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MIT


— Medical

Leukometer promises needle-free monitoring of the immune system

Keeping track of white blood cell levels in chemotherapy patients is an involved but crucially important task. The treatment can lead to suppression of the immune system, a decline in white blood cell count, which in turn can give rise to infections and other serious complications. As things stand, patients are subjected to regular blood tests as a means of keeping an eye on things, but an international team of scientists has a less invasive alternative in the works. With the ability to tally up white blood cells through the skin in real time, the new testing device can simply be stuck onto a fingertip to help clinicians tailor personalized and more timely treatments.

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— Space

Spiky Hedgehog robots to hop around asteroids and comets

As demonstrated by the bumpy landing of ESA's Philae lander on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, exploring comets, asteroids, and small moons can be difficult due to their low gravity. Not only can landing on one be like trying to alight on a trampoline, but roving around their surfaces is next to impossible because the negligible gravity offers practically no traction. To overcome this, a team of engineers is developing Hedgehog, a completely symmetrical robot rover for low-gravity exploration that moves by hopping.

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— 3D Printing

3D printer extrudes molten glass to produce objets d'art

The list of materials capable of being extruded through a 3D printer seems to grow by the week, moving well beyond plastics, food and metals to now include another unlikely substance: glass. And while previous 3D printing methods have used powdered glass and silica sand, a team of researchers led by Neri Oxman out of MIT’s Mediated Matter Group has developed a 3D printer that extrudes molten glass.

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— 3D Printing

MultiFab mixes and matches 10 different materials in a single 3D print

3D printers may have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, but most are one trick ponies in that their computer-controlled syringes extrude only one material at a time to build up an object. It's a process that's slow, imprecise, and often requires items to be printed in separate pieces and then assembled. MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab's (CSAIL) MutliFab printer takes 3D printing technology a step further by combining 3D optical scanning with the ability to print using 10 different materials on the same job.

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— Energy

ARC reactor design uses superconducting magnets to draw fusion power closer

Fusion power can seem a bit like the last bus at night; it's always coming, but never arrives. MIT is working to change that with a new compact tokamak fusion reactor design based on the latest magnetic superconductor technology. The ARC (affordable, robust, compact) reactor design promises smaller, cheaper reactors that could make fusion power practical within 10 years.

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— Electronics

Aluminum "yolk" nanoparticles deliver high-capacity battery recipe

Researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University in China have found a way to more than triple the capacity of the anodes, or negative electrodes, of lithium-ion batteries while also extending their lifetime and potentially allowing for faster battery charging and discharging. The new electrode, which makes use of aluminum/titanium "yolk-and-shell" nanoparticles, is reportedly simple to manufacture and is especially promising for high-power applications.

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