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Nanotechnology

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

Scientists have created the first self-propelling, hydrogen-bubble-powered 'microrocket' c...

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have created what they claim is the first self-propelling, hydrogen-bubble-powered "microrocket" requiring no external source of fuel. In the most acidic solutions, these micromotors can reach speeds of 100 body lengths per second. It's claimed that the breakthrough could pave the way (or rather line the esophagus) towards stomach-going nanomotors which could provide imaging or precisely targeted drug treatment. In addition to self-propulsion, the gut-rockets can be steered, and made to collect and release a payload.  Read More

Liquipel is a nanocoating claimed to protect mobile devices from 'accidental water damage'

We all know that water and mobile electronic devices aren’t a good mix. But living on a world whose surface is around 70 percent water can sometimes make it hard to keep the two separate. While wrapping your device in a waterproof case will provide protection, they add bulk and can sometimes affect usability. California-based company Liquipel claims to have developed a hydrophobic nanocoating one thousand times thinner than a human hair that can be applied to a smartphone to protect it from accidental spills without affecting its functionality.  Read More

A new nanosensor developed by Fraunhofer researchers could reduce the number of lab experi...

Animal testing is an area that elicits strong feelings on both sides of the argument for and against the practice. Supporters like the British Royal Society argue that virtually every medical breakthrough of the 20th century involved the use of animals in some way, while opponents say that it is not only cruel, but actually impedes medical progress by using misleading animal models. Whatever side of the argument researchers fall on, most would likely use an alternative to animal testing if it existed. And an alternative that reduces the need for animal testing is just what Fraunhofer researchers hope their new sensor nanoparticles will be.  Read More

Researchers have created silicon wire four atoms wide and one atom tall capable of carryin...

The world's narrowest silicon wires with a cross section of a mere four atoms by one atom have been created by a team of developers from the University of New South Wales, the University of Melbourne and Purdue University. The wires are fully functioning, with current-carrying capacity equivalent to that of a microprocessor's copper cable, despite being 20 times thinner - and 10,000 times narrower than a human hair.  Read More

2011 - a year in technology

We cast a wide net over all types of new and emerging technologies here at Gizmag.com - some save us time, some keep us connected, some help us stay healthy and some are just plain fun, but at the core of what we cover are those discoveries and innovations which have the potential to impact the fortunes of the human race as a whole and make a difference to the future of our planet. So with the calender having rolled over into another year, it's an ideal time to take a look back at some of the most significant and far-reaching breakthroughs that we saw during 2011.  Read More

Hematite nanoparticle film (red) with functional phycocyanin network (green) attached

Recently, scientists from the Swiss research institute EMPA, along with colleagues from the University of Basel and the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois took a cue from photosynthesis and discovered that by coupling a light-harvesting plant protein with their specially designed electrode, they could substantially boost the efficiency of photo-electrochemical cells used to split water and produce hydrogen - a huge step forward in the search for clean, truly green power.  Read More

Mixtures using cadmium sulfide produced yellow paint, cadmium selenide produced dark brown...

A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana is reporting the creation of a "solar paint" that could mark an important milestone on the road to widespread implementation of renewable energy technology. Although the new material is still a long way off the conversion efficiencies of commercial silicon solar cells, the researchers say it is cheap to make and can be produced in large quantities.  Read More

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