Triggered Immune Cells Attack Cancer

Stanford researchers accidentally discovered that iron nanoparticles invented for anemia treatment have another use: triggering the immune system’s ability to destroy tumor cellsIron nanoparticles can activate the immune system to attack cancer cells, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The nanoparticles, which are commercially available as the injectable iron supplement ferumoxytol, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat iron deficiency anemia.

The mouse study found that ferumoxytol prompts immune cells called tumor-associated macrophages to destroy cancer cells, suggesting that the nanoparticles could complement existing cancer treatments.

macrophages-attack-cancerA mouse study found that ferumoxytol prompts immune cells called tumor-associated macrophages to destroy tumor cells.

It was really surprising to us that the nanoparticles activated macrophages so that they started to attack cancer cells in mice,” said Heike Daldrup-Link, MD, who is the study’s senior author and an associate professor of radiology at the School of Medicine. “We think this concept should hold in human patients, too.

The study showed that the iron nanoparticles switch the macrophages back to their cancer-attacking state, as evidenced by tracking the products of the macrophages’ metabolism and examining their patterns of gene expression.

Furthermore, in a mouse model of breast cancer, the researchers demonstrated that the ferumoxytol inhibited tumor growth when given in doses, adjusted for body weight, similar to those approved by the FDA for anemia treatment.

Daldrup-Link’s team conducted an experiment that used three groups of mice: an experimental group that got nanoparticles loaded with chemo, a control group that got nanoparticles without chemo and a control group that got neither. The researchers made the unexpected observation that the growth of the tumors in control animals that got nanoparticles only was suppressed compared with the other controls.

The discovery, described in a paper published online in Nature Nanotechnology, was made by accident while testing whether the nanoparticles could serve as Trojan horses by sneaking chemotherapy into tumors in mice.
Source: http://med.stanford.edu/

Acidity In Atmosphere Produced By Industries Has Vanished

New r

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark) have shown that human pollution of the atmosphere with acid is now almost back to the level that it was before the pollution started with industrialisation in the 1930s.  The Greenland ice sheet is a unique archive of the climate and atmospheric composition far back in time. The ice sheet is made up of snow that falls and never melts, but rather remains year after year and is gradually compressed into ice. By drilling ice cores down through the kilometre-thick ice sheet, the researchers can analyse every single annual layer, which can tell us about past climate change and concentration of greenhouse gases and pollutants in the atmosphere.

Acid in the atmosphere can come from large volcanic eruptions and manmade emissions from industry. You can measure acidity in the ice by simply passing an instrument that can measure conductivity over the ice core. If there is a high level of acidity, the measurement turns out and it works great for measuring the climate of the past all the way back to the last interglacial period 125,000 years ago. But if you want to measure atmospheric acidity for the last 100 years, it is more difficult as the annual layers are located in the uppermost 60 metres and there the ice is more porous as it has not yet been compressed into hard ice. But the last 100 years are interesting for climate researchers as it is the period where we have had massive pollution of the atmosphere from industrialisation, vehicle use and people’s energy consuming lifestyles.

banquiseWe have therefore developed a new method that can directly measure the acidity of the ice using a spectrometer. We have an ice rod that is cut along the length of the ice core. This ice core rod is slowly melted and the meltwater runs into a laboratory where they take a lot of chemical measurements. With our new method you can also measure the acidity, that is to say, we measure the pH value and this is seen when the water changes colour after the addition of a pH dye. We can directly see the fluctuations from year to year,” explains Helle Astrid Kjær, postdoc in the Centre for Ice and Climate at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen.

The results come from studies of the Greenland ice sheet and are published in the scientific journal, Environmental Science and Technology.

Source: http://news.ku.dk/

Electric Train: Bye Bye Diesel, Hello Pure Air !

The French company Alstom has presented its zero-emission train at InnoTrans, the railway industry’s largest trade fair (Berlin September 2016). Despite numerous electrification projects in several countries, a significant part of Europe’s rail network will remain non-electrified in the long term. In many countries, the number of diesel trains in circulation is still high – more than 4,000 cars in Germany, for instance.

Coradia iLint from Alstom is a new CO2-emission-free regional train and alternative to diesel power. It is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, its only emission being steam and condensed water while operating with a low level of noise. Alstom is among the first railway manufacturers in the world to develop a passenger train based on such a technology. To make the deployment of the Coradia iLint as simple as possible for operators, Alstom offers a complete package, consisting of the train and maintenance, as well as also the whole hydrogen infrastructure out of one hand thanks to help from partners.

Alstom expects to sign a firm order for a production build of hydrogen fuel cell powered multiple-units by the end of the year, Coradia LINT Product Manager Stefan Schrank told Railway Gazette on September 20.

The expected initial firm order would cover units for service in Nordrhein-Westfalen. Alstom has already signed letters of intent with four German Länder covering a total of 60 trainsets, and anticipates firm orders for between 40 and 70 units by the end of 2017. Schrank was speaking at InnoTrans following the unveiling of the first of two pre-production iLINT fuel cell multiple-units which are to be tested on regional services around Hannover under an agreement with the Land of Niedersachsen. The two pre-production units are owned by Alstom, which plans to conduct testing throughout 2017, including at the Velim test circuit. Type approval from Germany’s Federal Railway Office is expected by the end of 2017, enabling the start of trial passenger running around Hannover in late 2017 or early 2018.

alstom-hydrogen-electric-train

The fuel cell trainsets have the same bodies, bogies and drive equipment as the conventional diesels, and the two units will directly replace two diesel units to provide a real-world comparison of performance.

The hydrogen tanks and fuel cells are mounted on the car roofs, with the tanks carrying 94 kg of hydrogen per car, enough for around one day or 700 km of operation. The fuel cells were supplied by Hydrogenics, after Alstom took a decision to partner with an experienced specialist rather than develop its own technology. The fuel cells are linked to lithium ion batteries from Akasol.

Alstom anticipates that operating costs will be comparable to diesel units. The environmental footprint of the trainsets will depend on how the hydrogen is produced; under Germany’s current electricity generating mix and electrolysis produces an unfavourable comparison to diesel, but the generating mix predicted for 2020 would make the hydrogen greener, Schrank said.

He sees a bright future for fuel cells, which he believes have now reached a comparable level of development to diesel engines 100 years ago.

Source: http://www.railwaygazette.com/

SuperRobot Arm Drone

Japanese company Prodrone has released what it calls “the world’s first dual robot arm large-format drone“, with the ability to carry heavy objects and perform detailed tasks. The PD6B-AW-ARM drone weighs 20 kilograms and can carry objects with a maximum weight of 10 kilograms. It can fly for up to 30 minutes, with a maximum forward speed of 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour), and has a maximum operating altitude of 5,000 meters (16,404 feet).

prodroneCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

The PD6B-AW-ARM, a large-format drone equipped with two internally-developed robotic arms, enabling it to directly accomplish a variety of tasksProdrone, headquartered in Nagoya, Japan, has developed a wide range of commercial and industrial drones through development agreements with numerous industrial drone companies.

Examples of these operations include the abilities to grasp and carry differently shaped cargo using its arms; to attach or join things; to cut cables; to turn dials; to flick switches; to drop lifesaving buoys; to retrieve hazardous materials, etc. Drones must be able to perform a variety of operations at high altitudes, over long distances, and in places where it would be too dangerous for humans.

Up to now the industrial and commercial drone market has focused on using drones for photography and filming, mapping, surveying, spraying pesticides, etc., but there is increasingly strong demand for drones to be able to directly perform specific “hands-on” operations.

Source: http://news.asiaone.com/
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https://www.prodrone.jp/

Algorithm Replicates Perfectly Your Handwriting

In a world increasingly dominated by the QWERTY keyboard, computer scientists from University College London (UCL) have developed software which may spark the comeback of the handwritten word by analysing the handwriting of any individual and accurately replicating it.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEOcomputer-program-replicates-handwriting

The scientists have created ‘My Text in Your Handwriting’, a programme which semi-automatically examines a sample of a person’s handwriting, which can be as little as one paragraph, and generates new text saying whatever the user wishes, as if the author had handwritten it themselves. “Our software has lots of valuable applications. Stroke victims, for example, may be able to formulate letters without the concern of illegibility, or someone sending flowers as a gift could include a handwritten note without even going into the florist. It could also be used in comic books where a piece of handwritten text can be translated into different languages without losing the author’s original style”, said First author, Dr Tom Haines (UCL Computer Science).

Co-author, Dr Oisin Mac Aodha (UCL Computer Science), adds: “Up until now, the only way to produce computer-generated text that resembles a specific person’s handwriting would be to use a relevant font. The problem with such fonts is that it is often clear that the text has not been penned by hand, which loses the character and personal touch of a handwritten piece of text. What we’ve developed removes this problem and so could be used in a wide variety of commercial and personal circumstances.”

Published in ACM Transactions on Graphics, the machine learning algorithm is built around glyphs – a specific instance of a character.

Source: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

New Drug Reduces Osteoporosis dramatically

Felicia Cosman, MD, an endocrinologist at Helen Hayes Hospital Regional Bone Center in West Haverstraw, New York, and professor of medicine at Columbia University, and colleagues performed a prespecified subgroup analysis of data from 2,463 postmenopausal women with osteoporosis (aged 49-86 years; mean age, 69 years) enrolled in the phase 3 ACTIVE trial. Participants were randomly assigned 80 g subcutaneous abaloparatide (n = 824) or placebo (n = 821), or open-label 20 g subcutaneous teriparatide (n = 818).

osteoporosis
At 18 months, participants assigned abaloparatide had a 9.2% increase in Bone Mass Measurement (BMD) from baseline at the lumbar spine, 3.4 % at the total hip,  3.4% and 2.9% at the femoral neck compared with placebo. Morphometric vertebral fractures were reduced by 86%, nonvertebral fractures by 43% and major osteoporotic fractures by 70% in the abaloparatide group compared to placebo. Compared with teriparatide, major osteoporotic fractures were reduced by 55% in the aloparatide group.
Reductions in new morphometric vertebral and nonvertebral fractures were similar across subgroups, as were increases in BMD, and researchers observed no meaningful interactions between baseline risk factor subgroups and treatment effects. “Our findings suggest that abaloparatide-SC, if approved, has the potential to provide consistent protection against fractures and to increase BMD in a broad group of postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, regardless of baseline age, BMD or prior fracture history,” Cosman said.

http://www.healio.com/

Mapping The Tooth Enamel At The Atomic Scale

Material and structures engineers worked with dentists and bioengineers to map the exact composition and structure of tooth enamel at the atomic scale. Using a relatively new microscopy technique called atom probe tomography, their work produced the first-ever three-dimensional maps showing the positions of atoms critical in the decay process. The new knowledge on atom composition at the nanolevel has the potential to aid oral health hygiene and caries prevention, and has been published today in the journal Science Advances.

smiling-with-teeth

The dental professionals have known that certain trace ions are important in the tough structure of tooth enamel but until now it had been impossible to map the ions in detail. The structure of human tooth enamel is extremely intricate and while we have known that magnesium, carbonate and fluoride ions influence enamel properties scientists have never been able to capture its structure at a high enough resolution or definition“, said Professor Julie Cairney, Material and Structures Engineer in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, University of Sidney, Australia.

The dental professionals have known that certain trace ions are important in the tough structure of tooth enamel but until now it had been impossible to map the ions in detail. “The structure of human tooth enamel is extremely intricate and while we have known that magnesium, carbonate and fluoride ions influence enamel properties scientists have never been able to capture its structure at a high enough resolution or definition.”“What we have found are the magnesium-rich regions between the hydroxyapatite nanorods that make up the enamel”, she comments. “This means we have the first direct evidence of the existence of a proposed amorphous magnesium-rich calcium phosphate phase that plays an essential role in governing the behaviour of teeth “.

We were also able to see nanoscale ‘clumps’ of organic material, which indicates that proteins and peptides are heterogeneously distributed within the enamel rather than present along all the nanorod interfaces, which was what was previously suggested”, adds  co-lead researcher on the study, Dr Alexandre La Fontaine from the University’s Australian Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis . “The mapping has the potential for new treatments designed around protecting against the dissolution of this specific amorphous phase. “The new understanding of how enamel forms will also help in tooth remineralisation research.”

Source: http://sydney.edu.au/

Graphene Audio Speakers

Graphene has been hailed as a wonder material since it was first made more than a decade ago. It’s showing up in an increasing number of products, including coatings, sports equipment and even light bulbs. Now scientists are one step closer to making graphene audio speakers for mobile devices. They report in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces a simple way to fabricate once-elusive thermoacoustic speakers using the ultra-thin material.

graphene-speakers

Conventional speakers today rely on many mechanical parts that vibrate to create sound and must be encased in an acoustic cavity — essentially, in a box. But this approach complicates manufacturing and limits where listeners can put their speakers. Scientists have been pursuing ways around this by turning to a principle conceived of more than a century ago: thermoacoustics, the production of sound by rapidly heating and cooling a material rather than through vibrations. Science has caught up to this concept largely thanks to the development of graphene, which is highly conductive and durable. Some efforts to make graphene speakers have succeeded, but making them en masse would be challenging. Jung-Woo Choi, Byungjin Cho, Sang Ouk Kim and colleagues at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) wanted to come up with a simpler approach.

The researchers developed a two-step (freeze-drying and reduction/doping) method for making a sound-emitting graphene aerogel. An array of 16 of these aerogels comprised a speaker that could operate on 40 Watts of power with a sound quality comparable to that of other graphene-based sound systems. The researchers say their fabrication method is practical and could lend itself to mass production for use in mobile devices and other applications. Because the speaker is thin and doesn’t vibrate, it could fit snugly against walls and even curved surfaces.

Source: https://www.acs.org/

Robots Can Speak Like Real Humans

Generating speech from a piece of text is a common and important task undertaken by computers, but it’s pretty rare that the result could be mistaken for ordinary speech. A new technique from researchers at Alphabet’s DeepMind  (Google) takes a completely different approach, producing speech and even music that sounds eerily like the real thing.

robot-terminator

Early systems used a large library of the parts of speech (phonemes and morphemes) and a large ruleset that described all the ways letters combined to produce those sounds. The pieces were joined, or concatenated, creating functional speech synthesis that can handle most words, albeit with unconvincing cadence and tone. Later systems parameterized the generation of sound, making a library of speech fragments unnecessary. More compact — but often less effective.

WaveNet, as the system is called, takes things deeper. It simulates the sound of speech at as low a level as possible: one sample at a time. That means building the waveform from scratch16,000 samples per second.

milliwavenetEach dot is a separately calculated sample; the aggregate is the digital waveform.

You already know from the headline, but if you don’t, you probably would have guessed what makes this possible: neural networks. In this case, the researchers fed a ton of ordinary recorded speech to a convolutional neural network, which created a complex set of rules that determined which tones follow other tones in every common context of speech.

Each sample is determined not just by the sample before it, but the thousands of samples that came before it. They all feed into the neural network’s algorithm; it knows that certain tones or samples will almost always follow each other, and certain others will almost never. People don’t speak in square waves, for instance.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/tone

Nanotechnology Fights Malignant Melanoma

Changes in the genetic make-up of tissue samples can be detected quickly and easily using a new method based on nanotechnology. This report researchers from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Basel and the University Hospital Basel in first clinical tests with genetic mutations in patients with malignant melanoma. According to estimates by the American Skin Cancer Foundation, today more people develop skin cancer than breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer together.
Although malignant melanoma accounts for only about 5 percent of skin cancers, these are the most serious cases and can result in death. Around half of all patients who develop malignant melanoma exhibit a particular genetic change (mutation). This involves a change in the BRAF gene (B gene for Rapid Acceleration of Fibrosarcoma) that leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation. There are now drugs that exploit these specific mutations and fight the cancer, significantly extending patients’ life expectancy. However, they work only if the corresponding genetic mutation is actually present. Where it is not, they give rise to severe side effects without producing the desired effect.

melanoma

It is therefore essential that we are able to identify the mutations reliably in tissue samples. That is the only way of ensuring that patients get the right treatment and successful outcomes,” explains the paper’s co-author, Professor Katharina Glatz of the Institute of Pathology at University Hospital Basel.

The journal Nano Letters has published the study.

 Source: https://www.unibas.ch/

Stem Cells May Heal Horse Injuries

Researchers are fine-tuning the use of adult stem cells to treat horse injuries. Bomaneer thrives on competition. But now the 10-year-old Dutch warmblood’s dreams of dressage glory are in limbo. “We think he may have gotten his hoof stuck in a fence and pulling it out may have sustained the injury“, says Eizabeth Thierot, owner of Bonameer DG.
The injury is a meniscus tear – and it could mean Bonameer‘s competition days are over. But both his owner and his doctor think Bonameer‘s chances of a full recovery are pretty good – thanks in part to a stem cell therapy treatment. Two weeks ago mesenchymal stem cells were drawn out of Bonameer‘s bone marrow and then cultured in a lab. These types of adult stem cells have the ability to rapidly divide and generate tissue cells….. and that is what doctors hope will happen when they are injected back into the location of Bonameer‘s injury.

horseCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

So the hope is that the cells will go into that environment wherever the injury is and whatever that environment dictates, if there are dying cells, it will help rescue those. If there is damaged meniscus, it will help generate that. So based on the environment and the function, what’s going on in that structure, whether it be a joint tendon or ligament those cells will help heal that. Ultimately that’s the goal, to restore function“, says Dr. Larry Galuppo, Professor of Equine Surgery, University of California, Davis.

Guided by an ultrasound scan – the stem cells are injected into Bonameer. The results of the treatment will take time. And even if Bonameer doesn’t heal completely, Hess still playing an important role towards figuring out what the future of stem cell therapy will be for horses.  “We’re still in that clinical trial phase where we are still learning about what is the right dose, how many times we should treat, what injury respond best. So we are just in the beginning in trying to figure out what are the benefits of stem cell therapy.” Elizabeth Thieriot thinks Bonameer will heal and she is willing to give him as much time as he needs.”Our bond is more than just he is my competition horse. Its a life long journey for both of us“, she comments… A journey that will hopefully see Elizabeth and Bonameer back in competition soon.

Source: http://www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/

Nanocomputer: Carbon Nanotube Transistors Outperform Silicon

For decades, scientists have tried to harness the unique properties of carbon nanotubes to create high-performance electronics that are faster or consume less power — resulting in longer battery life, faster wireless communication and faster processing speeds for devices like smartphones and laptops. But a number of challenges have impeded the development of high-performance transistors made of carbon nanotubes, tiny cylinders made of carbon just one atom thick. Consequently, their performance has lagged far behind semiconductors such as silicon and gallium arsenide used in computer chips and personal electronics.

Now, for the first time, University of Wisconsin–Madison materials engineers have created carbon nanotube transistors that outperform state-of-the-art silicon transistors. Led by Michael Arnold and Padma Gopalan, UW–Madison professors of materials science and engineering, the team’s carbon nanotube transistors achieved current that’s 1.9 times higher than silicon transistors. The researchers reported their advance in a paper published in the journal Science Advances.

carbon nanotube integrated circuits

This achievement has been a dream of nanotechnology for the last 20 years,” says Arnold. “Making carbon nanotube transistors that are better than silicon transistors is a big milestone. This breakthrough in carbon nanotube transistor performance is a critical advance toward exploiting carbon nanotubes in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies.”

This advance could pave the way for carbon nanotube transistors to replace silicon transistors and continue delivering the performance gains the computer industry relies on and that consumers demand. The new transistors are particularly promising for wireless communications technologies that require a lot of current flowing across a relatively small area.

Source: http://news.wisc.edu/

Nanoparticles From Car Pollution May Trigger Alzheimer’s

Tiny magnetic particles produced by car engines and brakes can travel into the human brain and may trigger Alzheimer’s disease, scientists have warned. Researchers at Lancaster, Oxford and Manchester Universities discovered microscopic  spheres of the mineral magnetite in the brains of 37 people in Manchester and Mexico who had suffered neurodegenerative disease. The mineral magnetite is known to be toxic and is linked to the production of free radicals which are associated with Alzheimer’s Disease.

car-gas-pollution

Although magnetite has previously been found in the brains of people who had died of Alzheimer’s disease, it was thought it occurred naturally. However the tiny balls spotted by the scientists had a fused surface suggesting they had been formed during extreme heat, such as in a car engineMagnetite – a form of iron oxide – is known to be produced in car engines – particularly diesel engines which can emit up to 22 times more particulates than petrol engines – as well as when brakes are used, both by cars and trains. It can also be produced by open fires and poorly fitted stoves. Researchers said the findings opened up a ‘whole new avenue‘ into the causes of Alzheimer’s disease, while charities said it offered ‘convincing evidence‘ that the toxic particles could get into the brain. “The particles we found are strikingly similar to magnetite nanospheres that are abundant in the airborne pollution found in urban settings, especially next to busy roads and which are firmed by combustion or frictional heating from vehicle engines or brakes.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Water Repellent Spray Coating

Scientists at The Australian National University (ANU) have developed a new spray-on material with a remarkable ability to repel water. The new protective coating could eventually be used to waterproof mobile phones, prevent ice from forming on aeroplanes or protect boat hulls from corroding.

water-repellent-coating-2

The surface is a layer of nanoparticles, which water slides off as if it’s on a hot barbecue,” said PhD student William Wong, from the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory at the ANU Research School of Engineering. The team created a much more robust coating than previous materials by combining two plastics, one tough and one flexible.

It’s like two interwoven fishing nets, made of different materials,” Mr Wong said. The water-repellent or superhydrophobic coating is also transparent and extremely resistant to ultraviolet radiation. Lead researcher and head of the Nanotechnology Research Laboratory, Associate Professor Antonio Tricoli, said the new material could change how we interact with liquids“It will keep skyscraper windows clean and prevent the mirror in the bathroom from fogging up,” Associate Professor Tricoli said. “The key innovation is that this transparent coating is able to stabilise very fragile nanomaterials resulting in ultra-durable nanotextures with numerous real-world applications.”

