Melanin could soon be the face of a new generation of biologically friendly electronic devices used in applications such as medical sensor and tissue stimulation treatments. An international team of scientists has published a study that, for the first time, gives insight into the electrical properties of this pigment and its biologically compatible "bioelectronic" features.
Overturning two long-held misconceptions about oil production in algae, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory show that ramping up the microbes' overall metabolism by feeding them more carbon increases oil production as the organisms continue to grow. The findings may point to new ways to turn photosynthetic green algae into tiny "green factories" for producing raw materials for alternative fuels.
Platelets are the components of blood that allow it to prevent excessive bleeding and to heal wounds. Through a complex series of deposition and crosslinking techniques, researchers have recently built a synthetic version of the platelet that shares the natural cells characteristics. Synthetic platelets could have many biomedical uses.
The world's rubber supplies are in peril, and automobile tire producers are scrambling to seek alternative solutions. Tom Sharkey, chairperson of the Michigan State University Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department, believes isoprene could be a viable option.
Development of new therapies for a range of medical conditions, including sports injuries and heart attacks, could depend on a new production-scale microthread extruder developed by a team of graduate students and biomedical engineering faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. The microthreads would support tissue regeneration, wound healing, and cell therapy.
More than a million Americans receive an artificial hip or knee prosthesis each year, but tens of thousands of people need early replacements because of loosening joints. To help minimize these operations, a team of chemical engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has developed a thin, layered coating for implants that helps promote bone growth.
The light that a luminescent particle emits is usually less energetic than the light that it absorbs. Some applications require the emitted light to be more energetic, but this so-called upconversion process has been observed in only a small handful of materials. Researchers in Singapore have recently succeeded in expanding this list of upconversion materials by using different lanthanides at different stages of conversion.
According to recent first-of-its-kind research results, a dose of carbon nanotubes can more than double the growth rate of plant cell cultures. Previous work at the University of Arkansas showed that multi-walled carbon nanotubes can penetrate the thick coatings of seeds. It turns out they can also stimulate germination and growth in plant cell cultures.
Taking inspiration from the brittlestar, a sea creature that “sees” using crystalline lenses made of calcium carbonate, a team of scientists have discovered that they can grow tiny uniform hemispheric calcium carbonate thin films on a solution. Compatible with biological systems, the microlenses are defect free.
While most researchers in nanomanufacturing are working to demonstrate what’s possible, researchers NIST are trying to determine what’s realistic. Results of their measurements of a promising self-assembly technique known as DNA origami show that current methods are too slow and inaccurate for use in certain industries, such semiconductor lithography.
Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a self-healing hydrogel that binds quickly, as easily as Velcro, and forms a bond strong enough to withstand repeated stretching. Computer simulations of the gel network helped them discover the key to its properties: the length of side chain molecules, or fingers.
Xinwei Wang, an Iowa State University associate professor of mechanical engineering, is leading a study that found spider silk is very good at transferring heat. Spider silk, in fact, conducts heat as well or better than most metals.
Scientists at RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan, with help from colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, have invented a polymer film loaded with antibodies that can capture tumor cells. This could be an important diagnostic tool because during metastasis cancerous tumor cells float around the bloodstream, nearly impossible to detect.
Carbon nanoparticles can be coated to make them attach to cancer cells, but getting them in the correct position can be difficult. A research team in Texas has magnetized nanoparticles so that they can be moved with a magnetic field. Administered using fiber optics, the method is non-destructive to healthy cells and carbon nanoparticles also fluoresce.
The TRR 61 project has been keeping about 150 scientists in Germany and China busy since 2008. The goal is to understand how large natural systems, such as biorganisms are assembled from numerous diverse small molecular structures. The first papers from the first stage of the project, which looks at self-assembly mechanisms, have recently been published.
The study of spider webs has led to a discovery that will generate new types of medical sutures embedded with medication. University of Akron scientists have developed a novel biocompatible thread material similar to a specific kind of silk spun by an orb spider.
Widely used in the medical field, mechanically complex silicone elastomers are slowly giving up their secrets and becoming ubiquitous.
A biodegradable, biocompatible material that replicates the strength, toughness, and versatility of an insect cuticle could one day replace plastics in consumer products, and be used safely in medical applications.
Prosthetic materials for hips, which include metals, polymers, and ceramics, have a lifetime typically exceeding 10 years. However, beyond 10 years the failure rate generally increases. Engineers and physicians have discovered that graphitic carbon is a key element in a lubricating layer that forms on metal-on-metal hip implants.
A nanoscale biological coating that includes a clotting agent found in blood can halt bleeding nearly instantaneously, an advance that could improve survival rates for soldiers injured in battle.
It's a matchup worthy of a late-night cable movie: Put a school of starving piranha and a 300-lb fish together, and who comes out the winner? The surprising answer—given the notorious guillotine-like bite of the piranha—is Brazil's massive Arapaima fish. The secret to Arapaima 's success lies in its intricately designed scales, which could provide "bioinspiration" for engineers looking to develop flexible ceramics.
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute in California and the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology have developed a "biological computer" made entirely from biomolecules that is capable of deciphering images encrypted on DNA chips. Although DNA has been used for encryption in the past, this is the first experimental demonstration of a molecular cryptosystem of images based on DNA computing.
Researchers at Rice University and Texas Children's Hospital have turned stem cells from amniotic fluid into cells that form blood vessels. Their success offers hope that such stem cells may be used to grow tissue patches to repair infant hearts.
While researchers have long known of the incredible strength of spider silk, the robust nature of the tiny filaments cannot alone explain how webs survive multiple tears and winds that exceed hurricane strength. A combination of computer simulations and new experimental observations have revealed more about the sacrificial beams and stress-dependent materials that make silk so strong.
Through experiment and mathematical analysis, Harvard University researchers have shown that the extracellular matrix, a mesh of proteins and sugars that can form outside bacterial cells, creates osmotic pressure, forcing biofilms to swell and spread. The mechanism is powerful, sometimes causing five-fold size increases in less than a day.