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Honeycomb-inspired design delivers superior protection from impact

June 16, 2015 8:32 am | by Ashley Lindstrom, Univ. of Texas at Austin | Comments

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have developed a groundbreaking new energy-absorbing structure to better withstand blunt and ballistic impact. The technology, called negative stiffness honeycombs, can be integrated into car bumpers, military and athletic helmets and other protective hardware.

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Theory turns to reality for nonlinear optical metamaterials

June 16, 2015 7:46 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

A research team has realized one of the long-standing theoretical predictions in nonlinear optical metamaterials: creation of a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. Such a material, which doesn’t exist naturally, had been predicted for nearly a decade.

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World’s thinnest light bulb

June 15, 2015 11:25 am | by Columbia Univ. | Comments

Led by Young Duck Kim, a postdoctoral research scientist in James Hone’s group at Columbia Engineering, a team of scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, an on-chip visible light source using graphene as a filament. They attached small strips of graphene to metal electrodes, suspended the strips above the substrate, and passed a current through the filaments to cause them to heat up.

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Setting the circadian clock

June 15, 2015 7:46 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Comments

Often referred to as the "body clock", circadian rhythm controls what time of day people are most alert, hungry, tired or physically primed due to a complex biological process that is not unique to humans. Circadian rhythms, which oscillate over a roughly 24–hr cycle in adaptation to the Earth's rotation, have been observed in most living things on the planet, and are responsible for regulating many aspects of organisms' functions.

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Grinding nanotubes to get nanoribbons

June 15, 2015 7:26 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

A simple way to turn carbon nanotubes into valuable graphene nanoribbons may be to grind them, according to research led by Rice Univ. The trick, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, is to mix two types of chemically modified nanotubes. When they come into contact during grinding, they react and unzip, a process that until now has depended largely on reactions in harsh chemical solutions.

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Centimeter-long origami robot

June 15, 2015 7:18 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers presented a printable origami robot that folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic when heated and measures about a centimeter from front to back. Weighing only a third of a gram, the robot can swim, climb an incline, traverse rough terrain and carry a load twice its weight.

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Body’s response to spicy foods guides design of pain relief drugs

June 10, 2015 7:42 am | by Carole Gan, Univ. of California, Davis | Comments

Univ. of California, Davis, researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin to activate the body’s primary receptor for sensing heat and pain, paving the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain. Capsaicin is the ingredient that makes chili peppers spicy and hot.

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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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