The team developed two ways of creating the material, both of which are cheaper and easier than current manufacturing processes. One method uses a flame to generate the nanoparticle constituents of the material. For lower temperature applications, the team dissolved the two components in a sprayable form. In addition to waterproofing, the new ability to control the properties of materials could be applied to a wide range of other coatings, said Mr Wong. “A lot of the functional coatings today are very weak, but we will be able to apply the same principles to make robust coatings that are, for example, anti-corrosive, self-cleaning or oil-repellent,” he said.

The research is published in ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2016, 8, 13615−13623.

Source: http://www.anu.edu.au/

How Anthrax Toxin Kills Tumors

Over the past decades, researchers have become particularly interested in the idea of hijacking the cell-killing capacity of bacterial toxins to target tumor cells. So far, engineered toxins from Pseudomonas, anthrax toxin, and ricin showed promising results in treating tumors in mice. But the mechanism of action of these toxins remains elusive. Now a new study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science sheds light on tumor proteins used by Bacillus anthracis to kill tumors.

anthrax-tumorModified anthrax toxin specifically targets the tumor vasculature to exert anti-tumor effects

As we worked more and more on anthrax toxin, we discovered, along with others, features of it that made it attractive as another bacterial protein toxin that could be redirected for curing cancer,” said Stephen Leppla from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, senior author of the study.

Anthrax toxin has three sub-components that assemble within host cells before exerting their toxicity. PA, the cell-binding component of anthrax toxin, interacts with two cell surface proteins: tumor endothelium-marker 8 (TEM8) and capillary morphogenesis protein-2 (CMG2).

Finding that anthrax toxin specifically acts on tumor vasculature is particularly promising, given the stability of tumor endothelial cells compared to mutation-prone stromal cells. Anthrax toxin could thus be used to treat widely different tumors. “We would like to get to phase I human trials,” said Leppla. “We have collaborators who are testing our reagents in both cats and dogs who also get cancer but don’t have good treatment options. We’re hoping that this will provide further evidence that these reagents are effective.

Source: http://www.biotechniques.com/

Implanted Neural Nanocomputers To Boost Failing Human Brains

As neural implants become more and more advanced, researchers think humans may be able to overcome diseases and defects like strokes and dementia with the help of nanocomputers in our brains.

With the forecasted inevitable rise of the machines — be they robots or artificial intelligences — humans are beginning to realize that they should work to maintain superiority. There are a few ideas about how we should do it, but perhaps the most promising option is to go full cyborg. (What could possibly go wrong?) On Monday, a company called Kernel, announced that it would be leading the charge.

Active_brain

The idea is something straight out of dorm room pot-smoking sessions. What if, the exhaling sophomore muses, we put computers inside our brains? Unfortunately for prospective stoner-scientists, the actual creation of such a device — a functioning, cognitive-enhancing neural implant — has long evaded bioengineers and neuroscientists alike.

Kernel thinks it’s past time to make real progress. Theodore Berger runs the Univerity of Southern California’s Center for Neural Engineering, and he caught the eye of Bryan Johnson, a self-made multimillionaire who’s obsessed with augmenting human intelligence. With Johnson’s entrepreneurial money and Berger’s scientific brain, the two launched Kernel.
For now, Berger and Johnson are focusing on achievable goals with immediate impacts. They are creating an analogous human neural implant that can mitigate cognitive decline in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and the aftereffects of strokes, concussions, and other brain injuries or neurological diseases. If Kernel is able to replicate even the 10 percent cognitive improvement that Berger demonstrated in monkeys, those who suffer from these cognitive disorders will be that much more capable of forming memories and living out enjoyable lives.

Source: https://www.inverse.com/

Solar Tents in Malawi Boost Sources Of Nutrition

Traders in southern Malawi could soon have bigger fish to fry. A low-tech solar tent made from polythene stretched over a wooden frame is being used to dry fish more efficiently. Fish traders say it helps prolong the shelf life of the catch and fetches a higher price at market.

solar tentsCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

I can tell you that I am a very happy and thankful woman because of this solar dryer project“, says Jennifer Mussa, fish trader.
Agricultural innovation fund Cultivate Africa’s Future is encouraging traders to improve processing methods. Fishing employs over 50,000 and is a crucial source of nutrition in Malawi, but 40 percent of fish is lost during processing.

So it reduces the amount of time that the fish processors would take to dry it. It also prevents loss of the fish due to predation… some birds and what have you and dust. And ideally it does increase the quality of fish“, comments fisheries expert Dr. Mangani Katundu. Fish here is mostly processed through solar drying, frying or smoking. The Australian-Canadian fund is also encouraging the use of energy saving kilns for smoking.

This method is effective and is a simpler way to smoke fish. We are using very little wood and it takes a short time to smoke lots of fish as you can see here“, adds Loveness Mphongo, fish trader.  The new methods are expected to help reduce the losses and boost incomes for fish sellers. It’s hoped the project can be extended to other fishing communities across Africa.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Nanodrugs Help to cure 50 Rare Genetic Disorders

Researchers at Oregon State University and other institutions have discovered a type of drug delivery system that may offer new hope for patients with a rare, ultimately fatal genetic disorder – and make what might become a terrible choice a little easier.No treatment currently exists for this disease, known as Niemann Pick Type C1 disease, or NPC1, that affects about one in every 120,000 children globally, and results in abnormal cholesterol accumulation, progressive neurodegeneration and eventual death. However, a compound that shows promise is now undergoing clinical trials, but it has major drawbacks – the high doses necessary also cause significant hearing loss and lung damage, as well as requiring direct brain injection.

New findings, published today in Scientific Reports (“PEG-lipid micelles enable cholesterol efflux in Niemann-Pick Type C1 disease-based lysosomal storage disorder”), outline the potential for a nanotechnology-based delivery system to carry the new drug into cells far more effectively, improve its efficacy by about five times, and allow use of much lower doses that may still help treat this condition without causing such severe hearing loss.The same system, they say, may ultimately show similar benefits for 50 or more other genetic disorders, especially those that require “brain targeting” of treatments.

X-linked_recessive._inheritance

Right now there’s nothing that can be done for patients with this disease, and the median survival time is 20 years,” said Gaurav Sahay, an assistant professor in the Oregon State University/Oregon Health & Science University College of Pharmacy, and corresponding author on the new study. “The new cholesterol-scavenging drug proposed to treat this disorder, called cyclodextrin , may for the first time offer a real treatment. But it can cause significant hearing loss and requires multiple injections directly into the brain, which can be very traumatic. I’m very excited about the potential of our new drug delivery system to address these problems.”

Source: http://oregonstate.edu/

Electric Bus Service Without Driver Open Next Week

A self shuttle service, electric and driverless but with passengers, was launched Friday in Lyon (France)  to be tested for a year in the new district of Confluence, “a world first” according to officials of the operation. Two “Armashuttles of the French company Navya, a prototype was tested in 2013 on the hill of the Croix-Rousse, must serve a 10-minute rotations five stops on route commissioning between the Hotel de Region and the tip of the peninsula of the city, Saône side.

Long of 1.3 kilometers and baptized Navly, the service will be open this weekend from 10:00 then at 17:00 from Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., from September 5. Fifteen people in total can be carried in each vehicle. Developed by Keolis, the network operator of the Lyon public transport (TCL) and Navya, a specialist in innovative mobility solutions, the project “meets the challenges of serving the last kilometer,” said Pascal Jacquesson, CEO of Keolis Lyon. Supported by the Metropolis of Lyon and approved in July by the Ministry of Ecology, the “fine service” must supplement the local tram and bus provides TCL, attention including “employees of large companies and administrative and cultural institutions of the district,” he said.

Driverless yellow bus

This period of one year is intended to test everything from technology to economic model” to be determined, for its part, Christophe Sapet, Chairman of Navya headquartered in Villeurbanne. Limited at a speed of 20 km / h for the service, the Arma shuttle is a jewel of technology to 200,000 euros each, equipped with guiding cameras in stereovision, laser sensors, GPS and a battery life of six to eight hours.

Already tested in many other cities of the Hexagon, but without passengers, Navya shuttles also run abroad as in Sion, Switzerland. other electric minibus without drivers have already been tested for several months in La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime), as part of European experience.

Source: http://archyworldys.com

Smart Windows Control Light and Heat, Save Energy

View, previously Soladigm, is a Californian company working on the development of energy-saving smart windows based on electrochromism that can control light and heat while maintaining view and reducing glareView smart nanotechnology glass is now installed  in 250 commercial buildings.

VIEW smart glassCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Solar radiation and glare are reduced when the View glass is tinted, creating a comfortable indoor climate for occupants. By admitting natural daylight and rejecting unwanted solar glare, View Dynamic Glass significantly reduces annual energy costs. Control View Dynamic Glass from anywhere, create schedules, track energy efficiency and manage entire buildings with our mobile app.
View Dynamic Glass uses a proprietary electrochromic process to create smart glass in a world-class manufacturing facility. The best talent, equipment, and processes from the semiconductor, flat panel and solar industries produce dynamic glass in sizes up to 6 feet by 10 feet in many custom configurations. The factory combines leading-edge glass manufacturing with high technology processes and controls to deliver products that save energy, minimize heat and glare and allow occupants to enjoy the view to the outdoors. View Dynamic Glass is specified by architects for product performance, durability and energy savings.

Source: http://www.nextbigfuture.com/

Microscope’s Electron Beam Writes Data Onto A Hard Disk

Every day we upload over a billion photos to the Internet. Even when photos are online they are generally stored on computer hard disk drives, but these drives have limited lifetimes.

electron_beam_welding_flare-1000px

How are we going to be able to store all that information and know that we can leave it there effectively in perpetuity and recall it in 50 years time, in 500 years time? Those are big challenges“, says Porfessor Simon Ringer,  from the Faculty of engineering and information technologies, University of Sydney (Australia). A young PhD student at the University is rising to that challenge. Zibin Chen was examining ferroelectric materials under an electron microscope. He wanted to know if any could be used for data storage, when he made a chance discovery. He noticed the electron beam of the microscope could actually write data onto a disk.

When we discovered this phenomenon we were so excited about it, because we think this is the first time ever in the world to find that the electron beam can actually write very small information on this material“, adds Zibin chen Ph.D candidate at the Faculty of engineering and information technologies, University of Sydney.

The conventional hard disk drive found in most personal computers stores our photos, videos and music as a stream of zeros and ones on a magnetic surface. But hard disk drives are prone to failure, and if they get bumped, the head will scratch the platter, and the data is lost. The University of Sydney‘s system uses an electron beam to write on ceramic material. There are no moving parts, so little risk of scratching. Still in the laboratory stage, the team expects the first use of this technology will be to help store photos and documents in the Cloud. It currently stores 10 times the amount of data as a conventional hard drive, but Chen’s supervisor is confident they can take it much further.

What we’ve done here at the University of Sydney is a breakthrough that has a roadmap of a 100 times change in the computer memory capacity“, comments Professor Ringer.  As the number of photos taken each day keeps growing, Chen’s chance discovery could offer a new way to store our precious memories for generations to come.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Smart Nanoparticles Fight Multidrug-resistant Cancer

Multidrug resistance (MDR) is the mechanism by which many cancers develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs, resulting in minimal cell death and the expansion of drug-resistant tumors. To address the problem of resistance, researchers have developed nanoparticles that simultaneously deliver chemotherapy drugs to tumors and inhibit the MDR proteins that pump the therapeutic drugs out of the cell. The process is known as chemosensitization, as blocking this resistance renders the tumor highly sensitive to the cancer-killing chemotherapy.

smart nanoparticlesMDR is a major factor in the failure of many chemotherapy drugs. The problem affects the treatment of a wide range of blood cancers and solid tumors, including breast, ovarian, lung, and colon cancers. Researchers at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are engineering multi-component nanoparticles that significantly enhance the killing of cancer cells.
Success in this medically important endeavor has required a team with a wide range of expertise to engineer nanoparticles that survive the journey to the tumor site, enter the tumor, and successfully perform the multiple functions for chemosensitization”, says Xiaoyuan Chen, Ph.D., who is the Senior Investigator, and has lead the work. His collaborators include scientists and engineers in China at Southeast University, Shenzhen University, Guangxi Medical University, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, in addition to chemical engineers at the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.

The results of their experiments are reported in recent articles in Scientific Reports and Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Source: https://www.nibib.nih.gov/

Very Cheap Long-Lasting Batteries

Chemists at the University of Waterloo (Canada) have developed a long-lasting zinc-ion battery that costs half the price of current lithium-ion batteries and could help enable communities to shift away from traditional power plants and into renewable solar and wind energy production. Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the important discovery, which appears in the journal, Nature Energy.

The battery uses safe, non-flammable, non-toxic materials and a pH-neutral, water-based salt. It consists of a water-based electrolyte, a pillared vanadium oxide positive electrode and an inexpensive metallic zinc negative electrode. The battery generates electricity through a reversible process called intercalation, where positively-charged zinc ions are oxidized from the zinc metal negative electrode, travel through the electrolyte and insert between the layers of vanadium oxide nanosheets in the positive electrode. This drives the flow of electrons in the external circuit, creating an electrical current. The reverse process occurs on charge.

The cell represents the first demonstration of zinc ion intercalation in a solid state material that satisfies four vital criteria: high reversibility, rate and capacity and no zinc dendrite formation. It provides more than 1,000 cycles with 80 per cent capacity retention and an estimated energy density of 450 watt-hours per litre. Lithium-ion batteries also operate by intercalation—of lithium ions—but they typically use expensive, flammable, organic electrolytes.

zinc-ion batteries

The worldwide demand for sustainable energy has triggered a search for a reliable, low-cost way to store it,” said Nazar, a University Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry. “The aqueous zinc-ion battery we’ve developed is ideal for this type of application because it’s relatively inexpensive and it’s inherently safe.”

 

Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/

Electric Car: Nanofiber Electrodes Boost Fuel Cells By 30 Percent

At the same time Honda and Toyota are introducing fuel cell cars to the U.S. market, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University, Nissan North America and Georgia Institute of Technology have teamed up to create a new technology designed to give fuel cells more oomph. The project is part of a $13 million Department of Energy program to advance fuel cell performance and durability and hydrogen storage technologies announced last month.

hydrogen fuel cells

Fuel cells were invented back in 1839 but their first real world application wasn’t until the 1960’s when NASA used them to power the Apollo spacecraft. Fuel cells need fuel and air to run, like a gasoline engine, but they produce electricity, like a battery. In hydrogen/air fuel cells, hydrogen flows into one side of the device. Air is pumped into the other side. At the anode, the hydrogen is oxidized into protons. The protons flow to the cathode where the air is channeled, reducing the oxygen to form water. Special catalysts in the anode and cathode allow these reactions to occur spontaneously, producing electricity in the process. Fuel cells convert fuel to electricity with efficiencies ranging from 40 percent to 60 percent. They have no moving parts so they are very quiet. With the only waste product being water, they are environmentally friendly.The $2.5 million collaboration is based on a new nanofiber mat technology developed by Peter Pintauro, Professor of Chemical Engineering at Vanderbilt, that replaces the conventional electrodes used in fuel cells. The nanofiber electrodes boost the power output of fuel cells by 30 percent while being less expensive and more durable than conventional catalyst layers. The technology has been patented by Vanderbilt and licensed to Merck KGaA in Germany, which is working with major auto manufacturers in applying it to the next generation of automotive fuel cells.

Conventional fuel cells use thin sheets of catalyst particles mixed with a polymer binder for the electrodes. The catalyst is typically platinum on carbon powder. The Vanderbilt approach replaces these solid sheets with mats made from a tangle of polymer fibers that are each a fraction of the thickness of a human hair made by a process called electrospinning. Particles of catalyst are bonded to the fibers. The very small diameter of the fibers means that there is a larger surface area of catalyst available for hydrogen and oxygen gas reactions during fuel cell operation. The pores between fibers in the mat electrode also facilitate the removal of the waste water. The unique fiber electrode structure results in higher fuel cell power, with less expensive platinum.
Source: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/

Eye Test detects Parkinson’s Before Symptoms develop

A newly developed eye test offers the hope of far earlier diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, a devastating condition usually discovered too late in patients for effective treatment.
This new eye test could detect Parkinson’s disease before symptoms develop. Developed at the University College London (UCL), Institute of Ophthalmology it looks for changes in patients’ retinas before brain alteration occurs. Researchers induced Parkinson’s in rats by injecting them with a chemical called rotenone. Having observed retinal changes, they treated the rodents with a new version ofRosiglitaz anti-diabetic drug Rosiglitazone.

eyes2CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

The preliminary results were that we were able to see evidence of Parkinson’s in the retina well in advance compared to the Parkinsonian events in the brain. Furthermore, by injecting the Rosiglitazone in these rats we were able to see a rescue effect of Rosiglitazone in this model, first in the eye and then in the brain“, says Dr. Eduardo Normando, UCL constant opthalmologist. Human clinical trials will begin soon. Earlier diagnosis could have a major impact on future patient outcomes

If you’ve seen the effects in the retina well before you see those effects in the brain then actually you could shorten the length of clinical trials and you could use this as a very good marker of treatment success. But in the long run what we think is that it could be a way of trying to see if patients are ever going to get Parkinson’s disease“, adds UCL Professor of glaucoma and retinal neurodegeneration, Francesca Cordeiro.

The degenerative condition affects 1 in 500 people, causing muscle stiffness, slowness of movement, tremors and a reduced quality of life. Symptoms typically become apparent once more than 70 percent of the brain’s dopamine-producing cells have been destroyed.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Nano Device Cleans Germs from Water In 20 Minutes

In many parts of the world, the only way to make germy water safe is by boiling, which consumes precious fuel, or by putting it out in the sun in a plastic bottle so ultraviolet rays will kill the microbes. But because UV rays carry only 4 percent of the sun’s total energy, the UV method takes six to 48 hours, limiting the amount of water people can disinfect this way.

Now researchers at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have created a nanostructured device, about half the size of a postage stamp, that disinfects water much faster than the UV method by also making use of the visible part of the solar spectrum, which contains 50 percent of the sun’s energy.

clean waterA researcher holds a small, nanostructured device that uses sunlight to disinfect water. By harnessing a broad spectrum of sunlight, it works faster than devices that use only ultraviolet rays

In experiments reported today in Nature Nanotechnology, sunlight falling on the little device triggered the formation of hydrogen peroxide and other disinfecting chemicals that killed more than 99.999 percent of bacteria in just 20 minutes. When their work was done the killer chemicals quickly dissipated, leaving pure water behind.

Our device looks like a little rectangle of black glass. We just dropped it into the water and put everything under the sun, and the sun did all the work,” said Chong Liu, lead author of the report. She is a postdoctoral researcher in the laboratory of Yi Cui, a SLAC/Stanford associate professor and investigator with SIMES, the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences at SLAC.

Under an electron microscope the surface of the device looks like a fingerprint, with many closely spaced lines. Those lines are very thin films – the researchers call them “nanoflakes” – of molybdenum disulfide that are stacked on edge, like the walls of a labyrinth, atop a rectangle of glass. In ordinary life, molybdenum disulfide is an industrial lubricant. But like many materials, it takes on entirely different properties when made in layers just a few atoms thick. In this case it becomes a photocatalyst.

By making their molybdenum disulfide walls in just the right thickness, the scientists got them to absorb the full range of visible sunlight. And by topping each tiny wall with a thin layer of copper, which also acts as a catalyst, they were able to use that sunlight to trigger exactly the reactions they wanted – reactions that produce “reactive oxygen species” like hydrogen peroxide, a commonly used disinfectant, which kill bacteria in the surrounding water.

Source: https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/

How To Stop The Bleeding

Whether  occurs on the battlefield or the highway, saving lives often comes down to stopping the bleeding as quickly as possible. Many methods for controlling external bleeding exist, but at this point, only surgery can halt blood loss inside the body from injury to internal organs. Now, researchers have developed nanoparticles that congregate wherever injury occurs in the body to help it form blood clots, and they’ve validated these particles in test tubes and in vivo.

stopping the bleeding

Nanoparticles (green) help form clots in an injured liver. The researchers added color to the scanning electron microscopy image after it was taken

When you have uncontrolled internal bleeding, that’s when these particles could really make a difference,” says Erin B. Lavik, Sc.D. “Compared to injuries that aren’t treated with the nanoparticles, we can cut bleeding time in half and reduce total blood loss.

Trauma remains a top killer of children and younger adults, and doctors have few options for treating internal bleeding. To address this great need, Lavik’s team developed a nanoparticle that acts as a bridge, binding to activated platelets and helping them join together to form clots. To do this, the nanoparticle is decorated with a molecule that sticks to a glycoprotein found only on the activated platelets.

The researchers have presented their work at the 252nd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

Source:  https://www.acs.org/

Nanoparticles Detect Dirty Nuclear Bomb

One of the most critical issues the United States faces today is preventing terrorists from smuggling nuclear weapons into its ports. To this end, the U.S. Security and Accountability for Every Port Act mandates that all overseas cargo containers be scanned for possible nuclear materials or weapons.

Detecting neutron signals is an effective method to identify nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials. Helium-3 gas is used within detectors deployed in ports for this purpose. The catch? While helium-3 gas works well for neutron detection, it’s extremely rare on Earth. Intense demand for helium-3 gas detectors has nearly depleted the supply, most of which was generated during the period of nuclear weapons production during the past 50 years. It isn’t easy to reproduce, and the scarcity of helium-3 gas has caused its cost to skyrocket recently — making it impossible to deploy enough neutron detectors to fulfill the requirement to scan all incoming overseas cargo containersHelium-4 is a more abundant form of helium gas, which is much less expensive, but can’t be used for neutron detection because it doesn’t interact with neutrons.

