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Visualizing how TMS affects groups of neurons in real time

September 17, 2014

Spatiotemporal activity patterns induced by a single TMS pulse (left) and 10 Hz TMS (right) over 50 milliseconds (credit: Vladislav Kozyre et al./

German neuroscientists have developed a method for recording the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on animals in real time, using voltage-sensitive dyes, which emit fluorescent light signals that indicate which groups of neurons are activated or inhibited.

Using fMRI is too slow to show real-time effects, and with rapid measurement methods like EEG and MEG, the TMS magnetic field generates artifacts.

So RUB researchers headed by… read more

How to quickly convert human skin cells into immune-fighting white blood cells

Fast, safe technique avoids problems that have hindered regenerative medicine
September 17, 2014

Skin cells converted to white blood cells present functional immunological properties. In the picture a representative example of a converted cell in where phagocytosis, the process by which certain white blood cells “eat” pathogens, has taken place. Green indicates internalized “beads” used as an in vitro surrogate for bacteria. Red indicates lysosomes, the “digestive” organelle of macrophages. Yellow (highlighted with and arrow) indicates targeting of the internalized beads to the lysosomes. (Credit: J. Pulicio et al./Stem Cells)

Salk Institute scientists have turned human skin cells into transplantable white blood cells capable of attacking diseased or cancerous cells or augmenting immune responses against other disorders.

The process, described in the journal Stem Cells, is “quick and safe in mice,” says senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, holder of Salk’s Roger Guillemin Chair.

The existing process, using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to grow… read more

Competing teams announced for $1 million prize incentive to create an artificial liver

September 16, 2014

The U.S. organ wait list has grown rapidly, while the number of organ donors has stagnated --- but the true need is almost 10x larger than the official waiting list suggests: 900,000 annual deaths are preventable by liver transplantation (credit: New Organ)

New Organ — a collective initiative for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine — announced today (Oct. 16) the initial six teams competing for the $1 million New Organ Liver Prize, a global prize competition launched in December 2013 and  sponsored by the Methuselah Foundation, a biomedical charity.

The award will go to “the first team that creates a regenerative or bioengineered solution that keeps a large animal… read more

Camouflaging metamaterials create the LCD color display of the future

The secret: precision placement of plasmonic aluminum nanorods
September 16, 2014

Rice University’s new color display technology is capable of producing dozens of colors, including rich red, green and blue tones comparable to those found in high-definition LCD displays.<br />
CREDIT: J. Olson/Rice University

The quest to create camouflaging metamaterials that can “see” colors and automatically blend into the background is one step closer to reality, thanks to a breakthrough color-display technology unveiled this week by Rice University‘s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP).

The new full-color display technology uses aluminum nanorods to create the vivid red, blue and green hues found in today’s top-of-the-line LCD televisions and monitors.

The technology is… read more

How a quantum computer could defeat a classical computer

September 16, 2014

Schematic of a boson-sampling device (credit: A. P. Lund et al./PRL)

The first definitive defeat for a classical computer by a quantum computer could one day be achieved with a quantum device that runs an algorithm known as “boson sampling,” recently developed by researchers at MIT.

Boson sampling uses single photons of light and optical circuits to take samples from an exponentially large probability distribution, which has been proven to be extremely difficult for classical computers.

The… read more

New algorithm enables MIT cheetah robot to run and jump, untethered, across grass

September 16, 2014

MIT cheetah robot

MIT researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding that they’ve successfully implemented in a robotic cheetah.

In experiments on an indoor track, the robot sprinted up to 10 mph, even continuing to run after clearing a hurdle. The MIT researchers estimate that the current version of the robot may eventually reach speeds of up to 30 mph — half the top speed of the natural cheetah, the fastest land animal on Earth.… read more

Now you can work in your sleep

September 15, 2014

(Credit: iStock)

Parts of your brain continue to function when you’re sleeping, researchers at Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and the University of Cambridge have discovered.

They recorded the EEG (brain waves) of human participants while they were awake after they were instructed to classify spoken words as either animals or objects by pressing a button, using the right hand for animals and the left hand for… read more

A soft ‘wearable robot’ exosuit to increase stamina for soldiers and civilians

September 14, 2014

The Mobility Enhancing Soft Exosuit, a soft wearable robot made from lightweight and flexible materials (credit: Harvard Biodesign Lab)

DARPA has awarded a $2.9 million contract to the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University to further develop the Soft Exosuit, a “wearable robot.”

It will be worn comfortably under clothing  to enable soldiers to walk longer distances, reduce fatigue, and minimize risk of injury when carrying heavy loads.

