science + technology news

Blurring the boundary between biology and machines, engineers create light-activated skeletal muscle for robots

Technique may enable robotic animals that move with the strength and flexibility of their living counterparts
August 31, 2012

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Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals’ behavior.

Scientists at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania have genetically engineered muscle cells to flex in response to light, and are using the light-sensitive tissue to build… read more

High-resolution remote-sensing for structures and objects, using optical fibers

August 29, 2012

Optical fiber system for Brillouin optical time-domain analysis (credit: GFO, EPFL)

EPFL’s Group for Fibre Optics (GFO) has developed a technology that improves the resolution of measurements taken by optical fibers embedded in structures such as nuclear reactors, bridges, dams and buildings, or in smaller objects, providing valuable information about a structure’s heat or state of fatigue and wear.

Until now, data could be collected from points about one meter apart using optical fibers (thin glass threads) embedded in construction… read more

Merging nanoelectronics into 3D engineered human tissues

Researchers grow cyborg tissues with embedded nanoelectronics
August 28, 2012

3D reconstructed confocal microscopy image of synthetic 3D neural tissue with red corresponding to neurons and green/blue corresponding to the macroporous nanoelectronic circuitry seamlessly innervating the neural tissue (credit:  Tian, et al/Harvard University)

Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.

The research team led by Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and Daniel Kohane, a Harvard Medical School professor in the Departmentread more

DARPA seeks probabilistic inference-based intel/recon sensor processing system to minimize energy requirements

Seeks unconventional processors for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data analysis to deal with exponential growth of data
August 27, 2012

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DARPA is looking for a new, ultra-low power processing method that may enable faster, mission critical analysis of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data.

Today’s Defense missions rely on a massive amount of sensor data collected by ISR platforms, says the agency. “Not only has the volume of sensor data increased exponentially, there has also been a dramatic increase in the complexity of analysis required for applications such as… read more

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