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R&D Daily

Hitchhiking nanotubes show how cells stir themselves

May 30, 2014 7:50 am | Comments

A team of researchers has successfully tracked single molecules inside living cells with carbon nanotubes. Through this new method, the researchers found that cells stir their interiors using the same motor proteins that serve in muscle contraction. The study, which sheds new light on biological transport mechanisms in cells, appears in Science.

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Bake your own robot

May 30, 2014 7:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

At this year’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, a research team introduced a new wrinkle on the idea of printable robots: bakable robots. In two new papers, the researchers demonstrate the promise of printable robotic components that, when heated, automatically fold into prescribed 3-D configurations.

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Researchers target brain circuitry to treat intractable mental disorders

May 28, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Neuroscientists, engineers and physicians are teaming up for an ambitious five-year, $26 million project to develop new techniques for tackling mental illness. By using devices implanted in the brain, they aim to target and correct malfunctioning neural circuits in conditions such as clinical depression, addiction and anxiety disorders.

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Engineer invents safe way to transfer energy to medical chips in the body

May 22, 2014 11:43 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Comments

A Stanford Univ. electrical engineer has invented a way to wirelessly transfer power deep inside the body, and then use this power to run tiny electronic medical gadgets such as pacemakers, nerve stimulators or new sensors and devices yet to be developed. The discoveriesculminate years of efforts to eliminate the bulky batteries and clumsy recharging systems that prevent medical devices from being more widely used.

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Robots transform into furniture at EPFL

May 21, 2014 2:26 pm | Comments

Scientists from the Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB) at EPFL in Switzerland have developed small robotic modules that can change their shape to create reconfigurable furniture. Like Lego bricks, these robotic pieces, or Roombots, can be stacked upon each other to create various structures. Each piece has three motors that allow the module to pivot with three degrees of freedom, and each also has a battery and wireless connection.

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Illuminating neuron activity in 3-D

May 19, 2014 10:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Vienna have created an imaging system that reveals neural activity throughout the brains of living animals. This technique, the first that can generate 3-D movies of entire brains at the millisecond timescale, could help scientists discover how neuronal networks process sensory information and generate behavior.

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Watching HIV bud from cells

May 19, 2014 8:09 am | by Lee J. Siegel, Science News Specialist, Univ. of Utah | Comments

Univ. of Utah researchers devised a way to watch newly forming AIDS virus particles emerging or “budding” from infected human cells without interfering with the process. The method shows a protein named ALIX gets involved during the final stages of virus replication, not earlier, as was believed previously.

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Glasses-free 3-D projector

May 16, 2014 7:49 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Over the past three years, researchers in the Camera Culture group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab have steadily refined a design for a glasses-free, multi-perspective, 3-D video screen, which they hope could provide a cheaper, more practical alternative to holographic video in the short term.

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NASA Langley workshop: Engineered materials for adhesion or abhesion

May 15, 2014 10:43 am | Comments

Scientists at NASA Langley Research Center have developed a new material technology that alters a surface’s topography and chemistry to promote or mitigate adhesion. LaRC is holding a workshop and meeting on May 22 that explains how these newly available materials work to enhance or remove adhesion. Manufacturers and developers are welcome to attend.

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Implanted devices may reshape medicine

May 14, 2014 8:19 am | Comments

Researchers from The Univ. of Texas at Dallas and the Univ. of Tokyo have created electronic devices that become soft when implanted inside the body and can deploy to grip 3-D objects, such as large tissues, nerves and blood vessels. These biologically adaptive, flexible transistors might one day help doctors learn more about what is happening inside the body, and stimulate the body for treatments.

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High-tech peg measures palsy patients’ dexterity

May 14, 2014 7:31 am | Comments

It looks like a game board and many of its users will find it fun, but there’s serious intent behind a device by Rice Univ. students to test the abilities of cerebral palsy patients. At the heart of the DeXcellence platform is a small peg comfortable enough for a three-year-old to hold. But packed inside are enough electronics to tell a nearby computer, tablet or other Bluetooth-enabled device of how the cylinder is moving in space.

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A hydrogel that knows when to go

May 7, 2014 7:34 am | Comments

Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a hydrogel that instantly turns from liquid to semisolid at close to body temperature—and then degrades at precisely the right pace. The gel shows potential as a bioscaffold to support the regrowth of bone and other 3-D tissues in a patient’s body using the patient’s own cells to seed the process.

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Students’ energy invention is really out there

May 1, 2014 8:26 am | Comments

Rice Univ. engineering students think it’s a shame to waste energy, especially in space. So a team of seniors invented a device that turns excess heat into electricity. Heat created by electronics onboard the International Space Station (ISS) now gets tossed overboard into the void. But new technology to turn heat into power would make it possible to put it back to work to run the myriad systems onboard.

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Featured R&D 100 winner: Livermore’s movie-mode electron microscope

April 30, 2014 9:13 am | Comments

In 2010 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory introduced a new type of electron microscope that could study structural dynamics in condensed matter with the help of a nanosecond laser “pump” that could capture images. In 2013, the laboratory won another R&D 100 Award for speeding up this process more than 100,000 times, resulting in a “movie-mode” version of the instrument.

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3-D printer builds 10 houses in one day

April 29, 2014 7:46 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Comments

WinSun, a private company located in eastern China, has printed 10 full-size houses using a 3-D printer in the space of a day. The process utilizes quick-drying cement and construction water to build the walls layer-by-layer. The company used a system of four 10-m-by-6.6-m-high printers with multi-directional sprays to create the houses.

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