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R&D Daily

Nanoparticles cause cancer cells to self-destruct

April 3, 2014 2:04 pm | Comments

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumor cells to "self-destruct" sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to new research.                  

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Researchers open path to finding rare, polarized metals

April 2, 2014 12:31 pm | Comments

Researchers are turning some of the basic tenets of chemistry and physics upside down to cut a trail toward the discovery of a new set of materials. They’re called “polar metals” and, according to many scientific principles, they probably shouldn’t exist.

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Periodic puns: Chemistry jokes in time for April Fools’ Day

April 1, 2014 10:38 am | Comments

It’s April Fools’ Day, and the American Chemical Society’s Reactions video series is celebrating with an episode featuring their favorite chemistry jokes. Which two elements look cute together? Why is father water concerned about his “iced out” son? What do you get when you combine sulfur, tungsten and silver?

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R&D Chat: Sustainability Built In

March 27, 2014 11:34 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Comments

What research lab doesn’t care about a good return on investment for their spending? The last five years has marked an increase in the level of scrutiny applied to projects to assure maximum ROI. The early design process demands greater economic analysis of lifecycle costs to reduce operating and energy costs and optimize environmental performance.

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R&D Chat: Collaborative Laboratory Space

March 20, 2014 7:27 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Comments

Not all outcomes of the recession were negative. As the North American market shrank, the AEC industry saw a significant increase in the number of national and global institutional and private collaborations and people getting creative about funding and seeking partnerships to pool resources.

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Soft robotic fish moves like the real thing

March 13, 2014 8:05 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Soft robots have become a sufficiently popular research topic that they now have their own journal, Soft Robotics. In the first issue of that journal, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report the first self-contained autonomous soft robot capable of rapid body motion: a “fish” that can execute an escape maneuver, convulsing its body to change direction in just a fraction of a second, or almost as quickly as a real fish can.

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R&D Chat: State of Lab Design

March 12, 2014 9:46 am | Comments

In tough economic times, construction projects are often early victims to budget cuts. During the recent recession, research labs were no exception as many lab construction projects were delayed or canceled. However, lab owners and architectural and engineering firms note that the lab construction business is slowly resurging.

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Inventor of Web calls for digital bill of rights

March 12, 2014 8:50 am | Comments

The World Wide Web marks its 25th anniversary this year. On Wednesday, its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, commented about the state of the Internet and about the need to defend principles that have made the Web successful. Named an R&D Scientist of the Year in 1996, Berners-Lee has been a long-time proponent of openness and neutrality on the Web.

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Scientists “herd” cells in new approach to tissue engineering

March 12, 2014 8:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Sometimes it only takes a quick jolt of electricity to get a swarm of cells moving in the right direction. Researchers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley found that an electrical current can be used to orchestrate the flow of a group of cells, an achievement that could establish the basis for more controlled forms of tissue engineering.

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Synthetic biologists shine light on genetic circuit analysis

March 10, 2014 7:56 am | Comments

In a significant advance for the growing field of synthetic biology, Rice Univ. bioengineers have created a toolkit of genes and hardware that uses colored lights and engineered bacteria to bring both mathematical predictability and cut-and-paste simplicity to the world of genetic circuit design.

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Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes

February 27, 2014 1:26 pm | by Bjorn Carey, Stanford Univ. | Comments

For the past 24 years, Mark Z. Jacobson, a prof. of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford Univ., has been developing a complex computer model to study air pollution, energy, weather and climate. A recent application of the model has been to simulate the development of hurricanes. Another has been to determine how much energy wind turbines can extract from global wind currents.

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Battery-free tech brings gesture recognition to all devices

February 27, 2014 12:56 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Univ. of Washington computer scientists have built a low-cost gesture recognition system that runs without batteries and lets users control their electronic devices hidden from sight with simple hand movements. The prototype, called “AllSee,” uses existing TV signals as both a power source and the means for detecting a user’s gesture command.

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Laser tool speeds up detection of Salmonella in food products

February 14, 2014 7:38 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods. Known as BARDOT, the machine scans bacteria colonies and generates a distinct black and white "fingerprint" by which they can be identified. BARDOT takes less than 24 hrs to pinpoint Salmonella.

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Rice’s carbon nanotube fibers outperform copper

February 14, 2014 7:22 am | Comments

On a pound-per-pound basis, carbon nanotube-based fibers invented at Rice Univ. have greater capacity to carry electrical current than copper cables of the same mass, according to new research. While individual nanotubes are capable of transmitting nearly 1,000 times more current than copper, the same tubes coalesced into a fiber using other technologies fail long before reaching that capacity.

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Herding robots

February 12, 2014 7:50 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Writing a program to control a single autonomous robot navigating an uncertain environment with an erratic communication link is hard enough; write one for multiple robots that may or may not have to work in tandem, depending on the task, is even harder. As a consequence, engineers designing control programs for multiagent systems have restricted themselves to special cases. Until now.

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