The development is part of DARPA’s Warrior Web program, which seeks to develop technologies to prevent and… read more

New low-cost, ultra-sensitive biosensor uses diatoms and nanoparticles

September 12, 2014

Ultra-sensitive immunoassay biosensor using diatom biosilica with self-assembled plasmonic nanoparticles (credit: Jing Yang et al./Journal of Biophotonics)

Oregon State University researchers combined diatoms (a type of single-celled photosynthetic algae) with self-assembled plasmonic nanoparticles to create a low-cost sensor capable of detecting miniscule amounts of protein or other biomarkers.

Optical biosensors are important in health care for such applications as detecting levels of blood glucose or the presence of antibodies. They are also used for chemical detection in environmental protection.

Existing biosensors often require high-cost… read more

Artificial membranes form bio-silicon interfaces

Potential uses include detecting bacterial contaminants in food, toxic pollution in the environment, and dangerous diseases
September 12, 2014

Organic and inorganic materials grouped together to bridge the gap between biology and physics (credit: S.E.Gutierrez-Maldonado/FCV)

A group of scientists in Chile has created* artificial biomembranes (mimicking those found in living organisms) on silicon surfaces, a step toward creating bio-silicon interfaces, where biological “sensor” molecules can be printed onto a cheap silicon chip with integrated electronic circuits.

Described in The Journal of Chemical Physics from AIP Publishing, the artificial membranes have potential applications such as detecting bacterial contaminants in food, toxic pollution in… read more

Buckyballs and diamondoids combine to form basic electronic device

September 12, 2014

Illustration of a buckydiamondoid molecule under a scanning tunneling microscope (STM). In this study the STM made images of the buckydiamondoids and probed their electronic properties. (Credit: Stanford University)

Scientists have combined two unconventional forms of carbon — one shaped like a soccer ball, the other a tiny diamond — to make a rectifier (which conducts electricity in only one direction).

This tiny electronic component could play a key role in shrinking chip components down to the size of molecules to enable faster, more powerful devices.

“We wanted to see what new, emergent properties might come out… read more

Could ‘solid’ light compute previously unsolvable problems?

An "artificial atom" makes photons behave like exotic matter
September 12, 2014

Oscillations of photons create an image of frozen light. At first, photons in the experiment flow easily between two superconducting sites, producing the large waves shown at left. After a time, the scientists cause the light to 'freeze,' trapping the photons in place. Fast oscillations on the right of the image are evidence of the new trapped behavior. (Credit: Princeton University)

Researchers at Princeton University have “crystallized” light. They are not shining light through crystal — they are actually transforming light into crystal, as part of an effort to develop exotic materials such as room-temperature superconductors.

The researchers locked together photons so that they became fixed in place. “It’s something that we have never seen before,” said Andrew Houck, an associate professor of electrical engineering and… read more

Cool electrons enable transistors with low energy consumption

September 12, 2014

A chip, which contains nanoscale structures that enable electron cooling at room temperature, is pictured (credit: UT Arlington)

UT Arlington researchers have discovered a way to cool electrons to -228 °C at room temperature, which could lead to a new type of transistor that can operate at extremely low energy consumption levels.

The process involves passing electrons through a quantum well to cool them and keep them from heating. The team detailed its research in Nature Communications (open access) on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

“We… read more

New synthetic gene circuits can perform complex bio-logic tasks

Programming synthetic cells for tasks such as production of biofuels, environmental remediation, and treatments for human diseases
September 11, 2014

Scientists at Rice University and the University of Kansas Medical Center are using multiple chimeric transcription factors as logic circuits to perform complex tasks in cells. The circuits are triggered when modular protein domains sense the presence of specific chemical combinations in a cell. (Credit: Bennett Lab/Rice University)

Researchers at Rice University and the University of Kansas Medical Center are making genetic circuits that can perform complex tasks by swapping protein building blocks.

The modular genetic circuits,  which are engineered from parts of otherwise unrelated bacterial genomes, can be set up to handle multiple chemical inputs simultaneously with a minimum of interference from their neighbors.

The work, reported in the American Chemical… read more

Reprogramming your brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation

September 11, 2014

A mouse (happy and awake) receiving LI-rTMS (credit: University of Western Australia)

Weak repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) applied to mice can shift abnormal neural connections to more normal locations in the brain, researchers from The University of Western Australia and the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in France have demonstrated.

The discovery has implications for treatment of nervous system disorders related to abnormal brain organization, such as depression, epilepsy, and tinnitus.

To better… read more

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