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R&D Daily

A new way to prevent the spread of devastating diseases

September 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | Comments

For decades, researchers have tried to develop broadly effective vaccines to prevent the spread of illnesses such as HIV, malaria and tuberculosis. While limited progress has been made along these lines, there are still no licensed vaccinations available that can protect most people from these devastating diseases. So what are immunologists to do when vaccines just aren't working?

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Scientists refine formula for nanotube types

September 17, 2014 9:52 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Many a great idea springs from talks over a cup of coffee. But it’s rare and wonderful when a revelation comes from the cup itself. Rice Univ. theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson, acting upon sudden inspiration at a meeting last year, obtained a couple of spare coffee cups from a server and a pair of scissors and proceeded to lay out—science fair-style—an idea that could have far-reaching implications for the nanotechnology industry.

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Researchers control surface tension to manipulate liquid metals

September 16, 2014 9:40 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a technique for controlling the surface tension of liquid metals by applying very low voltages, opening the door to a new generation of reconfigurable electronic circuits, antennas and other technologies. The technique hinges on the fact that the oxide “skin” of the metal acts as a surfactant, lowering the surface tension between the metal and the surrounding fluid.

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Want to print your own cell phone microscope for pennies?

September 16, 2014 8:01 am | by Susan Bauer, PNNL | Comments

At one o'clock in the morning, layers of warm plastic are deposited on the platform of the 3-D printer that sits on scientist Rebecca Erikson's desk. A small plastic housing, designed to fit over the end of a cell phone, begins to take shape. Pulling it from the printer, Erikson quickly pops in a tiny glass bead and checks the magnification.

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Bound for robotic glory

September 16, 2014 7:56 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

The fastest land animal on Earth, the cheetah, is able to accelerate to 60 mph in just a few seconds. As it ramps up to top speed, a cheetah pumps its legs in tandem, bounding until it reaches a full gallop. Now, researchers have developed an algorithm for bounding that they’ve successfully implemented in a fully functional robotic cheetah.

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Moving silicon atoms in graphene with atomic precision

September 15, 2014 10:34 am | Comments

In recent years, it has become possible to see directly individual atoms using electron microscopy, especially in graphene. Using electron microscopy and computer simulations, an international team has recently shown how an electron beam can move silicon atoms through the graphene lattice without causing damage.

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Study sheds new light on why batteries go bad

September 15, 2014 7:34 am | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

A comprehensive look at how tiny particles in a lithium-ion battery electrode behave shows that rapid-charging the battery and using it to do high-power, rapidly draining work may not be as damaging as researchers had thought—and that the benefits of slow draining and charging may have been overestimated.

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Faster image processing for low-radiation CT scans

September 12, 2014 8:08 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A new $1.9 million study at the Univ. of Michigan seeks to make low-dose computed tomography scans a viable screening technique by speeding up the image reconstruction from half an hour or more to just five minutes. The advance could be particularly important for fighting lung cancers, as symptoms often appear too late for effective treatment.

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World’s first 3-D printed car being assembled at IMTS

September 10, 2014 6:15 pm | Comments

During the six-day IMTS manufacturing technology show in Chicago this week, the “Strati” will be the first vehicle printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing. The process will take more than 44 hours of print time. A team including Local Motors, Cincinnati Inc. and Oak Ridge National Laboratory will then rapidly assemble it for a historic first set for Saturday.

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New digital map reveals stunning hidden archaeology of Stonehenge

September 10, 2014 10:03 am | Comments

A high-tech survey reveals that there is more to Stonehenge than meets the eye, finding previously unknown monuments. Researchers have produced digital maps of what's beneath the World Heritage Site, using ground-penetrating radar, high-resolution magnetometers and other techniques to peer deep into the soil. And they have found some surprises.

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Engineer aims to connect the world with ant-sized radios

September 10, 2014 7:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Comments

A Stanford Univ. engineering team has built a radio the size of an ant, a device so energy efficient that it gathers all the power it needs from the same electromagnetic waves that carry signals to its receiving antenna. Designed to compute, execute and relay commands, this tiny wireless chip costs pennies to fabricate.

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First evidence for water ice clouds found outside solar system

September 9, 2014 12:22 pm | Comments

A team of scientists led by Carnegie's Jacqueline Faherty has discovered the first evidence of water ice clouds on an object outside of our own Solar System. Water ice clouds exist on our own gas giant planets, but have not been seen outside of the planets orbiting our Sun until now.

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Soft robot squirms over fire, ice, and withstands crushing force

September 9, 2014 7:54 am | Comments

Engineers have created a shape-changing "soft" robot that can tread over a variety of adverse environmental conditions including snow, puddles of water, flames, and the crushing force of being run over by an automobile. The pneumatically powered, fully untethered robot was enabled by the careful selection of materials and composites, including silicone elastomer.

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Co-flowing liquids can stabilize chaotic “whipping” in microfluidic jets

September 9, 2014 7:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Industrial wet spinning processes produce fibers from polymers and other materials by using tiny needles to eject continuous jets of liquid precursors. The electrically charged liquids ejected from the needles normally exhibit a chaotic “whipping” structure as they enter a secondary liquid that surrounds the microscopic jets.

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First graphene-based flexible display produced

September 5, 2014 12:03 pm | Comments

A flexible display incorporating graphene in its pixels’ electronics has been successfully demonstrated by the Cambridge Graphene Centre and Plastic Logic. The new prototype is an active matrix electrophoretic display, similar to the screens used in today’s e-readers, except it is made of flexible plastic instead of glass. This advance marks the first time graphene has been used in a transistor-based flexible device.

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