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February 13, 2015 11:14 am | by Lionel Pousaz, EPFL | News | Comments

An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Age-related macular degeneration alone is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the Western world. However, Eric Tremblay from EPFL in Switzerland unveiled a new prototype of his telescopic contact lens, giving hope for better, stronger vision.

Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul

February 13, 2015 10:43 am | by Melissa Osgood, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Circling hundreds of miles above Earth, weather satellites are working round-the-clock to provide rainfall data that are key to a complex system of global flood prediction. A new Cornell Univ. study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul.

Silver-glass sandwich structure acts as inexpensive color filter

February 13, 2015 10:37 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

The engineering world just became even more colorful. Northwestern Univ. researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.

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Find Key to Solving 30-year-old 'Hidden Order' Mystery

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Rutgers Univ. | News | Comments

A new explanation for a type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium may lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems, and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains, according to a team of research physicists.

Robotic Garden Seeks Light to Grow Soybeans

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Professors have designed a robotic platform, soybot, which allows indoor plants to search for light to sustain nourishment. As each soybot moves, the robot transmits both sensor data and positional coordinates to a visualization window in its gallery space.

Synthetic DNA Gel Key to Printing Organs

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Heriot-Watt Univ. | News | Comments

A two-part water-based gel made of synthetic DNA could bring the inventors of a 3-D bio printer closer to being able to print organs for transplant, or to replace animal testing. They faced two main challenges: finding a matrix or scaffold to support the live cells in 3-D, and being able to produce a consistent product which would not be rejected by transplant recipients.

Autonomy Key to Fewer Cars Going More Miles

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Families rarely use more than one vehicle at a time. A study found a general lack of trip overlap between drivers within a majority of households. Cars that that employ a "return-to-home" mode could act as a household vehicle.

Polarized Protons Uncover Secrets

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you want to unravel the secrets of proton spin, put a "twist" in your colliding proton beams. This technique orients the colliding protons' spins in a particular direction, somewhat like tiny bar magnets with their North poles all pointing up.

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Britain starts public trial of driverless cars

February 11, 2015 12:15 pm | by Sylvia Hui - Associated Press | News | Comments

Driverless cars are hitting Britain's public roads for the first time, giving a glimpse of future travel that's billed as safer and more efficient.                   

Scientists urge more research on climate intervention

February 10, 2015 2:47 pm | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, while necessary, may not happen soon enough to stave off climate catastrophe. So, in addition, the world may need to resort to so-called geoengineering approaches that aim to deliberately control the planet's climate. That's according to a National Research Council committee that released a pair of sweeping reports on climate intervention techniques.

Engineer produces free Braille-writer app

February 10, 2015 2:42 pm | by Andrew Myers, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Three years ago, Sohan Dharmaraja was a Stanford Univ. engineering doctoral candidate in search of his next project when he visited the Stanford Office of Accessible Education, which helps blind and visually challenged students successfully navigate the world of higher education.

Engineers put the “squeeze” on human stem cells

February 10, 2015 2:10 pm | by Ioana Patringenaru, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

After using optical tweezers to squeeze a tiny bead attached to the outside of a human stem cell, researchers now know how mechanical forces can trigger a key signaling pathway in the cells. The squeeze helps to release calcium ions stored inside the cells and opens up channels in the cell membrane that allow the ions to flow into the cells, according to the study led by Univ. of California, San Diego bioengineer Yingxiao Wang.

Nanotubes self-organize and wiggle

February 10, 2015 1:41 pm | by Siv Schwink, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that all systems evolve toward a state of maximum entropy, wherein all energy is dissipated as heat, and no available energy remains to do work. Since the mid-20th century, research has pointed to an extension of the second law for nonequilibrium systems.

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Electronics you can wrap around your finger

February 10, 2015 11:51 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Electronic devices have shrunk rapidly in the past decades, but most remain as stiff as the same sort of devices were in the 1950s: a drawback if you want to wrap your phone around your wrist when you go for a jog or fold your computer to fit in a pocket. Researchers from South Korea have taken a new step toward more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful electric and magnetic properties even when highly curved.

