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Northwestern University

Health & Wellbeing

Smartphone usage could be analyzed to warn of depression

One of the problems with depression is that because it often forms so gradually, many people don't even realize that they're suffering from it – they just assume that normal life is pretty dreary. With that in mind, researchers from Chicago's Northwestern University have devised a method of analyzing at-risk individuals' smartphone use, to see if they're developing signs of the disorder.Read More

3D Printing

Wonder-ink could soon let you 3D print objects out of stretchy graphene

A new 3D-printing ink being developed at Northwestern University could soon make it possible to build objects which are made of graphene for 60 percent of their volume and 75 percent of their weight. This unprecedentedly high graphene composition means that the oft-praised electric and mechanical properties of graphene might soon find their way into all kinds of macroscopic 3D-printed creations, with important consequences for the electronics and biomedical fields (among many others).Read More

Biology

Scientists create world's first fully-artificial molecular pump

All living organisms – human, animal, or otherwise – continuously move molecules around their cells. It's a crucial mechanism of life, vital for feeding cells the proteins they need to function. And now scientists at Northwestern University have created a machine that mimics this pumping mechanism. Their molecular pump is the world's first such machine developed entirely through chemical engineering in the laboratory, and it could one day power artificial muscles and other molecular machines.Read More

Science

The amazing technicolor liquid nanolaser

A new nanoscale plasmon laser developed at Northwestern University changes color in real time through a process as simple as swapping one liquid dye for another. The scientists responsible for the technology claim this is the world's first liquid nanoscale laser, and it could find uses in medical diagnostics as well as military or security applications. Read More

Electronics

Inexpensive new depth-sensing camera could outperform the Kinect

Although the Microsoft Kinect was designed first and foremost for gaming, the fact that it's a cheap but reliable depth-sensing camera has led to its use in everything from navigation systems for the blind to user-following grocery carts to remote-control cyborg cockroaches. Soon, however, it may be facing some competition. The Northwestern University-designed Motion Contrast 3D Scanning (MC3D) camera should also be economical, while offering higher-quality imaging and the ability to operate in sunlight. Read More

Computers

Scientists close in on computers that work like the human brain

Scientists have been working since 2008 to develop technology based on memristors (short for memory resistors), which promise computers that need never boot up and function more akin to the human brain – like neurons, they can retain information and perform logic operations. Now scientists at Northwestern University have made a new breakthrough that may make possible brain-like computing capabilities.Read More

Materials

Imperfect graphene may be perfect for use in better fuel cells

We already knew that graphene was a highly useful material, but just how useful is it? Well, it turns out that even defective graphene may be valuable. According to a team of mostly-American scientists, improperly-formed graphene could find use in next-generation fuel cells. Among other things, those cells might allow electric cars to be recharged in the amount of time that it currently takes to refuel a gas-burning vehicle. Read More

Military

New catalyst material quickly neutralizes nerve gas

While the Iran-Iraq war of 1981-1988 saw the only large-scale use of chemical weapons since WWII, in a world beset by rogue states, civil wars, and terrorism, protecting against nerve agents and disposing of them remains a major problem. One bright spot is a team from Northwestern University, which has developed a new material capable of neutralizing nerve gases. The zirconium-based Metal-Organic Framework (MOF) called NU-1000 is not only useful for disposing of stockpiles of such toxins, but also for use in gas masks and protective suits for soldiers and rescue workers.Read More

Electronics

New technique could produce the ideal light-absorbing material for solar cells

Solar cell efficiency has made significant strides in recent times, but cells are still far from their maximum theoretical efficiency, and part of the reason is that the semiconductors we use to build them don’t have ideal electrical properties. Researchers at Northwestern University have now found a way to tweak an important electrical feature of transition metal oxides, compounds commonly used as semiconductors, to build the optimal light-absorbing material for solar cells, lasers and photoelectrochemical cells.Read More

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