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University of California

Seahorse tails are prehensile, like a monkey's (Photo: shellac)

The meaning of the word biomimicry is being devalued and inflated, to the point that any technology or design with the vaguest resemblance to something in the natural world tends to have the word unthinkingly applied to it. PR people in the automotive and architectural fields are now particularly fond of the word. So it's refreshing to be able to report on some research that has taken a detailed look at a natural phenomenon, the armor of a seahorse, and thought about how it might be applied in the field of robotics. The researchers think a similar structure of sliding plates could be used to improve robot arms used for underwater exploration and bomb disposal.  Read More

The SkySweeper robot that inches along a cable using a motorized pivoting 'elbow'

If you look up at a power line in a few years and see something skittering along the wires, it (hopefully) won't be a mutant crab monster, but a powerline inspection robot costing less than US$1,000. A prototype of such a robot, called SkySweeper, was presented this month at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering's Research Expo. The robot was built with off-the-shelf electronics and plastic parts printed on an inexpensive 3D printer.  Read More

Scientists have been able to instantly cure rats of cocaine addiction, by applying laser l...

Like so many other illicit drugs, cocaine can be extremely, destructively addictive. Recent research suggests, however, that ridding people of such addictions may be as simple as zapping them on them scalp. In a study conducted at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and at the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at UC San Francisco, scientists were able to turn cocaine addiction on and off in rats via pulses of laser light to their brains.  Read More

A prototype water heater system that uses cold water to make hot water pictured with Slate...

Apart from heating and cooling the house, water heating is one of the biggest energy drains in the average home. But what if you could literally use cold water to create hot water? That’s just what San Diego inventor Hal Slater claims to have done with the creation of a water heater system that promises to improve water heating efficiency by as much as 50 to 100 percent.  Read More

The SIRT3 protein molecule that appears to play a central role in regulating aging and lon...

The quest for longer and healthier life, if not immortality, has been part of the human experience since we evolved the ability to recognize the total annihilation of individual death. Our understanding of the biology of aging at the molecular level is advancing so rapidly that it appears inevitable that another decade or two of life will be enabled before long. A new step in what may be the right direction has just been published by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.  Read More

A UCR researcher is taking inspiration from the teeth of a marine snail to build the techn...

Inspired by the tough teeth of a marine snail and the remarkable process by which they form, assistant professor David Kisailus at the University of California, Riverside is working toward building cheaper, more efficient nanomaterials. By achieving greater control over the low-temperature growth of nanocrystals, his research could improve the performance of solar cells and lithium-ion batteries, lead to higher-performance materials for car and airplane frames, and help develop abrasion-resistant materials that could be used for anything from specialized clothing to dental drills.  Read More

VelociRoACH can achieve a running speed up to 2.7 meters per second or 26 body lengths in ...

The common cockroach may make your skin crawl, but it turns out the household pest is the perfect model for miniature legged robots. That's why Duncan Haldane and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, have been studying the six-legged pests to improve their millirobots. Their latest creation, the VelociRoACH, is made primarily out of cardboard and measures just 10 cm long, yet it can run 2.7 meters per second, making it the fastest robot of its size, capable of covering 26 times its body length in a single second.  Read More

The CitiSense sensor provides smartphone users with real-time air quality readings for the...

Air quality is one of those things that many of us should be more concerned about, but aren’t. According to some people, this is because we’re not easily able to know how clean the air around us really is – we just assume it’s “clean enough.” Computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego have set out to change that. They’re developing a compact, portable air pollution sensor that communicates with the user’s smartphone, to provide real-time air quality readings for their immediate surroundings.  Read More

CalTech's new nanofocusing plasmonic waveguide

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the University of California at Berkeley have developed a nanofocusing waveguide, a tiny passive plasmonic device which is capable of concentrating light onto a spot a few nanometers in size. In so doing, they have sidestepped the diffraction-limited nature of light, which normally prevents focusing light to a spot smaller than its own wavelength. This remarkable feat may lead to new optoelectronic applications in computing, communications, and imaging.  Read More

The tattoo-based solid-contact ion-selective electrode – or 'smiley-face tattoo,' if you p...

Next time you see an adult with a stick-on tattoo, don’t laugh – that person might have a metabolic problem, or they could be a high-performing athlete who’s getting their training schedule fine-tuned. No, really. A team lead by Dr. Joseph Wang at the University of California, San Diego, has created a thin, flexible metabolic sensor that is applied to the skin ... and it takes the form of a smiley-face tattoo.  Read More

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