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Tough gel stretches to 21 times its length

September 5, 2012 10:52 am | News | Comments

A team of experts in mechanics, materials science, and tissue engineering at Harvard University have created an extremely stretchy and tough gel that may pave the way to replacing damaged cartilage in human joints. Called a hydrogel, the new material is a hybrid of two weak gels that combine to create something much stronger. Not only can this new gel stretch to 21 times its original length, but it is also exceptionally tough, self-healing, and biocompatible.

Explosion of galaxy formation lit up early universe

September 5, 2012 6:54 am | News | Comments

New data from the South Pole Telescope indicates that the birth of the first massive galaxies that lit up the early universe was an explosive event, happening faster and ending sooner than suspected. Extremely bright, active galaxies formed and fully illuminated the universe by the time it was 750 million year old, or about 13 billion years ago, according to a researcher from the University of California, Berkeley.

Researchers create tiny, wirelessly powered cardiac device

September 5, 2012 6:01 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

Stanford University electrical engineers overturn existing models to demonstrate the feasibility of a millimeter-sized, wirelessly powered cardiac device. The findings, say the researchers, could dramatically alter the scale of medical devices implanted in the human body.


Waste silicon gets new life in lithium-ion batteries

September 5, 2012 4:58 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University and from Belgium have developed a way to make flexible components for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries from discarded silicon. The researchers created forests of nanowires from high-value but hard-to-recycle silicon. Silicon absorbs 10 time more lithium than the carbon commonly used in lithium-ion batteries.

Mapping neurological disease

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Disorders such as schizophrenia can originate in certain regions of the brain and then spread out to affect connected areas. Identifying these regions of the brain, and how they affect the other areas they communicate with, would allow drug companies to develop better treatments and could ultimately help doctors make a diagnosis. But interpreting the vast amount of data produced by brain scans to identify these connecting regions has so far proved impossible, until now.

Interfaces provide new control over oxides' electronic properties

September 5, 2012 3:38 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Materials called transition metal oxides have physicists intrigued by their potentially useful properties. By combining two sophisticated experimental tools, researchers have gained the first insights into quantum interactions in transition metal oxide superlattices, which are artificial stacked layers of alternating materials, each just a few atoms thick.

UCF researchers record world record laser pulse

September 4, 2012 12:06 pm | News | Comments

A University of Central Florida research team has created the world's shortest laser pulse and in the process may have given scientists a new tool to watch quantum mechanics in action—something that has been hidden from view until now.

Every atom counts in graphene formation

September 4, 2012 9:37 am | News | Comments

Like tiny ships finding port in a storm, carbon atoms dock with the greater island of graphene in a predictable manner. But until recent research by scientists at Rice University, nobody had the tools to make that kind of prediction.


Spinach power gets a major boost

September 4, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

Spinach power has just gotten a big boost. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a way to combine the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous "biohybrid" solar cells.

Research reveals contrasting consequences of a warmer Earth

September 4, 2012 5:45 am | News | Comments

A new study, by scientists from the Universities of York, Glasgow, and Leeds, involving analysis of fossil and geological records going back 540 million years, suggests that biodiversity on Earth generally increases as the planet warms. But the research says that the increase in biodiversity depends on the evolution of new species over millions of years, and is normally accompanied by extinctions of existing species.

Showing the way to improved water-splitting catalysts

September 4, 2012 5:05 am | News | Comments

Scientists and engineers are working to find a way to power the planet using solar-powered fuel cells. Such green systems would split water during daylight hours, generating hydrogen that could then be stored and used later to produce water and electricity. But robust catalysts are needed to drive the water-splitting reaction. Chemists at Caltech have determined the dominant mechanism for cobalt catalysts, a cheaper alternative to platinum catalysts.

'Magic carpet' could help prevent falls

September 4, 2012 4:10 am | News | Comments

A "magic carpet" which can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help to predict mobility problems has been demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists. Plastic optical fibers, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real time, their walking patterns.

