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Duke University

Science

Cyborg rats use sense of touch to detect infrared light

Quite often, when we hear about brain-machine interfaces, it’s in the context of returning an ability to people who lack it. People who are unable to speak, for instance, might be able to interface with a machine that could speak for them. Recently, however, scientists at Duke University used such an interface to augment rats with a sort of “sixth sense” – the ability to detect invisible infrared light by sense of touch. The research could have significant implications for the disabled.Read More

Science

Crumpled graphene and rubber combined to form artificial muscle

Despite its numerous wondrous properties, a propensity to stick together and be difficult to flatten out once crumpled can make working with graphene difficult and limit its applications. Engineers at Duke University have now found that by attaching graphene to a stretchy polymer film, they are able to crumple and then unfold the material, resulting in a properties that lend it to a broader range of applications, including artificial muscles.Read More

Science

Stroboscopic eyewear found to improve visual short-term memory for up to 24 hours

A study at North Carolina's Duke University has revealed that Stroboscopic training, the performance of physical activity while using eyewear that simulates a strobe-like experience, improves visual short-term memory for up to 24 hours. Participants in the study were taken from the 2010-2011 Duke University men's and women's varsity soccer teams, Duke's 2010-2011 men's basketball team and members of the general Duke community. They were required to engage in physical activities such as playing catch while wearing either the specialized stroboscopic eyewear, designed specifically to limit vision to brief snapshots, or standard clear eyewear that provided uninterrupted vision. Read More

Mobile Technology

UnLoc app uses “invisible” landmarks for precise indoor localization

The commercialization of GPS technology has been a boon for those navigating unfamiliar city streets, highways and byways, but head inside out of sight of the GPS satellite signals and the limitations of the technology can quickly become evident. Other efforts to solve the problem involve the use of accelerometers, sometimes combined with magnetic field sensors, but a new system developed at Duke University promises to provide precise indoor localization using a different approach – detecting “invisible” landmarks.Read More

Digital Cameras

Prototype gigapixel camera incorporates 98 microcameras

While digital cameras such as the Hasselblad H4D-200MS and Nikon D800 have pushed the megapixel boundary in recent times, and Nokia’s inclusion of a 41-megapixel camera into its 808 PureView smartphone got plenty of attention, researchers at Duke University and the University of Arizona say the age of consumer gigapixel cameras are just around the corner – and they’ve created a prototype gigapixel camera to prove it.Read More

Science

Changing the texture of plastics on demand

Imagine a pair of rubber gloves whose surface texture could be altered on demand to provide more grip for climbing. Or maybe gloves with "fingerprints" that can be changed in the blink of an eye. They are just a couple of the many potential applications envisioned by researchers at Duke University for a process they have developed that allows the texture of plastics to be changed at will.Read More

Science

Piezoelectric devices may soon be able to capture more energy from movement

Of all the energy-harvesting technologies presently in development, piezoelectric devices offer some of the most intriguing possibilities. They work by converting mechanical stress, which can take the form of movement-caused vibrations, into an electrical charge. This means that things such as shoes, roads, keyboards – or anything else that moves or is subjected to movement – could be outfitted with piezoelectrics, which would produce power. Unfortunately, the range of vibrations that any one device can harness is presently quite limited. Research being conducted at North Carolina’s Duke University, however, could change that.Read More

Science

Jumping droplets could offer more efficient thermal management

When you have wet skin, you no doubt notice a cooling sensation as it dries. This is because the water droplets are carrying heat away from your skin with them, as they evaporate. Phase-change thermal diodes work the same way – through an evaporation and condensation process, they use liquid to transport heat away from things such as microchips. In most of these diodes, liquid placed on a hot surface evaporates, the vapor then rising onto a cooler surface, where it condenses back into liquid. In a closed-loop cycle, gravity subsequently carries that condensate back down to the hot surface, so it can once again be evaporated. Now, scientists from North Carolina's Duke University have discovered a method of getting condensed water droplets to jump back to the hot surface – and they can do so in any direction, including straight up.Read More

Environment

Cheap, simple composting toilet concept receives funding from Gates Foundation

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

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