Microfluidics enables production of shape-controllable microgels

February 10, 2015 10:41 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A new, relatively simple process makes it possible to create biocompatible particles called shape-controllable microgels that could be custom designed for specific roles such as drug delivery vehicles, tissue engineering building blocks and biomedical research. The particles are made of two distinctly different materials: polymers called polyNIPAAm and sodium alginate, used in drug delivery.

Battery startup promises safe lithium batteries

February 10, 2015 9:53 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory battery scientist Nitash Balsara has worked for many years trying to find a way to improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. Now he believes he has found the answer in a most unlikely material: a class of compounds that has mainly been used for industrial lubrication.

Technique devised for mapping temperature in tiny electronic devices

February 10, 2015 9:06 am | by Shaun Mason, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Overheating is a major problem for the microprocessors that run our smartphones and computers. But a team of scientists have made a breakthrough that should enable engineers to design microprocessors that minimize that problem: They have developed a thermal imaging technique that can “see” how the temperature changes from point to point inside the smallest electronic circuits.

Engineered insulin could offer better diabetes control

February 10, 2015 8:41 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For patients with diabetes, insulin is critical to maintaining good health and normal blood-sugar levels. However, it’s not an ideal solution because it can be difficult for patients to determine exactly how much insulin they need to prevent their blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers hope to improve treatment for diabetes patients with a new type of engineered insulin.

3D printing with custom molecules creates low-cost mechanical sensor

February 10, 2015 8:03 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Imagine printing out molecules that can respond to their surroundings. A research project at the Univ. of Washington merges custom chemistry and 3D printing. Scientists created a bone-shaped plastic tab that turns purple under stretching, offering an easy way to record the force on an object.

New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

February 6, 2015 12:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Videos | Comments

Researchers building a new underwater robot they’ve dubbed the “Millennium Falcon” certainly have reason to believe it will live up to its name. The robot will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy.

How oxygen is kryptonite to titanium

February 6, 2015 11:00 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley scientists have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen. The discovery has the potential to open the door to more practical, cost-effective uses of titanium in a broader range of applications.

Nanoscale solution to big problem of overheating in microelectronic devices

February 6, 2015 10:01 am | by Megan Hazle, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Anyone who has ever toasted the top of their legs with their laptop or broiled their ear on a cell phone knows that microelectronic devices can give off a lot of heat. These devices contain a multitude of transistors, and although each one produces very little heat individually, their combined thermal output is significant and can damage the device.

Precision growth of light-emitting nanowires

February 6, 2015 9:12 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A novel approach to growing nanowires promises a new means of control over their light-emitting and electronic properties. In a recent issue of Nano Letters, scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab demonstrated a new growth technique that uses specially engineered catalysts. These catalysts, which are precursors to growing the nanowires, have given scientists more options than ever in turning the color of light-emitting nanowires.

Human insights inspire solutions for household robots

February 5, 2015 11:12 am | by Aaron Dubrow, NSF | News | Comments

People typically consider doing the laundry to be a boring chore. But laundry is far from boring for artificial intelligence (AI) researchers. To AI experts, programming a robot to do the laundry represents a challenging planning problem because current sensing and manipulation technology is not good enough to identify precisely the number of clothing pieces that are in a pile and the number that are picked up with each grasp.

Octopus robot makes waves with ultra-fast propulsion

February 5, 2015 10:47 am | by Glenn Harris, Univ. of Southampton | Videos | Comments

Scientists have developed an octopus-like robot, which can zoom through water with ultra-fast propulsion and acceleration never before seen in man-made underwater vehicles. Most fast aquatic animals are sleek and slender to help them move easily through the water but cephalopods, such as the octopus, are capable of high-speed escapes by filling their bodies with water and then quickly expelling it to dart away.

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