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Electroluminescent (EL) panels are found in many electronics applications, particularly as backlighting for LCD displays, keypads, watches, and other areas requiring uniform, low-power illumination. While relatively flexible, when EL panels made from plastic are bent too sharply, fractures and a severely diminished output usually result. As a result, EL panels have generally been restricted to flat or slightly curved surfaces. However, researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Franz Binder GmbH & Co have now developed a new manufacturing process to print EL panels directly onto the surface of almost any convex and concave shape. Even, apparently, onto spheres.

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All living organisms – human, animal, or otherwise – continuously move molecules around their cells. It's a crucial mechanism of life, vital for feeding cells the proteins they need to function. And now scientists at Northwestern University have created a machine that mimics this pumping mechanism. Their molecular pump is the world's first such machine developed entirely through chemical engineering in the laboratory, and it could one day power artificial muscles and other molecular machines.

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Although we've definitely seen a number of thought-controlled prosthetic arms before, most of those have been activated by implants in the user's motor cortex, which is the brain's movement-control center. The arms' resulting movements have been somewhat jerky, plus there's typically been a delay between the user thinking about moving the arm, and the actual movement taking place. Now, however, a team of researchers has announced the results of an experiment in which those limitations were greatly reduced.

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Magnets are at the heart of much of our technology, and their properties are exploited in a myriad ways across a vast range of devices, from simple relays to enormously complex particle accelerators. A new class of magnets discovered by scientists at the University of Maryland (UMD) and Temple University may lead to other types of magnets that expand in different ways, with multiple, cellular magnetic fields, and possibly give rise to a host of new devices. The team also believes that these new magnets could replace expensive, rare-earth magnets with ones made of abundant metal alloys.

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While just about everyone knows that bats locate prey in the dark using echolocation, one thing that many people may not realize is the fact that horseshoe bats are particularly good at it. With this in mind, engineers at Virginia Tech are now developing a sonar system that emulates the system used by those bats. Once perfected, it could be a much more compact and efficient alternative to traditional manmade sonar arrays.

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A team of MIT and University of Michigan researchers has a new method for manufacturing graphene that it believes could take the material out of the laboratory and into commercial products. The method involves forming the strong, conductive material in a chamber consisting of two concentric tubes.

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A team of MIT scientists has combined graphene with a second, similarly structured material, producing a hybrid that can wield significant control over light waves. The findings could have an impact in a number of fields, including efforts to utilize light in computing chips.

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Not so long ago the only things that came in a bottle of alcohol (beside the alcohol itself) were the occasional odds and ends that fell in as it was being made, or some fruit that was deliberately shoehorned in to make it look decorative. Today there seems to be a craze for all sorts of objects jammed into bottles of spirit – scorpions, worms, and other creepy crawlies being particularly common. Actually distilling the essence of an insect to make an alcoholic beverage rather than just pickling it in a bottle, however, is a different prospect altogether. But now a company in the UK has done just that, by using an extract from ants to create a special type of gin. Read More

Back in 2013, we heard that nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diago (UC San Diego) had successfully used nanosponges to soak up toxins in the bloodstream. Fast-forward two years and the team is back with more nanospongey goodness, now using hydrogel to keep the tiny fellas in place, allowing them to tackle infections such as MRSA, without the need for antibiotics.

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By enabling the rigid brains of adult mice to return to the high levels of plasticity found in juvenile brains, scientists are opening new pathways to the treatment of brain injuries such as stroke. Back in 2013, researchers from Yale University reported the discovery of a molecular switch that achieved this result, and now scientists at the University of California, Irvine, have managed to make an old brain young again using a different approach.

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