A group of Texas Tech University researchers led by Professors Hongxing Jiang and Jingyu Lin report this week in Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing, that they have developed an alternative materialhexagonal boron nitride semiconductors — for neutron detection. This material fulfills many key requirements for helium gas detector replacements and can serve as a low-cost alternative in the future. The group’s concept was first proposed to the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and received funding from its Academic Research Initiative program six years ago. By using a 43-micron-thick hexagonal boron-10 enriched nitride layer, the group created a thermal neutron detector with 51.4 percent detection efficiency, which is a record high for semiconductor thermal neutron detectors.

nuclear radiation

“Higher detection efficiency is anticipated by further increasing the material thickness and improving materials quality,” explained Professor Jiang, Nanophotonics Center and Electrical & Computer Engineering, Whitacre College of Engineering, Texas Tech University. “Our approach of using hexagonal boron nitride semiconductors for neutron detection centers on the fact that its boron-10 isotope has a very large interaction probability with thermal neutrons,” Jiang continued. “This makes it possible to create high-efficiency neutron detectors with relatively thin hexagonal boron nitride layers. And the very large energy bandgap of this semiconductor — 6.5 eV — gives these detectors inherently low leakage current densities.

The key significance of the group’s work? This is a completely new material and technology that offers many advantages. “Compared to helium gas detectors, boron nitride technology improves the performance of neutron detectors in terms of efficiency, sensitivity, ruggedness, versatile form factor, compactness, lightweight, no pressurization … and it’s inexpensive,” Jiang said.

This means that the material has the potential to revolutionize neutron detector technologies.

Beyond special nuclear materials and weapons detection, solid-state neutron detectors also have medical, health, military, environment, and industrial applications,” he added. “The material also has applications in deep ultraviolet photonics and two-dimensional heterostructures. With the successful demonstration of high-efficiency neutron detectors, we expect it to perform well for other future applications.”

The main innovation behind this new type of neutron detector was developing hexagonal boron nitride with epitaxial layers of sufficient thickness — which previously didn’t exist. “It took our group six years to find ways to produce this new material with a sufficient thickness and crystalline quality for neutron detection,” Jiang noted. “It’s surprising to us that the detector performs so well, despite the fact that there’s still a little room for improvement in terms of material quality,” he said. “These devices must be capable of detecting nuclear weapons from distances tens of meters away, which requires large-size detectors,” Jiang added. “There are technical challenges to overcome, but we’re working toward this goal.”

Source: https://publishing.aip.org/

The Rise Of The Electric Trucks

Nikola Motor, a company based in Salt Lake City, has announced that its  advanced R&D team has achieved 100% zero emissions on the Nikola One commercial class 8 truck. Working electric truck prototype will be unveiled on December 2 in Salt Lake City.

Nikola-One-Electric-Semi-Truck-Concept

While other companies have recently announced battery-powered semi-trucks, those trucks are restricted to a range of only a couple hundred miles and four to eight hours of charging between stops,” said Founder and CEO Trevor Milton. “Nikola has engineered the holy grail of the trucking industry. We are not aware of any zero emission truck in the world that can haul 80,000 pounds more than 1,000 miles and do it without stopping. The Nikola One requires only 15 minutes of downtime before heading out for the next 1,000 miles.” “Imagine what this could do for the air in every city in America. We knew our emissions would be low, but to have the ability to achieve true zero emissions is revolutionary for the worldwide trucking industry,” Milton added.

When asked why no one had accomplished this before, Milton said, “It requires a specific zero emission refinement process of fuel and gutsy engineering and product execution. A traditional manufacturer would have to partner with an oil company, environmental group, electric vehicle engineering firm, a broad spectrum of suppliers and a world-class consulting firm to have figured it out. At Nikola, all of our development and talent is under one roof”.

In addition to the zero emission semi-truck, Nikola has initiated the first steps to manufacture emission-free power plants that range from 50 kilowatts to 50 megawatts, cutting power generation costs in half. Nikola believes this technology not only has the ability to transform America’s roadways, but how the world will migrate towards zero-emission energy going forward.

Two months ago, Nikola announced more than $2.3 billion in reservations, totaling more than 7,000 truck reservations with deposits. The Nikola One truck leasing program costs $4000 to $5000 per month, depending on which truck configuration and options the customer chooses. The first million miles of fuel under the lease is included with each truck sale, potentially offsetting 100% of the monthly cost. An average diesel burns approximately $400,000 in fuel and can rack up over $100,000 in maintenance costs over 1,000,000 miles. These costs are eliminated with the Nikola One lease. Now companies can have a zero emission truck with a return on their investment in the first month.

Source: https://www.trucks.com/
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https://nikolamotor.com/

 

The First Satellite Using Quantum Cryptography Is Chinese

Congratulations are in order for China: by launching the world’s first quantum communications satellite, the country has achieved an interesting — if somewhat difficult to explain — milestone in space and cryptography.

quantum dots

Quantum Experiments at Space Scale (QUESS), nicknamed Micius after the philosopher, lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 1:40 AM local time (late yesterday in the U.S.) and is currently maneuvering itself into a sun-synchronous orbit at 500 km.

So what’s in the package that’s so exciting?

QUESS is an experiment in the deployment of quantum cryptography — specifically, a prototype that will test whether it’s possible to perform this delicate science from space. Inside QUESS is a crystal that can be stimulated into producing two photons that are “entangled” at a subatomic, quantum level. Entangled photons have certain aspects — polarization, for example — that are the same for both regardless of distance; if one changes, the other changes. The trouble is that photons are rather finicky things, and tend to be bounced, absorbed, and otherwise interfered with when traveling through fibers, air, and so on. QUESS will test whether sending them through space is easier, and whether one of a pair of entangled photons can be successfully sent to the surface while the other remains aboard the satellite.

If this is possible, the entangled photons can be manipulated in order to send information; the satellite could, for example, send binary code by inverting its photon’s polarization, one way for 1, the other way for 0. The ground station would see its photon switching back and forth and record the resulting data. This process would be excruciatingly slow, but fast enough for, say, key creation and exchange — after which data can be exchanged securely by more ordinary means. The critical thing about this is that there is no transmission involved, or at least not one we understand and can intercept.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/

Nanotechnology To Save Polluted Lakes

Peruvian scientist Marino Morikawa, known for his work revitalizing polluted wetlands in the North of Lima using nanotechnology, now plans to try to clean up Lake Titicaca and the Huacachina lagoon, an oasis south of Lima. El Cascajo, an ecosystem of 123 acres in Chancay district, located north of Lima, began its recovery process in 2010 with two inventions that Morikawa came up with using his own resources and money..The project started after he got a call from Morikawa’s father, who informed him that El Cascajo, where he had gone fishing in so many occasion as a child, was “in very bad shape,” Morikawa explains.

The scientist set out to find a way to decontaminate the wetlands without using chemicals. His first invention was a micro nanobubbling system, consisting of bubbles10,000 times smaller than those in soda – which help trap and paralyze viruses and bacteria, causing them to evaporate. He also designed biological filters to retain inorganic pollutants, such as heavy metals and minerals that adhere to surfaces and are decomposed by bacteriaIn just 15 days, the effort led to a revival of the wetlands, a process that in the laboratory had taken six months.

nanobubbles

Nature does its job. All I do is give it a boost to speed up the process,” Morikawa adds.

By 2013, about 60 percent of the wetlands was repopulated by migratory birds, that use El Cascajo as a layover on their route from Canada to Patagonia. Now, Morikawa has helped recover 30 habitats around the world, but has his sights on two ecosystems that are emblematic in Peru.

The first, scheduled for 2018, is the recovery of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, located 4,000 meters (13,115 feet) above sea level between Peru and Bolivia. The second project aims to restore the Huacachina lagoon near the southern city of Ica, where water stopped seeping in naturally in the 1980s.

Source: http://www.peruthisweek.com

Legions Of Nanorobots Attack Cancerous Cells

Researchers from Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal and McGill University have just achieved a spectacular breakthrough in cancer research. They have developed new nanorobotic agents capable of navigating through the bloodstream to administer a drug with precision by specifically targeting the active cancerous cells of tumours. This way of injecting medication ensures the optimal targeting of a tumour and avoids jeopardizing the integrity of organs and surrounding healthy tissues. As a result, the drug dosage that is highly toxic for the human organism could be significantly reduced.

legions of nanorobots attack cancerous cells

These legions of nanorobotic agents were actually composed of more than 100 million flagellated bacteria – and therefore self-propelled – and loaded with drugs that moved by taking the most direct path between the drug’s injection point and the area of the body to cure,” explains Professor Sylvain Martel,  Director of the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory, who heads the research team’s work. “The drug’s propelling force was enough to travel efficiently and enter deep inside the tumours.”

When they enter a tumour, the nanorobotic agents can detect in a wholly autonomous fashion the oxygen-depleted tumour areas, known as hypoxic zones, and deliver the drug to them. This hypoxic zone is created by the substantial consumption of oxygen by rapidly proliferative tumour cells. Hypoxic zones are known to be resistant to most therapies, including radiotherapy.

But gaining access to tumours by taking paths as minute as a red blood cell and crossing complex physiological micro-environments does not come without challenges. So Professor Martel and his team used nanotechnology to do it.

 

This scientific breakthrough has just been published in the prestigious journal Nature Nanotechnology in an article titled “Magneto-aerotactic bacteria deliver drug-containing nanoliposomes to tumour hypoxic regions.” The article notes the results of the research done on mice, which were successfully administered nanorobotic agents into colorectal tumours.

Source: http://www.polymtl.ca/

Molecular Electronics

Technion researchers in Israel  have developed a method for growing carbon nanotubes that could lead to the day when molecular electronics replace the ubiquitous silicon chip as the building block of electronicsCarbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long fascinated scientists because of their unprecedented electrical, optical, thermal and mechanical properties, and chemical sensitivity. But significant challenges remain before CNTs can be implemented on a wide scale, including the need to produce them in specific locations on a smooth substrate, in conditions that will lead to the formation of a circuit around them.

Led by Prof. Yuval Yaish of the Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering and the Zisapel Nanoelectronics Center at the Technion, the researchers have developed a technology that addresses these challenges. Their breakthrough also makes it possible to study the dynamic properties of CNTs, including acceleration, resonance (vibration), and the transition from softness to hardness. The method could serve as an applicable platform for the integration of nano-electronics with silicon technologies, and possibly even the replacement of these technologies in molecular electronics.

Carbon naotube

Due to the nanometer size of the CNTs (100,000 times smaller in diameter than the thickness of a human hair) it is extremely difficult to find or locate them at specific locations. Prof. Yaish, and graduate students Gilad Zeevi and Michael Shlafman, developed a simple, rapid, non-invasive and scalable technique that enables optical imaging of CNTs.

 

The CNT is an amazing and very strong building block with remarkable electrical, mechanical and optical properties,” said Prof. Yaish. “Some are conductors, and some are semiconductors, which is why they are considered a future replacement for silicon. But current methods for the production of CNTs are slow, costly, and imprecise. As such, they generally cannot be implemented in industry.”

Our approach is the opposite of the norm,” he continued. “We grow the CNTs directly, and with the aid of the organic crystals that coat them, we can see them under a microscope very quickly. Then image identification software finds and produces the device (transistor). This is the strategy. The goal is to integrate CNTs in an integrated circuit of miniaturized electronic components (mainly transistors) on a single chip (VLSI). These could one day serve as a replacement for silicon electronics.”

The findings have been published in Nature Communications.

Source: http://www.ats.org/

Cancer: How To Shrink Tumors

Math, biology and nanotechnology are becoming strange, yet effective bed-fellows in the fight against cancer treatment resistance. Researchers at the University of Waterloo and Harvard Medical School have engineered a revolutionary new approach to cancer treatment that pits a lethal combination of drugs together into a single nanoparticle. Their work, published online on June 3, 2016 in the  journal ACS Nano, finds a new method of shrinking tumors and prevents resistance in aggressive cancers by activating two drugs within the same cell at the same time. Every year thousands of patients die from recurrent cancers that have become resistant to therapy, resulting in one of the greatest unsolved challenges in cancer treatment. By tracking the fate of individual cancer cells under pressure of chemotherapy, biologists and bioengineers at Harvard Medical School studied a network of signals and molecular pathways that allow the cells to generate resistance over the course of treatment.

anti cancer nanoparticle

Using this information, a team of applied mathematicians led by Professor Mohammad Kohandel at the University of Waterloo (Canada), developed a mathematical model that incorporated algorithms that define the phenotypic cell state transitions of cancer cells in real-time while under attack by an anticancer agent. The mathematical simulations enabled them to define the exact molecular behavior and pathway of signals, which allow cancer cells to survive treatment over time.

They discovered that the PI3K/AKT kinase, which is often over-activated in cancers, enables cells to undergo a resistance program when pressured with the cytotoxic chemotherapy known as Taxanes, which are conventionally used to treat aggressive breast cancers. This revolutionary window into the life of a cell reveals that vulnerabilities to small molecule PI3K/AKT kinase inhibitors exist, and can be targeted if they are applied in the right sequence with combinations of other drugs.

Previously theories of drug resistance have relied on the hypothesis that only certain, “privileged” cells can overcome therapy. The mathematical simulations demonstrate that, under the right conditions and signaling events, any cell can develop a resistance program.

Only recently have we begun to appreciate how important mathematics and physics are to understanding the biology and evolution of cancer,” said Professor Kohandel. “In fact, there is now increasing synergy between these disciplines, and we are beginning to appreciate how critical this information can be to create the right recipes to treat cancer.”

Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/

Tiny High-Performance Solar Cells

University of Wisconsin—Madison engineers have created high-performance, micro-scale solar cells that outshine comparable devices in key performance measures. The miniature solar panels could power myriad personal deviceswearable medical sensors, smartwatches, even autofocusing contact lenses. Large, rooftop photovoltaic arrays generate electricity from charges moving vertically. The new, small cells, described today (Aug. 3, 2016) in the journal Advanced Materials Technologies, capture current from charges moving side-to-side, or laterally. And they generate significantly more energy than other sideways solar systems.

New-generation lateral solar cells promise to be the next big thing for compact devices because arranging electrodes horizontally allows engineers to sidestep a traditional solar cell fabrication process: the arduous task of perfectly aligning multiple layers of the cell’s material atop one another.

solar cells

From a fabrication point of view, it is always going to be easier to make side-by-side structures,” says Hongrui Jiang, a UW–Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering and corresponding author on the paper. “Top-down structures need to be made in multiple steps and then aligned, which is very challenging at small scales.

Lateral solar cells also offer engineers greater flexibility in materials selection.

Top-down photovoltaic cells are made up of two electrodes surrounding a semiconducting material like slices of bread around the meat in a sandwich. When light hits the top slice, charge travels through the filling to the bottom layer and creates electric current.

In the top-down arrangement, one layer needs to do two jobs: It must let in light and transmit charge. Therefore, the material for one electrode in a typical solar cell must be not only highly transparent, but also electrically conductive. And very few substances perform both tasks well.

Source: http://news.wisc.edu/

How To Increase By Six Times The Capacity Of Lithium-Ion Batteries

The capacity of lithium-ion batteries might be increased by six times by using anodes made of silicon instead of graphite. A team from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) Institute of Soft Matter and Functional Materials has observed for the first time in detail how lithium ions migrate into thin films of silicon. It was shown that extremely thin layers of silicon would be sufficient to achieve the maximal load of lithium.

The team was able to show through neutron measurements made at the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, that lithium ions do not penetrate deeply into the silicon. During the charge cycle, a 20-nm anode layer develops containing an extremely high proportion of lithium. This means extremely thin layers of silicon would be sufficient to achieve the maximal load of lithium.
lithium-ion battery

Lithium-ion batteries provide laptops, smart phones, and tablet computers with reliable energy. However, electric vehicles have not gotten as far along with conventional lithium-ion batteries. This is due to currently utilised electrode materials such as graphite only being able to stably adsorb a limited number of lithium ions, restricting the capacity of these batteries. Semiconductor materials like silicon are therefore receiving attention as alternative electrodes for lithium batteries. Bulk silicon is able to absorb enormous quantities of lithium. However, the migration of the lithium ions destroys the crystal structure of silicon. This can swell the volume by a factor of three, which leads to major mechanical stresses. Now a team from the HZB Institute for Soft Matter and Functional Materials headed by Prof. Matthias Ballauff has directly observed for the first time a lithium-silicon half-cell during its charging and discharge cycles. “We were able to precisely track where the lithium ions adsorb in the silicon electrode using neutron reflectometry methods, and also how fast they were moving”, comments Dr. Beatrix-Kamelia Seidlhofer, who carried out the experiments using the neutron source located at the Institute Laue-Langevin.

She discovered two different zones during her investigations. Near the boundary to the electrolytes, a roughly 20-nm layer formed having extremely high lithium content: 25 lithium atoms were lodged among 10 silicon atoms. A second adjacent layer contained only one lithium atom for ten silicon atoms. Both layers together are less than 100 nm thick after the second charging cycle.

After discharge, about one lithium ion per silicon node in the electrode remained in the silicon boundary layer exposed to the electrolytes. Seidlhofer calculates from this that the theoretical maximum capacity of these types of silicon-lithium batteries lies at about 2300 mAh/g. This is more than six times the theoretical maximum attainable capacity for a lithium-ion battery constructed with graphite (372 mAh/g).

The results ar published in the journal ACSnano (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02032).

Source: https://www.helmholtz-berlin.de/

Green Electronics

A team of University of Toronto chemists has created a battery that stores energy in a biologically-derived unit, paving the way for cheaper consumer electronics that are easier on the environment.

The battery is similar to many commercially-available high-energy lithium-ion batteries with one important difference. It uses flavin from vitamin B2 as the cathode: the part that stores the electricity that is released when connected to a device.

vitamin-battery-4

We’ve been looking to nature for a while to find complex molecules for use in a number of consumer electronics applications,” says Dwight Seferos, a professor in U of T’s department of chemistry and Canada Research Chair in Polymer Nanotechnology. “When you take something made by nature that is already complex, you end up spending less time making new material,” says Seferos.

The team created the material from vitamin B2 that originates in genetically-modified fungi using a semi-synthetic process to prepare the polymer by linking two flavin units to a long-chain molecule backbone. This allows for a green battery with high capacity and high voltage – something increasingly important as the ‘Internet of Things’ continues to link us together more and more through our battery-powered portable devices.

It’s a pretty safe, natural compound,” Seferos adds. “If you wanted to, you could actually eat the source material it comes from.” B2’s ability to be reduced and oxidized makes its well-suited for a lithium ion battery.

Source: https://www.utoronto.ca/

How To Grow Mini Human Brains

A*STAR’s Scientists in Singapore have made a big leap on research on the ‘mini-brain’. These advanced mini versions of the human midbrain will help researchers develop treatments and conduct other studies into Parkinson’s Disease  (PD) and ageing-related brain diseases. These mini midbrain versions are three-dimensional miniature tissues that are grown in the laboratory and they have certain properties of specific parts of the human brains. This is the first time that the black pigment neuromelanin has been detected in an organoid model. The study also revealed functionally active dopaminergic neurons.

The human midbrain, which is the information superhighway, controls auditory, eye movements, vision and body movements. It contains special dopaminergic neurons that produce dopamine – which carries out significant roles in executive functions, motor control, motivation, reinforcement, and reward. High levels of dopamine elevate motor activity and impulsive behaviour, whereas low levels of dopamine lead to slowed reactions and disorders like PD, which is characterised by stiffness and difficulties in initiating movements.

DIFFERENCIATION OF HUMAN EMBRIONIC

Also causing PD is the dramatic reduction in neuromelanin production, leading to the degenerative condition of patients, which includes tremors and impaired motor skills. This creation is a key breakthrough for studies in PD, which affects an estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide. Furthermore, there are people who are affected by other causes of parkinsonism. Researchers now have access to the material that is affected in the disease itself, and different types of studies can be conducted in the laboratory instead of through simulations or on animals. Using stem cells, scientists have grown pieces of tissue, known as brain organoids, measuring about 2 to 3 mm long. These organoids contain the necessary hallmarks of the human midbrain, which are dopaminergic neurons and neuromelanin.

Assistant Prof Shawn Je from Duke-NUS Medical School’s Neuroscience & Behavioural Disorders Programme said, “It is remarkable that our midbrain organoids mimic human midbrain development. The cells divide, cluster together in layers, and become electrically and chemically active in three-dimensional environment like our brain. Now we can really test how these mini brains react to existing or newly developed drugs before treating patients, which will be a game changer for drug development.”

Jointly led by Prof Ng Huck Hui from A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Assistant Prof Shawn Je from Duke-NUS Medical School, this collaborative research between GIS, Duke-NUS, and the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI) is funded by the National Medical Research Council’s Translational Clinical Research (TCR) Programme In Parkinson’s disease (PD) and A*STAR. Other collaborators are from the Lieber Institute for Brain Development, the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and the Nanyang Technological University.

Source: https://www.a-star.edu.sg/

Could Nanotechnology End Hunger?

Each year, farmers around the globe apply more than 100 million tons of fertilizer to crops, along with more than 800,000 tons of glyphosate, the most commonly used agricultural chemical and the active ingredient in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. It’s a quick-and-dirty approach: Plants take up less than half the phosphorus in fertilizer, leaving the rest to flow into waterways, seeding algae blooms that can release toxins and suffocate fish. An estimated 90 percent of the pesticides used on crops dissipates into the air or leaches into groundwater.

child starving

With the global population on pace to swell to more than nine billion by 2050 amid the disruptions of climate change, scientists are racing to boost food production while minimizing collateral damage to the environment. To tackle this huge problem, they’re thinking small — very small, as in nanoparticles a fraction of the diameter of a human hair. Three of the most promising developments deploy nanoparticles that boost the ability of plants to absorb nutrients in the soil, nanocapsules that release a steady supply of pesticides and nanosensors that measure and adjust moisture levels in the soil via automated irrigation systems.

