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Duke University

— Science

Proposed 'fluid flow cloak' might greatly reduce ships' hydrodynamic drag

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
— Telecommunications

SleepWell system puts mobile devices to sleep to conserve power while waiting on Wi-Fi

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
— Digital Cameras

Automatic photo tagging with TagSense smartphone app

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
— Electronics

Metamaterials could significantly boost wireless power transmission

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
— Science

Color-changing plants detect pollutants and explosives

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
— Medical

Next-gen robotic surgeons could eliminate need for doctors in simple surgeries

A robot guided by 3-D ultrasound and artificial intelligence has demonstrated it can locate lesions in simulated breast and prostate tissue and take biopsies without human assistance. A team of bioengineers at Duke University, North Carolina, 'souped up' an existing robot arm with a purpose-built ultrasound system which acts as the robot's 'eyes' by collecting data from its scan and locating its target. An artificial intelligence program processes the real-time 3D information from the ultrasound and gives the robot specific commands to perform using a mechanical 'hand' that can manipulate the same biopsy plunger device used by doctors. Read More
— Science

Bendable displays and solar cells possible using cheap copper nanowires

The latest flat-panel TVs and computer screens produce images by an array of electronic pixels connected by a transparent conductive layer made from indium tin oxide (ITO). ITO is also used as a transparent electrode in thin-film solar cells. But ITO has drawbacks: it is brittle; its production process is inefficient; and it is expensive and becoming more so because of increasing demand. One potential alternative is to use tiny copper nanowires and researchers have now perfected a simple way to make these in quantity. The cheap conductors are small enough to be transparent, making them ideal for thin-film solar cells, flat-screen TVs and computers, and flexible displays. Read More
— Good Thinking

When email just won’t do - Global teams need time to talk

Modern technologies have made so many forms of collaboration possible that oft times the basics are overlooked, says Duke University management professor Jonathon Cummings. Globally distributed teams cannot rely entirely on technology to overcome time and space barriers; they still need to talk. And that probably means working some overlapping hours. Cummings developed these recommendations based on a multi-year study of 108 project teams in 53 locations in 22 countries at Intel. Read More
— Architecture

Secret of the golden ratio revealed

The golden ratio describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and a half times its width. Also known as the golden section, golden mean and divine proportion, among other names, it has intrigued mathematicians and artists alike for centuries. The Egyptians supposedly used it to guide the construction the Pyramids, the architecture of ancient Athens is thought to have been based on it, and many artists have fashioned their works around it. This includes Leonardo da Vinci, who used it in the Mona Lisa and the Vitruvian Man. Now a Duke University scientist believes he has figured out the secret behind the golden ratio’s popularity – and it’s all down to evolution. Read More