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Rice University

Team Comfortably Numb's skin-numbing device in use (Photo: Rice University)

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

Algae grows in pools of wastewater in Houston, Texas (Photo: Rice University)

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

A rendering of a 3.7 micron-wide 'microbullet' hitting a sheet of graphene, which deforms ...

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

Squids change color by contracting pigment-filled cells known as chromatophores – the Rice...

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

Researchers at Rice University have developed an image sensor that integrates light amplif...

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

A vial of the clear hydrogel turns to a white semi-solid as it's heated to body temperatur...

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

Rice University postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang holds an energy storage unit with the be...

Researchers at Rice University have created an ultra-thin, high-performance flexible battery that is lithium-free, only a hundredth of an inch thick, and also doubles as a supercapacitor. The technology could find use in mobile and wearable electronics such as smartphones and fitness bands.  Read More

Rice University researchers say that carbyne, an elusive allotrope of carbon, could be twi...

Researchers at Rice University have used a computer simulation to calculate that carbyne, a monodimensional chain of carbon atoms, is twice as strong as carbon nanotubes and three times stiffer than diamond. If their findings are correct and the challenges posed by manufacturing it can be overcome, then carbyne could prove an incredibly useful material for a wide range of applications.  Read More

Rice University researchers use the heartbeat as a random signal generator to make medical...

Remotely hacking a pacemaker or insulin pump should be impossible, but sadly it isn't. It puts the millions of people who use wireless medical implants at potential risk. Researchers at Rice University believe they have a solution: a touch-based device that will use a person's own heartbeat as a password to permit or deny access to their implant.  Read More

Rice University graduate student Oara Neumann, left, and scientist Naomi Halas with their ...

Last year, researchers at Rice University revealed a new way to convert solar energy directly into steam using light-absorbing nanoparticles. At that time, the technology had already been used to create a solar steam-powered autoclave for sterilizing medical and dental equipment and the project had been awarded a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to turn the technology to the task of sanitizing human waste. The researchers have now put both applications to the test.  Read More

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