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University of Southern California

Materials

Highly elastic metallic glass brings bounce to hardened materials

Bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) are artificial materials that boast superior strength and hardness to conventional metals due to a jumbled arrangement at the atomic level. By tweaking this recipe just a little, researchers have been able to produce a bouncy material with the highest degree of elasticity of any BMG, something they say could come to form everything from new drill bits and body armor to meteor-resistant satellite casings.Read More

Architecture

Aurora, the interactive kinetic ceiling

Architect and designer Behnaz Farahi likes movement. Last year she created a 3D-printed shirt that responds to the way a person looks at it. Now, she's taken her responsive design ethos a bit higher — all the way to the ceiling to be exact. Farahi has installed a kinetic ceiling at the University of Southern California that reacts and moves in response to the people walking beneath it.Read More

Energy

Carbon dioxide from the air converted into methanol

The danger posed by rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide has seen many schemes proposed to remove a proportion it from the air. Rather than simply capture this greenhouse gas and bury it in the ground, though, many experiments have managed to transform CO2 into useful things like carbon nanofibers or even fuels, such as diesel. Unfortunately, the over-arching problem with many of these conversions is the particularly high operating temperatures that require almost counterproductive amounts of energy to produce relatively low yields of fuel. Now researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) claim to have devised a way to take CO2 directly from the air and convert it into methanol using much lower temperatures and in a correspondingly simpler way.Read More

Medical

Miniature pacemaker designed to be implanted in fetuses

In the near future, it's entirely possible that babies with heart defects will be born with complete pacemakers already installed. That's because scientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) and the University of Southern California have developed the world's first fully-implantable pacemaker for fetuses. Read More

Health & Wellbeing

Researchers discover hormone that mimics diabetes-preventing effects of exercise

All manner of weird and wonderful exercise contraptions pushed on late night infomercials are testament to people's desire for faster and easier ways to get the benefits of exercise – whether said contraptions are effective or not. But now researchers have discovered a hormone that could provide some of the benefits of exercise, without working up a sweat doing stomach crunches or bicep curls.Read More

Science

Protein that regulates protein production could also control fat levels

Research around how the body's fat levels are regulated and ways in which they might be manipulated has uncovered numerous potential fat switches. The latest is a particular protein that has long been known to regulate protein synthesis and has now been demonstrated to also control fat levels in worms. This has lead researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) to believe that the version found in the human body could provide a new target for fat-fighting pharmaceuticals. Read More

Science

Building lab-on-chip devices could soon be like playing with Lego

With their ability to guide and analyze tiny quantities of liquid, microfluidic "lab-on-chip" devices have found use in everything from seawater desalination to explosives detection to the viewing of viruses. Each time a new type of device is created, however, it must be built from scratch. This can be time-consuming and costly, as the fabrication of multiple prototypes is a traditional part of the trial-and-error development process. Now, however, building them may be as simple as mixing and matching prefabricated Lego-like modules. Read More

Electronics

New water-based organic battery is cheap, rechargeable and eco-friendly

Lithium-ion batteries have made portable, rechargeable electronics commonplace. Unfortunately, they do have some glaring drawbacks, including heat issues, being made with rare, toxic elements, and the fact the technology doesn't scale up very well, which limits applications. A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) is working on an alternative in the form of a water-based organic battery that is not only cheaper and more environmentally friendly, but also holds the potential for scaling up for use in wind and solar power plants as a means to store large amounts of energy. Read More

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