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Silicon-hydrogel electrodes improve lithium-ion battery performance

Inexpensive silicon-based electrodes dramatically improve the charge storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries
June 4, 2013

battery electrode 

Stanford University scientists have dramatically improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy substance similar to the material used in soft contact lenses and other household products.

“Developing rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with high energy density and long cycle life is of critical importance to address the ever-increasing energy storage needs for portable electronics, electric… read more

Advanced paper could allow for inexpensive biomedical and diagnostic devices

June 4, 2013

Droplets of water, motor oil, ethylene glycol and n-hexadecane solvent bead up on a superamphiphobic paper sample prepared at the Georgia Institute of Technology. (photo credit: Gary Meek)

By modifying the underlying network of cellulose fibers, etching off surface “fluff” and applying a thin chemical coating, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a new type of paper that repels a wide variety of liquids — including water and oil.

The paper takes advantage of the “lotus effect” — used by leaves of the lotus plant — to repel liquids through the creation… read more

An ultrasonic body area network for implants

June 4, 2013


Researchers at the University at Buffalo are developing a “body area network” using ultrasonic waves and sensors to wirelessly share information between medical devices implanted in (or worn by) people to treat diseases such as diabetes and heart failure.

“This is a biomedical advancement that could revolutionize the way we care for people suffering from the… read more

How to allow carbon nanotubes to grow on anything

Graphene used as a intermediary between diamond and carbon nanotubes could create the ultimate heat sink
June 3, 2013

SEM image of vertically aligned CNTs on graphene-covered diamond (credit: Rahul Rao et al./Nature Scientific Reports)

Researchers have found that graphene can allow vertically aligned carbon nanotubes to grow on nearly anything.

That includes diamonds. A diamond film/graphene/nanotube structure was one result of new research carried out by scientists at Rice University and the Honda Research Institute USA, reported in Nature’s open-access online journal Scientific Reports.

The heart of the research is the revelation that when graphene is used as a… read more

‘Junk DNA’ plays active role in cancer progression, researchers find

June 3, 2013


Scientists at The University of Nottingham have found that a genetic rogue element produced by sequences until recently considered “junk DNA” could promote cancer progression.

The researchers, led by Dr Cristina Tufarelli, in the School of Graduate Entry Medicine and Health Sciences, discovered that the presence of this faulty genetic element — known as chimeric transcript LCT13 — is associated with the switching… read more

How to attach molecules to gold nanoparticles

Method for attaching molecules to metal surfaces could find applications in medicine, electronics and other fields.
June 3, 2013

Diagram shows a gold surface (in yellow) with carbene anchors (green) attaching polymer molecules (purple ribbons) to the surface. MIT researchers found that such carbene anchors can be used to attach many different kinds of materials to a variety of surfaces. (Credit: Jeremiah Johnson et al./MIT)

An MIT team has found a new material that could overcome many of the limitations of current methods for attaching molecules to gold.

The new approach uses a family of chemicals called carbenes to attach other substances to gold — and potentially to other material surfaces as well.

Thiols have two main limitations in binding other materials to gold, Johnson explains: The binding is… read more

The quantified brain of a self-tracking neuroscientist

June 3, 2013


A neuroscientist is getting a brain scan twice every week for a year to try to see how neural networks behave over time, MIT Technology Review reports.

Every day, Russell Poldrack, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin, tracks his mood and mental state, what he ate, and how much time he spent outdoors.

Twice a week, he gets his brain scanned… read more

The latest artificial heart: part cow, part machine

June 3, 2013


A French company is preparing to test a complex artificial heart that combines biology with machinery, MIT Technology Review reports.

If the “bioprosthetic” device, made by the Paris-based Carmat, proves to be safe and effective, it could be given to patients waiting for a heart transplant. [...]

3D-printing food in space

June 3, 2013


NASA and a Texas company are exploring the possibility of printing food on a 3D printer on deep space missions.

NASA has awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to Systems and Materials Research Consultancy of Austin, Texas to conduct a study for the development of a 3D printed food system for long duration space missions.

As NASA ventures farther into space, whether… read more

Apple under the gun as US e-book trial starts

June 3, 2013


Apple appears to face an uphill battle as it goes to trial Monday in New York on ebook price fixing charges brought by the U.S. government, PC World reports.

The DOJ filed the antitrust lawsuit in April last year alleging that Apple and five publishers — Penguin Group, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and Macmillan — had conspired to raise ebook prices. The publishers, however,… read more

A graphene-based light sensor 1,000 times more sensitive than current sensors

June 3, 2013

graphene FET

A new graphene-based image sensor invented at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore is 1,000 times more sensitive to light than current imaging sensors found in today’s cameras and uses 10 times less energy because it operates at lower voltages, according to researchers.

The new nanoscale sensor is also believed to be the first to be able to detect a broad spectrum of light, from… read more

Biophysicists measure mechanism that determines fate of living cells

May 31, 2013

In this experiment, ligand molecules are tethered by DNA strands to a substrate; the strands have defined tension tolerances and will burst if tension above their tolerance is applied. The integrin-ligand bond activates cellular adhesion only when the tether does not rupture, enabling a measurement to be taken of the molecular force. The cultures show cell adhesion and spreading at a tension tolerance of 43 pico-Newtons but not at 33 pico-Newtons.

University of Illinois biophysicists at the Center for the Physics of Living Cells and the Institute for Genomic Biology have measured the molecular force required to mechanically transmit function-regulating signals within a cell.

The new tension gauge tether (TGT) has broad applications for research into stem cells, cancer, infectious disease, and immunology.


Cells in the human body do not function in isolation. Living cells… read more

Gene therapies for regenerative surgery are getting closer

Genetic techniques show promise in promoting growth of skin, bone and other tissues
May 31, 2013


Experimental genetic techniques may one day provide plastic and reconstructive surgeons with an invaluable tool—the ability to promote growth of the patient’s own tissues for reconstructive surgery.

A review of recent progress toward developing effective gene therapies for use in regenerative surgery appears in the June issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Over the past… read more

Organic polymers create new class of solar energy devices

Rice, Penn State labs lay groundwork for block copolymer solar cells
May 31, 2013

A new version of solar cells created by laboratories at Rice and Pennsylvania State universities could open the door to research on a new class of solar energy devices.

The photovoltaic devices created in a project led by Rice chemical engineer Rafael Verduzco and Penn State chemical engineer Enrique Gomez are based on block copolymers, self-assembling organic materials that arrange themselves into distinct layers. T

hey easily… read more

New nerve and muscle interfaces aid wounded warrior amputees

Advances enable advanced prosthetic control and direct sensory feedback
May 31, 2013


Since 2000, more than 2,000 servicemembers have suffered amputated limbs. DARPA’s breakthrough research with advanced prosthetic limbs controlled by brain interfaces is well documented, but such research is currently limited to quadriplegics. Practical applications of brain interfaces for amputees are still in the future.

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