Making Web applications more efficient

September 4, 2012 3:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most major Websites maintain huge databases. Almost any transaction on a shopping site, travel site, or social networking site require multiple database queries, which can slow response time. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that automatically streamlines Websites' database access patterns, making the sites up to three times as fast.


Researchers develop new, less-expensive nanolithography technique

August 31, 2012 4:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications. The new technique relies on cantilevers, which are 150-micron long silicon strips.

Physicists measure photonic interactions at the atomic level

August 31, 2012 3:28 am | News | Comments

By measuring the unique properties of light on the scale of a single atom, researchers from Duke University and Imperial College London believe that they have characterized the limits of metal's ability in devices that enhance light.

A one-way street for spinning atoms

August 30, 2012 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Elementary particle have a property called "spin" that can be thought of as rotation around their axes. In work reported this week in Physical Review Letters , Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicists have imposed a stringent set of traffic rules on atomic particles in a gas: Those spinning clockwise can move in only one direction, while those spinning counterclockwise can move only in the other direction.

New record in quantum communications

August 30, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Australian National University have taken a quantum leap towards developing the next generation of super-fast networks needed to drive future computers. The team has developed a technique that allows for quantum information to travel at higher bandwidth using a beam of light and the phenomenon called entanglement.

Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

August 30, 2012 3:47 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals' behavior. Now, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania are taking more than inspiration from nature—they're taking ingredients.

Nano machine shop shapes nanowires, ultrathin films

August 30, 2012 3:30 am | News | Comments

A new nano machine shop that shapes nanowires and ultrathin films could represent a future manufacturing method for tiny structures with potentially revolutionary properties. Purdue University researchers used their technique to stamp nano- and microgears; form tiny circular shapes out of graphene; and change the shape of silver nanowires.

A new use for atomically engineered gold

August 29, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

A University of Central Florida assistant professor has developed a new material using nanotechnology, which could help keep pilots and sensitive equipment safe from destructive lasers. Working with gold nanoparticles and studying their properties when they are shrunk into a small size regime called nanoclusters, the team found that nanoclusters developed by adding atoms in a sequential manner could provide interesting optical properties.

Soaking up the sun

August 29, 2012 8:50 am | News | Comments

Solar panels, like those commonly perched atop house roofs or in sun-drenched fields, quietly harvesting the sun's radiant energy, are one of the standard-bearers of the green energy movement. But could they be better—more efficient, durable, and affordable? That's what engineers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are trying to find out, with the aid of a little nanotechnology and a lot of mathematical modeling.

Building ultralow power wireless networks

August 29, 2012 4:16 am | News | Comments

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have received funding from the National Science Foundation to create distortion-tolerant communications for wireless networks that use very little power. The research will improve wireless sensors deployed in remote areas where these systems must rely on batteries or energy-harvesting devices for power.

Biologists create first predictive computational model of gene networks

August 29, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

As an animal develops from an embryo, its cells take diverse paths, eventually forming different body parts. In order for each cell to know what to do during development, it follows a genetic blueprint, which consists of complex webs of interacting genes called gene regulatory networks. Biologists at the California Institute of Technology have spent the last decade or so detailing how these gene networks control development in sea-urchin embryos and, for the first time, have built a computational model of one of these networks.

'Frankenstein' programmers test a cybersecurity monster

August 28, 2012 12:34 pm | News | Comments

To catch a thief, you have to think like one. Computer scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas are trying to stay one step ahead of cyberattackers by creating their own monster. Their monster can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program. In part because of the potentially destructive nature of their technology, creators have named this software system Frankenstein, after the monster-creating scientist in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus .

Oil spill cleanup: Smart filter can strain oil out of water

August 28, 2012 11:46 am | News | Comments

A smart filter with a shape-shifting surface, developed by University of Michigan researchers, can separate oil and water using gravity alone, an advancement that could be useful in cleaning up environmental oil spills, among other applications. The researchers created a filter coating that repels oil but attracts water, bucking conventional materials' properties.

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