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Rice University

— 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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— Games

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
— Environment

Algae could both provide biofuel and clean up wastewater

Algae may indeed be a potential source of biofuel, but it can also find use in things like nutritional supplements and cosmetics. When it's grown commercially, its growth is usually aided with chemical fertilizers. The cost of those chemicals cuts into the profits, however, plus the fertilizers are also needed for more traditional crops. That's why scientists from Houston's Rice University are looking into growing algae in municipal wastewater – the water would already contain its own free fertilizer, plus the algae would help clean it up. Read More
— Military

Graphene could find use in lightweight ballistic body armor

While graphene is already known for being the world's strongest material, most studies have focused on its tensile strength – that's the maximum stress that it can withstand while being pulled or stretched, before failing. According to studies conducted at Houston's Rice University, however, its ability to absorb sudden impacts hadn't previously been thoroughly explored. As it turns out, the material is 10 times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy. That could make it an excellent choice for lightweight ballistic body armor. Read More
— Science

Squid-inspired color-changing display could advance LCD tech

Scientists have long marveled at the squid's ability to sense the color of its surroundings, and then instantaneously change its own skin coloring in order to blend in. To that end, a number of projects have attempted to create man-made materials that are similarly able to change color on demand. One of the latest studies, being led by associate professor Stephan Link at Rice University, may ultimately result in improved LCD displays. Read More
— Electronics

Nature inspires color-sensitive, CMOS-compatible photodetector

Researchers at Rice University's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) have developed a new image sensor that mimics the way we see color by integrating light amplifiers and color filters directly onto the pixels. The new design enables smaller, less complex, and more organic designs for CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) sensors and other photodetectors used in cameras. Read More
— Medical

Gel turns to bone-growing scaffold when injected into the body

In the field of regenerative medicine, one of the current areas of interest involves the use of scaffolding-like materials that a patient's own cells can be "seeded" onto. As the cells grow and populate the material, they gradually replace it, until all that remains is a solid piece of tissue or bone. Now, scientists at Houston's Rice University have taken that concept a step further, using a polymer that is liquid at room temperature, but that solidifies into a scaffold when injected into patients' bodies. Read More