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R&D Daily

Inventor of Web calls for digital bill of rights

March 12, 2014 8:50 am | Comments

The World Wide Web marks its 25th anniversary this year. On Wednesday, its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, commented about the state of the Internet and about the need to defend principles that have made the Web successful. Named an R&D Scientist of the Year in 1996, Berners-Lee has been a long-time proponent of openness and neutrality on the Web.

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Scientists “herd” cells in new approach to tissue engineering

March 12, 2014 8:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Sometimes it only takes a quick jolt of electricity to get a swarm of cells moving in the right direction. Researchers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley found that an electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, an achievement that could establish the basis for more controlled forms of tissue engineering.

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Synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis

March 10, 2014 7:56 am | Comments

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

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Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes

February 27, 2014 1:26 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Comments

For the past 24 years, Mark Z. Jacobson, a prof. of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford Univ., has been developing a complex computer model to study air pollution, energy, weather and climate. A recent application of the model has been to simulate the development of hurricanes. Another has been to determine how much energy wind turbines can extract from global wind currents.

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Battery-free tech brings gesture recognition to all devices

February 27, 2014 12:56 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Univ. of Washington computer scientists have built a low-cost gesture recognition system that runs without batteries and lets users control their electronic devices hidden from sight with simple hand movements. The prototype, called “AllSee,” uses existing TV signals as both a power source and the means for detecting a user’s gesture command.

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Laser tool speeds up detection of Salmonella in food products

February 14, 2014 7:38 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods. Known as BARDOT, the machine scans bacteria colonies and generates a distinct black and white "fingerprint" by which they can be identified. BARDOT takes less than 24 hrs to pinpoint Salmonella.

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Rice’s carbon nanotube fibers outperform copper

February 14, 2014 7:22 am | Comments

On a pound-per-pound basis, carbon nanotube-based fibers invented at Rice Univ. have greater capacity to carry electrical current than copper cables of the same mass, according to new research. While individual nanotubes are capable of transmitting nearly 1,000 times more current than copper, the same tubes coalesced into a fiber using other technologies fail long before reaching that capacity.

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Herding robots

February 12, 2014 7:50 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Writing a program to control a single autonomous robot navigating an uncertain environment with an erratic communication link is hard enough; write one for multiple robots that may or may not have to work in tandem, depending on the task, is even harder. As a consequence, engineers designing control programs for multiagent systems have restricted themselves to special cases. Until now.

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3-D printed soil reveals the world beneath our feet

January 27, 2014 8:21 am | by Kirsty Cameron, Abertay Univ. | Comments

Soil scientists at Abertay Univ. are using 3-D printing technology to find out, for the very first time, exactly what is going on in the world beneath our feet. In the same way that ecologists study the interactions of living organisms above ground, Prof.Wilfred Otten and researchers at the university’s SIMBIOS Centre are taking advantage of the new technology to do the same below ground.

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Better protein capture a boon for drug manufacturers

January 23, 2014 8:00 am | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have created a way to fine tune a process critical to the pharmaceutical industry that could save a lot of time and money. A combination of the Rice technique that provides pinpoint locations for single proteins and a theory that describes those proteins’ interactions with other molecules could widen a bottleneck in the manufacture of drugs by making the process of isolating proteins five times more efficient.  

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3-D imaging provides window into living cells, no dye required

January 22, 2014 8:00 am | Comments

Living cells are ready for their close-ups, thanks to a new imaging technique that needs no dyes or other chemicals, yet renders high-resolution, 3-D, quantitative imagery of cells and their internal structures—all with conventional microscopes and white light.

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How to tap the sun’s energy through heat as well as light

January 20, 2014 7:43 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

A new approach to harvesting solar energy, developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use, the researchers say.

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Renewable chemical ready for biofuels scale-up

January 17, 2014 8:43 am | by Margaret Broeren, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Using a plant-derived chemical, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers have developed a process for creating a concentrated stream of sugars that’s ripe with possibility for biofuels. The research team has published its findings in Science, explaining how they use gamma valerolactone, or GVL, to deconstruct plants and produce sugars that can be chemically or biologically upgraded into biofuels.

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Caffeine’s positive effect on memory

January 13, 2014 7:37 am | Comments

Whether it's a mug full of fresh-brewed coffee, a cup of hot tea or a can of soda, consuming caffeine is the energy boost of choice for millions who want to wake up or stay up. Now, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Univ. have found another use for the popular stimulant: memory enhancer.

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The ocean’s hidden waves show their power

January 8, 2014 7:52 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Their effect on the surface of the ocean is negligible, producing a rise of just inches that is virtually imperceptible on a turbulent sea. But internal waves, which are hidden entirely within the ocean, can tower hundreds of feet, with profound effects on the Earth’s climate and on ocean ecosystems.

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