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Research

A newly developed optical transistor could be the key to higher-performance CPUs and a lea...

Researchers at MIT, Harvard and the Vienna University of Technology have developed a proof-of-concept optical switch that can be controlled by a single photon and is the equivalent of a transistor in an electronic circuit. The advance could improve power consumption in standard computers and have important repercussions for the development of an effective quantum computer.  Read More

Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology produces sheet metal prototypes in hours instead of d...

Stamping sheet metal is an efficient form of manufacturing, capable of cranking hundreds or thousands of items an hour. The annoying thing is that making new stamping dies is a long, costly process. This is bad enough when it comes to retooling a factory, but creating prototypes for new products can leave designers waiting weeks. The Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan has taken a page from the 3D printing handbook and is developing a new way of forming sheet metal that allows designers to create prototypes in hours instead of weeks.  Read More

A closeup of the wood fibers used by the researchers in their sodium-ion battery (Image: U...

Li-ion batteries may be ok for your smartphone, but when it comes to large-scale energy storage, the priorities suddenly shift from compactness and cycling performance (at which Li-ion batteries excel) to low cost and environmental feasibility (in which Li-ion batteries still have much room for improvement). A new "wood battery" could allow the emerging sodium-ion battery technology to fit the bill as a long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery for large-scale energy storage.  Read More

Abnormal lymphocyte being attacked by macrophages (upper right), which lead to enhanced gr...

If a locked door must be opened, explosives can be used, but normally it is better to use a key. The conventional treatments for cancer, surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, have a range of terrible side effects that resemble the use of explosives in search of health. Now a key has been found to treat various forms of leukemia and lymphoma with only very minor side effects. The drug ibrutinib has proven sufficiently safe and effective in early clinical tests by physicians at Ohio State University that it has been given breakthrough drug status by the FDA.  Read More

A butterfly imaged on MIT's new holographic display

Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab have developed a new form of holographic projector that may enable the introduction of practical color 3D holographic video displays as well as higher-resolution 2D displays with lower power consumption. The new projector is built using principles of guided wave optics to construct the spatial light modulator (SLM) that is the heart of digital holography. The MIT holographic projector, which contains an SLM costing US$10 to fabricate, provides 3D images at 30 frames per second (fps) with a resolution similar to that of a standard-definition TV.  Read More

A twenty four-stage roughing pump developed at the University of Michigan (Photo: Universi...

Three DARPA-funded research teams have completed a foundational study of chip-scale vacuum pumps by inventing three very different approaches to removing air from a sample chamber with a volume of one cubic millimeter, which is about one-tenth the volume of a grain of rice. These new technologies will enable many micro-scale devices which require a vacuum or a controlled flow of gas, such as Lab-on-a-Chip sensors, radio frequency MEMS switches and microscopic vacuum tubes.  Read More

An optofluidic chip uses fluorescence to detect virus particles

To monitor their infection levels, people carrying chronic viral infections such as hepatitis and HIV need to get their viral load regularly checked. This measures how many viruses are present in a certain volume of blood or bodily fluid with current tests being expensive and needing to be done through laboratories. However, newly developed optical techniques being developed by two independent teams at the University of California could deliver cheaper and faster viral load tests that could be carried out in a medical office, hospital or even in the field.  Read More

Honda's Walking Assist Device has been under development for 14 years, as has the company'...

Practical exoskeletons have moved considerably closer to everyday use with the news that Honda has begun leasing 100 of its Walking Assist Devices to hospitals in Japan so that it can monitor and validate their usefulness in the real world. Honda's announcement means it has joined Panasonic's Activelink Powerloader, Cyberdyne's HAL, Argo Medical Technologies' Rewalk, Rex Bionics' REX, Ekso Bionics EKSO, Raytheon's XOS2, RB3D's Hercule and Lockheed Martin's HULC exoskeletons, which are all at or close to market.  Read More

Home-Exploring Robot Butler (HERB) being trained to identify household objects

One of the major anticipated applications for robots is in care for the elderly and helping them with daily tasks. This means that robots have got to adapt to human lifestyles, not the other way around, because granny can’t be expected to program the robot or rearrange her house to suit the machine’s limitations. The Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute’s Lifelong Robotic Object Discovery (LROD) project aims to address this by developing ways to use visual and non-visual data to help robots to identify and pick up objects so they can work in a normal human environment without supervision.  Read More

U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Edwards Air Force Base prepares to release the Bo...

It was fourth time lucky for Boeing’s X-51A Waverider, as it blasted into the history books on Monday. The fourth test of the hypersonic drone achieved the longest scramjet-powered hypersonic flight yet, hitting a top speed of Mach 5.1. Dropped from a B-52H bomber out of Edwards Air Force Base in California, the unmanned craft flew at top speed for three and a half minutes before it made a controlled dive into the Pacific Ocean after six minutes of flight.  Read More

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