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Nanotechnology

The nanobubbles are short-lived events that expand and burst, thus creating a small hole i...

U.S. researchers are developing a promising new approach to the targeting of individual cancer cells. The technique uses light-harvesting nanoparticles to convert laser energy into “plasmonic nanobubbles,” enabling drugs to be injected directly into the cancer cells through small holes created in the surface. Researchers claim that the delivery of chemotherapy drugs in this way is up to 30 times more effective on cancer cells than traditional drug treatments and requires less than one-tenth the clinical dose.  Read More

An uneven “bed of nails” surface helps prevent cancerous cells from gathering the nutrient...

It's a sad reality of our time that breast cancer affects more women around the world than any other form of cancer. Even more disturbing is the fact that up to ten years after surgery, the cancer returns in nearly 20 percent of those deemed to have had successful tumor-removal operations. Now, researchers at Brown University (BU) in Providence, Rhode Island, led by engineering professor Thomas Webster, have developed an implant which they believe can appreciably lower that relapse rate by simultaneously inhibiting cancer cell growth and attracting healthy breast cells.  Read More

Lithium atoms (red) deposited on graphene were shown to give the material piezoelectric qu...

Scientists have succeeded in endowing graphene with yet another useful property. Already, it is the thinnest, strongest and stiffest material ever measured, while also proving to be an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. These qualities have allowed it to find use in everything from transistors to supercapacitors to anti-corrosion coatings. Now, two materials engineers from Stanford University have used computer models to show how it could also be turned into a piezoelectric material – this means that it could generate electricity when mechanically stressed, or change shape when subjected to an electric current.  Read More

A race car model no larger than a grain of sand, created using the new high-speed two-phot...

Are 3D printers not amazing enough already? Apparently some scientists at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) didn’t think so, as they have now built one that can create intricate objects as small as a grain of sand. While the ability to 3D-print such tiny items is actually not unique to the TU Vienna device, the speed at which it can do so is. According to the researchers, this makes the commercial production of things such as medical implants much more viable.  Read More

Swedish scientists have developed a nanocoating that allows the bone surrounding dental im...

The thought of having titanium screws implanted into one's jawbone is probably pretty unsettling for most of us, but for people who are getting individual teeth replaced, such implants are often required as attachment points for the artificial teeth. Once those screws are in place, patients often have to wait from about four to six months before they can chew solid food, as the bone surrounding the implant heals. Now, however, Swedish scientists have developed a new bioactive nanocoating for the screws, that promises to significantly decrease the required healing time.  Read More

University of Texas at Austin researchers have developed a method that may speed up the bo...

In spite of numerous medical breakthroughs ranging from heart transplants to bypass surgery, cardiovascular disease still tops the list as the leading cause of death in developed countries. Key among the many problems that trouble our hearts is something called myocardial ischemia disease (MID), a condition that leads to reduced blood flow in the vessels of the heart and lower extremities and, frequently, corrective surgery. Now, University of Texas at Austin (UTA) biomedical engineer Aaron Baker and his research team have developed a method that may speed up the body's ability to grow new blood vessels (a phenomenon called angiogenesis), and best of all, no surgery is required. That's potentially great news for the nearly 27 million folks in the U.S. alone who chronically suffer from MID.  Read More

The programmable DNA nanorobot developed by Wyss Institute researchers is shaped like a ba...

We've seen various experimental approaches that aim to increase the efficacy of chemotherapy while also reducing its damaging side effects by specifically targeting cancer cells. The latest encouraging development comes from Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering where researchers have created a barrel-like robotic device made from DNA that could carry molecular instructions into specific cells and tell them to self-destruct. Because the DNA-based device could be programmed to target a variety of cells, it could be used to treat a range of diseases in addition to providing hope in the fight against cancer.  Read More

Schematic of MIT's Photosystem-I solar energy harvesting chip

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!  Read More

A depiction of glucose molecules moving across the surface of a plasmonic interferometer

In order to measure their blood glucose levels, most diabetics must perform painful finger-prick tests on a daily basis. Hopefully, however, that may not always be the case. Scientists at Rhode Island’s Brown University are now developing a biochip, that could someday be used to assess the concentration of glucose molecules in a tiny sample of saliva.  Read More

Magnetically levitated micro robots are simple to scale down and could potentially be comb...

The past five to ten years have seen the birth of microbotics. A whole range of components that are vital for building robots, such as actuators, motors or batteries, became available in micro-scale only fairly recently. Finally enthusiasts got what they needed to put their own systems together, and the whole field benefited from their work. But there are obvious limitations to scaling down robots full of sensors, motors, and other mechanisms. That is, unless you make the machines extremely simple, which is exactly what Ron Pelrine of SRI International has done. His work on levitated microrobots may have powerful implications for robotics, and is likely to bring us a step closer towards fast, precise and affordable robotic systems comprising thousands, if not millions of microrobots.  Read More

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