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Science

Stanford's stretchable pressure-sensitive material incorporates coatings of tiny 'nano-spr...

Robots, prosthetic limbs and touchscreen displays could all end up utilizing technology recently developed at California’s Stanford University. A team led by Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has created a very stretchy skin-like pressure-sensitive material that can detect everything from a finger-pinch to over twice the pressure that would be exerted by an elephant standing on one foot. The sensitivity of the material is attained through two layers of carbon nanotubes, that act like a series of tiny springs.  Read More

A crumpled graphene ball created by Northwestern University researchers inspired by a tras...

We've written a lot about the potential of using graphene in electronics and materials science, but there are challenges when it comes to producing and utilizing these one-atom-thick sheets of carbon on a large scale. While a lack of an internal structure provides graphene with an abundance of surface area, sheets of the material tend to stick together like a stack of paper, resulting in a reduction in surface area and effectiveness. Now, taking inspiration from a trashcan of crumpled-up papers, Northwestern University researchers have developed a new form of graphene that can't be stacked.  Read More

One of the Sprite nanosatellites (Photo: KickSat)

Pssst, do you wanna buy a satellite? No, really – do you? Well, Zac Manchester would like to sell you one. Not only that, but he claims that the thing could be built and launched into orbit for just a few hundred dollars. For that price, however, you’re not going to be getting a big satellite. Manchester’s Sprite spacecraft are actually about the size of a couple of postage stamps, but they have tiny versions of all the basic equipment that the big ones have.  Read More

Scientists have used viruses to help create thin-film biomaterials, which may someday have...

It’s one of those enduring mysteries of nature – how can one biological substance end up becoming several different types of material? One example is collagen, a fibrous protein that can be made into body parts such as corneal tissue, cartilage, bone, and skin. In an effort to better understand such processes, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley decided to see if they could manipulate another biological building block into forming itself into different materials. They succeeded, using viruses known as M13 phages.  Read More

The Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research has developed a new system called Holo...

Does anyone remember the animated version of Star Trek from the 1970s? The Emmy-Award-winning series was the very first outing for the now familiar Holodeck, although it was called the recreation room back then. Despite some landmark advances in holographic technology in the years since - such as the University of Tokyo's Airborne Ultrasound Tactile Display - nothing has come close to offering the kind of physical interactivity with virtual objects in a 3D environment promised by the collective imaginations of sci-fi writers of the past. While we're not at the Holodeck level just yet, members of the Sensors and Devices group at Microsoft Research have developed a new system called HoloDesk that allows users to pick up, move and even shoot virtual 3D objects, plus the system recognizes and responds to the presence of inanimate real-world objects like a sheet of paper or an upturned cup.  Read More

Recent demonstration of quantum levitation during the 2011 Association of Science- Technol...

Maglev trains have been in development since before Luke Skywalker drove his first Land Speeder but, like personal rocket packs, the idea of levitating transport is taking a while to catch on. While this "quantum levitation" demonstration shown by the superconductivity group at Tel Aviv University at the 2011 ASTC annual conference in Baltimore doesn't mean we'll all be floating to work anytime soon, it does remind us of the amazing potential of this kind of technology.  Read More

The design of an 'AND gate' created by Imperial College London scientists using E-Coli bac...

DNA is often referred to as the building block of life. Now scientists from Imperial College London have demonstrated that DNA (and bacteria) can be used to create the fundamental building blocks of a computer - logic gates. Using DNA and harmless gut bacteria, the scientists have built what they claim are the most advanced biological logic gates ever created by scientists. The research could lead to the development of a new generation of microscopic biological computing devices that, amongst other things, could travel around the body cleaning arteries and destroying cancers.  Read More

By applying electrical pulses to the new nanomaterial, a sea of small negatively charged i...

By now, we’re all fairly used to electronic devices such as smartphones, which can act as a mobile phone, computer, camera and navigation unit all at once. These devices, while multi-functional, still use different hard-wired electrical circuits for their different functions. Thanks to research being carried out at Chicago’s Northwestern University, however, all those functions may one day be able to utilize the same physical piece of electronic material – the electrical current would simply be “steered” through it differently, depending on what was needed. This means that a single section of the material could act as a resistor, rectifier, diode or transistor, as instructed by a computer.  Read More

Each nanochannel electroporation device incorporates two reservoirs joined by a nanoscale ...

One of the key processes in gene therapy involves taking cells from the patient, injecting a therapeutic genetic material into them, then reintroducing them to the patient’s body and letting them go to work. Unfortunately, getting that material into the cells can be tricky. While larger cells can actually be punctured with a fine needle, most human cells are too small for that approach to be possible. There are also methods of inserting random amounts of material into bulk quantities of cells, but these are inexact. Now, however, scientists at Ohio State University are reporting success with a process known as “nanochannel electroporation” (NEP), in which therapeutic biomolecules are electrically shot into cells.  Read More

Amateur astronomers wanting to observe celestial bodies soon won’t be limited to just their own personal telescopes, or visits to the local public observatory. Starting next year, the first in a worldwide network of robotic telescopes will be going online, which users from any location on the planet will be able to operate for free via the internet. Known as Gloria (GLObal Robotic telescopes Intelligent Array for e-Science), the three-year European project will ultimately include 17 telescopes on four continents, run by 13 partner groups from Russia, Chile, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain. Not only will users be able to control the telescopes from their computers, but they will also have access to the astronomical databases of Gloria and other organizations.  Read More

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