’s musical instrument — a xylophone with keys in the shape of zoo animals.… read more

Controlling a robot with your mind

July 13, 2012


Brain researcher Nick Ramsey of the UMC Utrecht has developed a brain-computer interface that will some day allow paralyzed people to control a computer.

The system uses a 7 Tesla MRI scanner. Subjects keep their eyes focused on a single point on a computer screen showing what a robot’s camera could “see.” The computer learned when the subjects were thinking left, right or forwards and redirected the robot.… read more

Controlling a Gut Bot’s Position

July 31, 2008
(Metin Sitti, Carnegie Mellon University)

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have developed a tiny capsule robot adhesive enough to anchor inside an intestine and yet gentle enough not to tear soft tissue.

They looked to beetles, which secrete oil-like liquids along their foot hairs to stick securely to surfaces, and coated the robot’s feet with a similarly viscous liquid for more adhesion, using a surface-tension component.

Future possible uses include biopsy and… read more

Controlling a flying robot with only the mind

Could help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases
June 7, 2013


Researchers in the University of Minnesota’s College of Science and Engineering have developed a new noninvasive system that allows people to control a flying robot using a brain-computer interface.

The study has the potential to help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative diseases.

The open access study was published in IOP Publishing’s Journal of Neural Engineering.

Five subjects (three female and two… read more

Controlled by a synthetic gene circuit, self-assembling bacteria build working electronic sensors

October 11, 2017

bacterial create a pressure sensor ft

Using a synthetic gene circuit, Duke University researchers have programmed self-assembling bacteria to build useful electronic devices — a first.

Other experiments have successfully grown materials using bacterial processes (for example, MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots). However, they have relied entirely on external control over where the bacteria grow and… read more

Controlled atomic-layer crystal growth is ‘breakthrough’ for solar-cell efficiency

October 30, 2013


Arizona State University and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new approach to growing indium gallium nitride (InGaN) crystals, promising “record-breaking” photovoltaic solar cell efficiencies.

Researchers previously found that the atomic separation of the crystal layers of the InGaN alloy varies, which can lead to high levels of strain, breakdowns in growth, and fluctuations in the alloy’s chemical composition.

“Being able to ease… read more

Controllable nano-diode created

July 9, 2004

A more efficient nano-diode (linking together two carbon nanotubes) has been created by GE, marking another step towards practical atomic electronics.

The new process uses electric fields rather than doping to modify the diode properties. This allows for more adaptable types of nano-circuitry, since the electric fields can be varied to alter the properties of the diode, while doping is a fixed process.

Numerous obstacles must still be… read more

Control your home with thought alone

July 6, 2011

Brain-control interface (credit: G.Tec Medical Engineering GMBH)

More than 50 severely disabled people in Second Life have been trying out a sophisticated new brain-computer interface (BCI) that lets users freely explore Second Life’s virtual world and control their real-world environment.

The system was developed by medical engineering company G.Tec of Schiedlberg, Austria as part of a pan-European project called Smart Homes for All. It’s the first time the latest BCI technology has been combined with… read more

Control of Molecular Switches Increased By Tailored Intermolecular Interactions

October 4, 2004

Penn State researchers have developed a method to stabilize OPEs (oligo phenlylene-ethynylene) molecular switches by changing their local chemical environment.

OPEs had previously been shown to switch randomly or with applied electric fields between conductive and non-conductive states. Their potential use as switches in computers and other electronic devices would depend on the ability to control these states. Random switching was reduced with the new method, a step towards… read more

Control of cell movement with light accomplished in living organisms

May 17, 2010

A team led by Denise Montell, PhD, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has controlled protein behavior in live fruit flies simply by shining a focused beam of light on the cells where they want the protein to be active.

A precise understanding of cellular growth and movement is the key to developing new treatments for cancer and other disorders caused by dysfunctional cell behavior.

The new technology,… read more

Control desk for the neural switchboard

May 17, 2011

Optogenetic treatment (credit: Deisseroth Laboratory)

To experimentally reduce anxiety in mice, Stanford scientists led by Dr. Karl Deisseroth, a psychiatrist and researcher, have used optogenetics to flash light on a specific neural pathway in the amygdala, a brain region involved in processing emotions.

Dr. Amit Etkin, a Stanford psychiatrist and researcher, is trying to translate their findings about anxiety in rodents to improve human therapy, using transcranial magnetic stimulation, a technique far less specific… read more

Contrast agents enhance optical coherence tomography to detect tumors

November 5, 2001

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) enhanced by contrast agents, a new approach to improving the detection and removal of tumors, has been developed by scientists at the University of Illinois.

OCT allows for high-resolution imaging of tissue by focusing a beam of near-infrared light into tissue and measuring the intensity and position of the resulting reflections.

To make OCT work better, UI researchers have developed injectable contrast agents that… read more

Continued destruction of Earth’s plant life places humankind in jeopardy, say researchers

July 15, 2015

Earth-space battery. The planet is a positive charge of stored chemical energy (cathode) in the form of fossil and nuclear fuels and biomass. As this energy is dissipated by humans, it eventually radiates as heat toward the chemical equilibrium of deep space (anode). The battery is rapidly discharging without replenishment. (credit: John R. Schramski et al./PNAS)

Unless humans slow the destruction of Earth’s declining supply of plant life, civilization like it is now may become completely unsustainable, according to a paper published recently by University of Georgia researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“You can think of the Earth like a battery that has been charged very slowly over billions of years,” said the study’s lead author,… read more

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