The scientists that revealed the "world's first solar battery" last year are now, following some modifications, reporting its first significant performance milestone. The device essentially fits a battery and solar cell into the one package, and has now been tested against traditional lithium-iodine batteries, over which the researchers are claiming energy savings of 20 percent.
The human brain contains more synapses than there are galaxies in the observable universe (to put a number on it, there are perhaps 100 trillion synapses versus 100 billion galaxies), and now scientists can see them all – individually. A new imaging tool promises to open the door to all sorts of new insights about the brain and how it works. The tool can generate images at a nanoscale resolution, which is small enough to see all cellular objects and many of their sub-cellular components (so for the biology-literate, that's stuff like neurons and the synapses that permit them to fire, plus axons, dendrites, glia, mitochondria, blood vessel cells, and so on).
Despite what our science fiction-fueled imaginations love to be
entertained with, there is more to the field of modern robotics than colossal combat machines or bionic baristas.
Some projects may seem mundane by comparison, yet the results are no
less impressive, especially the ones that enlighten through the process.
Although it took a few trial and error attempts, scientists have
finally created an insect-inspired robot that can jump off of water's
Physicists at Cornell University have managed to shrink the art of kirigami down to the nanoscale, working with graphene, a material that's just one atom thick. The research could lead to the creation of some of the tiniest machines mankind has ever seen.
A new study conducted by Brown University researchers has furthered our understanding of how the brain formulates a plan for picking up an object. In the long run, the findings could pave the way for more accomplished mind-controlled robotic prostheses.
The Earth's magnetic field is crucial to life on the planet. It keeps out harmful solar winds, which would strip away our atmosphere and surface water and bombard us with radiation if left unchecked. A new analysis of zircon minerals suggests that the field originated at least 4.2 billion years ago – a hop after the planet formed in the geological timeline, and much earlier than previously thought.
Ever since the late 19th century, people have experimented with making textiles from natural-source-based gelatine, as a cheaper and less allergenic alternative to wool. Although the emergence of synthetic fibers largely put an end to that, a new technique may yet allow gel-based yarn to see the spotlight. The fiber is said to have an insulation quality similar to that of Merino wool, and the collagen used to produce it can be obtained from waste at animal-processing facilities.
Laser engineers in Japan claim to have set a new record for firing the world's most powerful laser, with a peak power equal to a thousand times total world energy consumption. It conjures images of a real-life "Death Star" laser, but could actually help unlock the mysteries of the universe.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) are taking inspiration from nature in the search for new materials that could one day be used to create body armor. The study, supported by the US Air Force, focuses on the unique structure and strength of the hexagonally-scaled shell of the boxfish.
Amplifying light a few hundred times with magnifying lenses is easy.
Amplifying light by altering the resonant properties of light itself is a much
more difficult proposition. However, if recent research by engineers at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers is anything to go by, the effort is
well worth it: They claim to have constructed a nanoscale device that can emit
light as powerfully as an object more than 10,000 times its size.