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Pittcon gears up for 2014

September 27, 2013 | Comments

Pittcon, a leading laboratory science and technical innovation showcase, attracts thousands of conferees from 90 countries visit each year to evaluate new products and technologies, formulate purchase decisions, and form valuable business connections. Conferee registration, is now open for Pittcon 2014, to be held March 2-6, at McCormick Place South, Chicago, Ill.

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R&D Daily

Quenching the world's water and energy crises, one tiny droplet at a time

July 24, 2014 8:40 am | by Sarah Bates, National Science Foundation | Comments

More than a decade ago, news of a Namibian desert beetle’s efficient water collection system inspired engineers to try and reproduce these surfaces in the laboratory. Small-scale advances in fluid physics, materials engineering and nanoscience since that time have brought them close to succeeding. And their work could have impact on a wide range of industries at the macroscale.

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NASA’s Fermi space telescope finds a “transformer” pulsar

July 23, 2014 9:19 am | Comments

In late June 2013, an exceptional binary containing a rapidly spinning neutron star underwent a dramatic change in behavior never before observed. The pulsar's radio beacon vanished, while at the same time the system brightened fivefold in gamma rays, the most powerful form of light, according to measurements by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. It was as if someone flipped a switch on the pulsar.

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Building up bamboo

July 23, 2014 7:46 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Bamboo construction has traditionally been rather straightforward: Entire stalks are used to create latticed edifices, or woven in strips to form wall-sized screens. The effect can be stunning, and also practical in parts of the world where bamboo thrives. But there are limitations to building with bamboo.

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Understanding graphene’s electrical properties on an atomic level

July 22, 2014 7:38 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

Graphene, a material that consists of a lattice of carbon atoms, one atom thick, is widely touted as being the most electrically conductive material ever studied. However, not all graphene is the same. With so few atoms comprising the entirety of the material, the arrangement of each one has an impact on its overall function.

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More than glitter

July 21, 2014 10:35 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

A special class of tiny gold particles can easily slip through cell membranes, making them good candidates to deliver drugs directly to target cells. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology materials scientists reveals that these nanoparticles enter cells by taking advantage of a route normally used in vesicle-vesicle fusion, a crucial process that allows signal transmission between neurons. 

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Nanocamera takes pictures at distances smaller than light’s wavelength

July 18, 2014 7:55 am | by Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated that an array of novel gold, pillar-bowtie nanoantennas (pBNAs) can be used like traditional photographic film to record light for distances that are much smaller than the wavelength of light (for example, distances less than ~600 nm for red light). A standard optical microscope acts as a “nanocamera” whereas the pBNAs are the analogous film.

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Getting a grip on robotic grasp

July 18, 2014 7:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Twisting a screwdriver, removing a bottle cap and peeling a banana are just a few simple tasks that are tricky to pull off single handedly. Now a new wrist-mounted robot can provide a helping hand—or rather, fingers. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a robot that enhances the grasping motion of the human hand.

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Making a mental match: Pairing a mechanical device with stroke patients

July 17, 2014 9:36 am | by Jason Maderer, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

The repetitive facilitation exercise is one of the most common rehabilitation tactics for stroke patients attempting to regain wrist movement. Stroke hemiparesis individuals are not able to move that part of their body because they cannot create a strong enough neural signal that travels from the brain to the wrist.

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Cell membrane proteins give up their secrets

July 17, 2014 8:03 am | Comments

Biological physicists at Rice Univ. have succeeded in analyzing transmembrane protein folding in the same way they study the proteins’ free-floating, globular cousins. They have applied energy landscape theory to proteins that are hard to view because they are inside cell membranes. The method should increase the technique’s value to researchers who study proteins implicated in diseases and possibly in the creation of drugs to treat them.

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Researchers develop simple procedure to obtain nanosized graphene

July 16, 2014 9:34 am | Comments

A team including scientists from Spain and from IBM Research in Switzerland have published work which describes an extremely simple method to obtain high quality nanographenes from easily available organic compounds. This method is based on the reactivity of a group of molecules named arynes, which can act as "molecular glue" to paste graphene fragments together.

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Entomology research fights mosquitoes with mosquitoes

July 15, 2014 4:58 pm | Comments

Researchers in Kentucky have developed a technology that uses male mosquitoes to effectively sterilize females through a naturally occurring bacterium. Called MosquitoMate, the new technology has been issued an experimental use permit for open field releases targeting the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, which is a vector for newly introduced pathogens like the Chikungunya virus.

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Phase-changing material could allow robots to switch between hard and soft states

July 14, 2014 7:35 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | Comments

In the movie “Terminator 2,” the shape-shifting T-1000 robot morphs into a liquid state to squeeze through tight spaces or to repair itself when harmed. Now a phase-changing material built from wax and foam, and capable of switching between hard and soft states, could allow even low-cost robots to perform the same feat.

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Virtual crowds produce real behavior insights

July 8, 2014 7:55 pm | Comments

A Brown Univ. group has developed a wireless virtual reality system to study a phenomenon that scientists don’t yet understand: How pedestrians interact with each other and how those individual behaviors, in turn, generate patterns of crowd movement. The system, which uses motion capture technology can immerse up to four people in a carefully controlled, realistic virtual crowd.

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TransWall: KAIST’s two-sided, transparent touchscreen

July 8, 2014 1:01 pm | Comments

Researchers in Korea have been working to perfect their two-sided, touchable, transparent display technology called TransWall. Featuring an incorporated surface transducer, TransWall provides audio and vibrotactile feedback to users, enabling people to see, hear, or even touch other people through the wall while enjoying gaming and interpersonal communication.

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The chemistry of fireworks: Fourth of July science

July 2, 2014 3:56 pm | Comments

The Fourth of July means millions of Americans will soon enjoy eye-popping fireworks displays around the country. These dazzling light shows are actually carefully crafted chemical reactions. A Reactions video from the American Chemical Society this week features John Conkling, Ph.D., the professor who literally wrote the book on pyrotechnics. In the video, Conkling explains the chemistry that creates those amazing fireworks displays.

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