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GRIN optical technology could mean better implantable lenses

By - November 13, 2012 3 Pictures
Although many people may think that the lenses in our eyes are just like those found in cameras, there is in fact one key difference between the two – while man-made lenses have just a single index of refraction, meaning that they only bend light in one direction, our natural lenses refract light by varying degrees. This is why artificial implanted lenses, such as those used to treat cataracts, can create visual distortions. A new technology, however, now allows for the fabrication of lenses that work just like the ones in our eyes. Read More
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Hybrid nanomaterial converts light and heat into electricity

By - November 13, 2012 1 Picture
We’ve seen nanomaterials that can be used to convert light into electricity and others that can convert heat into electricity. Now researchers from the University of Texas at Arlington and Louisana Tech University have created a hybrid nanomaterial that can do both. By pairing the material with microchips, the researchers say it could be used in self-powered sensors, low-power electronic devices, and biomedical implants. Read More
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Researchers produce hydrogen from sunlight, water and rust

By - November 12, 2012 4 Pictures
As scientists endeavor to increase the efficiency of solar panels, the challenge of storing the resultant energy cheaply and in an environmentally responsible way must also be met. To this end, researchers at Switzerland’s École polytechnique fédérale de Lausann (EPFL) have developed an inexpensive device that transforms light energy into hydrogen, for storage and later use. The new prototype makes use of sunlight, water, and metal oxides, including iron oxide – or rust. Read More
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MIT breakthrough could lead to paper-thin bullet-proof armor

By - November 12, 2012 2 Pictures
Scientists have theorized that paper-thin composite nanomaterials could stop bullets just as effectively as heavy weight body armor, but progress has been hampered by their inability to reliably test such materials against projectile impacts. Researchers at MIT and Rice University have developed a breakthrough stress-test that fires microscopic glass beads at impact-absorbing material. Although the projectiles are much smaller than a bullet, the experimental results could be scaled up to predict how the material would stand up to larger impacts. Read More
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First pressure-sensitive, self-healing material developed

By - November 11, 2012 1 Picture
Our largest bodily organ is also one of the most remarkable. Not only is our skin pressure sensitive, it is also able to efficiently heal itself to provide a protective barrier between our insides and the world around us. While we’ve covered synthetic materials that can repair themselves or are pressure senstive, combining these properties in a single synthetic material has understandably proven more difficult. Now researchers at Stanford University have developed the first pressure-sensitive synthetic material that can heal itself when torn or cut, giving it potential for use in next-generation prostheses or self-healing electronic devices. Read More
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Butterfly vs shark: nature's clues to anti-dust materials

By - November 8, 2012 8 Pictures
Butterfly wings cannot be very far behind geckos' toes so far as sources of inspiration for biomimicry research goes. Various properties of the wings of lepidopterans have triggered research into banknote forgery prevention, light reflection and solar cells. New research from Ohio State University suggests the delicate membranes may hold clues to dirt-resistance surfaces. Read More
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Potentially habitable super-Earth discovered in our stellar neighborhood

By - November 7, 2012 1 Picture
Due to the masterful efforts of an international team of astronomers, a new super-Earth planet has been discovered within the habitable zone of a star just 42 light years from Earth. Part of a six planetary system, the super-Earth known as HD 40307g has several promising attributes in terms of its ability to support life and because of its relative proximity, it may soon be possible to observe the planet optically. Read More
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How to boost lithium battery performance – just add crushed silicon

By - November 6, 2012 2 Pictures
Researchers at Rice University and Lockheed Martin may have developed a low-cost method of creating longer-lasting, high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Currently graphite is used as the anode in commercial li-ion products, despite the fact that a silicon anode could potentially store ten times more lithium ions. The team says it has solved one of the problems associated with silicon, which nearly triples the energy density of current li-ion batteries. Read More
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