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A Photuris firefly, which was the focus of the research (Photo: Optics Express)

Fireflies ... they’ve allowed us to image the bloodstream and they’ve inspired the creation of a light that could run on waste. Now, they’ve helped an international team of scientists get over 50 percent more light out of existing LED bulbs. The secret lies in the insects’ scales.  Read More

A confetti-sized artificial kidney stone, with a sub-150-micrometer hole bored into it usi...

First of all, how can non-invasive surgery even be possible? After all, even in the case of minimally-invasive laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are still made in the skin. Nonetheless, that’s just what scientists from the University of Michigan are proposing. They believe that it could be achieved by using a beam of sound, which would be emitted through the skin to a highly-focused point within the body – and they’ve already created such a beam and used it.  Read More

CalTech's new nanofocusing plasmonic waveguide

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging.  Read More

A newly-developed codec could make pixels obsolete within five years, according to its cre...

Unlike traditional bitmap graphics, which are made up of an array of pixels, vector graphics consist of lines, curves and shapes that are based on geometric formulas. Not only do they take up far less memory than bitmaps, but sections of them can also be enlarged without any loss of resolution. Currently, however, vector graphics aren’t well-suited to photorealistic applications, such as video. That may be about to change, though, as researchers from the UK’s University of Bath have developed a new program that is said to overcome such limitations – the scientists believe that the technology could make pixels obsolete within five years.  Read More

A cross-section transmission electron micrograph of the tiny new transistor

As there is a finite number of transistors that can be effectively packed onto a silicon chip, researchers have been searching for an alternative to silicon that would allow integrated circuit development to continue to keep pace with Moore's Law. Researchers at MIT have recently used indium gallium arsenide to create the smallest transistor ever built from a material other than silicon. The new transistor, which is said to “work well,” is just 22 nanometers long and is a metal-oxide semiconductor field-effect transistor (MOSFET), which is the kind typically used in microprocessors.  Read More

Scientists have created a mussel-inspired gel, which may ultimately save human lives  (Pho...

Mussels have an amazing ability to cling to rocks, even when buffeted by large waves and ocean debris on a daily basis. Now, scientists have created a bioadhesive gel inspired by those mussels, that could potentially be used to reinforce weakened blood vessels.  Read More

One of the new chips was used to non-destructively image a bullet and a knife blade hidden...

Terahertz technology (or T-Ray, for short), sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. It utilizes high-frequency terahertz waves – which are located between microwaves and far-infrared radiation on the electromagnetic spectrum – to see through solid matter without the harmful ionizing radiation of X-rays. Although T-Ray devices have yet to become compact and affordable, that could soon change thanks to new silicon microchips developed at the California Institute of Technology.  Read More

Researchers have used a dye extracted from the root of the madder plant to develop a new '...

Researchers have found an eco-friendly alternative to the metal ores currently favored in the electrodes of lithium-ion batteries. The new non-toxic and sustainable battery uses purpurin, a red/yellow dye extracted from the root of the madder plant that has been used for dying cloth for at least 3,500 years – meaning the substance can simply be grown rather than mined.  Read More

The LuminAR Bulb works with standard light fixtures and projects an interactive image onto...

We've all seen gigantic touch screens on the news or in movies, but what if you could achieve the same type of interface by simply replacing the bulb in your desk lamp? That's the idea behind the LuminAR, developed by a team led by Natan Linder at the MIT Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces Group. It combines a Pico-projector, camera, and wireless computer to project interactive images onto any surface - and is small enough to screw into a standard light fixture.  Read More

Far-infrared image of a building at night (Image: Robert Gubbins/Shutterstock)

Harvard Professor of Applied Physics Federico Capasso and his collaborators have invented a nearly perfect optical absorber. By coating a piece of sapphire with an exceedingly thin (180 nm) layer of vanadium dioxide (VO2), a surface is created that absorbs 99.75 percent of infrared light with a wavelength of 11.6 micron wavelength. Such optical absorbers can be tailored to enable a wide range of applications.  Read More

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