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Rice University


— Aircraft

A pinch of graphene could keep airplane wings ice-free

Both airplane wings and helicopter rotor blades are subject to one problem – they can both ice up. Although de-icing solutions can be applied when aircraft are on the ground, that doesn't stop ice from eventually forming once they're in the air. That's why scientists at Texas' Rice University have developed a new graphene-based coating that continuously melts ice by conducting an electrical current.

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— Materials

Self-adaptive composite heals itself and returns to its original shape

Self-healing materials that can repair cracks and other damage automatically have been the dream of scientists and engineers for decades, but a team of scientists at Rice University have come up with a new twist. It's a Self-Adaptive Composite (SAC) that is not only self healing, but also has reversible self-stiffening properties that allow it to spring back into shape like a sponge.

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— Digital Cameras

Ditching the lens enables superslim FlatCam that's thinner than a dime

Much has changed in camera design over the years, but snapping photos and shooting video still invariably requires a lens to capture light and focus on a subject. But if a camera could somehow replicate this process digitally, making relatively chunky lens attachments completely unnecessary, what would be left to look at? Well, going by new research underway at Rice University, not really much at all. Engineers have produced a functional camera that is thinner than a dime, raising the possibility of tiny, flexible versions that could one day be embedded in everything from your wallpaper to your credit card.

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— Physics

Speedy single-molecule nanosubs powered by UV light

For some time now, we've been hearing about the attempts by various groups to develop so-called nanosubmarines. Among other things, these microscopic "molecular machines" could conceivably be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the human body. Recently, scientists at Houston's Rice University created nanosubs that move at a "breakneck pace" when exposed to ultraviolet light.

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— Medical

Hydrogel infused with snake venom stops bleeding within seconds

Major, uncontrolled blood loss can have major ramifications everywhere from the battlefield to the operating theatre. While blood-clotting medications can be used to stem the flow, often their purpose is thwarted by conflicting anti-coagulating drugs that thin the blood instead. But now scientists have developed a promising new hydrogel infused with snake venom that is drawn to the wound and shuts down bleeding in a matter of seconds.

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— Medical

Whale protein puts researchers on path to developing synthetic blood

Researchers at Rice University have discovered that a protein found in whale meat may hold the key to developing synthetic blood. The protein, called myoglobin, allows marine mammals to remain submerged at great depths for up to two hours and has an ultra-stable structure that could one day allow for the manufacturing of a blood substitute using bacteria as biofactories.

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— VR

Hands Omni haptic glove lets gamers feel virtual objects

While virtual reality has progressed leaps and bounds in the past few years, with motion-based inputs and a plethora of promising VR headsets close on the horizon, our ability to actually feel what we see in virtual worlds remains limited – especially in the consumer space. But a team of engineering students at Rice University is trying to solve this problem with a haptic glove that lets you feel virtual objects and environments like they're actually there. Read More
— Medical

Prototype device could make getting needles a Comfortably Numb experience

There are already beverage cans that contain chemically-activated chilling modules. Now, three students from Houston's Rice University are working at applying the same principle to hypodermic needles. Instead of keeping the medication in the syringe cool, however, the idea is that a special needle cap could be used to first chill and numb the patient's skin, making the subsequent injection relatively painless. Read More
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