It’s all part of a rise in precision agriculture, which seeks a targeted approach to the use of fertilizer, water and other resources. Recognizing the potential impact of nanotechnology, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) beefed up funding between 2011 and 2015, from $10 million to $13.5 million. India, China and Brazil are also joining the latest green revolution. Scientists led by Pratim Biswas and Ramesh Raliya at Washington University in St. Louis have harnessed fungi to synthesize nanofertilizer. When sprayed on mung bean leaves, the zinc oxide nanoparticles increase the activity of three enzymes in the plant that convert phosphorus into a more readily absorbable form. Compared to untreated plants, nanofertilized mung beans absorbed nearly 11 percent more phosphorus and showed 27 percent more growth with a 6 percent increase in yield.

Raliya and his colleagues are also developing nanoparticles that enhance plants’ absorption of sunlight and investigating how nanofertilizers fortify crops with nutrients. In a study earlier this year, they found that zinc oxide and titanium dioxide nanoparticles increased levels of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes by up to 113 percent. Next, they want to design nanoparticles that enhance the protein content in peanuts. Along with mung beans, peanuts are a major source of protein in many developing countries.

Others are exploring nanoparticles that protect plants against insects, fungi and weeds. The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and other institutions recently began field trials that use several types of metal oxide nanoparticles on tomato, eggplant, corn, squash and sorghum plants in areas infected with fungi known to threaten crops. Researchers led by Leonardo Fernandes Fraceto, of the Institute of Science and Technology, São Paulo State University, Campus Sorocaba, are designing slow-release nanocapsules that contain two types of fungicides or herbicides to reduce the likelihood of targeted fungi and weeds developing resistance. Scientists at the University of Tehran are conducting similar research. Still others are working on nanocapsules that release plant growth hormones. Existing technology could increase average yields up to threefold in many parts of Africa.

Gentle Cancer Treatment Using Nanoparticles

Cancer treatments based on laser irradiation of tiny nanoparticles that are injected directly into the cancer tumor are working and can destroy the cancer from within. Researchers from the Niels Bohr Institute and the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Copenhagen  (Denmark) have developed a method that kills cancer cells using nanoparticles and lasers. The treatment has been tested on mice and it has been demonstrated that the cancer tumors are considerably damaged.

mouse with cancer treatment

 
The drawing shows a mouse with a cancerous tumor on its hind leg. The nanoparticles are injected directly into the tumor, which is then flashed with near infrared laser light. Near infrared laser light penetrates through the tissue well and causes no burn damage
 

 

Traditional cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy have major side affects, because they not only affect the cancer tumors, but also the healthy parts of the body. A large interdisciplinary research project between physicists at the Niels Bohr Institute and doctors and human biologists at the Panum Institute and Rigshospitalet has developed a new treatment that only affects cancer tumors locally and therefore is much more gentle on the body. The project is called Laser Activated Nanoparticles for Tumor Elimination (LANTERN). The head of the project is Professor Lene Oddershede, a biophysicist and head of the research group Optical Tweezers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen in collaboration with Professor Andreas Kjær, head of the Cluster for Molecular Imaging, Panum Institute.

After experimenting with biological membranes, the researchers have now tested the method on living mice. In the experiments, the mice are given cancer tumors of laboratory cultured human cancer cells“The treatment involves injecting tiny nanoparticles directly into the cancer. Then you heat up the nanoparticles from outside using lasers. There is a strong interaction between the nanoparticles and the laser light, which causes the particles to heat up. What then happens is that the heated particles damage or kill the cancer cells,” explains Lene Oddershede.

The results are published in the scientific journal, Scientific Reports.

Aerobic; How To Burn 30% More Calories

A high-intensity workout with electro-stimulation can help burn up to 30% more calories. Researchers advise that this type of training, in spite of offering various neurological, metabolic and functional advantages, should be done in addition to a normal work out and not as a substitute. Practicing High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, together with integral electro-stimulation generates an up to 30% higher consumption of calories than conventional aerobic exercise. In addition, this type of combined exercise increases the metabolism rate for several days after the workout (the body continues to burn calories). Conventional aerobic activity, however, generates lower calorie usage and only does so during the activity itself.

These are among the conclusions of a study carried out researchers of the EFFECTS-262 group of the Physiology Department at the University of Granada (UGR -Faculty of Medicine). The study is published in the Andalusian Journal of Sports Medicine. Twelve  sedentary subjects with a body mass index of over 35 participated in the study. They were submitted to three kinds of training on three consecutive Mondays, organized randomly. Scientists had previously determined the basal metabolism of each subject using a 30-minute, early morning analysis after a 10 minute stabilization period and on an empty stomach. Additionally, after 60 minutes of training and again 24, 48 and 72 hours later, they performed the basal metabolism and DXA (body composition) measurement again. All sessions were monitored using a heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, arterial tension measurement and a subjective perception of wellbeing.

electro stimulation

The high-intensity workout with electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) showed higher levels of lactate concentration in the blood (15.6 mmol.L-1) than after aerobic exercise (2 mmol.L-1). Additionally, the researchers also found significant differences in basal oxygen consumption at 60 minutes and 24, 48 and 72 hours after the different kinds of workout. The basal oxygen deficit levels reached during the electro-stimulation and HIIT workout were notably higher than those reached in the pre-test up to 72 hours after performing the physical activity. This represented a significant difference from the results of the aerobic workout, after which VO2 levels (the amount of oxygen that an organism can consume in a given time) reached similar values as those in the 60-minute pre-test.

UGR Physiology professor Ángel Gutiérrez Sáinz notes that combining a 20-minute weekly session of HIIT with electro-stimulationoffers extraordinary neurological, metabolic and functional advantages for sedentary people as well as elite athletes suffering from an injury and athletes in training.” Gutiérrez warns that this kind of training with an electro-stimulation vest “should never be seen as a substitute for sport but, nevertheless, is an excellent complement to it.” He adds, “it should always be administered by an expert professional.”

The UGR researcher states that the market strategy of electro-stimulation “has reported more harm than benefits. Nevertheless, it is an effective system that, when controlled by professionals, increases the benefits of exercise as it helps to simultaneously engage more than 300 muscles around the entire body.”

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Vaccine That Is Programmable In One Week

MIT engineers have developed a new type of easily customizable vaccine that can be manufactured in one week, allowing it to be rapidly deployed in response to disease outbreaks. So far, they have designed vaccines against Ebola, H1N1 influenza, and Toxoplasma gondii (a relative of the parasite that causes malaria), which were 100 percent effective in tests in mice. The vaccine consists of strands of genetic material known as messenger RNA, which can be designed to code for any viral, bacterial, or parasitic protein. These molecules are then packaged into a molecule that delivers the RNA into cells, where it is translated into proteins that provoke an immune response from the host.

In addition to targeting infectious diseases, the researchers are using this approach to create cancer vaccines that would teach the immune system to recognize and destroy tumors.

MIT-Program-Vaccines_0 (1)

This nanoformulation approach allows us to make vaccines against new diseases in only seven days, allowing the potential to deal with sudden outbreaks or make rapid modifications and improvements,” says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES).

Anderson is the senior author of a paper describing the new vaccines in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The project was led by Jasdave Chahal, a postdoc at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, and Omar Khan, a postdoc at the Koch Institute; both are the first authors of the paper.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/

Solar Cells : How To Boost Efficiency Up To 30%

Researchers from the University of Houston have reported the first explanation for how a class of materials changes during production to more efficiently absorb light, a critical step toward the large-scale manufacture of better and less-expensive solar panels. The work, published this month as the cover story for Nanoscale, offers a mechanism study of how a perovskite thin film changes its microscopic structure upon gentle heating, said Yan Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and lead author on the paper. This information is crucial for designing a manufacturing process that can consistently produce high-efficiency solar panels.

Perovskite cheap

Last year Yao and other researchers identified the crystal structure of the non-stoichiometric intermediate phase as the key element for high-efficiency perovskite solar cells. But what happened during the later thermal annealing step remained unclear. The work is fundamental science, Yao said, but critical for processing more efficient solar cells.

Otherwise, it’s like a black box,” he said. “We know certain processing conditions are important, but we don’t know why.”

The work also yielded a surprise: the materials showed a peak efficiency – the rate at which the material converted light to electricity – before the intermediate phase transformation was complete, suggesting a new way to produce the films to ensure maximum efficiency. Yao said researchers would have expected the highest efficiency to come after the material had been converted to 100 percent perovskite film. Instead, they discovered the best-performing solar devices were those for which conversion was stopped at 18 percent of the intermediate phase, before full conversion.

We found that the phase composition and morphology of solvent engineered perovskite films are strongly dependent on the processing conditions and can significantly influence photovoltaic performance,” the researchers wrote. “The strong dependence on processing conditions is attributed to the molecular exchange kinetics between organic halide molecules and DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) coordinated in the intermediate phase.

Perovskite compounds commonly are comprised of a hybrid organic-inorganic lead or tin halide-based material and have been pursued as potential materials for solar cells for several years. Yao said their advantages include the fact that the materials can work as very thin films – about 300 nanometers, compared with between 200 and 300 micrometers for silicon wafers, the most commonly used material for solar cells. Perovskite solar cells also can be produced by solution processing at temperatures below 150 degrees Centigrade (about 300 degrees Fahrenheit) making them relatively inexpensive to produce.

At their best, perovskite solar cells have an efficiency rate of about 22 percent, slightly lower than that of silicon (25 percent). But the cost of silicon solar cells is also dropping dramatically, and perovskite cells are unstable in air, quickly losing efficiency. They also usually contain lead, a toxin.

Still, Yao said, the materials hold great promise for the solar industry, even if they are unlikely to replace silicon entirely. Instead, he said, they could be used in conjunction with silicon, boosting efficiency to 30 percent or so.

Source: http://www.uh.edu/

NanoTechnology Intellectual Property Worth $81 Million Stolen

Judicial authorities from Taiwan said that they have charged five men who allegedly stole intellectual property from a Tainan nanotechnology company and set up competing nanotechnology plants in China with breaching the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法). The Second Special Police Corp, under the National Police Agency, announced details of the investigation yesterday, saying it is the first investigation and prosecution under the act since it was implemented in 2013.

Police said that they detained three former Hsin Fang Nano Technology Co (新芳奈米科技) employees, including a former plant manager surnamed Chen (陳) and a production section chief surnamed Yu (尤), along with two other business associates.

theft

The estimated financial loss to our company is about NT$2.6 billion [US$81.08 million]. We urge the government to crack down on intellectual property theft against Taiwanese businesses,” chairman Chang Jen-hung (張仁鴻) said.

Hsin Fang is a grinding mill machine manufacturer, which are used to produce ultra-fine nanopowders for use in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, consumer electronics, health food, anti-radiation coating, military weapons and in other industrial applications.

Company officials said their nanopowder grinding mill, which incorporates an innovative “dry cryo-nanonization grinding system,” received a top award at a nanotechnology exhibition in Tokyo in 2012, and honors at other industry fairs in Taiwan and other countries. The investigation in 2014 followed reports that Chen, Yu and other former employees, backed by business associates, started a new company in Yunlin CountyUnicat Nano Advanced Materials & Devices Technology Co (環美凱特). Unicat Nano later moved to Chongqing, China, setting up nanotechnology businesses that, according to investigators, were based on intellectual property stolen from Hsin Fang by Chen, Yu and other former employees.

Source: http://www.taipeitimes.com/

How To Replace Air Conditionning And Save Electricity Bill

A team of researchers from Institut Teknologi Maju (ITMA), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has succeeded in inventing a new system, known as Nanotechnology for Encapsulation of Phase Change Material (NPCM) that can bring down room temperature in buildings, thus minimising the use of air-conditioning or heating systems, and saving electricity bill.

skyscraper in the desertHead of research team, Prof. Dr. Mohd Zobir Hussein said the encapsulation technology could change material at nano-sized regime which is good for use as thermal energy storage media. “This NPCM method is the first of its kind in Malaysia that can absorb, store and release thermal heat when the surrounding temperature where the material is located is above or below melting temperature. These properties allow the phase change material to store the thermal energy when it melts and releases the energy when it solidifies,” he said.

If it is used as passive or active building component, it can help in controlling the internal building temperature fluctuations which will result in thermal-comfort buildings. This will reduce dependency of building occupants to air conditioning or heating systems and electricity consumption, indirectly reducing carbon dioxide emissionNPCM can be incorporated into cement or paint as active insulation materials and apply to the ceilings or walls of the buildings,” told Dr. Mohd Zobir Hussein  at a Press Conference during 2016 ITMA Innovation Day. He also said if it is incorporated into building components, it will not give any adverse effect to the structure integrity of the buildings.

Source: http://www.upm.edu.my/

Teeth: nanoparticles increase the efficiency of bacterial killing more than 5,000-fold

The bacteria that live in dental plaque and contribute to tooth decay often resist traditional antimicrobial treatment, as they can “hide within a sticky biofilm matrix, a glue-like polymer scaffold.

A new strategy conceived by University of Pennsylvania researchers took a more sophisticated approach. Instead of simply applying an antimicrobial to the teeth, they took advantage of the pH-sensitive and enzyme-like properties of iron-containing nanoparticles to catalyze the activity of hydrogen peroxide, a commonly used natural antiseptic. The activated hydrogen peroxide produced free radicals that were able to simultaneously degrade the biofilm matrix and kill the bacteria within, significantly reducing plaque and preventing the tooth decay, or cavities, in an animal model.

Beautiful woman smile. Dental health care clinic.Even using a very low concentration of hydrogen peroxide, the process was incredibly effective at disrupting the biofilm,” said Hyun (Michel) Koo, a professor in the Penn School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Orthodontics  and the senior author of the study, which was published in the journal Biomaterials. “Adding nanoparticles increased the efficiency of bacterial killing more than 5,000-fold.”

 

Source: https://news.upenn.edu/

Remote-Controlled NanoRobots Move Like A Bacterium In The Body

For the past few years, scientists around the world have been studying ways to use miniature robots to better treat a variety of diseases. The robots are designed to enter the human body, where they can deliver drugs at specific locations or perform precise operations like clearing clogged-up arteries. By replacing invasive, often complicated surgery, they could optimize medicine.

medical robots

Scientist Selman Sakar from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland  teamed up with Hen-Wei Huang and Bradley Nelson at ETHZ to develop a simple and versatile method for building such bio-inspired robots and equipping them with advanced features. They also created a platform for testing several robot designs and studying different modes of locomotion. Their work, published in Nature Communications, produced complex reconfigurable microrobots that can be manufactured with high throughput. They built an integrated manipulation platform that can remotely control the robots’ mobility with electromagnetic fields, and cause them to shape-shift using heat.

Unlike conventional robots, these microrobots are soft, flexible, and motor-less. They are made of a biocompatible hydrogel and magnetic nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have two functions. They give the microrobots their shape during the manufacturing process, and make them move and swim when an electromagnetic field is applied.

Building one of these nanorobots involves several steps. First, the nanoparticles are placed inside layers of a biocompatible hydrogel. Then an electromagnetic field is applied to orientate the nanoparticles at different parts of the robot, followed by a polymerization step to “solidify” the hydrogel. After this, the robot is placed in water where it folds in specific ways depending on the orientation of the nanoparticles inside the gel, to form the final overall 3D architecture of the nanorobot.

Once the final shape is achieved, an electromagnetic field is used to make the robot swim. Then, when heated, the robot changes shape and “unfolds”. This fabrication approach allowed the researchers to build microrobots that mimic the bacterium that causes African trypanosomiasis, otherwise known as sleeping sickness. This particular bacterium uses a flagellum for propulsion, but hides it away once inside a person’s bloodstream as a survival mechanism.

The researchers tested different microrobot designs to come up with one that imitates this behavior. The prototype robot presented in this work has a bacterium-like flagellum that enables it to swim. When heated with a laser, the flagellum wraps around the robot’s body and is “hidden”.

Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

How To Hide An Object

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, worked with UK industry to demonstrate for the first time a practical cloaking device that allows curved surfaces to appear flat to electromagnetic waves.

While the research might not lead to the invisibility cloak made famous in J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter novels quite yet, this practical demonstration could result in a step-change in how antennas are tethered to their platform. It could allow for antennas in different shapes and sizes to be attached in awkward places and a wide variety of materials.
cloak in actionCo-author, Professor Yang Hao from  QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, said: “The design is based upon transformation optics, a concept behind the idea of the invisibility cloak. Previous research has shown this technique working at one frequency. However, we can demonstrate that it works at a greater range of frequencies making it more useful for other engineering applications, such as nano-antennas and the aerospace industry.”

The researchers coated a curved surface, similar to the size of a tennis ball with a nanocomposite medium, which has seven distinct layers (called graded index nanocomposite) where the electric property of each layer varies depending on the position. The effect is to ‘cloak’ the object: such a structure can hide an object that would ordinarily have caused the wave to be scattered.

First author Dr Luigi La Spada also from QMUL’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science, said: “The study and manipulation of surface waves is the key to develop technological and industrial solutions in the design of real-life platforms, for different application fieldsWe demonstrated a practical possibility to use nanocomposites to control surface wave propagation through advanced additive manufacturing. Perhaps most importantly, the approach used can be applied to other physical phenomena that are described by wave equations, such as acoustics. For this reason, we believe that this work has a great industrial impact.”

Source: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/

Stamp Hard Disk For NanoComputer Contains All Books Ever Written

Every day, modern society creates more than a billion gigabytes of new data. To store all this data, it is increasingly important that each single bit occupies as little space as possible. A team of scientists at the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at Delft University (Netherlands) managed to bring this reduction to the ultimate limit: they built a memory of 1 kilobyte (8,000 bits), where each bit is represented by the position of one single chlorine atom.
In 1959, physicist Richard Feynman challenged his colleagues to engineer the world at the smallest possible scale. In his famous lecture There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom, he speculated that if we had a platform allowing us to arrange individual atoms in an exact orderly pattern, it would be possible to store one piece of information per atom. To honor the visionary Feynman, Otte and his team now coded a section of Feynman’s lecture on an area 100 nanometers wide
Hard disk for nanocomputer

In theory, this storage density would allow all books ever created by humans to be written on a single post stamp”, says lead-scientist Sander Otte. They reached a storage density of 500 Terabits per square inch (Tbpsi), 500 times better than the best commercial hard disk currently available. His team reports on this memory in Nature Nanotechnology on Monday July 18.

Source: http://www.tudelft.nl/

Fighting Cancer: Targeting A Molecule In The Blood Vessels

Even as researchers design more-potent new cancer therapies, they face a major challenge in making sure the drugs affect tumors specifically without also harming normal cells. This obstacle has thwarted many promising treatments.

Now, researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medicine have devised an innovative strategy for addressing this problem. Rather than aiming directly at cancer cells, they are focusing on targeting a molecule in the blood vessels that feed tumors and using nanotechnology to deliver tiny particles that will stick to the target and unleash their payload of cancer drugs.

coverThis image depicts the protein P-selectin (red) in the blood vessels (green) in a metastatic lung tumor

We know that cancer cells in the blood can come into contact with P-selectin on blood vessel walls to stop them from circulating and to begin the formation of metastatic tumors,” said Dr. Daniel Heller, a molecular pharmacologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering and an assistant professor of pharmacology a at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. “So in effect, we’re hacking into the metastatic process in order to intercept the cells and destroy the cancer.”

The target, a protein called P-selectin, serves as a kind of molecular Velcro for cancer treatments. It is especially prevalent in blood vessels that nourish cancer itself — including metastatic tumors, which cause roughly 90 percent of cancer deaths and are especially hard to treat.

The ability to target drugs to metastatic tumors would greatly improve their effectiveness and be a major advance for cancer treatments,” said lead author Dr. Yosi Shamay, a research fellow in Dr. Heller’s laboratory at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
Dr. Heller’s laboratory investigates the use of nanoparticles — tiny objects with diameters one thousandth that of a human hair — to carry drugs to tumors. The drugs are encapsulated within the nanoparticles, which must home in on a target within or near tumors to deliver the therapies effectively.
Dr. Shamay made the nanoparticles out of a very abundant and cheap substance called fucoidan, which is extracted from brown algae that grows in the ocean. Fucoidan has a natural affinity for P-selectin, so the nanoparticle is simple to make and adapt.

It’s difficult to develop a nanoparticle-based treatment that is effective and safe in lots of people,” Dr. Heller said. “You usually have to load both the drug and another component to the nanoparticle to enable the nanoparticle to bind to the correct spot — and any new element carries the potential to be toxic. But in this case, the nanoparticle itself is made of material that naturally attaches to the target”.

The researchers described this method in a study published June 29 and featured on the cover of Science Translational Medicine.

Source: http://weill.cornell.edu/

How To Save The Bees

It’s a global phenomenon that worries beekeepers and environmentalistshoney bee colonies dying at an alarming rate. Here in Poland, bee population has halved in the past 15 years. A disease called nosemosis is one cause.

beeCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Nosemosis is a very serious disease which shortens the bees’ lifespan. Infected worker bees live for a very short time in the summer, about 8 to 12 days, while they normally live 36 days. So the productivity of the whole bee family decreases and bees also have problems with passing the winter“, says Aneta Ptaszinska from the Maria-Curie Sklodowska University in Lublin (UMCS – Poland).

Nosema disease, or nosemosis is a honey bee gut disease caused by microscopic fungi that spread through food or water. When consumed it attacks the insects’ intestines, causing them to constantly search for food and eventually die in the process. Some studies blame pesticides for having a negative influence on the bees’ immune system, which then cannot fight off the fungi. But Ptaszynska says a new drug developed by her team strengthens the immune system to help beat the disease.

On one hand they decrease the level of Nosemosis, we can clearly observe a decrease in the number of spores in the intestines of bees given the extracts. On the other hand, they increase the level of enzymes responsible for the immunological reaction of the insects, enzymes which recognize pathogens, foreign bodies. We assume that in this way the extracts help the bees overcome this disease“, comments Dr. Ptaszinska.  She adds that the floral extract is safe for human consumption, and is effective in more than 90 percent of cases. Bees are vital for the world’s food supply, pollinating the vegetables and fruits we eat and those eaten by the animals we then consume. The drug is undergoing patenting procedures, and the team hopes that it creates enough buzz to find the right partners for production and distribution soon.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Turn CO2 Into Rock

An international team of scientists have found a potentially viable way to remove anthropogenic (caused or influenced by humans) carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphereturn it into rock.

