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Rice University

— 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
— Science

Carbyne: The new world's strongest material?

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
— Health & Wellbeing

Solar steam sterilization system could clean up in the developing world

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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