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“Protein map” reveals traffic of life in a cell

June 8, 2015 8:20 am | by Jovana Drinjakovic, Univ. of Toronto | Comments

Protein locations in a cell have been recorded in unprecedented detail as part of a “protein map” developed by Univ. of Toronto scientists. The new map allows researchers to look much more closely into what happens in a cell when disease strikes and will also help scientists determine better treatments.

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Vanishing friction

June 5, 2015 9:51 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Friction is all around us, working against the motion of tires on pavement, the scrawl of a pen across paper and even the flow of proteins through the bloodstream. Whenever two surfaces come in contact, there is friction, except in very special cases where friction essentially vanishes, a phenomenon, known as “superlubricity,” in which surfaces simply slide over each other without resistance.

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Soft robotic glove puts control in the grasp of hand-impaired patients

June 5, 2015 9:19 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Comments

Having achieved promising results in proof–of–concept prototyping and experimental testing, a soft robotic glove under development could someday help people suffering from loss of hand motor control to regain some of their daily independence.

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How dividing cells end up the same size

June 5, 2015 8:03 am | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | Comments

There aren't any giants or midgets when it comes to the cells in your body, and now Duke Univ. scientists think they know why. A new study appearing in Nature shows that a cell's initial size determines how much it will grow before it splits into two. This finding goes against recent publications suggesting cells always add the same amount of mass, with some random fluctuations, before beginning division.

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New material accelerates healing

June 2, 2015 8:50 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal more quickly. The material creates an instant scaffold that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.

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Microendoscope could eliminate unneeded biopsies

June 2, 2015 7:59 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Comments

In a clinical study of patients in the U.S. and China, researchers found that a low-cost, portable, battery-powered microendoscope developed by Rice Univ. bioengineers could eventually eliminate the need for costly biopsies for many patients undergoing standard endoscopic screening for esophageal cancer.

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R&D Live: Has 3D Printing Become a Commodity OnDemand

June 1, 2015 1:28 pm | by Tim Studt | Comments

With all of the manufacturing and tooling capabilities, are 3D printers becoming a service-based commodity with all the reticent encumbrances associated with this connotation? Is the technology and its associated materials still advancing at a rapid pace? What are the different capabilities, limitations and applications of the current iterations of 3D printing equipment materials and technologies?

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All shook up for greener chemistry

June 1, 2015 9:57 am | by Dawn Fuller, Univ. of Cincinnati | Comments

Solvent-free chemistry, more common in Europe and Asia, is gaining notice among American manufacturers due to environmental concerns and rising costs in reducing toxic waste. Research out of the Univ. of Cincinnati finds that this sustainable approach to chemistry, while noisier, can be just as reliable for chemical reactions without the drawbacks. Plus, its recycling ability cuts costs on investing in expensive reagents.

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Astronomers make real-time, 3-D movies of plasma tubes drifting overhead

June 1, 2015 8:27 am | by Univ. of Sydney | Comments

By creatively using a radio telescope to see in 3-D, astronomers have detected the existence of tubular plasma structures in the inner layers of the magnetosphere surrounding the Earth. For over 60 years, scientists believed these structures existed, and by imaging them for the first time a Univ. of Sydney team provided visual evidence they are really there.

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Cheetah robot lands the running jump

May 29, 2015 10:56 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

In a leap for robot development, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers who built a robotic cheetah have now trained it to see and jump over hurdles as it runs, making this the first four-legged robot to run and jump over obstacles autonomously. To get a running jump, the robot plans out its path, much like a human runner: As it detects an approaching obstacle, it estimates that object’s height and distance.

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Helping robots put it all together

May 27, 2015 9:28 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Today’s industrial robots are remarkably efficient, as long as they’re in a controlled environment where everything is exactly where they expect it to be. But put them in an unfamiliar setting, where they have to think for themselves, and their efficiency plummets. And the difficulty of on-the-fly motion planning increases exponentially with the number of robots involved.

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Robot masters new skills through trial-and-error

May 22, 2015 10:04 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence. They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks without pre-programmed details about its surroundings.

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Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

May 21, 2015 3:06 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Comments

Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But what if they just dissolved away, or broke down to their molecular components so that the material could be recycled? Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed heat-triggered self-destructing electronic devices, a step toward greatly reducing electronic waste and boosting sustainability in device manufacturing.

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Shape-shifting plastic

May 21, 2015 8:18 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.

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Device captures rare circulating tumor cell clusters

May 21, 2015 7:41 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

The latest version of a microfluidic device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells is the first designed specifically to capture clusters of two or more cells, rather than single cells. The new device, called the Cluster-Chip, was developed by the same Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team that created previous microchip-based devices.

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