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Duke University

In many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient...

Whatever you call it - lavatory, privy, latrine, crapper, loo or dunny - most of us take the humble toilet for granted. But in many parts of the world the absence of sanitary waste disposal is not just inconvenient, it can cause deadly diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, trachoma, typhoid and cholera. Enter Marc Deshusses, a Duke University environmental engineer who has envisioned an innovative yet simple waste disposal system designed specifically for Third World countries that can be constructed from everyday items. Now, as part of a broad ranging project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Deshusses has received $100,000 to perfect and test the system in the laboratory before producing a prototype to field-test in 18 months time.  Read More

The original image on the left, the modified image in the middle, and the 'heat-map' produ...

From nude pictures of celebrities to politicians caught in compromising positions, verifying the authenticity of images online is often no easy task. To address this problem, a team at Duke University looking has developed software called YouProve that can be integrated into the Android operating system to track changes made to images or audio captured on an Android smartphone. The software then produces a non-forgeable "fidelity certificate" that uses a "heat-map" to summarize the degree to which various regions of the media have been modified compared to the original image.  Read More

The virtual arm controlled by a monkey selects an object based on its virtual texture

In a development that could have huge implications for quadriplegics, paraplegics and those with prosthetic limbs, researchers from Duke University and the Ecole Polytechnic Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed technology that has allowed monkeys to control a virtual arm and touch and feel virtual objects using only their brain activity. The researchers say it is the first-ever demonstration of a two-way interaction between a primate brain and a virtual body and could lead to robotic exoskeletons that not only that allows paralyzed patients to walk again, but to also feel the ground beneath them.  Read More

A new flexible film made of copper nanowires and plastic conducts electricity illuminating...

In June of last year we reported on the success by researchers at Duke University in developing a technique capable of producing copper nanowires at a scale that could make them a potential replacement for rare and expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) in touch screens and solar panels. However, the water-based production process resulted in the copper nanowires clumping, which reduced their transparency and prevented the copper from oxidizing, which decreases their conductivity. The researchers have now solved the clumping problem and say that copper nanowires could be appearing in cheaper touch screens, solar cells and flexible electronics in the next few years.  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

A fundamental property of metamaterials is the ability to produce negative refraction

Duke University is on a roll, showing off yet another potentially game-changing property of the exotic man-made substances known as metamaterials. This time the property could have deep consequences for the transmission of information via light. Maybe the most important potential use of all.  Read More

Wi-Fi hotspots may be proliferating, but so are the devices that access them (Image: Flori...

Although the number of Wi-Fi hotspots has increased dramatically in most places over the past few years, the explosion in the number of smartphones and laptops attempting to make use of such connections means that getting decent download speeds is as difficult as it always was. Not only is this frustrating, it can also be a major drain on the batteries of mobile devices. In an effort to address one of these problems, a Duke University graduate student has developed software called SleepWell that allows mobile devices to take a nap to save power while they wait for their turn to download.  Read More

Tha TagSense smartphone app will automatically apply a greater variety of tags to photos

The old adage says “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but just exactly which words is the question. While facial recognition and GPS-enabled cameras have made tagging digital snapshots with names and locations much easier, a team of students from Duke University and the University of South Carolina has developed a smartphone app called TagSense that takes advantage of the range of multiple sensors on a mobile phone to automatically apply a greater variety of tags to photos.  Read More

Duke University scientists have outlined a theory for the use of metamaterials in facilita...

The weird properties of artificially engineered metamaterials are at the core of research into invisibility cloaking, but engineers from Duke University in North Carolina suggest that these materials could also provide a boost to another of technology's quests - wireless power transmission. In this latest hard-to-get-your-head-around metamaterial scenario, it's not the cloaked object that "disappears" - it's the space between the charger and the chargee.  Read More

Dr. June Medford, with some of her pollutant- and explosive-sniffing plants

There may come a day when certain plants in your workplace suddenly turn white, at which point everyone will run screaming from the building – those co-workers will have been right to do so, as the white plants indicated that a toxic gas was present. Before that scenario can take place, a little more work still needs to be done, and Colorado State University (CSU) biologist Dr. June Medford is doing it. Using a computer-designed detection trait, she is creating plants that stop producing chlorophyll when they detect pollutants or explosives in the air.  Read More

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