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Using a temperature-responsive micromold, MIT engineers created two-layer gel microparticl...

Whether you want to deliver medication to specific cells or create scaffolds for building artificial tissues, currently one of the best media for doing so are polymer microparticles filled with drugs or cells. Traditionally, it has only been possible to make such particles in a few shapes, out of a few materials, and/or with only one layer of “cargo” inside. A new technique developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), however, could see multilayered microparticles being made in many shapes, from a wider variety of materials.  Read More

A scientist has proposed a 'fluid flow cloak,' which might reduce the drag on ships' hulls...

North Carolina’s Duke University has been grabbing some headlines over the past few years, due to research carried out there involving the use of metamaterials for creating functioning invisibility cloaks. Just this month, Duke researchers announced that they had developed another such material that could be used to manipulate the frequency and direction of light at will, for use in optical switching. Now, Duke’s Prof. Yaroslav Urzhumov has proposed that metamaterials could also be used to drastically reduce the drag on ships’ hulls, “by tricking the surrounding water into staying still.”  Read More

Scientists are experimenting with using genetically engineered spider silk proteins in the...

Spider silk is pretty amazing stuff. Pound for pound, it has a tensile strength close to that of steel while being one-fifth as dense, it’s tougher than Kevlar, and it can stretch to almost one-and-a-half times its length without breaking. As if that wasn’t enough, it now appears that a genetically engineered version of the substance could be used for delivering genes into human cells.  Read More

MIT has developed a system known as GelSight, that uses painted rubber to obtain 3D images...

Typically, if someone wishes to obtain three-dimensional images of micrometer-scale objects, they need to use a device such as a confocal microscope or a white-light interferometer. Such equipment is big, expensive, and often has to be mounted on a vibration-free table. Even then, it can take up to a few hours to get the finished images. Scientists at MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, however, have created a system that can obtain the same kind of images almost instantly, using a soda can-sized sensor and a sheet of rubber. It’s called GelSight.  Read More

A new sensor that detects the presence of GHB and ketamine could help reduce the incidence...

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, around 200,000 women were raped in the U.S. in 2007 with the aid of a “date rape” drug – and because so many cases go unreported, the actual figure is believed to be 80 to 100 percent higher. GHB is one of the most commonly used drugs because it is odorless, tasteless and invisible when dissolved in water. Now researchers at Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Exact Sciences have developed an easy-to-use sensor that, when dipped into a cocktail, can instantly detect GHB and another commonly used date rape drug, ketamine.  Read More

A new system for checking the quality of wood involves vibrating it at a rate of 20,000 ti...

When choosing wood for applications such as load-bearing beams in houses, it's important not to use pieces that contain cracks or other defects that could affect their structural integrity. While not quite as crucial, it's also nice to avoid flaws when building things like wooden furniture, piano soundboards, or window frames. Typically, people have been limited to visually checking the wood for such defects. Now, however, researchers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Wood Research have developed a system that highlights faults invisible to the human eye, using a process called high-power ultrasound thermography.  Read More

The wearable camera system can be used to capture the motion of an actor in just about any...

Computer-generated imagery (CGI) has become such a staple of modern movie-making that most people know what actors are doing when prancing around in front of green screens wearing skin-tight leotards with reflective balls affixed at various locations over their bodies - motion capture. In addition to the actor’s performance, such techniques can also require the tracking of camera movements and props so that perspective is maintained when translating the movements into CGI. Now researchers have demonstrated a system that can perform motion capture almost anywhere and without the need to track a separate camera and it does this by mounting the cameras on the actors instead.  Read More

Surround Haptics enhances video game play by using an array of vibrating actuators in a ch...

In the quest for more immersive entertainment experiences, researchers at Disney Research, Pittsburgh (DRP) have developed a new tactile technology called Surround Haptics. Instead of just relying on sound and vision – and in the case of video games, vibrating controllers – the system uses a low-resolution grid of vibrating actuators to generate high-resolution, continuous, moving tactile strokes across a person’s skin. They claim the system is able to create smooth, continuous tactile motion, akin to the feeling of someone dragging a finger across someone’s skin, rather than the discrete tactile pulsations or buzzes commonly used in today’s haptic technology.  Read More

The W-Ink 3D-nanostructured chip is able to instantly identify liquids(Image: Ian Burgess)

If you want to know exactly what a substance is, your best bet is to use something like a gas chromatographer. The problem is, such machines tend to be large, lab-based and expensive – not the greatest for use in the field, or by people who aren’t connected with a research institute. Researchers from Harvard University's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, however, have created inexpensive, portable 3D-nanostructured chips, that can instantly identify any liquid via its surface tension.  Read More

A combination of facial recognition software, cloud computing and social networking can be...

Facial recognition software, social networking and cloud computing ... they're all technological advances that alone have thrown up questions regarding privacy. According to a recent Carnegie Mellon University study, however, the three technologies can be combined to learn peoples' identities and other personal information about them, starting with just a photograph of their face.  Read More

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