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Bioengineers introduce 'Bi-Fi, the biological Internet

September 27, 2012 11:32 am | News | Comments

If you were a bacterium, the virus M13 might seem innocuous enough. It insinuates more than it invades, setting up shop like a freeloading house guest, not a killer. Once inside it makes itself at home, eating your food, texting indiscriminately. Recently, however, bioengineers at Stanford University have given M13 a bit of a makeover; they have parasitized the parasite and harnessed M13's key attributes to create what might be termed as the biological Internet, or "Bi-Fi."

'Transient electronics' dissolve in body, environment

September 27, 2012 11:01 am | News | Comments

Tiny, fully biocompatible electronic devices that are able to dissolve harmlessly into their surroundings after functioning for a precise amount of time have been created by a research team led by biomedical engineers. Dubbed "transient electronics," the new class of silk-silicon devices promises a generation of medical implants that never need surgical removal, as well as environmental monitors and consumer electronics that can become compost rather than trash.

Scientists bring the heat to refine biofuel production

September 27, 2012 9:02 am | News | Comments

Perhaps inspired by Arizona's blazing summers, Arizona State University scientists have developed a new method that relies on heat to improve the yield and lower the costs of high-energy biofuels production, making renewable energy production more of an everyday reality.


Hydrogen beam injector guides plasma physics research

September 27, 2012 6:39 am | News | Comments

The Madison Symmetric Torus, a leading piece of equipment in plasma physics research for more than 20 years, recently gained a new capability with the installation of a neutral beam injector. The addition allows University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers to delve further into the basic properties of plasmas, which are important in astrophysics research as well as numerous other applications.

Invisible barrier wards off metal corrosion

September 27, 2012 5:35 am | News | Comments

A coating so thin it's invisible to the human eye has been shown to make copper nearly 100 times more resistant to corrosion, creating tremendous potential for metal protection even in harsh environments. Researchers from Monash University and Rice University say these findings could mean paradigm changes in the development of anticorrosion coatings using extremely thin graphene films.

Research yields promising advance in solar cells based on nanocarbon

September 27, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

An exciting advance in solar cell technology developed at the University of Kansas has produced the world's most efficient photovoltaic cells made from nanocarbons, materials that have the potential to drop the costs of PV technology in the future.

Controlling behavior, remotely

September 27, 2012 3:33 am | News | Comments

In the quest to understand how the brain turns sensory input into behavior, Harvard University scientists have crossed a major threshold. Using precisely targeted lasers, researchers have been able to take over a tiny animal's brain, instruct it to turn in any direction they wish, and even implant false sensor information, fooling the animal into thinking food was nearby.

Scientists uncover virus with potential to stop pimples

September 26, 2012 6:18 am | News | Comments

Watch out, acne. Doctors soon may have a new weapon against zits: A harmless virus living on our skin that naturally seeks out and kills the bacteria that cause pimples. In the new findings, scientists looked at two little microbes that share a big name: Propionibacterium acnes , a bacterium thriving in our pores that can trigger acne, and P. acnes phages, a family of viruses that live on human skin.


Signature of long-sought particle could advance quantum computing

September 26, 2012 3:19 am | News | Comments

A Purdue University physicist, Leonid Rokhinson, has observed evidence of long-sought Majorana fermions, special particles that could unleash the potential of fault-tolerant quantum computing. Rokhinson led a team that is the first to successfully demonstrate the fractional a.c. Josephson effect, which is a signature of the particles.

Intuitive visual control provides faster remote operation of robots

September 25, 2012 12:50 pm | News | Comments

Using a novel method of integrating video technology and familiar control devices, a research team from Georgia Institute of Technology is developing a technique to simplify remote control of robotic devices. The researchers' aim is to enhance a human operator's ability to perform precise tasks using a multijointed robotic device such as an articulated mechanical arm.

University lab encodes collagen

September 25, 2012 9:53 am | News | Comments

The human body is proficient at making collagen. And human laboratories are getting better at it all the time. In a development that could lead to better drug design and new treatments for disease, Rice University researchers have made a major step toward synthesizing custom collagen. The scientists who have learned how to make collagen are now digging into its molecular structure to see how it forms and interacts with biological systems.

Novel materials become multifunctional at ultimate quantum limit

September 25, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

A University of Arkansas physicist and his colleagues have examined the lower limits of novel materials called complex oxides and discovered that unlike conventional semiconductors the materials not only conduct electricity, but also develop unusual magnetic properties.

