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The Babalung Apnea Monitor is a student-designed device that could save the lives of infan...

Although it’s normal for infants to have some disruptions in their breathing while sleeping, prolonged periods of sleep apnea can cause their blood oxygen levels to fall dangerously low, sometimes even resulting in death – this is a particular risk for babies born prematurely. Usually, when an infant does stop breathing while asleep, all that’s required to get them started again is a gentle nudge or some other kind of disturbance. Unfortunately, however, neonatal wards in developing nations are often understaffed, so nurses might not notice a non-breathing infant until it’s too late. That’s why a group of five bioengineering students from Houston’s Rice University invented the Babalung Apnea Monitor.  Read More

This carbon nanotube sponge can hold more than 100 times its weight in oil, which can be s...

Last week we looked at the development of “hydrate-phobic” surfaces that could assist in the containment of oil leaks in deep water. Now, by adding boron to carbon while growing nanotubes, researchers have developed a nanosponge with the ability to absorb oil spilled in water. Remarkably, the material is able to achieve this feat repeatedly and is also electrically conductive and can be manipulated with magnets.  Read More

The nanobubbles are short-lived events that expand and burst, thus creating a small hole i...

U.S. researchers are developing a promising new approach to the targeting of individual cancer cells. The technique uses light-harvesting nanoparticles to convert laser energy into “plasmonic nanobubbles,” enabling drugs to be injected directly into the cancer cells through small holes created in the surface. Researchers claim that the delivery of chemotherapy drugs in this way is up to 30 times more effective on cancer cells than traditional drug treatments and requires less than one-tenth the clinical dose.  Read More

A team of engineering students are designing a new type of cervical collar, that reportedl...

When a person injures the region of their spine immediately below their skull, emergency medical technicians apply what is known as a cervical collar. The devices first saw use in the Vietnam War, where medics needed a quick and simple system that could be used to immobilize the heads and necks of injured soldiers. In the years since, however, some studies have suggested that by pushing the head up and away from the body, the collars may cause the vertebrae to separate – actually making some spinal injuries worse. Fortunately, a team of six undergraduate engineering students from Houston’s Rice University are now developing a new type of cervical collar, that keeps the head still in a safer fashion.  Read More

A new type of transparent, flexible memory chip could replace flash memory in electronic d...

According to Dr. James M. Tour, a synthetic organic chemist at Houston’s Rice University, flash memory devices can only be built smaller for another six to seven years – at that point, they will reach a technological barrier. Already, however, Tour and his colleagues have developed a new type of memory chip, which they believe could replace flash in thumb drives, smartphones and computers. Not only does their chip allow more data to be stored in a given space, but it can also be folded like paper, withstand temperatures of up to 1,000ºF (538ºC), and is transparent – this means that devices’ screens could also serve as their memory.  Read More

The I-slate tablet computer, designed for use in impoverished rural schools in developing ...

Last year, a unique new educational device was tested with a group of school children. The device was the I-slate, an ultra-low-cost tablet computer that is being developed by the Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID), a joint venture of Houston's Rice University and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University. The 10 to 13 year-old children were students at a rural school near Hyderabad, India. The tablet is designed for use in such impoverished schools, as each unit is expected to sell for less than US$50, and future models will run on solar power. Now that the field tests are complete and the results have been analyzed, the I-slate is set to go into full production.  Read More

Rice University graduate student Melissa Duarte with a 'full-duplex' test device, which us...

Earlier this year, Stanford University researchers created a full-duplex radio that allowed wireless signals to be sent and received simultaneously, thereby doubling the speed of existing networks. Using the same approach, researchers at Rice University have now developed similar full-duplex technology that would effectively double the throughput on mobile networks without the addition of any extra towers.  Read More

A method developed at Rice University allows bundles of vertically aligned single-wall car...

Capacitors are able to charge and discharge more quickly than batteries, and can do so hundreds of thousands of times. Batteries, on the other hand, are able to store more energy than capacitors. There are also electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs), otherwise known as supercapacitors, that can hold battery-like amounts of energy while retaining the charge/discharge speed of regular capacitors. EDLCs incorporate liquid or gel-like electrolytes, however, which can break down under hot or cold conditions. Now, a new solid-state supercapacitor developed at Houston’s Rice University is using nanotechnology to get around that limitation.  Read More

Armchair quantum wire could be used to create cables that can transmit electricity over lo...

The United States’ copper-based electric grid is estimated to leak electricity at an estimated five percent per 100 miles (161 km) of transmission. With power plants usually located far from where the electricity they produce will actually be consumed, this can add up to a lot of wasted power. A weave of metallic nanotubes known as armchair quantum wire (AQW) is seen as an ideal solution as it can carry electricity over long distances with negligible loss, but manufacturing the massive amounts of metallic single walled carbon nanotubes required for the development of this “miracle cable” has proven difficult. Now researchers have made a pivotal breakthrough that could make the development of such a cable possible.  Read More

University students have created a system for building balance skills in physically challe...

Can killing monsters help physically-challenged children learn to walk? It can if they’re virtual monsters, that are part of a balance-developing system created by engineering and computer game design students from Houston’s Rice University. Called the Equiliberator, the system consists of five linked Wii Balance Boards with two pressure-sensitive hand rails running along either side, all of which are linked by Bluetooth to a PC running a custom-designed video game. Children using the setup are able to kill on-screen monsters, by successfully performing exercises that build their balance skills.  Read More

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