The study, published today in Science, has shown for the first time that the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be permanently and rapidly locked away from the atmosphere, by injecting it into volcanic bedrock. The CO2 reacts with the surrounding rock, forming environmentally benign minerals.

turn co2 into rockCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Measures to tackle the problem of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and resultant climate change are numerous. One approach is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), where CO2 is physically removed from the atmosphere and trapped underground. Geoengineers have long explored the possibility of sealing CO2 gas in voids underground, such as in abandoned oil and gas reservoirs, but these are susceptible to leakage. So attention has now turned to the mineralisation of carbon to permanently dispose of CO2.

Until now it was thought that this process would take several hundreds to thousands of years and is therefore not a practical option. But the current study – led by Columbia University, University of Iceland, University of Toulouse and Reykjavik Energy – has demonstrated that it can take as little as two years.

Lead author Dr Juerg Matter, Associate Professor in Geoengineering at the University of Southampton, says: “Our results show that between 95 and 98 per cent of the injected CO2 was mineralised over the period of less than two years, which is amazingly fast.”

Carbonate minerals do not leak out of the ground, thus our newly developed method results in permanent and environmentally friendly storage of CO2 emissions,” adds Dr Matter, who is also a member of the University’s Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute and Adjunct Senior Scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Columbia University. “On the other hand, basalt is one of the most common rock type on Earth, potentially providing one of the largest CO2 storage capacity.

Storing CO2 as carbonate minerals significantly enhances storage security which should improve public acceptance of Carbon Capture and Storage as a climate change mitigation technology,” says Dr Matter. “The overall scale of our study was relatively small. So, the obvious next step for CarbFix is to upscale CO2 storage in basalt. This is currently happening at Reykjavik Energy’s Hellisheidi geothermal power plant, where up to 5,000 tonnes of CO2 per year are captured and stored in a basaltic reservoir.”

Source: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/

3D Nano-structured Porous Electrodes Boost Batteries

Battery-life is increasingly the sticking point of technological progress.The latest electric vehicles can practically drive themselve, but only for so long. Outback energy woes look like they could be solved by solar and home energy storage, if the available batteries can be improved. And what about the Pokemon GO players, cutting hunting trips short due to the battery-sapping requirements of the app?

The solution could come from Sunshine Coast nanotechnology company Nano Nouvelle, which is developing a three-dimensional, nano-structured, porous electrode that it says will help overcome the limitations of today’s batteries.The company announced today that its ‘Nanodenanomaterials were being tested and trialled by two unnamed US specialist battery manufacturers.

stephanie-moroz

CEO Stephanie Moroz said she hoped the profile of the trials would lead to wider adoption.“As Tesla proved with its Roadster EV sportscar, this sort of low-volume, high-margin starting point can provide a high visibility platform to demonstrate the benefits of innovative technology, which can accelerate its adoption by mass market manufacturers.”

Nano Nouvelle’s core technology, the Nanode uses tin as the electrode material, which has a much higher energy density than the current graphite technology. However, until now tin’s commercial use had been limited due to its tendency to swell during charging and subsequently lose energy.

This issue is overcome by the Nanode’s structure, made up of thin films of active material spread over a 3D and porous network of fibres, rather than stacked on a flat copper foil.

This enables the electrode structure to deal with the volume expansion of the tin while retaining dimensional stability at the electrode level. The result is batteries that can store the same amount of energy in a smaller volume, compared to commercial lithium ion batteries.

Moroz said she believed the nanotechnology could be easily incorporated into the existing battery manufacturing process. Moroz said she believed the nanotechnology could be easily incorporated into the existing battery manufacturing process.

We’re looking to make it plug and play for battery manufacturers,” she said.

Source: http://www.cio.com.au/

One Molecule Plays David Against The Goliath Of Aging

Are pomegranates really the superfood we’ve been led to believe will counteract the aging process? Up to now, scientific proof has been fairly weak. And some controversial marketing tactics have led to skepticism as well. A team of scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and the company Amazentis wanted to explore the issue by taking a closer look at the secrets of this plump pink fruit. They discovered that a molecule in pomegranates, transformed by microbes in the gut, enables muscle cells to protect themselves against one of the major causes of aging. In nematodes and rodents, the effect is nothing short of amazing. Human clinical trials are currently underway, but these initial findings have already been published in the journal Nature Medicine. 

pomegranates

As we age, our cells increasingly struggle to recycle their powerhouses. Called mitochondria, these inner compartments are no longer able to carry out their vital function, thus accumulate in the cell. This degradation affects the health of many tissues, including muscles, which gradually weaken over the years. A buildup of dysfunctional mitochondria is also suspected of playing a role in other diseases of aging, such as Parkinson’s disease.
The scientists identified a molecule that, all by itself, managed to re-establish the cell’s ability to recycle the components of the defective mitochondria: urolithin A. “It’s the only known molecule that can relaunch the mitochondrial clean-up process, otherwise known as mitophagy,” says Patrick Aebischer, co-author on the study. “It’s a completely natural substance, and its effect is powerful and measurable.”

The team started out by testing their hypothesis on the usual suspect: the nematode C. elegans. It’s a favorite test subject among aging experts, because after just 8-10 days it’s already considered elderly. The lifespan of worms exposed to urolithin A increased by more than 45% compared with the control group.

These initial encouraging results led the team to test the molecule on animals that have more in common with humans. In the rodent studies, like with C. elegans, a significant reduction in the number of mitochondria was observed, indicating that a robust cellular recycling process was taking place. Older mice, around two years of age, showed 42% better endurance while running than equally old mice in the control group.

According to study co-author Johan Auwerx, it would be surprising if urolithin A weren’t effective in humans. “Species that are evolutionarily quite distant, such as C elegans and the rat, react to the same substance in the same way. That’s a good indication that we’re touching here on an essential mechanism in living organisms.”

Urolithin A’s function is the product of tens of millions of years of parallel evolution between plants, bacteria and animals. According to Chris Rinsch, co-author and CEO of Amazentis, this evolutionary process explains the molecule’s effectiveness: “Precursors to urolithin A are found not only in pomegranates, but also in smaller amounts in many nuts and berries. Yet for it to be produced in our intestines, the bacteria must be able to break down what we’re eating. When, via digestion, a substance is produced that is of benefit to us, natural selection favors both the bacteria involved and their host. Our objective is to follow strict clinical validations, so that everyone can benefit from the result of these millions of years of evolution.”

Source; http://actu.epfl.ch/

 

Nanocomputer: How To Grow Atomically Thin Transistors

In an advance that helps pave the way for next-generation electronics and computing technologies—and possibly paper-thin gadgets —scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) developed a way to chemically assemble transistors and circuits that are only a few atoms thick. What’s more, their method yields functional structures at a scale large enough to begin thinking about real-world applications and commercial scalability“This is a big step toward a scalable and repeatable way to build atomically thin electronics or pack more computing power in a smaller area,” says Xiang Zhang*, a senior scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division who led the study.

Their work is part of a new wave of research aimed at keeping pace with Moore’s Law, which holds that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. In order to keep this pace, scientists predict that integrated electronics will soon require transistors that measure less than ten nanometers in length (nanocomputer). Transistors are electronic switches, so they need to be able to turn on and off, which is a characteristic of semiconductors. However, at the nanometer scale, silicon transistors likely won’t be a good option. That’s because silicon is a bulk material, and as electronics made from silicon become smaller and smaller, their performance as switches dramatically decreases, which is a major roadblock for future electronics.

Researchers have looked to two-dimensional crystals that are only one molecule thick as alternative materials to keep up with Moore’s Law. These crystals aren’t subject to the constraints of silicon. In this vein, the Berkeley Lab scientists developed a way to seed a single-layered semiconductor, in this case the TMDC molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), into channels lithographically etched within a sheet of conducting graphene. The two atomic sheets meet to form nanometer-scale junctions that enable graphene to efficiently inject current into the MoS2. These junctions make atomically thin transistors.

assembly of 2D crystals
This schematic shows the chemical assembly of two-dimensional crystals. Graphene is first etched into channels and the TMDC molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) begins to nucleate around the edges and within the channel. On the edges, MoS2 slightly overlaps on top of the graphene. Finally, further growth results in MoS2 completely filling the channels.

This approach allows for the chemical assembly of electronic circuits, using two-dimensional materials, which show improved performance compared to using traditional metals to inject current into TMDCs,” says Mervin Zhao, a lead author and Ph.D. student in Zhang’s group at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley.

Optical and electron microscopy images, and spectroscopic mapping, confirmed various aspects related to the successful formation and functionality of the two-dimensional transistors. In addition, the scientists demonstrated the applicability of the structure by assembling it into the logic circuitry of an inverter. This further underscores the technology’s ability to lay the foundation for a chemically assembled atomic computer or nanocomputer, the scientists say. “Both of these two-dimensional crystals have been synthesized in the wafer scale in a way that is compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing. By integrating our technique with other growth systems, it’s possible that future computing can be done completely with atomically thin crystals,” says Zhao.

*Zhang also holds the Ernest S. Kuh Endowed Chair at the University of California (UC) Berkeley and is a member of the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley. Other scientists who contributed to the research include Mervin Zhao, Yu Ye, Yang Xia, Hanyu Zhu, Siqi Wang, and Yuan Wang from UC Berkeley as well as Yimo Han and David Muller from Cornell University.

Source: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/

Nano Solar Cells

A humming laboratory is birthing tiny solar cells – the first such devices created on campus – as Kennesaw State (KSU) in Georgia researchers strive to develop better photovoltaic technologies. Sandip Das, assistant professor of electrical engineering in the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology, along with a team of three undergraduate research assistants, has recently fabricated the delicate solar cells, which are about 100 times thinner than a human hair. The future of solar power generation is in these flexible solar cells, Das said.  He and his research team are investigating various nano-materials to fabricate the third-generation solar cells. The researchers hope to develop a superior photovoltaic technology that produces cheaper and more efficient solar cells.

3rd generation Solar Cells

The most fascinating part of doing this research is the enormous potential that this new technology offers, such as integrating flexible solar cells on wearable electronics, backpacks and self-charging cell phones and electricity-generating layers on windows, especially on skyscrapers, and solar power’s ability to supply a large amount of clean, renewable and cheap energy for the future,” said David Danilchuk, an electrical engineering major who is an undergraduate research assistant on the project.

In the laboratory, the research team fabricated the solar cells’ multiple nano-structured layers using a unique manufacturing process. Specialty instruments, like electron microscopes, as well as X-ray spectroscopy techniques and precision electronic measurement systems, enable the research team to investigate and better understand the cells’ behavior.

Baker Nour, an electrical engineering student and member of the research team, explained that the fabrication process developed by the team can produce these solar cells on plastic substrates to create flexible solar cells — one of the most advanced ideas in solar technology today.

In practice, these flexible solar panels can be beneficial after catastrophic storms. Disaster relief personnel could transport rolled-up solar panels to produce portable power on site, Das explained. Commercial building developers also are eyeing smart building applications, like transparent solar panels for windows, so skyscrapers can generate solar power and be more energy efficient.  The most promising materials systems for future generation solar cells, according to Das, are the materials that his research team applies in their fabrication – an ultra-thin hybrid Perovskite noncrystalline film. Rather than using expensive silicon, they fabricate their solar cells on cheap glass substrates like those in windows and beverage bottles. The team plans to explore the fabrication process so they can develop solar cells on flexible plastics or metal foils, without requiring expensive materials, million-dollar equipment or scientific-grade clean rooms.

For the past 20 years, efficiency of silicon solar cells could not be improved much after substantial research efforts globally,” Das said.  He explained that silicon is not a good light absorber, and new technologies are needed to create high-efficiency cells at a lower cost. The new bandgap-engineered Perovskite crystals, which his team is investigating, can absorb a wider spectrum of sunlight compared to silicon, on a film that is 200 times thinner than silicon cells.

 

Source: http://web.kennesaw.edu/

Nanotech Tatoo Maps Emotions

A new temporary “electronic tattoo” developed by Tel Aviv University that can measure the activity of muscle and nerve cells researchers is poised to revolutionize medicine, rehabilitation, and even business and marketing research. The tattoo consists of a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that attaches to the skin, and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that enhances the electrode‘s performance. It records a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin.

The electrode, developed by Prof. Yael Hanein, head of TAU‘s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, may improve the therapeutic restoration of damaged nerves and tissue — and may even lead to new insights into our emotional life. Prof. Hanein’s research was published last month in Scientific Reports and presented at an international nanomedicine program held at TAU. One major application of the new electrode is the mapping of emotion by monitoring facial expressions through electric signals received from facial muscles.

tattoo

The ability to identify and map people’s emotions has many potential uses,” said Prof. Hanein. “Advertisers, pollsters, media professionals, and others — all want to test people’s reactions to various products and situations. Today, with no accurate scientific tools available, they rely mostly on inevitably subjective questionnaires.

Researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software,” Prof. Hanein continued. “But our skin electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution.”

Source: https://www.aftau.org/

How To Triple Perovskite Solar Cells Efficiency

A new type of two-dimensional-layered perovskite developed by Northwestern University, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Rice University researchers will open up new horizons for next-generation stable solar-cell devices and new opto-electronic devices such as light-emitting diodes, lasers and sensors.

The research team has tweaked its crystal production method and developed a 2-D perovskite with outstanding stability and more than triple the material’s previous power conversion efficiency. This could bring perovskite crystals closer to use in the burgeoning solar power industry.

flipping crystals

  • Crystal orientation has been a puzzle for more than two decades, and this is the first time we’ve been able to flip the crystal in the actual casting process,” said Hsinhan Tsai, a Rice graduate student at Los Alamos working with senior researcher and study lead co-author Aditya Mohite.

This is our breakthrough, using our spin-casting technique to create layered crystals whose electrons flow vertically down the material without being blocked, mid layer, by organic cations,” Tsai said.

Northwestern scientists created the two-dimensional material used by the researchers at Los Alamos in the new solar cells. Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, and Costas Stoumpos, a postdoctoral fellow in Kanatzidis’ group, had been exploring an interesting 2-D material that orients its layers perpendicular to the substrate.

This breakthrough resulted from a very strong synergy between our institutions — the materials design team at Northwestern that designed and prepared high-quality samples of the materials and showed they are promising and the Los Alamos team’s excellent skills in making solar cells and optimizing them to high performance,” Kanatzidis said.

Wanyi Nie, a Los Alamos co-author on the paper, noted, “The new 2-D perovskite is both more efficient and more stable, both under constant lighting and in exposure to the air, than the existing 3-D organic-inorganic crystals.

The study was published July 6 by the journal Nature.

Source: http://www.lanl.gov/

Nanotechnologies Crush the Road Construction Costs

The solution for affordable road infrastructure development could lie in the use of nanotechnology, according to a paper presented at the 35th annual Southern African Transport Conference in Pretoria. The cost of upgrading, maintaining and rehabilitating road infrastructure with limited funds makes it impossible for sub-Saharan Africa to become competitive in the world market, according to Professor Gerrit Jordaan of the University of Pretoria, a speaker at the conference. The affordability of road infrastructure depends on the materials used, the environment in which the road will be built and the traffic that will be using the road, explained Professor James Maina of the department of civil engineering at the University of Pretoria. Hauling materials to a construction site contributes hugely to costs, which planners try to minimise by getting materials closer to the site. But if there aren’t good quality materials near the site, another option is to modify poor quality materials for construction purposes. This is where nanotechnology comes in.

roads

Nanomaterial is really small; five nanometers are equivalent to 0.05mm,” explained Maina. The materials bind with the poor quality material which needs to be modified, and can then change the behaviour of the material.

For example, if the material is clay soil, it has a high affinity to water so when it absorbs water it expands, and when it dries out it contracts. Nanotechnology can make the soil water repellent. “Essentially, nanotechnology changes the properties to work for the construction process,” he said.

These nanotechnology-based products have been used successfully in many parts of the world, including India, the USA and in the West African region.
“We need to have roads to enable mass movement of people and goods,” said Maina. Well-maintained road infrastructure ensures optimal speed of movement, opening up economic opportunities for people. Moving goods safely is also important as damaged goods translate into economic cost, he explained. “For a country to be competitive globally, we need to reduce costs as much as possible. We need well maintained and well planned road infrastructure,” comments Maina.

Source: http://mybroadband.co.za/

How To Map RNA Molecules In The Brain

Cells contain thousands of messenger RNA molecules, which carry copies of DNA’s genetic instructions to the rest of the cell. MIT engineers have now developed a way to visualize these molecules in higher resolution than previously possible in intact tissues, allowing researchers to precisely map the location of RNA throughout cells. Key to the new technique is expanding the tissue before imaging it. By making the sample physically larger, it can be imaged with very high resolution using ordinary microscopes commonly found in research labs.

MIT RNA-Imaging

Now we can image RNA with great spatial precision, thanks to the expansion process, and we also can do it more easily in large intact tissues,” says Ed Boyden, an associate professor of biological engineering and brain and cognitive sciences at MIT, a member of MIT’s Media Lab and McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of a paper describing the technique in the July 4 issue of Nature Methods.

Studying the distribution of RNA inside cells could help scientists learn more about how cells control their gene expression and could also allow them to investigate diseases thought to be caused by failure of RNA to move to the correct location.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/

Solar Cells: How To Boost Perovkite Efficiency Up To 31%

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered a possible secret to dramatically boosting the efficiency of perovskite solar cells hidden in the nanoscale peaks and valleys of the crystalline material.

Solar cells made from compounds that have the crystal structure of the mineral perovskite have captured scientists’ imaginations. They’re inexpensive and easy to fabricate, like organic solar cells. Even more intriguing, the efficiency at which perovskite solar cells convert photons to electricity has increased more rapidly than any other material to date, starting at three percent in 2009—when researchers first began exploring the material’s photovoltaic capabilities—to 22 percent today. This is in the ballpark of the efficiency of silicon solar cells.

Now, as reported online July 4 in the journal Nature Energy, a team of scientists from the Molecular Foundry and the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, both at Berkeley Lab, found a surprising characteristic of a perovskite solar cell that could be exploited for even higher efficiencies, possibly up to 31 percent.

Using photoconductive atomic force microscopy, the scientists mapped two properties on the active layer of the solar cell that relate to its photovoltaic efficiency. The maps revealed a bumpy surface composed of grains about 200 nanometers in length, and each grain has multi-angled facets like the faces of a gemstone. Unexpectedly, the scientists discovered a huge difference in energy conversion efficiency between facets on individual grains. They found poorly performing facets adjacent to highly efficient facets, with some facets approaching the material’s theoretical energy conversion limit of 31 percent. The scientists say these top-performing facets could hold the secret to highly efficient solar cells, although more research is needed.

perovskite solar panel

“If the material can be synthesized so that only very efficient facets develop, then we could see a big jump in the efficiency of perovskite solar cells, possibly approaching 31 percent,” says Sibel Leblebici, a postdoctoral researcher at the Molecular Foundry.

Leblebici works in the lab of Alexander Weber-Bargioni, who is a corresponding author of the paper that describes this research. Ian Sharp, also a corresponding author, is a Berkeley Lab scientist at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis. Other Berkeley Lab scientists who contributed include Linn Leppert, Francesca Toma, and Jeff Neaton, the director of the Molecular Foundry.

Source: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/

Diabetes drug eliminates insulin injections

More than 400 million people around the world suffer from diabetes. Until recently it was thought that Type 2 diabetes was an adult onset condition. However, the WHO says it’s now occurring increasingly in children too. So news that Israeli drugmaker Oramed Pharmaceuticals Inc has developed an experimental oral insulin that safely reduces night-time blood glucose levels in type 2 patients is promising. Oramed‘s chief executive Nadav Kidron says the drug’s mid-stage trial shows there could be a healthier alternative to insulin injections.

pillsCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
When you give it as an injection, it goes straight into the blood stream but when we give it orally, it goes first, it’s passed to the liver . . . and the liver is the organ that regulates the secretion of the insulin into the blood stream so that’s why it’s the healthier, more physiological way to treat diabetes through oral insulin“, Kidron says.

The study is surprising because until now many researchers thought insulin couldn’t survive the onslaught of digestive juices. Oramed says the new drug uses a protective coating and a high-enough dose of insulin so that most of it can be destroyed and still deliver a clinically beneficial amount of the hormone. The results must be replicated in a larger Phase III trial before the drug, known as ORMD-0801, can be submitted for approval.

Source: http://www.oramed.com/

Nanotechnology Against Watch Counterfeiters

Thanks to research currently being carried out at Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) research institute, an ultraviolet lamp may soon be all that you need to tell the difference between luxury watches and knock-offs. The “DNAwatch” technology is actually being developed by EPFL spinoff company Nanoga, and involves what is being referred to as a nanoscopic watermark.

watch counterfeitersCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Using a machine ordinarily used for manufacturing LEDs, a proprietary blend of chemicals is applied to a glass surface as a vapor, forming into photonic crystals. These crystals are in turn made up of ultrathin layers of atoms, and they convert UV light into colorsdifferent colors can be produced by tweaking the geometry and alignment of the crystals on the glass.

Lithographic printing techniques are used to mask some areas of the surface, so that the watermark takes on a watch-specific pattern. When viewed under visible light, that pattern is invisible to the human eye, in no way altering the watch’s appearance. Under UV light, however, the watermark shows up.

According to EPFL, counterfeiting such a watermark would be as difficult as forging the Swiss 50-franc note. Not only would counterfeiters need to know which chemicals to use and in what proportions, but they would also need expensive equipment to apply them.

A variation on the process should reportedly also work on ceramic and metal surfaces. Nanoga is currently shopping the DNAwatch technology around to various luxury watchmakers.

