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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 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

’1 in 5 chance’ Ebola will spread to the US in September

Ebola cases "increasing exponentially ... many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming 3 weeks" --- World Health Organization
September 10, 2014

Air traffic connections from West African countries to the rest of the world (credit: PLOS Currents: Outbreaks)

The number of new cases in Liberia is “increasing exponentially,” according to a statement Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO), and “many thousands of new cases are expected in Liberia over the coming 3 weeks.”

There’s also a 20% chance that that the Ebola epidemic (as it is now called) will reach the U.S. by the end of September, according to experts writing in… read more

First direct brain-to-brain communication between human subjects

EEG and TMS signals enable first successful brain-to-brain transmission
September 10, 2014

BCI-CBI ft.

An international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers have demonstrated the first direct remote brain-to-brain communication between two humans located 5,000 miles away from each other and communicating via the Internet, as reported in a paper recently published in PLOS ONE (open access).

In India, researchers encoded two words (“hola” and “ciao”) as binary strings and presented them as a series of cues on a computer monitor. They recorded… read more

Slowing down the aging process by ‘remote control’

September 10, 2014

Activating a gene called AMPK in the nervous system induces the anti-aging cellular recycling process of autophagy in both the brain and intestine. Activating AMPK in the intestine leads to increased autophagy in both the intestine and brain. Matthew Ulgherait, David Walker and UCLA colleagues showed that this 'inter-organ' communication during aging can substantially prolong the healthy lifespan of fruit flies. (Credit: Matthew Ulgherait/UCLA)

UCLA biologists have identified a gene that can slow the aging process throughout the entire body when activated remotely in key organ systems.

Working with fruit flies, the life scientists activated a gene called AMPK that is a key energy sensor in cells; it gets activated when cellular energy levels are low.

Increasing the amount of AMPK in fruit flies’ intestines increased their lifespans by about 30 percent… read more

Milestone reached in building replacement kidneys in the lab

September 10, 2014

Clotting of kidney's blood vessels (left) with previous kidney-implant process not found with new process (right) (credit: In Kap Ko et al./Technology)

Regenerative medicine researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina have developed what they say is the most successful method to date to keep blood vessels in new human-sized pig kidney organs open and flowing with blood — a major challenge in the quest to build replacement kidneys in the lab.

The work is reported in the journal Technology.

“According to the… read more

Discovery shows route to industrial-scale production of graphene

September 9, 2014

A model of the intercalation of Brønsted acid molecules between single-atomic layers of graphene (credit: Mallouk Lab, Penn State University)

A team of Penn State scientists has discovered a route to making single-layer graphene that has been overlooked for more than 150 years and that makes it easier to ramp up to industrial scale.

Graphene — a tightly bound single layer of carbon atoms with super strength and the ability to conduct heat and electricity better than any other known material — has potential industrial uses that include flexible… read more

Ultrasensitive biosensor using molybdenite semiconductor outshines graphene

74-fold higher sensitivity than graphene; may lead to "true evidence-based, personalized medicine"
September 9, 2014

MoS2_biosensor

An atomically thin, two-dimensional, ultrasensitive semiconductor material for biosensing developed by University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) researchers promises to push the boundaries of biosensing technology in many fields, from health care to environmental protection to forensic industries.

It’s based on molybdenum disulfide, or molybdenite (MoS2), which KurzweilAI has been covering as an alternative to graphene.

Molybdenum disulfide — commonly used as a dry… read more

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