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The record-breaking Alta Devices solar cell (Photo: Joe Foster, Alta Devices)

When you think of a solar cell, you probably think of something designed to absorb as much sunlight as possible. What you probably don't think of is something that is also capable of emitting light. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what a new prototype device designed more like an LED does, and it recently set an efficiency record for flat-plate single junction solar cells.  Read More

One of the robosquirrels used in the rattlesnake study (Photo: Andy Fell, UC Davis)

Rattlesnakes, beware! The next time you spot a succulent-looking squirrel, it might actually be a cold-hearted robot. More specifically, it might be a “robosquirrel,” created by UC Davis professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering Sanjay Joshi. He built the robot squirrels as part of a study on rattlesnake behavior – a study which yielded some interesting results.  Read More

Two holes on each axle can also be fitted with different attachments, such as friction arm...

Any film student will tell you that pulling together the right equipment for a video shoot with little to no budget is a daunting task. Most students don't have access to common professional tools and end up jury-rigging their own to film a shot just right - which is how Jeremy Canterbury first came up with the Revolve camera dolly. While working in video production at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Canterbury developed a concept for a portable dolly that could hold almost any camera or iPhone along with attachments while taking up about as much space as a shoe box. With its wide range of functions and low price, the Revolve camera dolly could be an invaluable device for filmmakers to capture smooth, dynamic video from any location.  Read More

Scientists are studying the mental processes of young children, in order to get computers ...

Children are sometimes referred to as “sponges,” not because they live off our earnings, but because of their remarkable ability to learn things quickly. Psychologists believe this is because their brains are still wired for learning and exploration – essential qualities for building neural connections – whereas adult minds tend to focus on specific goals, at the expense of imagination and curiosity. Now, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley are studying the cognitive functions of babies, toddlers and preschoolers, in hopes of using their findings to make computers think more like humans.  Read More

Electronic microscopic image of a 'nanoforest,' with green tint added for contrast (Imge: ...

While hydrogen is considered a “clean” fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a “3D branched nanowire array” that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.  Read More

Scientists have created a self-healing hydrogel, that responds to the acidity of its envir...

Velcro is pretty handy stuff, but imagine if there was a soft, stretchy material with the same qualities. Well, now there is. Scientists from the University of California, San Diego have created a self-healing hydrogel that binds together in seconds, essentially copying the Velcro process at a molecular level. The new material could potentially find use in medical sutures, targeted drug delivery, industrial sealants and self-healing plastics.  Read More

The UCSB von Neumann quantum computer. The small black squares are the superconducting qub...

John Martinis’ research group at the University of California at Santa Barbara has created the first quantum computer with the quantum equivalent of conventional Von Neumann architecture. This general-purpose programmable quantum computer is realized using superconducting circuits and offers greater potential for large-scale quantum computing than the one-problem devices that have been demonstrated in this emerging field to date.  Read More

The piranha-bite-proof scales of the Arapaima fish could serve as the inspiration for body...

Here's a question - if piranhas are so ferocious and will attack anything, why aren't they the only fish in the Amazon? Well, in some cases, it's because other fish possess bite-proof armor. The 300-pound (136-kg) Arapaima is just such a fish. In the dry season, when water levels get low, Arapaima are forced to share relatively small bodies of water with piranhas. Their tough-but-flexible scales, however, allow them to remain unharmed. A scientist from the University of California, San Diego is now taking a closer look at those scales, with an eye towards applying their secrets to human technology such as body armor.  Read More

Scientists have developed technology that is able to reconstruct words heard by test subje...

Last September, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley announced that they had developed a method of visually reconstructing images from peoples' minds, by analyzing their brain activity. Much to the dismay of tinfoil hat-wearers everywhere, researchers from that same institution have now developed a somewhat similar system, that is able to reconstruct words that people have heard spoken to them. Instead of being used to violate our civil rights, however, the technology could instead allow the vocally-disabled to "speak."  Read More

Chemists have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes that could help shed light...

The cell membrane is one of the most important characteristics of a cell because it separates the interior of all cells from the extracellular environment and controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell. In a move that brings mankind another step closer to being able to create artificial life forms from scratch, chemists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life.  Read More

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