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Owl-inspired material to reduce wind turbine noise

By - June 22, 2015 2 Pictures

Owls are exceptional predators. In addition to their impressive vision and hearing capabilities, they are also able to fly almost silently. This stealthy flight is thanks to the structure of their wings, which researchers have analyzed and mimicked to develop a prototype coating that they claim could significantly reduce the noise generated by wind turbines, computer fans and airplanes.

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Battery juices itself up using light

It's now fairly common to hear about batteries being used to store power generated by solar cells. A group of Indian scientists, however, have eliminated the middleman. They've created a battery that incorporates a titanium nitride-based photoanode in place of a conventional anode, allowing the battery to charge itself using solar or artificial light.

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3D-printed objects created entirely from wood cellulose

By - June 18, 2015 4 Pictures

The 3D printing revolution brings with it a harmful side effect: the special inks that it uses are derived (for the most part) from environmentally-unfriendly processes involving fossil fuels and toxic byproducts. But now scientists at Chalmers University of Technology have succeeded in using cellulose – the most abundant organic compound on the planet – in a 3D printer. They were also able to create electrically-conductive materials by adding carbon nanotubes.

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Sensor to detect Earth’s magnetic field discovered in an animal for very first time

By - June 17, 2015 1 Picture

It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.

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Miniature car runs only on the power of evaporating water

By - June 17, 2015 5 Pictures

Researchers have discovered an unlikely source of renewable energy, the naturally-occurring cycle that is water evaporation. Scientists at New York's Columbia University replicated this process in the laboratory and harnessed its energy to power tiny machines, one of which was a moving, miniature car. The team says the technology could potentially to be scaled up to one day draw power from huge resting bodies of water such as bays and reservoirs.

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"Nano-accordion" conductors may find use in flexible and stretchable electronics

By - June 17, 2015 3 Pictures

A new conductive, transparent, and stretchable nanomaterial that folds up like an accordion could one day be applied to the development of flexible electronics and wearable sensors, as well as stretchable displays. The researchers at North Carolina State University who created this "nano-accordion" structure caution that it is early days yet, but they hope to find ways to improve its conductivity and eventually scale it up for commercial or industrial use.

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Simple and cheap tunable gripper inspired by the gecko

By - June 17, 2015 1 Picture

A few months ago, we reported on the development of a material that uses the same technique employed by gecko feet to allow its adhesion to be turned on and off at will. This allows fragile components, like those used in the manufacture of semiconductors, to be carefully picked up and put down without suction or residue-leaving adhesives. Now researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) have developed a gripper, also inspired by the gecko and also tunable, that they claim is much simpler, making it easy and cheap to mass produce.

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Graphene used to create world's thinnest light bulb

By - June 15, 2015 3 Pictures
Over 130 years ago, Thomas Edison used carbon as the conducting filament in the very first commercial light-bulb. Now a team of scientists and engineers have used that very same element, in its perfectly crystalline form of graphene, to create what they claim to be the world's thinnest light-bulb. Even though just one atom thick and covering an area almost too small to see unaided, the new device is so bright that the light it produces can easily be seen with the naked eye. Read More
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