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The self-healing-concrete would fill cracks and prevent decay and the corrosion of rebar (...

You’d think that concrete would last forever. After all, it’s pourable stone, so it should hang around as long as the Rock of Gibraltar. But, under the right (or wrong) conditions, concrete decays with alarming speed. To combat this, researchers at the University of Bath in the UK are working on a self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to seal the cracks that lead to decay. In this way, they hope to cut down on maintenance costs and increase the life of concrete structures.  Read More

“4D printing” sees 3D-printed materials self-assemble into different shapes (Image: Skylar...

Molecular self-assembly, whereby molecules position themselves into defined arrangements, is commonplace in biological systems and nanotechnology. But researchers at MIT are working on so called "4D printing" technology that aims to bring the process up to the macro scale, enabling 3D-printed materials to be programmed to self-assemble into predefined shapes and structures. Just imagine buying some flat-pack furniture, bringing it home and enjoying a coffee whilst you watch it assemble itself.  Read More

A sheet made up of the polymer opals

Some of the most vividly colored materials in nature, including things like butterfly wings, don’t obtain their color from pigment. Instead, their internal structure reflects light at a given wavelength, producing a specific color. Opals are another example of something that utilizes this effect. In collaboration with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, scientists from the University of Cambridge have now copied the colorful nanostructure of the opal. The result is a flexible, colorful material that won’t fade over time, that changes color when stretched, and that could have many applications.  Read More

The new fluid-repellent paper was developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have produced a new kind of paper that repels a range of liquids, including water and oil. The new paper shows significant promise as an affordable and recyclable packaging material, but it's the paper’s potential as an inexpensive biomedical diagnostic tool that has really got the researchers excited.  Read More

A material currently in development works in the same fashion as a scab, to accelerate the...

While you may think that standard bandages already serve as sort-of artificial scabs, the fact is that they mainly just compress and protect the wound – a scab, on the other hand, actually helps it heal. Now, however, scientists are working on a wound dressing that promotes healing in the same fashion as a scab.  Read More

Using genetic engineering to alter the Aedes aegypti mosquito's sense of smell could revea...

It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans.  Read More

A finger on the hydrogel hand bends in response to near-infrared laser light

For many people, the word “robot” is likely to conjure up images of metal, mechanical men not unlike Cygan. But instead of creating robots in our own image, the relatively new field of “soft robotics” takes inspiration from creatures such as octopuses, squids, starfish and caterpillars for soft, flexible robots that could squeeze through small spaces. Such robots could benefit from a new hydrogel developed at the University of California, Berkeley that flexes in response to light.  Read More

The University of Illinois' iPhone-based biosensor

We already know that smartphones can perform many of the same features as more expensive computers, cameras and other devices. Now, a portable iPhone cradle made up of about US$200 worth of electronics is claimed to be as accurate of a biosensor as a $50,000 spectrophotometer that remains stuck in a lab.  Read More

False-color scanning electron microscope images of some of the crystalline flowers

When we think of crystals, most of us probably either picture spiky things like snowflakes, or cube-shaped objects like grains of sugar. Researchers from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, however, have recently coaxed barium carbonate crystals to grow into very miniature replicas of soft, curved flowers.  Read More

Abell 222/223 galaxies, showing a filament of dark matter stretching between the two galax...

Recently the media has been saturated with overly-hyped reports that NASA's Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) may have detected dark matter. These claims may have some justification if the word "may" is shouted, but they rest on a number of really major assumptions and guesses, some of which are on weak and shifting soil. So just what was seen in the experiment, and what are the possible explanations?  Read More

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