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Mantis shrimp inspires new body armor

June 18, 2015 8:15 am | by Sean Nealon, Univ. of California, Riverside | Comments

The mantis shrimp is able to repeatedly pummel the shells of prey using a hammer-like appendage that can withstand rapid-fire blows by neutralizing certain frequencies of “shear waves,” according to new research. The club is made of a composite material containing fibers of chitin, the same substance found in many marine crustacean shells and insect exoskeletons but arranged in a helicoidal structure that resembles a spiral staircase.


Nanorobots swim through blood to deliver drugs

June 18, 2015 7:39 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Someday, treating patients with nanorobots could become standard practice to deliver medicine specifically to parts of the body affected by disease. But merely injecting drug-loaded nanoparticles might not always be enough to get them where they need to go. Now scientists are reporting in Nano Letters the development of new nanoswimmers that can move easily through body fluids to their targets.


Battery uses light to produce power

June 17, 2015 9:10 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

To move the world toward sustainability, scientists are continuing to explore and improve ways to tap the vast power of sunlight to make fuels and generate electricity. Now they have come up with a new way to use light—solar or artificial—to drive battery power safely. Their “photo battery,” reported in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, uses light and titanium nitride for the anode.


New fog chamber provides testing that could improve security cameras

June 17, 2015 8:21 am | by Heather Clark, Sandia National Laboratories | Comments

Fog can play a key role in cloaking military invasions and retreats and the actions of intruders. That’s why physical security experts seek to overcome fog, but it’s difficult to field test security cameras, sensors or other equipment in fog that is often either too thick or too ephemeral. Until now, collecting field test data in foggy environments was time-consuming and costly.


Heartbeat on a chip could improve pharmaceutical tests

June 17, 2015 7:57 am | by Gabe Cherry, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

A gravity-powered chip that can mimic a human heartbeat outside the body could advance pharmaceutical testing and open new possibilities in cell culture because it can mimic fundamental physical rhythms, according to the Univ. of Michigan researchers who developed it.


Amplifying small motions in large motions

June 17, 2015 7:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

For several years now, the research groups of Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors of computer science and engineering William Freeman and Frédo Durand have been investigating techniques for amplifying movements captured by video but indiscernible to the human eye. Versions of their algorithms can make the human pulse visible and even recover intelligible speech from the vibrations of objects filmed through soundproof glass.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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.


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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