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University of Illinois

A PhD candidate and six undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UCIC) have created a low-cost, programmable, 3D-printed prosthetic hand that may soon change the lives of amputees in Ecuador. The hand costs just US$270 to manufacture, making it a small fraction of the cost of a typical prosthetic of this type. Read More
Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a health monitor capable of tracking heart and skin condition while worn discretely on the skin. Measuring around 5 cm squared (0.8 in sq), the patch is designed to be inconspicuous and alert the user to conditions ranging from dry skin to cardiovascular problems. Read More
Thanks to a new color-changing hydrogel, there may soon be a more reliable way of continuously monitoring the blood glucose levels of both diabetics and hospital patients. If incorporated into a device such as an implanted pump, it could automatically trigger the release of insulin into the bloodstream as needed. Read More
Despite its many desirable qualities and potential applications, graphene still isn't as widely used as it could be for one main reason – it's difficult to apply to surfaces, particularly large ones. Attempting to do so often causes damage to the graphene, or otherwise results in a non-uniform, flawed coating. Now, however, scientists have devised a method of simply spraying the stuff on, that actually improves the graphene in the process. Read More
Dropping your mobile phone can ruin your whole day as you look down at the spiderweb of cracks surrounding a small hole in the once-pristine plastic case. Now imagine watching as those cracks and that hole seal up by themselves, leaving behind a completely healed case. That may sound like science fiction, but it may not be for long with a team of researchers at the University of Illinois having developed a new system that doesn't just repair minor cracks in plastic, but regenerates to heal large holes. Read More
The ultimate goal of solar cell technology is to be able to generate electricity at costs lower than sources such as coal, natural gas and nuclear. Key to this is continuing improvements in conversion efficiency, and with the development of the first four-junction, four-terminal stacked solar cell produced using a micro transfer printing process, researchers have taken another step towards this goal by achieving efficiencies of up to 43.9 percent, with the possibility of exceeding 50 percent in the near future. Read More
Security-conscious smartphone users may decline apps' requests to "use your current location," but according to research conducted at the University of Illinois, doing so still doesn't mean that those users can't be tracked. This is because each phone's sensors – such as the accelerometer – have a unique "fingerprint." By identifying that fingerprint in sensor data sent from the phone, third parties could at the very least keep track of what the user is doing at what time. Read More
We've seen numerous examples of self-healing polymers that allow materials to repair themselves after being damaged. One of the more common approaches involves the use of embedded microcapsules that release a healing agent when damaged. Researchers have expanded on this idea to develop a new technique that brings self-healing capabilities to fiber-reinforced composite materials, like those used in airplanes and automobiles. Read More
A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University is developing a stick-on patch that makes health monitoring more flexible and practical. Building on previous work, the latest design replaces custom-made components with off-the-shelf, chip-based electronics to deliver a soft, tattoo-like epidermal electronic system for wireless health monitoring. Read More
When it comes to monitoring the electrical activity of the heart, or delivering electrical stimulation to it (as in the case of pacemakers), most current technologies rely on electrodes that make contact with the organ in just a few locations. That doesn't necessarily provide a very detailed picture of what's going on, nor does it deliver stimulation all that evenly. Now, scientists have created a sensor-laden three-dimensional elastic membrane that can be pulled over the whole heart, to provide a large number of contact points. Read More
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