Source: https://actu.epfl.ch/

Bionic Cardiac Patch

Scientists have built a “bioniccardiac patch that could act similarly to a pacemaker and monitor as well as respond to cardiac problems, a kind of nanocomputer. The researchers from Harvard University constructed nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be seeded with cardiac cells to produce a bionic cardiac patch — the engineered heart tissue with ability to replace heart muscle damaged during a heart attack.

bionic cardiac patch

I think one of the biggest impacts would ultimately be in the area that involves replaced of damaged cardiac tissue with pre-formed tissue patches,” said Charles Lieber, who along with colleagues described the work in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. “Rather than simply implanting an engineered patch built on a passive scaffold, our works suggests it will be possible to surgically implant an innervated patch that would now be able to monitor and subtly adjust its performance,” he added.

Once implanted, the “bionic” patch could act similarly to a pacemakerdelivering electrical shocks to correct arrhythmia. Unlike traditional pacemakers, the “bionic” patch — because its electronic components are integrated throughout the tissue — can detect arrhythmia far sooner, and operate at far lower voltages. “Even before a person started to go into large-scale arrhythmia that frequently causes irreversible damage or other heart problems, this could detect the early-stage instabilities and intervene sooner,” Lieber said. “It can also continuously monitor the feedback from the tissue and actively respond,” he added.

The patch might also find use as a tool to monitor the responses under cardiac drugs, or to help pharmaceutical companies to screen the effectiveness of drugs under development.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Vertical Farming

Odds are this isn’t like other farms you’re used to. Located in a warehouse in an urban New Jersey neighborhood,  Aerofarms grows crops year-round without using soil or sunlight. The company has an ambitious goal: to grow high-yielding crops using economical methods that will provide locally sourced food to the community.

vertical farmsCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
“We need a new way to feed our planet. Aerofarms presents one of the solutions to do so. Here we can grow in cities, in warehouses in cities, so we’re close to where the mouths are, reducing those transport miles and basically do more with less. That’s what we need to do. We use to grow our plants, about 95 percent less water to grow the plants, about 50 percent less fertilizer as nutrients and … zero pesticides, herbicides, fungicides“, says David rosenberg, CEO of Aerofarms.

Inside, the 30,000 square foot building (2,800 square meter) are crops of kale, arugula and watercress illuminated by rows of light emitting diodes, or LED lamps, and planted in white fabric made from recycled water bottles. The levels of light, temperature and nutrients reaching each plant in the tall columns are controlled using what AeroFarms describes as a patented growing algorithm.

We can take that exact same seed for leafy greens that out in the field can take 30-45 days to grow and grow it in 12-16 days. It’s always about optimizing. We’re giving it the right nutrients. So we’re looking at the macro nutrients, the micro nutrients, we are adjusting based on the plant variety, the stage of maturation, and we’re able to again, deliver a higher quality product more consistently all year round“, says co-founder and Chief marketing officer Marc Oshima.

The result according to Oshima – a farm that can be 75 times more productive. The company’s model also eliminates transportation of crops from grow states like California and Arizona to consumers in the Northeast. While they aren’t saying just how much food they produce, plans are in development for a larger Newark facility, and 25 more farms in the United States and abroad over the next five years. If growth continues at that rate we could one day see our cities rival the countryside as the home of agriculture.

Source:  http://www.aerofarms.com/

Nanotechnology Boosts Oil Recovery

As oil producers struggle to adapt to , getting as much oil as possible out of every well has become even more important, despite concerns from nearby residents that some chemicals used to boost production may pollute underground water resources.

Researchers from the University of Houston have reported the discovery of a nanotechnology-based solution that could address both issues – achieving 15 percent tertiary oil recovery at low cost, without the large volume of chemicals used in most commercial fluids. The solution – graphene-based Janus amphiphilic nanosheets – is effective at a concentration of just 0.01 percent, meeting or exceeding the performance of both conventional and other nanotechnology-based fluids, said Zhifeng Ren, MD Anderson Chair professor of physics. Janus nanoparticles have at least two physical properties, allowing different chemical reactions on the same particle.

The low concentration and the high efficiency in boosting tertiary oil recovery make the nanofluid both more environmentally friendly and less expensive than options now on the market, said Ren, who also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. He is lead author on a paper describing the work, published June 27 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

oil well

Our results provide a novel nanofluid flooding method for tertiary oil recovery that is comparable to the sophisticated chemical methods,” they wrote. “We anticipate that this work will bring simple nanofluid flooding at low concentration to the stage of oilfield practice, which could result in oil being recovered in a more environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates as much as 75 percent of recoverable reserves may be left after producers capture hydrocarbons that naturally rise to the surface or are pumped out mechanically, followed by a secondary recovery process using water or gas injection.

Traditional “tertiaryrecovery involves injecting a chemical mix into the well and can recover between 10 percent and 20 percent, according to the authors. But the large volume of chemicals used in tertiary oil recovery has raised concerns about potential environmental damage.

Obviously simple nanofluid flooding (containing only nanoparticles) at low concentration (0.01 wt% or less) shows the greatest potential from the environmental and economic perspective,” the researchers wrote.

Previously developed simple nanofluids recover less than 5 percent of the oil when used at a 0.01 percent concentration, they reported. That forces oil producers to choose between a higher nanoparticle concentration – adding to the cost – or mixing with polymers or surfactants. In contrast, they describe recovering 15.2 percent of the oil using their new and simple nanofluid at that concentration – comparable to chemical methods and about three times more efficient than other nanofluids.

Source: http://www.uh.edu/

Nanoparticle Attacks Agressive Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC), the most aggressive form of thyroid cancer, has a mortality rate of nearly 100 percent and a median survival time of three to five months. One promising strategy for the treatment of these solid tumors and others is RNA interference (RNAi) nanotechnology, but delivering RNAi agents to the sites of tumors has proved challenging. Investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, together with collaborators from Massachusetts General Hospital, have developed an innovative nanoplatform that allows them to effectively deliver RNAi agents to the sites of cancer and suppress tumor growth and reduce metastasis in preclinical models of ATC.

thyroid cancer

We call this a ‘theranostic’ platform because it brings a therapy and a diagnostic together in one functional nanoparticle,” said co-senior author Jinjun Shi, PhD, assistant professor of Anesthesia in the Anesthesia Department. “We expect this study to pave the way for the development of theranostic platforms for image-guided RNAi delivery to advanced cancers.”

RNAi, the discovery of which won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 10 years ago, allows researchers to silence mutated genes, including those upon which cancers depend to grow and survive and metastasize. Many ATCs depend upon mutations in the commonly mutated cancer gene BRAF. By delivering RNAi agents that specifically target and silence this mutated gene, the investigators hoped to stop both the growth and the spread of ATC, which often metastasizes to the lungs and other organs.

When RNAi is delivered on its own, it is usually broken down by enzymes or filtered out by the kidneys before it reaches tumor cells. Even when RNAi agents make it as far as the tumor, they are often unable to penetrate or are rejected by the cancer cells. To overcome these barriers, the investigators used nanoparticles to deliver the RNAi molecules to ATC tumors. In addition, they coupled the nanoparticles with a near-infrared fluorescent polymer, which allowed them to see where the nanoparticles accumulated in a mouse model of ATC.

The results have appeared in the journal  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/

Hydrogen Fuel Stations

A Stanford University research lab has developed new technologies to tackle two of the world’s biggest energy challenges – clean fuel for transportation and grid-scale energy storageHydrogen fuel has long been touted as a clean alternative to gasoline. Automakers began offering hydrogen-powered cars to American consumers last year, but only a handful have sold, mainly because hydrogen refueling stations are few and far between.

silicone nanoconesStanford engineers created arrays of silicon nanocones to trap sunlight and improve the performance of solar cells made of bismuth vanadate

Millions of cars could be powered by clean hydrogen fuel if it were cheap and widely available,” said Yi Cui, associate professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford.

Unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, which emit carbon dioxide, hydrogen cars themselves are emissions free. Making hydrogen fuel, however, is not emission free: Today, making most hydrogen fuel involves natural gas in a process that releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

To address the problem, Cui and his colleagues have focused on photovoltaic water splitting. This emerging technology consists of a solar-powered electrode immersed in water. When sunlight hits the electrode, it generates an electric current that splits the water into its constituent parts, hydrogen and oxygen. Finding an affordable way to produce clean hydrogen from water has been a challenge. Conventional solar electrodes made of silicon quickly corrode when exposed to oxygen, a key byproduct of water splitting. Several research teams have reduced corrosion by coating the silicon with iridium and other precious metals.
The researchers described their findings in two studies published this month in the journals Science Advances and Nature Communications. 

Writing in the June 17 edition of Sciences Advances, Cui and his colleagues presented a new approach using bismuth vanadate, an inexpensive compound that absorbs sunlight and generates modest amounts of electricity.

Bismuth vanadate has been widely regarded as a promising material for photoelectrochemical water splitting, in part because of its low cost and high stability against corrosion,” said Cui, who is also an associate professor of photon science at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. “However, the performance of this material remains well below its theoretical solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency.”

Bismuth vanadate absorbs light but is a poor conductor of electricity. To carry a current, a solar cell made of bismuth vanadate must be sliced very thin, 200 nanometers or less, making it virtually transparent. As a result, visible light that could be used to generate electricity simply passes through the cell.

To capture sunlight before it escapes, Cui’s team turned to nanotechnology. The researchers created microscopic arrays containing thousands of silicon nanocones, each about 600 nanometers tall.

Nanocone structures have shown a promising light-trapping capability over a broad range of wavelengths,” Cui explained. “Each cone is optimally shaped to capture sunlight that would otherwise pass through the thin solar cell.”

In the experiment, Cui and his colleagues deposited the nanocone arrays on a thin film of bismuth vanadate. Both layers were then placed on a solar cell made of perovskite, another promising photovoltaic material.

When submerged, the three-layer tandem device immediately began splitting water at a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 6.2 percent, already matching the theoretical maximum rate for a bismuth vanadate cell.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/

Smart Threads For Clothing And Robots

Fabrics containing flexible electronics are appearing in many novel products, such as clothes with in-built screens and solar panels. More impressively, these fabrics can act as electronic skins that can sense their surroundings and could have applications in robotics and prosthetic medicine. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST – Saudi Arabia) researchers have now developed smart threads that detect the strength and location of pressures exerted on them1. Most flexible sensors function by detecting changes in the electrical properties of materials in response to pressure, temperature, humidity or the presence of gases. Electronic skins are built up as arrays of several individual sensors. These arrays currently need complex wiring and data analysis, which makes them too heavy, large or expensive for large-scale production.

Yanlong Tai and Gilles Lubineau from the University’s Division of Physical Science and Engineering have found a different approach. They built their smart threads from cotton threads coated with layers of one of the miracle materials of nanotechnology: single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs).

smart threadsThe twisted smart threads developed by KAUST researchers can be woven into pressure-sensitive electronic skin fabrics for use in novel clothing, robots or medical prosthetics

Cotton threads are a classic material for fabrics, so they seemed a logical choice,” said Lubineau. “Networks of nanotubes are also known to have piezoresistive properties, meaning their electrical resistance depends on the applied pressure.”

The researchers showed their threads had decreased resistance when subjected to stronger mechanical strains, and crucially the amplitude of the resistance change also depended on the thickness of the SWCNT coating.

These findings led the researchers to their biggest breakthrough: they developed threads of graded thickness with a thick SWCNT layer at one end tapering to a thin layer at the other end. Then, by combining threads in pairs—one with graded thickness and one of uniform thickness—the researchers could not only detect the strength of an applied pressure load, but also the position of the load along the threads.

Our system is not the first technology to sense both the strength and position of applied pressures, but our graded structure avoids the need for complicated electrode wirings, heavy data recording and analysis,” said Tai.

The researchers have used their smart threads to build two- and three-dimensional arrays that accurately detect pressures similar to those that real people and robots might be exposed to.
We hope that electronic skins made from our smart threads could benefit any robot or medical prosthetic in which pressure sensing is important, such as artificial hands,” said Lubineau.

https://discovery.kaust.edu.sa/

Walking on The Street With Your Massaging Jacket

While it’s not visible to the naked eye, both of these people are getting a back massage, thanks to this jacket called the Airawear. Designed by TWare in Singapore, it uses air to create pressure on targeted parts of the upper and lower back with a massaging sensation. There are six inflatable pressure point relaxers that target muscles and pain points. They’re all controlled with a smart phone app, which means you’re free to continue working or going about your regular activities. CEO Lin Wei Liang says it’s the perfect solution, for people who spend their days hunched over computers.

aerawearCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We’re always in a tense, hunched-back position, in a bad posture, and that causes a lot of back pain and shoulder pain … So, in this context, it’s very hard for employees to maybe take out any kind of conventional massage device, or any hand-held massage device to start to provide some massage to themselves to get some form of relief. So what we have here is much more invisible, discreet, something that you can wear just like a normal hoodie or jacket, and yet you can get that massage without people noticing ,” says Lin Wei Liang, Tware CEO.

The device also has a posture correction feature that sends a signal when sensors detect the user needs an adjustment. Airawear does require a charge and has a built-in USB port so users can get three hours of continuous massage. At a recent trial potential buyers gave the $119 jacket a spin.

I thought it was great, I loved the pressure coming out of the jacket. You can basically feel your whole body just relaxing. The mode I was actually on was the “Relax” mode, so it’s not too much pressure, but it’s just enough that it makes you feel comfortable enough and at ease“, comments Cianta Seneviratne. As for the actual health benefits, not everyone agrees that the jacket should be used to treat back pain.

Physiotherapist Michelle Tong explains: “I would think that they’d wear it and forget about the time. You might be using it and working, and you might be massaged for five hours, for example. So you question whether the person would develop a tolerance to it, so each time they’re using it, they end up having to apply a high pressure each time, just to get the same effect, as you would if you were taking painkillers.

That doesn’t seem to be affecting Tware‘s plans. The company’s crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter, has already surpassed its goal by more than $50 thousand (USD). Deliveries of jackets are expected to begin in November of 2016.

Source: http://mytware.com/

Nanotechnology Key Driver for the Global Internet of Things Market

Analysts from Technavio,  a leading market research companyforecast the global internet of nano things (IoNT) market to grow at a annual growth rate of more than 24% during the 2016/2020  period, according to their latest report. The rise in the number of connected nanoscale devices in industries has led to generation of large data sets. These data can be used to optimize costs, deliver better services, and boost revenues. Also, the interconnection of nanoscale devices has enabled efficient data communication between disparate devices over the network. Thus, IoNT helps organizations to reduce the complexity in communication and increase the process efficiency using data collected from nanoscale devices.

internetofthings

Even governments have realized the importance of IoNT technology in the healthcare sector that can be used to treat cancer and other genetic diseases at the molecular level. This has further increased the demand and awareness of IoNT among multiple industries,” says Amit Sharma, a lead analyst at Technavio for research on IT professional services.

The report also highlights the US government’s National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) that supports the adoption of nanotechnology in industries, such as healthcare, defense, and textiles, due to its vast applications. This initiative has been awarded over USD 22 billion since 2001 to promote the adoption of nanoscience and nanotechnology by states, universities, and companies.

The rise in demand for miniaturization of electronics products coupled with increased consumer demand for smaller and more powerful devices at affordable prices has made nanotechnology more popular among industries. Both private and public sectors are investing heavily in R&D to tap the potential benefits of nanotechnology.

Also, the rise in commercialization of nanomaterials, such as nanocatalyst thin films for catalytic converters, nanotechnology-enhanced thin-film solar cells, and nanoscale electronic memory, is shaping the growth of the global nanotechnology market. Thus, there is an increase in the number of interconnected nanodevices. IoNT provides a communication infrastructure for interconnected nanodevices to share information and coordinate multiple activities over the Internet.

“The Internet revolution is fueling global connectivity by bringing unconnected devices, such as nanoscale devices, on the network. The nanonetwork technology is evolving to meet the needs of various applications. Such technologies provide an effective communication infrastructure for the rapid pace of communication among nanoscale devices,” comments Amit.

The scope of Internet has been extended due to increased interconnection of nanosensors with consumer devices and other physical assets. IoNT enables data collection, processing, and sharing with end-users. It finds application in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and logistics, energy and utilities, and other services.

Source: http://www.businesswire.com/

Artificial Intelligence Mimicks Biological Hierarchy

New research from University of Wyoming and INRIA (France) explains why so many biological networks, including the human brain (a network of neurons), exhibit a hierarchical structure, and will improve attempts to create artificial intelligence.

biological hierarchyThe evolution of hierarchy – a simple system of ranking – in biological networks may arise because of the costs associated with network connections

Like large businesses, many biological networks are hierarchically organised, such as gene, protein, neural, and metabolic networks. This means they have separate units that can each be repeatedly divided into smaller and smaller subunits. For example, the human brain has separate areas for motor control and tactile processing, and each of these areas consist of sub-regions that govern different parts of the body.

But why do so many biological networks evolve to be hierarchical? The results of the study suggest that hierarchy evolves not because it produces more efficient networks, but instead because hierarchically wired networks have fewer connections. This is because connections in biological networks are expensive – they have to be built, housed, maintained, etc. – and there is therefore an evolutionary pressure to reduce the number of connections.
The findings not only explain why biological networks are hierarchical, they might also give an explanation for why many man-made systems such as the Internet and road systems are also hierarchical“, comments Jeff Clune, author of the paper.

The study has been published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Perovskite Solar Cells Surpass 20% Efficiency

Researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals.
Michael Graetzel and his team found that, by briefly reducing the pressure while fabricating perovskite crystals, they were able to achieve the highest performance ever measured for larger-size perovskite solar cells, reaching over 20% efficiency and matching the performance of conventional thin-film solar cells of similar sizes. This is promising news for perovskite technology that is already low cost and under industrial development. However, high performance in pervoskites does not necessarily herald the doom of silicon-based solar technology. Safety issues still need to be addressed regarding the lead content of current perovskite solar-cell prototypes in addition to determining the stability of actual devices.

peroskite solar cell

Layering perovskites on top of silicon to make hybrid solar panels may actually boost the silicon solar-cell industry. Efficiency could exceed 30%, with the theoretical limit being around 44%. The improved performance would come from harnessing more solar energy: the higher energy light would be absorbed by the perovskite top layer, while lower energy sunlight passing through the perovskite would be absorbed by the silicon layer. Graetzel is known for his transparent dye-sensitized solar cells. It turns out that the first perovskite solar cells were dye-sensitized cells where the dye was replaced by small perovskite particles. His lab’s latest perovskite prototype, roughly the size of an SD card, looks like a piece of glass that is darkened on one side by a thin film of perovskite. Unlike the transparent dye-sensitized cells, the perovskite solar cell is opaque.

The results are published in Science.

Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

90 Minutes To Annihilate Early Stage Prostate Cancer

A prostate cancer patient undergoing a new photodynamic therapy that’s exciting specialists. Developed in Israel, treatment takes 90 minutes and involves no radiation or chemotherapy. It’s pain free and tests in Latin America showed an impressive clear-up rate and minimal side effects for early stage patients.

Prostate cancer

The patient may be cured, he may not be even cured of his disease but he may have a remedy for 20-30 years which is exactly what we need. Most of these patients are men the age of 60-70, not all of them healthy, and if you give them 10-20 years with good health and without side effects, which is the main thing, then we’ve done a great thing and we’ve done a revolution“, says Professor Jack Baniel, Chief Urologist at the Ramat Aviv Medical Center.

Israeli start-up Steba Research developed the therapy, in conjunction with Weizmann Insititute professors. It’s a focal therapy, which destroys tumours in the prostate while leaving the gland and most tissue intact. Using ultrasound, doctors insert conductors into the body, close to blood vessels feeding the tumour. Illuminating optic fibres are placed inside the conductors. A drug called Tookad that makes light toxic to living tissue is injected into the patient’s blood.

When doctors light up the optic fibres inside the patient, the cells touched by light die instantly. This patient is delighted with his treatment.  “So one day after the treatment I was back at home and three days later I was back at the office with regular life like before, and today after I got the new MRI I found out that my life is back again and everything is like before, no side affects, sexual life like before and I feel great“, comments Yaron Sfadia, patient.
The treatment has already been approved in Mexico. Phase III trials are currently taking place in New York and the developers are confident it won’t be long before the treatment becomes widespread. Future work to extend the same photodynamic principles to other types of cancers is possible.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Algae To Power Jets

Aviation giant Airbus hope algae could one day help power jets – and help airlines cut their C02 emissions. They’re working with the Munich Technical University (Germany) to cultivate the photosynthetic organisms in this lab. Algae here is cultivated in water with a salt content of 6-9 percent. A combination of light and carbon dioxide does the rest.

biofuel planesCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Primarily you need obviously algae cells that are able to generate fats and oils. In combination with CO2 and light these algae cells propagate and form algae biomass and under certain cultivation conditions, for example the lack of nitrogen in the cultivation media, these algae cells accumulate fats and oils in their cell mass and this can reach up to 50 to 70 percent of the total cell weight. That is quite a lot and once you formed that fat and oil you can actually extract it from the cell and convert it over a chemical process“, says  Thomas Brueck, Professor at Munich Technical University (TUM). In these open tanks algae grows 12 times faster than plants cultivated on soil, producing an oil yield 30 times that of rapeseed.

Algae fuel today is still in the state of research so today, we could probably not offer it at costs which are realistic to run an airline. But we are sure that over time, we will make it possible to offer kerosine made of algae for a competitive price“, comments Gregor von Kursell, Airbus Group Spokesman. The company says the project remains in its infancy. Researchers believe biofuel from algaculture could provide up to 5 percent of jetfuel needs by around 2050.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Biosensor Chip Detects DNA Mutations

Bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed an electrical graphene chip capable of detecting mutations in DNA. Researchers say the technology could one day be used in various medical applications such as blood-based tests for early cancer screening, monitoring disease biomarkers and real-time detection of viral and microbial sequences.

biosensor chip SNP detection

We are at the forefront of developing a fast and inexpensive digital method to detect gene mutations at high resolution—on the scale of a single nucleotide change in a nucleic acid sequence,” said Ratnesh Lal, professor of bioengineering, mechanical engineering and materials science in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.

