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Hitchhiking nanotubes show how cells stir themselves

May 30, 2014 7:50 am | Videos | Comments

A team of researchers has successfully tracked single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes. Through this new method, the researchers found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, appears in Science.

Bake your own robot

May 30, 2014 7:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

At this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, a research team introduced a new wrinkle on the idea of printable robots: bakable robots. In two new papers, the researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed 3-D configurations.

Researchers use light to coax stem cells to repair teeth

May 29, 2014 11:11 am | by Kristen Kusek, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

A Harvard Univ.-led team is the first to demonstrate the ability to use low-power light to trigger stem cells inside the body to regenerate tissue, an advance they reported in Science Translational Medicine. The research lays the foundation for a host of clinical applications in restorative dentistry and regenerative medicine more broadly, such as wound healing, bone regeneration and more.

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Global survey: Climate change now a mainstream part of city planning

May 29, 2014 8:31 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

An increasing number of cities around the world now include preparations for climate change in their basic urban planning; but only a small portion of them have been able to make such plans part of their economic development priorities, according to a unique global survey of cities. The Urban Climate Change Governance Survey underscores the extent to which city leaders recognize climate change as a major challenge.

Scientists pinpoint the creeping nanocrystals behind lithium-ion battery degradation

May 29, 2014 8:20 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Batteries don’t age gracefully. The lithium ions that power portable electronics cause lingering structural damage with each cycle of charge and discharge, making devices from smartphones to tablets tick toward zero faster and faster over time. To stop or slow this steady degradation, scientists must track and tweak the imperfect chemistry of lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale precision.

Microscopy charges ahead

May 29, 2014 8:05 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

In order to see the true polarization of ferroelectric materials quickly and efficiently, researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new technique called charge gradient microscopy. Charge gradient microscopy uses the tip of a conventional atomic force microscope to scrape and collect the surface screen charges.

Miniature gas chromatograph could help farmers detect crop diseases earlier

May 29, 2014 7:55 am | by Angela Colar, Georgia Tech | News | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute are developing a micro gas chromatograph for early detection of diseases in crops. About the size of a 9-V battery, the technology’s portability could give farmers just the tool they need to quickly evaluate the health of their crops and address any possible threats immediately, potentially increasing yield by reducing crop losses.

A path toward more powerful tabletop accelerators

May 29, 2014 7:39 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Making a tabletop particle accelerator just got easier. A new study shows that certain requirements for the lasers used in an emerging type of small-area particle accelerator can be significantly relaxed. Researchers hope the finding could bring about a new era of accelerators that would need just a few meters to bring particles to great speeds, rather than the many kilometers required of traditional accelerators.

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Researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

May 28, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

Laser system mimics sunlight to test solar cell efficiency

May 28, 2014 10:34 am | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have developed a laser-based instrument that generates artificial sunlight to help test solar cell properties and find ways to boost their efficiency. The novel NIST system simulates sunlight well across a broad spectrum of visible to infrared light. More flexible than conventional solar simulators, the laser instrument can be focused down to a small beam spot and shaped to match any desired spectral profile.

Sneaky bacteria change key protein’s shape to escape detection

May 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Every once in a while in the U.S., bacterial meningitis seems to crop up out of nowhere, claiming a young life. Part of the disease’s danger is the ability of the bacteria to evade the body’s immune system, but scientists are now figuring out how the pathogen hides in plain sight. Their findings, which could help defeat these bacteria and others like it, appear in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Cancer, bioelectrical signals and the microbiome connected

May 28, 2014 8:37 am | by Kim Thurler, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Developmental biologists at Tufts Univ., using a tadpole model, have shown that bioelectrical signals from distant cells control the incidence of tumors arising from cancer-causing genes and that this process is impacted by levels of a common fatty acid produced by bacteria found in the tadpole and also in humans. 

“Nanodaisies” deliver drug cocktail to cancer cells

May 28, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed daisy-shaped, nanoscale structures that are made predominantly of anticancer drugs and are capable of introducing a “cocktail” of multiple drugs into cancer cells. The researchers are all part the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Get ready for the computers of the future

May 28, 2014 8:07 am | by Sue Holmes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Computing experts at Sandia National Laboratories have launched an effort to help discover what computers of the future might look like, from next-generation supercomputers to systems that learn on their own—new machines that do more while using less energy.

Researcher reboots deep brain stimulation

May 28, 2014 7:53 am | News | Comments

Deep brain stimulators, devices that zap Parkinson’s disease tremors by sending electrical current deep into nerve centers near the brain stem, may sound like they are cutting-edge, but Rice Univ.’s Caleb Kemere wants to give them a high-tech overhaul.

Improving a new breed of solar cells

May 28, 2014 7:42 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Solar cell technology has advanced rapidly, as hundreds of groups around the world pursue more than two dozen approaches using different materials, technologies and approaches to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Now a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has set a new record for the most efficient quantum-dot cells.

Tiny muscles help bats fine-tune flight

May 27, 2014 8:20 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A new study of bats reveals a capability within their wondrous wings that may help them fine-tune their flight. Bats employ a network of nearly hair-thin muscles embedded in the membrane of their inherently floppy wing skin to adjust the wings’ stiffness and curvature while they fly, Brown Univ. researchers report.

DNA nanotechnology places enzyme catalysis within an arm’s length

May 27, 2014 8:06 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Arizona State Univ. | News | Comments

Using molecules of DNA like an architectural scaffold, Arizona State Univ. scientists, in collaboration with colleagues at the Univ. of Michigan, have developed a 3-D artificial enzyme cascade that mimics an important biochemical pathway that could prove important for future biomedical and energy applications.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

Miniature truss work

May 27, 2014 7:44 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Fancy Erector Set? Nope. The elaborate fractal structure shown at left is many, many times smaller than that and is certainly not child's play. It’s the latest example of a fractal nanotruss—nano because the structures are made up of members that are as thin as 5 nm; truss because they are carefully architected structures that might one day be used in structural engineering materials.

Chip produces, detects specialized gas for biomedical analysis

May 23, 2014 8:27 am | News | Comments

A chip-scale device that both produces and detects a specialized gas used in biomedical analysis and medical imaging has been built and demonstrated at NIST. Described in Nature Communications, the new microfluidic chip produces polarized (or magnetized) xenon gas and then detects even the faintest magnetic signals from the gas.

Scientists discover new magnetic phase in iron-based superconductors

May 23, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a previously unknown phase in a class of superconductors called iron arsenides. This sheds light on a debate over the interactions between atoms and electrons that are responsible for their unusual superconductivity.

How the anticancer drug Taxol works

May 23, 2014 8:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to the design of even more effective versions of the powerful anticancer drug Taxol has been opened with the most detailed look ever at the assembly and disassembly of microtubules, tiny fibers of tubulin protein that form the cytoskeletons of living cells and play a crucial role in mitosis.

A new way to make sheets of graphene

May 23, 2014 7:39 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Graphene’s promise as a material for new kinds of electronic devices, among other uses, has led researchers around the world to study the material in search of new applications. But one of the biggest limitations to wider use of the strong, lightweight, highly conductive material has been the hurdle of fabrication on an industrial scale.

Engineer invents safe way to transfer energy to medical chips in the body

May 22, 2014 11:43 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

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