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Max Planck Institute

— Science

Eyes inspire more efficient solar cell architecture

By - February 28, 2015 2 Pictures
Solar cells don't at first glance have any relation to a tiny structure in the eye that makes our central vision sharp, but that tiny structure – called the fovea centralis – may be the key to a huge boost in solar cell efficiency. A team of scientists at Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light took the underlying mechanisms that guide the fovea and adapted them to silicon as a surface for collecting light in solar cells. Read More
— Science

The lighter side of dark matter

By - February 1, 2015 1 Picture
In spite of substantial scientific investigation and convincing indirect evidence, dark matter still eludes direct detection and its existence essentially remains a tantalizing, but unproven, hypothesis. Notwithstanding this, nearly 85 percent of the predicted mass of the universe remains unaccounted for, and dark matter theory is still the prime contender to explain where it may be. Researchers at the University of Southampton have theorized the existence of a new "lighter" dark matter particle in an effort to help unravel the mystery. Read More
— Robotics

Scallop microbots designed to swim through your bodily fluids

By - November 12, 2014 5 Pictures
In the 1960s science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, audiences thrilled to the idea of shrinking a submarine and the people inside it to microscopic dimensions and injecting it into a person’s bloodstream. At the time it was just fantasy and as fantastic an idea as its title suggested. Today, however, micro-miniature travelers in your body have come one step closer to reality. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute have been experimenting with real micro-sized robots that literally swim through your bodily fluids and could be used to deliver drugs or other medical relief in a highly-targeted way. Read More
— Space

Discovery of new molecule suggests origins of life may reside in interstellar space

By - September 29, 2014 2 Pictures
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) group of radio telescopes have discovered a carbon-based molecule with a branched structure – a common feature in molecules that are required for life to form. Contained within a giant gas cloud in the star-forming region of Sagittarius B2, the molecule of isopropyl cyanide is the first hint that other complex molecules may form in space before finding their way to the surface of planets. Read More
— Science

"World's smallest propeller" may find use on nanobots

By - July 30, 2014 1 Picture
All over the world, scientists are creating microscopic "nanobots" for purposes such as delivering medication to precisely-targeted areas inside the body. In order for those tiny payload-carrying robots to get to their destination, however, they need some form of propulsion. Although some systems are already in development, a team of Israeli and German scientists may have come up with the most intriguing one yet, in the form of what they claim is the world's smallest propeller. Read More
— Robotics

Phase-change material could let robots be soft or hard-bodied as needed

By - July 15, 2014 1 Picture
If you've ever watched an octopus, you may have noticed how they can deliver powerful grasping force when necessary, yet can also squeeze through tiny openings by essentially making themselves "liquid." Now imagine if there were robots that could do the same thing. They could conceivably squirm through debris to reach buried survivors at disaster sites, or even travel through patients' bodies to perform medical procedures. An international team of scientists is working on making such technology a reality, using a combination of polyurethane foam and wax. Read More
— Mobile Technology

Finger-drawn lines could replace PINs on mobile devices

By - June 5, 2014 1 Picture
Many of us now use our mobile devices for things like online banking, in crowded public places ... the sort of places where it would be easy for sometime to sneak a peek as we enter our passcodes. Researchers from New Jersey's Rutgers University, however, are working on a possible alternative to those typed codes. They've discovered that passwords consisting of hand gestures used to draw free-form lines on a smartphone or tablet screen are much more difficult for "shoulder surfers" to copy after seeing. Read More

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