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The Lead

Chemists characterize 3-D macroporous hydrogels

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Carnegie Mellon University | News | Comments

Carnegie Mellon University chemists have developed two novel methods to characterize 3-dimensional macroporous hydrogels -- materials that hold great promise for developing "smart" responsive materials that can be used for catalysts, chemical detectors, tissue engineering scaffolds and absorbents for carbon capture.

New nanogenerator harvests power from rolling tires

June 30, 2015 8:40 am | by University of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and a collaborator from China have...

Tactical throwable cameras

June 26, 2015 11:40 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Unseen areas are troublesome for police and first responders: Rooms can harbor dangerous gunmen...

All-plastic solar cell could help power future flexible electronics

June 26, 2015 7:06 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

If you picture a solar panel, it’s most likely dark blue or black, and rigid and flat. Now...

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Stretching a thin crystal to get better solar cells

June 26, 2015 6:59 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | News | Comments

Nature loves crystals. Salt, snowflakes and quartz are three examples of crystals—materials characterized by the lattice-like arrangement of their atoms and molecules. Industry loves crystals, too. Electronics are based on a special family of crystals known as semiconductors, most famously silicon. To make semiconductors useful, engineers must tweak their crystalline lattice in subtle ways to start and stop the flow of electrons.

Engineering new routes to biochemicals

June 26, 2015 6:51 am | by Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Living cells can make a vast range of products for us, but they don’t always do it in the most straightforward or efficient way. Shota Atsumi, a chemistry professor at the Univ. of California, Davis, aims to address that through “synthetic biology”: designing and building new biochemical pathways within living cells, based on existing pathways from other living things.

Pointing the way to crack-resistant metals

June 25, 2015 11:20 am | by Joe Kullman, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Potential solutions to big problems continue to arise from research that is revealing how materials behave at the smallest scales. The results of a new study to understand the interactions of various metal alloys at the nanometer and atomic scales are likely to aid advances in methods of preventing the failure of systems critical to public and industrial infrastructure.

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New conductive ink for electronic apparel

June 25, 2015 10:45 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a new ink that can be printed on textiles in a single step to form highly conductive and stretchable connections. This new functional ink will enable electronic apparel such as sportswear and underwear incorporating sensing devices for measuring a range of biological indicators such as heart rate and muscle contraction.

Re-energizing antibiotics in the war against infections

June 24, 2015 5:00 pm | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Videos | Comments

Antibiotics are the mainstay in the treatment of bacterial infections, and together with vaccines, have enabled the near eradication of infectious diseases in developed countries. However, the overuse of antibiotics has also led to an alarming rise in resistant bacteria that can outsmart antibiotics using different mechanisms. Some pathogenic bacteria are thus becoming almost untreatable.

Unlocking fermentation secrets opens the door to new biofuels

June 24, 2015 4:30 pm | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have, for the first time, uncovered the complex interdependence and orchestration of metabolic reactions, gene regulation and environmental cues of clostridial metabolism, providing new insights for advanced biofuel development.

Silica “spiky screws” could enhance industrial coatings, additive manufacturing

June 24, 2015 3:30 pm | by Heidi Hill, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

It took marine sponges millions of years to perfect their spike-like structures, but research mimicking these formations may soon alter how industrial coatings and 3-D printed to additively manufactured objects are produced. A new molecular paves the way for improved silica structure design by introducing microscopic, segmented screw-like spikes that can more effectively bond materials for commercial use.

World’s first full-color, flexible, skin-like display

June 24, 2015 12:30 pm | by Univ. of Central Florida | News | Comments

Imagine a soldier who can change the color and pattern of his camouflage uniform from woodland green to desert tan at will. Or an office worker who could do the same with his necktie. Is someone at the wedding reception wearing the same dress as you? No problem—switch yours to a different color in the blink of an eye.

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New lenses grown layer-by-layer increase x-ray power

June 24, 2015 12:00 pm | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

When you're working with the brightest x-ray light source in the world, it's crucial that you make use of as many of the photons produced as possible. That's why physicists at the National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II) are developing new lenses that focus x-ray beams to smaller spot sizes made up of more photons for better imaging resolution.

Eavesdropping on the body

June 24, 2015 11:00 am | by Tyler Irving, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Biomedical engineers at the Univ. of Toronto have invented a new device that more quickly and accurately “listens in” on the chemical messages that tell our cells how to multiply. The tool improves our understanding of how cancerous growth begins, and could identify new targets for cancer medications.

Nanostructure design enables pixels to produce two different colors

June 24, 2015 10:30 am | by Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore | News | Comments

Through precise structural control, A*STAR researchers have encoded a single pixel with two distinct colors and have used this capability to generate a 3-D stereoscopic image. Figuring out how to include two types of information in the same area was an enticing challenge for the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering team.

