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Nanotechnology

Honda's Intelligent Horse

If the horse is not humanity's favorite animal, it should be, as it has served us far better than any other domesticated animal. It has been the predominant form of personal transport for the last millennia, has done more work for us than any animal, and its mastery became the fundamental military technology which helped Genghis Khan build the biggest empire in history. The notion of using advanced technologies to replicate and extend the personality and functionality of the horse gave Honda a wonderful platform to explore in its latest design concept. Part sci-fi and part technology-crystal-ball-gazing, here's what a synthetic Horse V 2.0 might look like 200 years hence.  Read More

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu from QUT Chemistry with the titanate nanofiber that can remove rad...

Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently.  Read More

A new study suggests that for thousands of years, humans have been exposed to nanoparticle...

Nanoparticles have been a key part of numerous recent technological advances. Biofuels, solar cells, medical imaging systems and even sunscreen - there's virtually no field of science or technology that they couldn't potentially transform. There are concerns however, about the risks posed by the countless tiny particles of materials such as silver, gold and titanium dioxide that are now entering our environment and our bodies, but a recent University of Oregon study suggests that if not completely harmless, nanoparticles are at least nothing new. In fact, it states, humans have been exposed to them for millennia.  Read More

Stanford's stretchable pressure-sensitive material incorporates coatings of tiny 'nano-spr...

Robots, prosthetic limbs and touchscreen displays could all end up utilizing technology recently developed at California’s Stanford University. A team led by Zhenan Bao, an associate professor of chemical engineering, has created a very stretchy skin-like pressure-sensitive material that can detect everything from a finger-pinch to over twice the pressure that would be exerted by an elephant standing on one foot. The sensitivity of the material is attained through two layers of carbon nanotubes, that act like a series of tiny springs.  Read More

By applying electrical pulses to the new nanomaterial, a sea of small negatively charged i...

By now, we’re all fairly used to electronic devices such as smartphones, which can act as a mobile phone, computer, camera and navigation unit all at once. These devices, while multi-functional, still use different hard-wired electrical circuits for their different functions. Thanks to research being carried out at Chicago’s Northwestern University, however, all those functions may one day be able to utilize the same physical piece of electronic material – the electrical current would simply be “steered” through it differently, depending on what was needed. This means that a single section of the material could act as a resistor, rectifier, diode or transistor, as instructed by a computer.  Read More

Each nanochannel electroporation device incorporates two reservoirs joined by a nanoscale ...

One of the key processes in gene therapy involves taking cells from the patient, injecting a therapeutic genetic material into them, then reintroducing them to the patient’s body and letting them go to work. Unfortunately, getting that material into the cells can be tricky. While larger cells can actually be punctured with a fine needle, most human cells are too small for that approach to be possible. There are also methods of inserting random amounts of material into bulk quantities of cells, but these are inexact. Now, however, scientists at Ohio State University are reporting success with a process known as “nanochannel electroporation” (NEP), in which therapeutic biomolecules are electrically shot into cells.  Read More

Scientists have created a tiny artificial muscle, that could be used in motors to propel n...

We've been hearing a lot lately about the possibility of treating medical conditions using nanobots - tiny robots that would be injected into a patient's bloodstream, where they would proceed to travel to their targets, not unlike the microscopic submarine in the movie Fantastic Voyage ... except nanobots wouldn't be crewed by tiny shrunken-down humans. One challenge that still needs to be met, however, is figuring out a way of propelling the devices. Well, we may now be closer to a solution. Yesterday, development of a new type of nanoscale artificial muscle was announced, which works like the muscles in an elephant's trunk. These could conceivably be used in nanobots, to whip them along using a rotating flagellum - a tiny sperm-like tail, in other words.  Read More

A new 'invisibility cloak' utilizes the same effect that causes mirages to appear (Image: ...

You have no doubt seen mirages on the distant surfaces of hot highways before, looking like pools of water shimmering on the asphalt. Such illusions are caused by hot air above the road, which refracts light waves coming down into it from the cooler air above – in other words, the supposed “water” is actually the sky, its image being bent toward you by the low-lying hot air. Well, scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have put the same principle to work in the lab, and created an invisibility cloak that can be easily switched on and off.  Read More

One of the diamond cavities carved by the NIST team

With sizes typically measured in micrometers, Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) devices are already being used in applications such as super-accurate sensors, energy-harvesting devices, and electronic signal amplifiers. Given how difficult it would be to replace such systems' moving parts as they wear out, it would be ideal if those parts could be made from as hard a material as possible. Well, while most MEMS are presently made chiefly of silicon, researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are now on their way to making them from diamonds.  Read More

Researchers at the University of Toronto have set a new efficiency record for colloidal qu...

Advancing solar technology is a trade-off between the efficiency of the cells themselves and the cost of producing and installing them. Quantum dot solar cells, which use nanoscale semiconductors to produce electricity, promise low-cost production and, because they can be sprayed or painted on, big benefits in terms of installation. In the efficiency stakes quantum cells don't score as well as silicon-based or CIGS solar cells, but a new efficiency record for colloidal quantum dot solar cells represents a big step towards narrowing the gap. This breakthrough isn't about the quantum dots though, it's about the wrapping.  Read More

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