The technology, which is at a proof-of-concept stage, is a first step toward a biosensor chip that can be implanted in the body to detect a specific DNA mutation—in real time—and transmit the information wirelessly to a mobile device such as a smartphone or laptop.

The advance was published June 13 in the online early edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: http://jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/

Super Capacitor for NanoComputer

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland developed an extremely efficient small-size energy storage, a micro-supercapacitor, which can be integrated directly inside a silicon microcircuit chip. The high energy and power density of the miniaturized energy storage relies on the new hybrid nanomaterial developed recently at VTT. This technology opens new possibilities for integrated mobile devices and paves the way for zero-power autonomous devices required for the future Internet of Things (IoT).

Supercapacitors resemble electrochemical batteries. However, in contrast to for example mobile phone lithium ion batteries, which utilize chemical reactions to store energy, supercapacitors store mainly electrostatic energy that is bound at the interface between liquid and solid electrodes. Similarly to batteries supercapacitors are typically discrete devices with large variety of use cases from small electronic gadgets to the large energy storages of electrical vehicles.

The energy and power density of a supercapacitor depends on the surface area and conductivity of the solid electrodes. VTT‘s research group has developed a hybrid nanomaterial electrode, which consists of porous silicon coated with a few nanometre thick titanium nitride layer by atomic layer deposition (ALD). This approach leads to a record large conductive surface in a small volume. Inclusion of ionic liquid in a micro channel formed in between two hybrid electrodes results in extremely small and efficient energy storage.
nano capacitor 2

The new supercapacitor has excellent performance. For the first time, silicon based micro-supercapacitor competes with the leading carbon and graphene based devices in power, energy and durability.

Micro-supercapacitors can be integrated directly with active microelectronic devices to store electrical energy generated by different thermal, light and vibration energy harvesters and to supply the electrical energy when needed. This is important for autonomous sensor networks, wearable electronics and mobile electronics of the IoT.

VTT‘s research group takes the integration to the extreme by integrating the new nanomaterial micro-supercapacitor energy storage directly inside a silicon chip. The demonstrated in-chip supercapacitor technology enables storing energy of as much as 0.2 joule and impressive power generation of 2 watts on a one square centimetre silicon chip. At the same time it leaves the surface of the chip available for active integrated microcircuits and sensors.

VTT is currently seeking a party interested in commercializing the technique.

Source: http://www.vttresearch.com/

Solar Cells: How To Transform More Solar Energy Into Electricity

Sagrario Domínguez-Fernández, a Spanish telecommunications engineer at CEMITEC, has managed to increase light absorption in silicon by means of nanostructures etched onto photovoltaic cells. This increases the efficiency obtained in these electronic devices which are made of this element and which transform solar energy into electricity.
solar cells

Over 30 percent of the sunlight that strikes a silicon is reflected, which means it cannot be used in the photoelectric conversion,” explained Sagrario Domínguez. “Because the nanostructures on the surface of a material have dimensions in the light wavelength range, they interfere with the surface in a particular way and allow the amount of reflected light to be modified.”

Sagrario Domínguez designed and optimised structures on a nanometric scaleto try and find one that would minimise the reflectance [ability of a surface to reflect light] of the silicon in the wavelength range in which solar cells function.” In their manufacturing process, she resorted to what is known as laser interference lithography which consists of applying laser radiation to a photo-sensitive material to create structures on a nanometric scale. Specifically, she used polished silicon wafers to which she gave the shape of cylindrical pillar and obtained a 77 percent reduction in the reflectance of this element.

Sagrario Domínguez then went on to modify the manufacturing processes to produce the nanostructures on the silicon substrates used in commercial solar cells. “These substrates have dimensions and a surface roughness that makes them, ‘a priori’, unsuitable for processes,” pointed out the researcher. Having overcome the difficulties, she incorporated nanostructures onto following the standard processes of the photovoltaics industry. “According to the literature, this is the first time that it has been possible to manufacture periodic nanostructures; they are the ones that on the surface of a material are continuously repeated on substrates of this type, and therefore, the first standard solar cell with periodic nanostructures,” pointed out the new MIT PhD holder. The efficiency obtained is 15.56 percent, which is a very promising value when compared with others included in the literature.

Source: http://phys.org/

Personality prediction: ‘Person of Interest’ TV Show Becomes Real

Is Faception an ingenious way to increase public safety or an incursion into our civil liberties? The former, say its makers. The Israeli start-up says it can isolate human character traits in faces captured by photograph or video. It says it can distinguish about 20 different personality groups, ranging from champion poker players to crime suspects.

face recognitionCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

What we do, we know, with high level of accuracy, your personality ingredients, behaviour, potential and so we can have a profile about someone, as an individual and the same we can do about a crowd…let’s say gate number eight there are too much people that potentially can be terrorists or violent audience so this is something that is very crucial for public safety“, says Shai Gilboa, CEO of Faception company.
Faception won’t say how the algorithm works, except that it somehow gleans genetic information that lies within facial expressions. The firm insists it has no interest in retaining collected data and that the system disregards racial profiling.

Security experts are not convinced that’s enough. “Certainly advancement in technologies that enable to monitor an individual and actually to assess certain traits or certain attributes about individuals in the open space opens surveillance and monitoring capabilities which kind of like put in risk private freedoms that we used to enjoy, like the freedom of privacy, like the freedom of communication that we used to enjoy and now the technoligy certainly changes the balance“, comments Dr. Nimrod Kozlovski, security expert. Counter-terror experts say the firm must improve its 86 percent successful detection rate for it to be useful in airports. Civil liberties campaigners might say it shouldn’t be used at all.

Source: http://www.faception.com/

Tiny Diamonds Revolutionize Nanotechnology

Nanomaterials have the potential to improve many next-generation technologies. They promise to speed up computer chips, increase the resolution of medical imaging devices and make electronics more energy efficient. But imbuing nanomaterials with the right properties can be time consuming and costly. A new, quick and inexpensive method for constructing diamond-based hybrid nanomaterials in bulk could launch the field from research to applications. University of Maryland (UMD) researchers developed a method to build diamond-based hybrid nanoparticles in large quantities from the ground up, thereby circumventing many of the problems with current methods.

The process begins with tiny, nanoscale diamonds that contain a specific type of impurity: a single nitrogen atom where a carbon atom should be, with an empty space right next to it, resulting from a second missing carbon atom. This “nitrogen vacancyimpurity gives each diamond special optical and electromagnetic properties. By attaching other materials to the diamond grains, such as metal particles or semiconducting materials known as “quantum dots,” the researchers can create a variety of customizable hybrid nanoparticles, including nanoscale semiconductors and magnets with precisely tailored properties.

nanodiamonds

If you pair one of these diamonds with silver or gold nanoparticles, the metal can enhance the nanodiamond’s optical properties. If you couple the nanodiamond to a semiconducting quantum dot, the hybrid particle can transfer energy more efficiently,” said Min Ouyang, an associate professor of physics at UMD and senior author on the study.

The technique is described in the June 8 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

Source: http://umdrightnow.umd.edu/

Smart Glass

Most smartphones have a slick, sizable piece of glass on their face. But the glass itself is notsmart” — the intelligent components lie beneath. That could soon change, thanks to researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia who have lent “smart potential” to glass. They’ve done so by embedding light-emitting nanoparticles within the glass without affecting the glass’s physical properties — its transparency and malleability, for example.

This method for embedding light-emitting nanoparticles into glass without losing any of their unique properties – a major step towards ‘smart glass’ applications such as 3D display screens or remote radiation sensors.

The new “hybrid glass” successfully combines the properties of these special luminescent (or light-emitting) nanoparticles with the well-known aspects of glass, such as transparency and the ability to be processed into various shapes including very fine optical fibres.

smart glass2An illustration shows light-emitting nanoparticles embedded in glass

These novel luminescent nanoparticles, called upconversion nanoparticles, have become promising candidates for a whole variety of ultra-high tech applications such as biological sensing, biomedical imaging and 3D volumetric displays,” says lead author Dr Tim Zhao, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Physical Sciences and Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

Integrating these nanoparticles into glass, which is usually inert, opens up exciting possibilities for new hybrid materials and devices that can take advantage of the properties of nanoparticles in ways we haven’t been able to do before. For example, neuroscientists currently use dye injected into the brain and lasers to be able to guide a glass pipette to the site they are interested in. If fluorescent nanoparticles were embedded in the glass pipettes, the unique luminescence of the hybrid glass could act like a torch to guide the pipette directly to the individual neurons of interest”, adds Dr Zhao.

The research, in collaboration with Macquarie University and University of Melbourne, has been published online in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.

Source: https://www.adelaide.edu.au/

Dancing At A Club, Feel The Bass Through All Your Body, Immersed

Nothing compares to the sensation of music reverberating through your body while dancing at a club. Well – that’s about to change. The full body music experience can now be enjoyed anywhere, according to the makers of a wearable device called SubPac.

subpac dancingCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

“It’s a combination of proprietary tactile speaker components, membranes that spread the experience throughout your body and electronics that make sure the stuff and sound that goes through it is optimal”, says John Alexiou , President of the Canadian company SubPac.  “It’s really meant to be a solution where any time you’re hearing sound, whether you’re in a music environment, a film environment, an auto environment, you’re going to be physically immersed in that as well,“, he adds.

The company has raised more than $6 million (USD) in funding with heavy hitting backers from the both tech and music scene. Star hip hop producer Timbaland has partnered in the company – he sees a market in people still wanting to ‘feel‘ the music, but not necessarily up for the loud club scene.

It sounds great, but you’re coming home with these headaches from these shows. And you notice the headache gets more intense or something starts to impair, you don’t even know, you think it’s something else. So this is going to save everybody’s eardrums and still get the feeling of explosion“, comments the music producer Timbaland.
With two models priced at less than $350, the company is hoping the technology will be as popular as the music that inspired it.

Source: http://thesubpac.com/

3D Printed Airplane: Lighter, Faster, Cheaper

Dwarfed by huge jets all around, the mini-plane Thor was nonetheless an eye-catcher at the Berlin air show this week—the small Airbus marvel is the world’s first 3D-printed aircraft. Windowless, weighing in at just 21 kilos (46 pounds) and less than four metres (13 feet) long, the drone Thor—short for “Test of High-tech Objectives in Reality“—resembles a large, white model airplane. Yet to the European aerospace giant Airbus, the small pilotless propeller aircraft is a pioneer that offers a taste of things to come—an aviation future when 3D printing technology promises to save time, fuel and money.

3D airplane

This is a test of what’s possible with 3D printing technology,” said Detlev Konigorski, who was in charge of developing Thor for Airbus, speaking at the International Aerospace Exhibition and Air Show at Berlin’s southern Schoenefeld airport. “We want to see if we can speed up the development process by using 3D printing not just for individual parts but for an entire system.”

In Thor, the only parts that are not printed from a substance called polyamide are the electrical elements. The little plane “flies beautifully, it is very stable,” said its chief engineer Gunnar Haase, who conducted Thor‘s inaugural flight last November near the northern German city of Hamburg.

Source: http://phys.org/

Engineered Nanoparticles Replace Rare-earth Materials

Technologies from wind turbines to electric vehicles rely on critical materials called rare-earth elements. These elements, though often abundant, can be difficult and increasingly costly to come by. Now, scientists from the Laboratory of Molecular Magnetism (LAMM) of the University of Florence in Italy,  looking for alternatives have reported in ACS’ journal Chemistry of Materials a new way to make nanoparticles that could replace some rare-earth materials and help ensure the continued supply of products people have come to depend on.

rare-earth element

Rare-earth elements have unique characteristics that make them very useful. For example, the world’s strongest magnets are made with neodymium. A little too powerful for your refrigerator, these magnets are incorporated into computer disk drives, or nanocoputers, power windows and wind turbines. But rare earths are challenging to mine and process, and prices can rise quickly in a short period of time. Given the increasing demand for rare earths, Alberto López-Ortega, Claudio Sangregorio and colleagues (LAMM) set out to find substitutes for use in strong magnets.

The researchers used a mixed iron-cobalt oleate complex in a one-step synthetic approach to produce magnetic core-shell nanoparticles. The resulting materials showed strong magnetic properties and energy-storing capabilities. Their approach could signal an efficient new strategy toward replacing rare earths in permanent magnets and keeping costs stable, the researchers say.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Graphene Enhances Strength And Elasticity Of Condoms

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan and Dr Maria Iliut from Manchester University (UK)  have shown that adding a very small amount of graphene, the world’s thinnest and strongest material, to rubber films can increase both their strength and the elasticity by up to 50%. Thin rubber films are ubiquitous in daily life, used in everything from gloves to condoms.

graphene-rubber

In their experiments, the scientists tested two kinds of rubbery materials natural rubber, comprised of a material called polyisoprene, and a man-made rubber called polyurethane. To these, they added graphene of different kinds, amounts and size.

In most cases, it they observed that the resulting composite material could be stretched to a greater degree and with greater force before it broke. Indeed, adding just one tenth of one percent of graphene was all it took to make the rubber 50% stronger.

Dr Vijayaraghavan, who leads the Nano-functional Materials Group, explains “A composite is a material which contains two parts, a matrix which is soft and light and a filler which is strong. Taken together, you get something which is both light and strong. This is the principle behind carbon fibre composites used in sports cars, or Kevlar composites used in body armour. In this case, we have made a composite of rubber, which is soft and stretchy but fragile, with graphene and the resulting material is both stronger and stretchier.”

The research has been published in the journal  Carbon,

Source: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/

3D-printed Cast To The Exact Measurements Of Fractured Parts Of The Body

Move over plaster cast. There’s a new 3-D printed cast on the block, which means your days may be numbered. The NovaCast was created by Mexican start-up Mediprint and uses an open, 3D-printed, plastic framework. Each 3D-printed cast is custom-made to the exact measurements of the fractured part of the body, which developers say improves recovery time.

mediprint_3d_printed_castCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

“It’s lighter than the traditional cast. You can have a bath with it, you can scratch yourself, it allows for a better medical inspection“, says Zaid Musa Badwan Peralta, co-founder of the  Mediprint company.

The cast is printed after the patient’s body part is scanned. From there, the total time until a tailor made cast is ready – three hours. Developers say they’re working on an improved way to measure patients that will increase comfort by eliminating the need to scan the traumatized body part.

“It’s a specialised software, which through anthropometry measurements gives the medic exact details about the shape and size needs. And using information on 3-D models of the patient, the geometry of the cast is automatically calucalated for the printers. This generates a product that can reach more people“, adds Peralta.

Nova cast creators also expect to improve the production process and decrease printing time. No details on price and release of the casts onto the market yet, but creators hope that it isn’t long before the plaster cast is a thing of the past.

Source: http://mediprint3d.com

Nanotechnologies Boost Electric Car Batteries

On a drizzly, gray morning in April, Yi Cui weaves his scarlet red Tesla in and out of Silicon Valley traffic. Cui, a materials scientist at Stanford University here, is headed to visit Amprius, a battery company he founded 6 years ago. It’s no coincidence that he is driving a battery-powered car, and that he has leased rather than bought it. In a few years, he says, he plans to upgrade to a new model, with a crucial improvement: “Hopefully our batteries will be in it.” Cui and Amprius are trying to take lithium–ion batteries—today’s best commercial technology—to the next level. They have plenty of company. Massive corporations such as Panasonic, Samsung, LG Chem, Apple, and Tesla are vying to make batteries smaller, lighter, and more powerful. But among these power players, Cui remains a pioneering force.
Unlike others who focus on tweaking the chemical composition of a battery’s electrodes or its charge-conducting electrolyte, Cui is marrying battery chemistry with nanotechnology. He is building intricately structured battery electrodes that can soak up and release charge-carrying ions in greater quantities, and faster, than standard electrodes can, without producing troublesome side reactions.

Tesla Model 3

“He’s taking the innovation of nanotechnology and using it to control chemistry,” says Wei Luo, a materials scientist and battery expert at the University of Maryland, College Park.
In a series of lab demonstrations, Cui has shown how his architectural approach to electrodes can domesticate a host of battery chemistries that have long tantalized researchers but remained problematic. Among them: lithium-ion batteries with electrodes of silicon instead of the standard graphite, batteries with an electrode made of bare lithium metal, and batteries relying on lithium-sulfur chemistry, which are potentially more powerful than any lithium-ion battery. The nanoscale architectures he is exploring include silicon nanowires that expand and contract as they absorb and shed lithium ions, and tiny egglike structures with carbon shells protecting lithium-rich silicon yolks.

Source: http://www.sciencemag.org/

Bones and Shells, Inspiration For New Materials

Researchers at MIT are seeking to redesign concrete — the most widely used human-made material in the world — by following nature’s blueprints. In a paper published online in the journal Construction and Building Materials, the team contrasts cement pasteconcrete’s binding ingredient — with the structure and properties of natural materials such as bones, shells, and deep-sea sponges. As the researchers observed, these biological materials are exceptionally strong and durable, thanks in part to their precise assembly of structures at multiple length scales, from the molecular to the macro, or visible, level.

From their observations, the team, led by Oral Buyukozturk, a professor in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE), proposed a new bioinspired, “bottom-upapproach for designing cement paste.

bones molecular structure

These materials are assembled in a fascinating fashion, with simple constituents arranging in complex geometric configurations that are beautiful to observe,” Buyukozturk says. “We want to see what kinds of micromechanisms exist within them that provide such superior properties, and how we can adopt a similar building-block-based approach for concrete.”

Ultimately, the team hopes to identify materials in nature that may be used as sustainable and longer-lasting alternatives to Portland cement, which requires a huge amount of energy to manufacture. “If we can replace cement, partially or totally, with some other materials that may be readily and amply available in nature, we can meet our objectives for sustainability,” Buyukozturk says.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/2016/

How To Scavenge Simultaneously Solar And Wind Energy

To realize the sustainable energy supply in a smart city, it is essential to maximize energy scavenging from the city environments for achieving the self-powered functions of some intelligent devices and sensors.

solar and wind powered houseAlthough the solar energy can be well harvested by using existing technologies, the large amounts of wasted wind energy in the city cannot be eectively utilized since conventional wind turbine generators can only be installed in remote areas due to their large volumes and safety issues.
Here, the researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences rationally design a hybridized nanogenerator, including a solar cell (SC) and a triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), that can individually/simultaneously scavenge solar and wind energies, which can be extensively installed on the roofs of the city buildings. Under the same device area of about 120 mm × 22 mm, the SC can deliver a largest outputpower of about 8 mW, while the output power of the TENG can be up to 26 mW. Impedance matching between the SC and TENG has been achieved by using a transformer to decrease the impedance of the TENG. The hybridized nanogenerator has a larger output current and a better charging performance than that of the individual SC or TENG.
This research presents a feasible approach to maximize solar and wind energies scavenging from the city environments with the aim to realize some self-powered functions in smart city.

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/

Trojan Horse Nanoparticles Attack Inflammation

Nanosized Trojan horses created from a patient’s own immune cells have successfully treated inflammation by overcoming the body’s complex defense mechanisms, perhaps leading to broader applications for treating diseases characterized by inflammation, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases. An international team, led by researchers at Houston Methodist Research Institute, described the creation of nanoparticles called leukosomes and evaluated their ability to treat localized inflammation in the May 23 issue of Nature Materials (early online). Recent approaches to treating inflammatory diseases have been unsuccessful because an already overactive immune system treats simple nanoparticles as foreign invaders and clears them from the body, preventing them from reaching their target.
tissue inflammation2A better approach for building effective drug delivery platforms is to find inspiration for their design in the composition of the immune cells of our body,” said Ennio Tasciotti, Ph.D., director of the Center for Biomimetic Medicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute and the paper’s senior author.
Immune cells such as leukocytes freely circulate in blood vessels, recognize inflammation, and accumulate in inflamed tissues. They do so by using special receptors and ligands on their surface. We purified leukocytes from a patient, then integrated their special ligands and receptors into the leukosome surface. Using the body’s own materials, we built a drug delivery system camouflaged as our own body’s defense system—thus the Trojan horse.

Source: http://www.houstonmethodist.org/

3D Printed Office

In Dubai the first fully 3D-printed and completely functional building has not only been built but has celebrated its grand opening, marking an architectural and engineering breakthrough. The prototype 3D-printed office building, with floorspace is about 2,700 square feet (250 m2).

UAE-Dubai-Office-of-the-Future-

The office has all the amenities of traditionally constructed structures, such as electricity, water, telecommunications, and air conditioning. The office is also outfitted with a number of energy saving features, including window shades to protect from Dubai’s blazing sun. In order to create all the pieces needed for the office, builders used a 3D printer measuring 20 feet high, 120 feet long, and 40 feet wide. Aside from the equipment, it took a very small team of workers to put the office together. Seven installers and 10 electricians and specialists worked together to assemble the fully functional office in just 17 days. Dubai’s media office estimates this represents a 50 percent cost savings in labor alone compared to buildings of similar size built with conventional methods. In Dubai 25% of the buildings should be 3D printed by 2030, says ruler.

Source: http://inhabitat.com/

Breath Test To Detect Early Signs Of Lung Cancer

A simple breath test could soon help doctors detect the early signs of lung cancer. The sensor inside this breathalyser measures minute chemical traces in a patients’ exhaled breath which could be a biomarker for cancer.

breathalyzer2CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

The challenge is most people present when it’s very late stage, and it’s about managing symptoms as opposed to curing them. So the key thing that you can do is detect the disease early; and that’s what we think the breathalyser technology allows for, picking it up at that earliest stage when it’s treatable“, says Billy Boyle, CEO of the Brtish company Owlstone Medical.

Breath testing is already a recognised method for linking specfiic chemicals present in exhaled breath to existing medical conditions, but current technology is often expensive, slow and complex to use. Owlstone Medical believe they have the answer.

