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A new technique allows photovoltaic solar cells to be produced using any semiconductor (Ph...

Despite their ability to generate clean, green electricity, solar panels aren't as commonplace as the could be. The main sticking point, of course, is price. Due to their need for relatively expensive semiconductor materials, conventional solar cells don't yet have a price-efficiency combination that can compete with other sources of electricity. Now Profs. Alex Zettl and Feng Wang of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have developed seriously unconventional solar cell technology that allows virtually any semiconductor material to be used to create photovoltaic cells.  Read More

Researchers have discovered that the chemical AAQ temporarily restores some sight in blind...

Researchers have discovered a chemical that makes cells in the retinas of blind mice sensitive to light, temporarily restoring some vision. They are working on an improved compound that they hope could one day be used to restore sight in human patients suffering from retinitis pigmentosa, the most common form of inherited blindness, and macular degeneration, the most common cause of acquired blindness in the developed world.  Read More

A chemical that affects the biological clock could help provide a new class of drugs to tr...

Scientists have long suspected that metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, could be linked to our circadian rhythm or biological clock. For example, laboratory mice with altered biological clocks often become obese and develop diabetes. Now biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a chemical, which affects the activity of a key protein that regulates our biological clock, can repress the production of glucose by the liver, offering a promising new direction for the development of a new class of drugs to treat diabetes.  Read More

Sample gigapixel image of the Seattle skyline captured by the prototype camera (Photo: Duk...

While digital cameras such as the Hasselblad H4D-200MS and Nikon D800 have pushed the megapixel boundary in recent times, and Nokia’s inclusion of a 41-megapixel camera into its 808 PureView smartphone got plenty of attention, researchers at Duke University and the University of Arizona say the age of consumer gigapixel cameras are just around the corner – and they’ve created a prototype gigapixel camera to prove it.  Read More

Scientists have created genetically-modified mosquitoes that are incapable of spreading ma...

Last year, Prof. Anthony James announced that he and his colleagues had genetically altered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in a fashion that could drastically reduce their populations. In a nutshell, the altered genes cause the female mosquitoes to be born without wings – this makes it rather difficult for them to go foraging for blood, and turns them into easy prey for almost any predator. The non-biting males are born with wings, and subsequently go off and mate with unmodified females, passing the modified genes along to their offspring. Now, James has done some more genetic engineering, to create mosquitoes that can’t spread malaria.  Read More

The study of this marine crustacean may lead to lighter and more resistant materials that ...

The mantis shrimp is a fascinating creature that has the ability to punch its prey into submission with a club that accelerates underwater at around 10,400 g. By studying the secrets behind this formidable weapon, a Californian researcher hopes to develop an innovative, hi-tech material that is one third the weight and thickness of existing body armor.  Read More

The DASH robot, a cockroach and a gecko are all capable of running to the edge of a ramp, ...

Anyone who has tried to kill a cockroach knows just how difficult they can be to be to capture. Not only can they squeeze through very narrow gaps, but they can also instantly accelerate to a running speed of approximately 50 body lengths per second. Recently, biologists at the University of California, Berkeley realized that the insects have another escape skill at their disposal. When they get to the edge of a surface such as a table, they can hook it with their rear claws and swing around 180 degrees to land upside down on its underside – a maneuver also performed by geckos. A team of UC Berkeley researchers subsequently did what any of us would do upon gaining that knowledge, and set out to get a robot to perform the action.  Read More

A prototype “inexact” computer chip that is around 15 times more efficient than current mi...

Last year, a team of U.S. researchers applied the pruning shears to computer chips to trim away rarely used portions of digital circuits. The result was chips that made the occasional mistake, but were twice as fast, used half as much energy, and were half the size of the original. Now, building on the same “less is more” idea, the researchers have built an “inexact” prototype silicon chip they claim is at least 15 times more efficient than current technology in terms of speed, energy consumption and size.  Read More

Screen shot of the Herd It Facebook game that provides the human knowledge used by the sys...

When it comes to online music, we really are spoilt for choice. So spoilt it can make uncovering new music to match our tastes or finding a track when we don’t know the artist or song title, a hit and miss affair. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have developed a new approach called “game-powered machine learning” that they claim is just as accurate as other methods, but is cheaper and has the potential to let users search every song on the web using a text search.  Read More

Scientists have created nanoscale submarines, for use in gathering up oil droplets in the ...

If anything good came out of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, it was that it got people thinking about technologies for cleaning up future spills. While things like magnetic soap, nanosponges, and autonomous robots are all in the works, a group of scientists recently announced the results of their research into another possibility – oil droplet-gathering microsubmarines.  Read More

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