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When we think of invisibility cloaks, probably the first things that come to mind are Harry Potter-like contraptions that allow people or large objects to instantly disappear. Scientists from the University of Maryland and nearby Towson University, however, today announced their development of something a little different – little being the key word. They have crammed 25,000 tiny “invisibility cloaks” onto a gold sheet, which itself only measures 25 millimeters per side. While the resulting biochip array may not allow any young wizards to vanish from sight, it could allow them to identify biological materials. Read More

What could be better than a chocolate-covered ice cream bar on a hot summer day? Of course, the answer is a chocolate-covered ice cream bar eaten inside a high-tech, bio-interactive experiential sphere. The Magnum Infinity Pleasure Pod is exactly that ... and the ice cream is free. Read More

Once upon a time, tasters were employed by the well-to-do, in order to check that their food or drink wasn't poisonous. Today, there are electronic biosensors that can do more or less the same thing. Unfortunately, as was no doubt sometimes the case with the tasters, the biosensors can’t always give us immediate results. Additionally, they’re usually only able to test for specific substances, and not simply for “anything that’s toxic.” An experimental new device known as the Dip Chip, however, is said to address both of those problems. Read More

Researchers at the University of Exeter have created a transgenic zebrafish which produces highly targeted green fluorescent signals when exposed to environmental estrogens. Read More

Handheld biosensors and diagnostic devices could be taking a huge step forward, thanks to recent advances made in the use of ferromagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles – also known as magnetic nanobeads. According to scientists from Oregon State University (OSU), the use of such particles in chemical detection systems could make those systems much smaller, faster, cheaper to produce, and more accurate than they are presently. Read More
In this age of laser-etched microfluidic lab-on-a-chip devices that analyze samples of bodily fluids on the spot, it's kind of ... fun, perhaps, to hear about a similar device that could conceivably be assembled by a grade school student, using their allowance money. The matchbox-sized sensor, developed by scientists from The University of Texas at Austin, is designed to detect acute pancreatitis using blood samples. Important as its purpose may be, though, the materials used to build the device include things like household aluminum foil, milk, a 12-cent LED bulb, and JELL-O. Read More
Mice ... they may nibble our food, poop in our cupboards, and make us go "eek," but they may also someday keep us from getting blown up. Before they can do that, however, Israeli tech company BioExplorers has to get its mouse-based explosives detection system out of the prototype stage and into production. If it ever does see the light of day, then people at airports, arenas, and other high terrorism-risk areas may routinely be getting a sniff-down by containers of live rodents. Read More
While there are already effective methods of screening samples of body fluids for viruses such as Ebola, these tend to require a fair amount of sample preparation time and a decent technological infrastructure. Time isn’t always in abundance at places such as airports, while infrastructure is lacking in many developing nations. Fortunately, researchers have created a diagnostic tool that can detect viruses quickly and easily, and that’s about the size of a quarter. Read More
Engineers at the University of Michigan have developed a strip of paper infused with carbon nanotubes that can quickly and inexpensively detect a toxin produced by algae in drinking water. The paper strips perform 28 times faster than the complicated method most commonly used today to detect microcystin-LR, a chemical compound produced by the blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) commonly found on nutrient-rich waters. Microcystin-LR is among the leading causes of biological water pollution and is believed to be the culprit of many mass poisonings going back to early human history. Read More