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UC Berkeley

— Robotics

Streamlined shell helps robo-roach slip past obstacles

By - June 30, 2015 1 Picture

Besides simply being fascinating to watch, insect-inspired robots may someday find use as scouts in search-and-rescue operations. In order for them to function in such scenarios, however, they'll have to be able to move through fields of debris. While some scientists have looked at using sensors and algorithms that let the bots scan their surroundings and then plot paths around obstacles, researchers at UC Berkley have developed a much less complex but still effective approach – they've outfitted a robotic cockroach with a streamlined shell, that lets it just push its way through.

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— Science

Solar-powered hydrogen generation using two of the most abundant elements on Earth

By - June 23, 2015 1 Picture

One potential clean energy future requires an economical, efficient, and relatively simple way to generate copious amounts of hydrogen for use in fuel-cells and hydrogen-powered vehicles. Often achieved by using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, the ideal method would be to mine hydrogen from water using electricity generated directly from sunlight without the addition of any external power source. Hematite – the mineral form of iron – used in conjunction with silicon has shown some promise in this area, but low conversion efficiencies have slowed research. Now scientists have discovered a way to make great improvements, giving hope to using two of the most abundant elements on earth to efficiently produce hydrogen.

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— Medical

Smartphone microscope scans blood for parasitic worms in minutes

By - May 7, 2015 3 Pictures

In Africa, the spread of parasitic worms known as Loa loa is seriously hindering the efforts of health care workers to cure particular rampant diseases. Though there are drugs available to treat both river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, if they are administered to a patient who also happens to also be infected with Loa loa the consequences can be lethal. This is complicated further by the inherent difficulties in screening for the worms, but a newly developed mobile phone microscope needing only a drop of blood to automatically detect the parasite promises to make things a whole lot simpler.

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— Environment

Artificial photosynthesis breakthrough turns CO2 emissions into plastics and biofuel

By - April 23, 2015 3 Pictures
Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley have created a hybrid system of bacteria and semiconducting nanowires that mimics photosynthesis. According to the researchers, their versatile, high-yield system can take water, sunlight and carbon dioxide and turn them into the building blocks of biodegradable plastics, pharmaceutical drugs and even biofuel. Read More
— Medical

Smart bandage detects bedsores before they appear

By - March 18, 2015 2 Pictures
Bedsores are more than a pain in the backside for bedridden folk, they can develop into dangerous infections and heighten the chances of a patient dying. While swollen ulcers on the skin are a pretty sure sign of their presence, by this point it is often too late for some of their effects to be reversed. But a team of researchers have developed what could function as an early warning system, a smart bandage containing flexible electronics that detects tissue damage before it becomes visible on the surface of the skin. Read More
— Science

Scientists fly real beetles by radio remote control

By - March 17, 2015 6 Pictures
Studying insects in flight can be difficult. They're usually tethered in place, although this may affect the manner in which they fly. That's why scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took a different approach – they installed an electronic backpack on giant flower beetles, allowing them to be remotely controlled while in free flight. The technology not only gave the researchers a better insight into how the insects fly, but it could also find use in areas such as search-and-rescue. Read More
— Science

Artificial "skin" changes color in response to minute force

By - March 13, 2015 2 Pictures
A thin and flexible chameleon-like material developed by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley changes color when stretched or bent even tiny amounts. With potential applications in camouflage, structural fatigue sensors, display technologies, and more, the material's color changes reliably as it gets flexed thanks to rows of ridges that are precisely etched onto a silicon film one thousand times thinner than a human hair. Read More
— Environment

New material promises more efficient carbon capture

By - March 12, 2015 1 Picture
We've already seen a number of technologies developed for capturing carbon dioxide emissions from smokestacks or other sources, but many of them have a limitation – in order to reclaim the captured CO2 for disposal, a considerable amount of energy is needed. Now, however, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley have developed a new carbon-capture material that requires far less energy in order to give up its payload. Read More
— Architecture

Berkeley researchers pioneer new powder-based concrete 3D printing technique

By - March 12, 2015 13 Pictures
3D printing looks set to become very important in architecture, but we've yet to see exactly how the future of large-scale click-and-print construction will play out. A potential step forward comes via a team of UC Berkeley researchers led by Associate Professor of Architecture Ronald Rael, who recently created a free-standing pavilion called Bloom to demonstrate the precision of their powder-based cement method of 3D-printed construction. Read More
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