Researchers develop technique for identifying proteins secreted by cells

September 25, 2012 7:32 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique to identify the proteins secreted by a cell. The new approach should help researchers collect precise data on cell biology.


Eye proteins have germ-killing power

September 25, 2012 5:03 am | News | Comments

When it comes to germ-busting power, the eyes have it, according to a discovery by University of California, Berkeley researchers that could lead to new, inexpensive antimicrobal drugs. A team of vision scientists has found that small fragments of keratin protein in the eye play a key role in warding off pathogens.

Oscillating microscopic beads could be key to biolab on a chip

September 25, 2012 4:45 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

If you throw a ball underwater, you'll find that the smaller it is, the faster it moves: A larger cross-section greatly increases the water's resistance. Now, a team of researchers has figured out a way to use this basic principle, on a microscopic scale, to carry out biomedical tests that could eventually lead to fast, compact, and versatile medical testing devices.

Chemist's research may hold key to cleanup of toxic substances

September 24, 2012 11:10 am | News | Comments

A Florida State University chemist's work could lead to big improvements in our ability to detect and eliminate specific toxic substances in our environment. The work involves stripping electrons from the toxic chemical known as fluoride to produce a variety of results.

Slow-moving rocks better odds that life crashed to Earth from space

September 24, 2012 9:54 am | News | Comments

Microorganisms that crashed to Earth embedded in the fragments of distant planets might have been the sprouts of life on this one, according to new research. The research team reports that under certain conditions there is a high probability that life came to Earth during the solar system's infancy when Earth and its planetary neighbors orbiting other stars would have been close enough to each other to exchange lots of solid materials.

Researchers demonstrate cheaper way to produce NFO thin films

September 24, 2012 7:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology have demonstrated a less-expensive way to create textured nickel ferrite (NFO) ceramic thin films, which can easily be scaled up to address manufacturing needs. NFO is a magnetic material that holds promise for microwave technologies and next-generation memory devices.

Chemistry technique reproduces nature's elusive complexity

September 24, 2012 5:54 am | News | Comments

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have shown how to synthesize in the laboratory an important set of natural compounds known as terpenes. The largest class of chemicals made by living organisms, terpenes are made within cells by some of the most complex chemical reactions found in biology.

Study broadens understanding of quantum mechanics

September 24, 2012 4:21 am | News | Comments

Former and current University of Southern California Dornsife physicists have led a study that represents the first, quantitative account of the universal features of disordered bosons, or quantum particles, in magnetic materials. The study broadens our understanding of quantum mechanics and challenges accepted predication in quantum theory.

Nanotubes used to create smallest ever hologram pixels

September 24, 2012 4:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists have generated holograms from carbon nanotubes, for the first time, which could lead to much sharper holograms with a vastly increased field of view. The scientists have harnessed the extraordinary conductive and light scattering abilities of these tubes to diffract high-resolution holograms.

Cancer research yields unexpected way to produce nylon

September 24, 2012 3:50 am | News | Comments

In their quest for a cancer cure, researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute made a serendipitous discovery: a molecule necessary for cheaper and greener way to produce nylon. The finding arose from an intriguing notion that some of the genetic and chemical changes in cancer tumors might be harnessed for beneficial uses.

Double-strength glass may be within reach

September 21, 2012 4:30 am | News | Comments

Glass is strong enough for so much. But scientists who look at the structure of glass strictly by the numbers believe some of the latest methods from the microelectronics and nanotechnology industry could produce glass that's about twice as strong as the best available today. Rice University researchers have determined that a process called chemical vapor deposition, which is used industrially to make thin films, is one such process.

Researchers develop novel 'stamping' process to pattern biomolecules

September 21, 2012 4:05 am | News | Comments

Fabricating precise biomolecular structures at extremely small scales is critical to the progress of nanotechnology. Traditionally this has been accomplished through the use of rubber stamps with tiny features which are covered with molecular inks and then stamped onto substrate surfaces, creating molecular patterns. However, when using this technique at the nanoscale, molecules tend to diffuse on the surface both during and after stamping, blurring the patterns. Now, a team of researchers have turned this "soft lithography" process on its head.

Molecules sense curvature at the nanoscale

September 20, 2012 9:47 am | News | Comments

A team of researchers have used surface photochemical reactions to probe the critical role of substrate morphology on self-assembly and ligand environment, determining that molecules on curved surfaces have a greater range of orientations and, as a result, react more slowly than do molecules on flat surfaces.

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