Biomanufacturing of CdS quantum dots

June 24, 2015 8:05 am | by Jordan Reese, Lehigh Univ. | News | Comments

A team of Lehigh Univ. engineers have demonstrated a bacterial method for the low-cost, environmentally friendly synthesis of aqueous soluble quantum dot (QD) nanocrystals at room temperature. This is the first example of engineers harnessing nature's unique ability to achieve cost effective and scalable manufacturing of QDs using a bacterial process.

Nanowire implants offer remote-controlled drug delivery

June 24, 2015 7:30 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A team of researchers has created a new implantable drug-delivery system using nanowires that can be wirelessly controlled. The nanowires respond to an electromagnetic field generated by a separate device, which can be used to control the release of a preloaded drug. The system eliminates tubes and wires required by other implantable devices that can lead to infection and other complications.

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New process forms 3-D shapes from flat sheets of graphene

June 23, 2015 2:13 pm | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach for forming 3-D shapes from flat, 2-D sheets of graphene, paving the way for future integrated systems of graphene-MEMS hybrid devices and flexible electronics.

New manufacturing approach slices lithium-ion battery cost in half

June 23, 2015 11:10 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

An advanced manufacturing approach for lithium-ion batteries, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and at a spinoff company called 24M, promises to significantly slash the cost of the most widely used type of rechargeable batteries while also improving their performance and making them easier to recycle.

Mirror-like display creates rich color pixels by harnessing ambient light

June 23, 2015 10:03 am | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

Using a simple structure comprising a mirror and an absorbing layer to take advantage of the wave properties of light, researchers at Qualcomm MEMS Technologies Inc. have developed a display technology that harnesses natural ambient light to produce an unprecedented range of colors and superior viewing experience.

New technology looks into the eye and brings cells into focus

June 23, 2015 8:26 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Eye doctors soon could use computing power to help them see individual cells in the back of a patient’s eye, thanks to imaging technology developed by engineers at the Univ. of Illinois. Such detailed pictures of the cells, blood vessels and nerves at the back of the eye could enable earlier diagnosis and better treatment for degenerative eye and neurological diseases.

Toward tiny, solar-powered sensors

June 23, 2015 8:18 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The latest buzz in the information technology industry regards “the Internet of things”, the idea that vehicles, appliances, civil-engineering structures, manufacturing equipment and even livestock would have their own embedded sensors that report information directly to networked servers, aiding with maintenance and the coordination of tasks.

Destructive power of bubbles could lead to new industrial applications

June 22, 2015 1:31 pm | by Eleanor Nelsen, Virginia Tech | News | Comments

Virginia Tech engineers have shed light on what happens to a nearby particle when bubbles burst. Sunghwan Jung, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics in the College of Engineering, has discovered new information about a phenomenon called cavitation, the process of bubble formation in a fluid like water.

Discovery paves way for new superconducting electronics

June 22, 2015 12:15 pm | by Kim McDonald, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Physicists have developed a new way to control the transport of electrical currents through high-temperature superconductors. Their achievement, detailed in two separate scientific publications, paves the way for the development of sophisticated electronic devices capable of allowing scientists or clinicians to non-invasively measure the tiny magnetic fields in the heart or brain, and improve satellite communications.

Team fuses art, engineering to create stretchable batteries

June 22, 2015 10:10 am | by Joe Kullman, Arizona State Univ. | Videos | Comments

Origami, the centuries-old Japanese paper-folding art, has inspired recent designs for flexible energy-storage technology. But energy-storage device architecture based on origami patterns has so far been able to yield batteries that can change only from simple folded to unfolded positions. They can flex, but not actually stretch.

Engineers develop micro-tentacles for tiny robots

June 22, 2015 9:50 am | by Mike Krapfl, News Service, Iowa State Univ. | News | Comments

The tiny tube circled an ant's thorax, gently trapping the insect and demonstrating the utility of a microrobotic tentacle developed by Iowa State Univ. engineers. While most robots squeeze two fingers together to pick things up, these tentacles wrap around items gently.

X-ray imaging reveals secrets in battery materials

June 19, 2015 8:47 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | Videos | Comments

In a new study, researchers explain why one particular cathode material works well at high voltages, while most other cathodes do not. The insights, published in Science, could help battery developers design rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that operate at higher voltages.

Adapting nanoscience imaging tools to study ants’ heat-deflecting adaptations

June 19, 2015 7:41 am | by Alasdair Wilkins, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

The tiny hairs of Saharan silver ants possess crucial adaptive features that allow the ants to regulate their body temperatures and survive the scorching hot conditions of their desert habitat. According to a new research paper, the unique triangular shape and internal structure of the hairs play a key role in maintaining the ant’s average internal temperature below the critical thermal maximum of 53.6 C (128.48 F).

Carbon nanoparticles you can make at home

June 18, 2015 1:55 pm | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers have found an easy way to produce carbon nanoparticles that are small enough to evade the body's immune system, reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection and carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues. Unlike other methods of making carbon nanoparticles, the new approach generates the particles in a few hours and uses only a handful of ingredients, including store-bought molasses.

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