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Novel polarization forms promise to radically increase data speeds

New technique allows data transmitted on a single laser beam to be scaled to terabits or even petabits
April 26, 2015

Light's polarization is manipulated into novel shapes carrying additional data, according to the CCNY research (credit: CCNY)

As the world’s exponentially growing demand for digital data slows down the Internet and cell phone communication, City College of New York researchers may have just figured out a dramatic new way to increase transmission speed.

“Conventional methods of data transmission [that] use light … are being exhausted by data-hungry technologies, such as smart phones and cloud computing,” said Giovanni Milione, a PhD student under City… read more

’4-D printing’ objects that morph based on stimuli like water and heat

"3D printing is so last year --- we're onto 4D printing now," say Australian researchers
April 26, 2015

Another dimension: Professor Marc in het Panhuis and PhD student Shannon Bakarich are building objects using 4-D printing, where time is the fourth dimension (credit: University of Wollongong/Paul Jones)

Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science (ACES) at the University of Wollongong (UOW) are developing 3-D printed materials that morph into new structures under the influence of external stimuli such as water or heat. They refer to this process as “4-D printing,” where the fourth dimension is time.

The researchers are currently exploring a use in manufacturing a valve that actuates… read more

A cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

April 26, 2015

Scientist Arjun Pathak arc melts material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet (credit: Ames Laboratory)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratoryhave created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets.

The new alloy — a potential lower-cost replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines — eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.… read more

A fast, high-quality, inexpensive 3-D camera

Overcomes the quality and lighting limitations of the Kinect
April 26, 2015

Motion Contrast 3D prototype scanner

Northwestern University engineers have developed a 3-D capture camera that produces high-quality images and works in all environments, including outdoors, overcoming limitations of Microsoft’s Kinect. It’s also designed to be inexpensive.

The research is headed by Oliver Cossairt, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering,

Both first and second generation… read more

Why declining investment in basic research threatens a US innovation deficit

April 24, 2015

research lab

Declining U.S. federal government research investment — from just under 10 percent in 1968 to less than 4 percent in 2015 — in critical fields such as cybersecurity, infectious disease, plant biology, and Alzheimer’s are threatening an “innovation deficit,” according to a new MIT report to be released Monday, April 27.

U.S. competitors are increasing their investment in basic research. The European Space Agency successfully landed the first spacecraft… read more

Scientists create the sensation of invisibility

Could help reduce stress in challenging social situations
April 24, 2015

Ph.D. student Zakaryah Abdulkarim, M.D., shows how to create the illusion of invisibility in the lab (photomontage). (Credit: Staffan Larsson)

How would it feel to be invisible? Neuroscientists at Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet have found out. It can actually changes your physical stress response in challenging social situations, for example.

The history of literature features many well-known narrations of invisibility and its effect on the human mind, such as the myth of Gyges’ ring in Plato’s dialogue The Republic and the science fiction novel The Invisible Man by H.G.… read more

How to create a computer in a test tube

Self-organizing single molecules controlled by light may be the future of computing
April 24, 2015

For the first time a light beam switches a single molecule to closed state (red atoms). At the ends of the diarylethene molecule gold electrodes are attached. This way, the molecule functions as an electrical switch. (Credit: HZDR/Pfefferkorn)

How many individual molecules does it take to automatically create a circuit? The answer: one, if you use light to switch it on and off, say scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz.

The trick: a strong bond between individual atoms that weakens in one location and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure.

The first molecular switch

These… read more

Researchers in China have created genetically modified human embryos

Public interest group calls for strengthening global policies against human germline modification
April 23, 2015

Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing (credit: Dr. Yorgos Nikas/SPL)

A research team in China has created genetically modified human embryos using the gene-editing technique CRISPR/Cas9, according to a report in the online journal Protein & Cell.

The experiments were conducted by a research team led by Junjiu Huang of Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China.

Human germline modification is widely considered unethical for both safety and social reasons. Using germline modification… read more

Google’s Project Fi aims to speed up mobile communications by tapping into free WiFi hotspots

April 23, 2015

Project Fi

Google has introduced Project Fi, a new hybrid wireless service intended to help speed up mobile voice, text, and data by tapping into one million free, open Wi-Fi hotspots that Google has verified as fast and reliable.

“Similar to our Nexus hardware program, Project Fi enables us to work in close partnership with leading carriers, hardware makers, and all of you to push the boundaries of what’s… read more

Charged holes in graphene increase energy storage capacity

April 23, 2015

This image shows zigzag and armchair defects in graphene (credit: Rajaram Narayanan/Jacobs School of Engineering/UC San Diego)

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene, a two-dimensional form of carbon, which could increase battery storage capacity.

The research, published in the journal Nano Letters, may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability (energy density) of capacitors for potential uses… read more

Interactive biotechnology learning and design using games and remote-control labs

April 22, 2015

biotic game with controller

Stanford Engineering | Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his team have created three related projects that begin to define the new field of interactive biotechnology.

Stanford bioengineers have developed a new approach to teaching and experimenting, using “interactive biotechnology,” with  “Biotic processing units” (BPUs) that allow for remotely interacting with biological materials and performing experiments.

“Biotechnology today is very similar to where computing… read more

How to identify which cancer drugs work best for each patient

Implantable device could allow doctors to test cancer drugs in patients before prescribing chemotherapy
April 22, 2015

At top, the researchers can use this device to measure how far a given drug spreads over time. At bottom, they used the device to measure the spread of four different cancer drugs. (credit: Oliver Jonas et al/Science)

More than 100 drugs have been approved to treat cancer, but predicting which ones will help a particular patient is an inexact science at best. Now a new implantable device developed at MIT can carry small doses of up to 30 different drugs promises to allow researchers to measure how effectively each one kills the patient’s cancer cells.

Such a device could eliminate much of the guesswork… read more

High-speed MRI technique captures complex vocal movements at 100 frames per second

Demonstrated with Wizard of Oz song "If I Only Had a Brain"
April 22, 2015

High-speed MRI

Beckman Institute | New Super-Fast MRI Technique: Singing ‘If I Only Had a Brain’

Scientists at the University of Illinois Beckman’s Biomedical Imaging Center (BIC) have developed a real-time magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique capable of showing dynamic images of vocal movement at 100 frames per second — the fastest MRI speed in the world, according to the scientists.

“Typically, MRI is able to acquire maybe 10 frames… read more

New WiFi system uses LED lights to boost bandwidth tenfold

April 21, 2015

LED transmission system-ft

Researchers at Oregon State University have invented a new technology called WiFiFO (WiFi Free space Optic) that can increase the bandwidth of WiFi systems by 10 times, using optical transmission via LED lights.

The technology could be integrated with existing WiFi systems to reduce bandwidth problems in crowded locations, such as airport terminals or coffee shops, and in homes where several people have multiple WiFi devices.

Experts… read more

Acoustically driven controls go beyond a smartphone’s touch screen

April 21, 2015

Acoustruments doll-ft

Overcoming the limits of touch screens, Carnegie Mellon University and Disney Research researchers have developed an inexpensive alternative: a hardware toolbox of physical knobs, sliders, and other mechanisms that can be readily added to any device.

The researchers drew inspiration from wind instruments in devising these mechanisms, which they call “Acoustruments.” The idea is to use simple 3-D-printable plug-in plastic tubes and other structures to connect the… read more

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