Historically chemical analysers take up half the size of a room and cost half a million dollars. So what we’ve been able to do is use microchip technology to shrink it down from these massive devices to something about the size of a button. And once it’s in that form factor, you can build it directly into these disease breathalyser technologies“, adds Billy Boyle.

Known as volatile organic compounds, the chemical markers of lung cancer are present even in the earliest stage of the disease.

And this device can collect those samples, those tiny amounts of volatile organic compounds, which we can then analyse in the laboratory. And in effect, it’s a bit like a fingerprint. If you have a lung cancer we believe that we can detect these samples and that fingerprint will tell us whether the person has lung cancer or not“, comments Dr. Robert Rintoul, consultant ‘Respratory Physician’ at Papworth Hospital.

Clinical trials involving up to 3,000 volunteer patients are underway at 17 British hospitals, with the aim of having the non-invasive technology in GP’s surgeries in 2017. In Britain alone there are about 45,000 new cases of lung cancer each year. Owlstone believes it’s technology could potentially save 10,000 lives a year by helping to spot the disease before it takes hold.

Source: http://www.owlstonenanotech.com/

Paper Filter Removes Harmful Viruses From Water

A simple paper sheet made by scientists at Uppsala University can improve the quality of life for millions of people by removing resistant viruses from water. The sheet, made of cellulose nanofibers, is called the mille-feuille filter as it has a unique layered internal architecture resembling that of the French puff pastry mille-feuille (Eng. thousand leaves).

cellulosa-nanofiber6230

 ‘With a filter material directly from nature, and by using simple production methods, we believe that our filter paper can become the affordable global water filtration solution and help save lives. Our goal is to develop a filter paper that can remove even the toughest viruses from water as easily as brewing coffee‘, says Albert Mihranyan, Professor of Nanotechnology at Uppsala University (Sweden), who heads the study. Access to safe drinking water is among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. More than 748 million people lack access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Water-borne infections are among the global causes for mortality, especially in children under age of five, and viruses are among the most notorious water-borne infectious microorganisms. They can be both extremely resistant to disinfection and difficult to remove by filtration due to their small size.

Today we heavily rely on chemical disinfectants, such as chlorine, which may produce toxic by-products depending on water quality. Filtration is a very effective, robust, energy-efficient, and inert method of producing drinking water as it physically removes the microorganisms from water rather than inactivates them. But the high price of efficient filters is limiting their use today.

Safe drinking water is a problem not only in the low-income countries. Massive viral outbreaks have also occurred in Europe in the past, including Sweden’, continues Mihranyan referring to the massive viral outbreak in Lilla Edet municipality in Sweden in 2008, when more than 2400 people or almost 20% of the local population got infected with Norovirus due to poor water.  Small size viruses have been much harder to get rid of, as they are extremely resistant to physical and chemical inactivation.

Source: http://www.uu.se/

Cheap Biosensor Detects Alzheimer’s, Cancer, Parkinson’s

A biosensor developed by researchers at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) in Campinas, São Paulo State, Brazil, has been proven capable of detecting molecules associated with neurodegenerative diseases and some types of cancer.

biosensor LNNano

The device is basically a single-layer organic nanometer-scale transistor on a glass slide. It contains the reduced form of the peptide glutathione (GSH), which reacts in a specific way when it comes into contact with the enzyme glutathione S-transferase (GST), linked to Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and breast cancer, among other diseases. The GSH-GST reaction is detected by the transistor, which can be used for diagnostic purposes.

The project focuses on the development of point-of-care devices by researchers in a range of knowledge areas, using functional materials to produce simple sensors and microfluidic systems for rapid diagnosis.

Platforms like this one can be deployed to diagnose complex diseases quickly, safely and relatively cheaply, using nanometer-scale systems to identify molecules of interest in the material analyzed,” explained Carlos Cesar Bof Bufon, Head of LNNano’s Functional Devices & Systems Lab (DSF) and a member of the research team for the project, whose principal investigator is Lauro Kubota, a professor at the University of Campinas’s Chemistry Institute (IQ-UNICAMP).

In addition to portability and low cost, the advantages of the nanometric biosensor include its sensitivity in detecting molecules, according to Bufon.

This is the first time organic transistor technology has been used in detecting the pair GSH-GST, which is important in diagnosing degenerative diseases, for example,” he explained. “The device can detect such molecules even when they’re present at very low levels in the examined material, thanks to its nanometric sensitivity.” A nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a meter (10-9 meter), or one millionth of a millimeter.

The system can be adapted to detect other substances, such as molecules linked to different diseases and elements present in contaminated material, among other applications. This requires replacing the molecules in the sensor with others that react with the chemicals targeted by the test, which are known as analytes.

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Solar Cell Converts 34,5% Of The Sunlight To Electricity

A new solar cell configuration developed by engineers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia, has pushed sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency to 34.5% – establishing a new world record for unfocused sunlight and nudging closer to the theoretical limits for such a device. The record was set by Dr Mark Keevers and Professor Martin Green, Senior Research Fellow and Director, respectively, of UNSW’s Australian Centre for Advanced Photovoltaics, using a 28-cm2 four-junction mini-module – embedded in a prism – that extracts the maximum energy from sunlight. It does this by splitting the incoming rays into four bands, using a hybrid four-junction receiver to squeeze even more electricity from each beam of sunlight. The new UNSW result, confirmed by the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is almost 44% better than the previous record – made by Alta Devices of the USA, which reached 24% efficiency, but over a larger surface area of 800-cm2.

solar_panels_panelled_house_roof_array

This encouraging result shows that there are still advances to come in photovoltaics research to make solar cells even more efficient,” said Keevers. “Extracting more energy from every beam of sunlight is critical to reducing the cost of electricity generated by solar cells as it lowers the investment needed, and delivering payback faster.”

The result was obtained by the same UNSW team that set a world record in 2014, achieving an electricity conversion rate of over 40% by using mirrors to concentrate the light – a technique known as CPV (concentrator photovoltaics) – and then similarly splitting out various wavelengths. The new result, however, was achieved using normal sunlight with no concentrators.

Source: http://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/

Nanotechnology Boosts Solar Panel Efficiency

Solar power, which is power drawn from the sun, is a familiar concept for most Americans. You set out some thick, flat arrays the color of blueberries in your lawn or on your roof, and they use the photovoltaic effect to generate a current. For many people, this means they can expect to spend less on energy from nonrenewable sources like oil and gas, with the added benefit of reducing carbon emissions in the long run. The benefits for developing nations are even greater. Take Africa, for example. As a continent, it is extremely sunny and flat so it seems like a natural place to deploy solar panels. The main barriers preventing this rollout are the cost of cell production and limitations on cell efficiency.

solar farm

Fortunately, research costs for solar energy are comparatively lower than other fields. This has led to scientists coming up with a number of inventive ways to improve solar cells through the use of nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology refers to manmade matter measuring between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). For reference, a sheet of paper is 100,000 nm, while a strand of hair is 80,000 nm. Due to their size and extreme variety, nanotechnology allows scientists to create microscopic components and enhance the performance of existing technologies. For example, electroplating solar panels with nanometers-thin layers of silver helps the system absorb heat and makes it resistant to corrosion. Hinging on the size and versatility of nanotechnology, scientists have discovered several different ways to leverage it to improve solar cells.

The amount of energy solar cell panels can produce is limited in part by the sunlight it collects. If the array can collect more sunlight while still taking up the same amount of space, the energy produced per panel will increase. This would have a profound effect on arrays in places like Africa, where it is extremely sunny. The increase in surface area would mean a greater amount of energy collected and output over the lifetime of the cell. Using nanotechnology, scientists have developed a way to do just this.

The actual product is called a dye-sensitive solar cell. It uses a layer of porous nanoparticles coated in dye to increase the surface area on the solar cell on a microscopic level. This has the added benefit of making the cell more flexible, and increasing its ability to work in extreme conditions. If that seems difficult to imagine, think about it this way: Picture a long strip of candy dots. The paper is the solar array while the candy is the layer of nanoparticles. The candy increases the surface area of the paper without adding much bulk. Thus, the paper remains supple. Some of the greatest advances in flexible solar cells have been made by Alberta scientist Jillian Buriak. Using a spray gun and laminators, Buriak and her team developed a way to spray nanoparticles onto the plastic. This sheet is then run through the laminator, which spreads out the layer even further. The result is an extremely thin solar cell with innumerable practical applications.

Using nanotechnology, scientists have discovered that they can create cells that absorb 90 percent of the sunlight that hits it. This allows for more efficient concentrating solar power (CSP) plants. Unlike traditional solar arrays, CSP plants generate power by focusing the sun, generally through mirrors, on molten salt. The heated salt is used to create steam to turn a turbine and generate electricity. One limitation of these plants is that the materials used to collect the sunlight degrade after about a year, causing a dip in production while they are repaired.

This new technology can withstand extreme heat and last for many years outdoors, despite exposure to the elements.

Source: http://africanbrains.net/

Electric Car: New Hydrogen Filling Station

A new hydrogen filling station is open to the public in London It creates the gas on site from tap water and renewable energy — a first for the British capital. The station uses electricity generated from renewable sources such as wind power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The whole facility can also be switched on and off by the power company to help them balance demand on the grid. Green power company ITM says it helps the problem of what to do with the UK’s excess renewable energy.

Tucson fuel cellCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

You can re-fuel it in 3 minutes and it will go over three hundred miles (483 km). They are the limitations of a plug-in electric vehicle. You also export the energy from the power grid in a much more effective way,” says Dr Graham Cooley,  ITM Chief Executive.

Refuelling at the site fills the tank with 5kg of pressurised hydrogen which costs around of £10 per kilogram (12,7 euros or 14,5 Dollars), giving a range of around 300 miles. Three different models of hydrogen-powered cars are available in the UK at present, including the Hyundai ix35, though only a handful of people actually drive them.

The issue is dispensing it and delivering it to vehicles which is what we see here today in terms of the new infrastructure being developed. It’s the delivery of the fuel and it’s a relatively straightforward process to do it,”  comments Jon Hunt from the company Toyota.

The technology is still nascent — and, like the cars, hydrogen filling stations remain relatively scarce across Europe. But there are set to be 12 open across the UK by the end of next year.

Source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/

Free Smart Glasses Help The Blind

Fund-raising has begun for what developers say will be the world’s first free smart glasses to help the blind and visually impaired. A vision of the future — these could become the world’s first free smart glasses, says the Polish non-profit organisation behind them. Parsee has developed this prototype of battery-powered glasses with a 3D printed frame, camera and earphone.

Parsee smart glasses

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Parsee is an innovative 3D printed glasses for blind and visually impaired people. It helps them in their everyday living like reading newspapers, drinking juice,” says Bartosz Trzcinski, Parsee Project Manager.
Pushing a button on the frame, users take pictures of an object in front of them, which the camera sends to a phone app. The app identifies shapes, colours, text and even faces — and sends the detail via audio to the earphone“When I take something from the fridge what I see is blurred – this helps me to recognize the product and read what is written on it. It also helps me to recognize my friends’ faces, because I have a problem with that“, comments Teresa Lapa, prototype user of Parsee smart glasses.
Parsee has begun fund-raising with a $25,000 goal to research and develop a sleeker model of the glasses. It’s still in the early stages of its longer-term goal to mass produce and distribute the spectacles for free. The current cost of producing one pair is $300 — a figure they aim to reduce over time.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Detect Blood Clots With Simple in-Home Test

For millions of Americans at risk for blood clots, strokes and hypertension, routine lab tests to monitor blood-thinning medications can be frequent, costly and painful.
But researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) are developing materials and technology for a simple in-home screening that could be a game changer for patients with several life-threatening conditions.
Patients with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, congestive heart failure, kidney disease and others who are at risk for blood clotting are especially vulnerable when blood-thinning medication levels get too weak or too strong. This imbalance can quickly lead to ischemic (clotting) or hemorrhagic (bleeding) strokes if not detected in time.

blood clotsWe have developed a blood screening device for patients on medications like Coumadin, warfarin or other blood thinners who need to monitor their blood-clotting levels on a regular basis,” says Andrew Steckl, UC professor of electrical engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science.  Patients can soon monitor their blood coagulation characteristics from home quickly and painlessly before making needless trips to the lab or hospital.

Source: http://www.uc.edu/

How To Follow Nanoparticles In The Body

Treating a disease without causing side effects is one of the big promises of nanoparticle technology. But fulfilling it remains a challenge. One of the obstacles is that researchers have a hard time seeing where nanoparticles go once they’re inside various parts of the body. But now one team has developed a way to help overcome this problem — by making tissues and organs clearer in the lab. Their study on mice appears in the journal ACS Nano.

3D mapping of nanoparticle

Scientists are trying to design nanoparticles that deliver a therapeutic cargo directly to a disease site. This specific targeting could help avoid the nasty side effects that patients feel when a drug goes to heathy areas in the body. But barriers, such as blood vessel walls, can divert particles from reaching their intended destination. To get around such obstacles, scientists need a better understanding of how nanoparticles interact with structures inside the body. Current techniques, however, are limited. Warren C. W. Chan and colleagues from the University of Toronto  (Canada) wanted to develop a method to better track where nanoparticles go within tissues.

The researchers injected an acrylamide hydrogel into organs and tissues removed from mice. The gel linked all of the molecules together, except for the lipids, which are responsible for making tissues appear opaque. The lipids easily washed away, leaving the tissues clear but otherwise intact. Using this technique, the researchers could image nanoparticles at a depth of more than 1 millimeter, which is 25 times deeper than existing methods. In addition to helping scientists understand how nanoparticles interact with tumors and organs, the new approach could also contribute to tissue engineering, implant and biosensor applications, say the researchers.

Source: http://inbs.med.utoronto.ca/

3D-printed Leg To Win At The Rio Olympics

German paralympic cyclist Denise Schindler is training hard for Rio But these Olympics will be different for her — she plans to use a 3D-printed leg prosthesis instead of a conventional one.

paralympics cyclistCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

It feels different when I cycle due to its quality. But we are on the right path to reach the right stiffness and aerodynamic. The new prosthesis is also lighter and that is also an advantage when competing“, says Schindler.
The manufacturing process starts with the scanning of the stump followed by the design of the prosthesis through a special computer program called Fusion 360. The software is designed by American company Autodesk which says the 3D prosthesis is a revolutionary step forward

The advantage of having data is that we can send this digital information to another prosthesis maker who can correct things without the presence of the person. When it is ready it can be printed relatively easy everywhere in the world with a 3D printer“, explains Mickey Wakefield, an Autodesk applications engineer.
Schindler, who lost the lower part of her leg in an accident when she was two, recently presented the new prosthesis to US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel : “I was surprised to see how informed the president was about the issue. He was very positive about it“, she comments.
Those behind it say the idea of the new method of production is to make sports-prostheses cheaper and more accessible for everyone. And Denise Schindler’s new 3D-printed prosthesis is set to get the ultimate test when she hits the velodrome in Rio.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Nano-Robots Enter Living Cells

Researchers have developed the world’s tiniest engine – just a few billionths of a metre in size – which uses light to power itself. The nanoscale engine, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could form the basis of future nano-machines that can navigate in water, sense the environment around them, or even enter living cells to fight disease. The prototype device is made of tiny charged particles of gold, bound together with temperature-responsive polymers in the form of a gel. When the ‘nano-engine’ is heated to a certain temperature with a laser, it stores large amounts of elastic energy in a fraction of a second, as the polymer coatings expel all the water from the gel and collapse. This has the effect of forcing the gold nanoparticles to bind together into tight clusters. But when the device is cooled, the polymers take on water and expand, and the gold nanoparticles are strongly and quickly pushed apart, like a spring.

nano-motor

It’s like an explosion,” said Dr Tao Ding from Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory, and the paper’s first author. “We have hundreds of gold balls flying apart in a millionth of a second when water molecules inflate the polymers around them.
We know that light can heat up water to power steam engines,” said study co-author Dr Ventsislav Valev, now based at the University of Bath. “But now we can use light to power a piston engine at the nanoscale.”

The results are reported in the journal PNAS.

Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/

Obesity: How To Burn Fat

Researchers at MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have developed nanoparticles that can deliver antiobesity drugs directly to fat tissue. Overweight mice treated with these nanoparticles lost 10 percent of their body weight over 25 days, without showing any negative side effects. The drugs work by transforming white adipose tissue, which is made of fat-storing cells, into brown adipose tissue, which burns fat. The drugs also stimulate the growth of new blood vessels in fat tissue, which positively reinforces the nanoparticle targeting and aids in the white-to-brown transformation. These drugs, which are not FDA-approved to treat obesity, are not new, but the research team developed a new way to deliver them so that they accumulate in fatty tissues, helping to avoid unwanted side effects in other parts of the body.

adiposetissue

The advantage here is now you have a way of targeting it to a particular area and not giving the body systemic effects. You can get the positive effects that you’d want in terms of antiobesity but not the negative ones that sometimes occur,” says Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

More than one-third of Americans are considered to be obese, and last year obesity overtook smoking as the top preventable cause of cancer death in the United States, with 20 percent of the 600,000 cancer deaths attributed to obesity.

Langer and Omid Farokhzad, director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, are the senior authors of the study, which appears in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of May 2. The paper’s lead authors are former MIT postdoc Yuan Xue and former BWH postdoc Xiaoyang Xu.

Source: http://news.mit.edu/

Smartphone Coated With Water-Repellent NanoMaterial

The Chinese company Huawei went into great detail about its much-anticipated P9 flagship when it was announced earlier this month, but it seems there was one little thing they left out. Like the P8 and Mate S before it, the P9 is launching with P2i’s liquid repellent nanotechnology

Huawei P9Obviously, the point of coating the device with this nanotechnology is to prevent the phone from being damaged by everyday liquid hazards. While most phones are offering better and better protection from water (even if they aren’t IP certified), this nanotechnology should make sure at the very least that a quick drop in a puddle is going to do minimal damage (if any at all). Officially, the coating is said to protect from “accidental splashes and spills”.

 

We are excited to work with Huawei on yet another device, providing our world class nano coating to protect their smartphones from liquid exposure, increasing the P9’s reliability and durability. We have coated Huawei’s flagship devices, the P8 and Mate S with our innovative liquid repellent technology and we look forward to continuing this partnership in the future”,  said Gary Huang, Chief Commercial Officer at P2i.

The P9 has a 5.2-inch full HD LCD display, an 8MP selfie camera, and the main event on the back — a dual camera system built in partnership with Leica. There’s also an octa-core Kirin 955 processor, either 3GB or 4GB RAM (depending on whether you go for the exapandable 32GB or 64GB storage option). The P9 also has a 3000mAh battery with “Rapid Charging” support through USB Type-C. For a full rundown, see our P9 vs. P9 Plus specs comparison.

Source: http://9to5google.com/

How To Break The Brain Barrier To Kill Cancer

Using a laser probe, neurosurgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have opened the brain’s protective cover, enabling them to deliver chemotherapy drugs to patients with a form of deadly brain cancer. In a pilot study, 14 patients with glioblastoma – the most common and aggressive type of brain cancer – underwent minimally invasive laser surgery to treat a recurrence of their tumors. Heat from the laser is known to kill brain tumor cells but, unexpectedly, the researchers found that the technology can penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

laser breaks brain barrierCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

The laser treatment kept the blood-brain barrier open for four to six weeks, providing us with a therapeutic window of opportunity to deliver chemotherapy drugs to the patients,” said co-corresponding author Eric C. Leuthardt, MD, a Washington University professor of neurosurgery who treats patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “This is crucial because most chemotherapy drugs can’t get past the protective barrier, greatly limiting treatment options for patients with brain tumors. We are closely following patients in the trial,” said Leuthardt, who also is a Siteman Cancer Center member. “Our early results indicate that the patients are doing much better on average, in terms of survival and clinical outcomes, than what we would expect. We are encouraged but very cautious because additional patients need to be evaluated before we can draw firm conclusions.

The study is published online Feb. 24 in the journal PLOS ONE.

Source: https://medicine.wustl.edu/

Sensor Detects Harmful Air Pollution In The Home

Scientists from the University of Southampton (UK) in partnership with the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) have developed a graphene-based sensor and switch that can detect harmful air pollution in the home with very low power consumptionThe sensor detects individual CO2 molecules and volatile organic compounds (VOC) gas molecules found in building and interior materials, furniture and even household goods, which adversely affect our living in modern houses with good insulation. These harmful chemical gases have low concentrations of ppb (parts per billion) levels and are extremely difficult to detect with current environmental sensor technology, which can only detect concentrations of parts per million (ppm).

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In recent years, there has been an increase in health problems due to air pollution in personal living spaces, known as sick building syndrome (SBS), along with other conditions such as sick car and sick school syndromes.

The research group, led by Professor Hiroshi Mizuta, who holds a joint appointment at the University of Southampton and JAIST, and Dr Jian Sun and Assistant Professor Manoharan Muruganathan of JAIST, developed the sensor to detect individual CO2 molecules adsorbed (the bond of molecules from a gas to a surface) onto the suspended graphene (single atomic sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like hexagonal crystal lattice structure) one by one by applying an electric field across the structure.

By monitoring the electrical resistance of the graphene beam, the adsorption and desorption (whereby a substance is released from or through a surface) processes of individual CO2 molecules onto the graphene were detected as ‘quantisedchanges in resistance (step-wise increase or decrease in resistance). In the study, published today in Science Advances, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a small volume of  CO2 gas (equivalent to a concentration of approximately 30 ppb) was released and the detection time was only a few minutes.

Professor Mizuta said: “In contrast to the commercially available environmental monitoring tools, this extreme sensing technology enables us to realise significant miniaturisation, resulting in weight and cost reduction in addition to the remarkable improvement in the detection limit from the ppm levels to the ppb levels“.

Source: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/

How To Destroy SuperBugs

A new discovery could control the spread of deadly antibiotic-resistant superbugs which experts fear are on course to kill 10 million people every year by 2050 – more than will die from cancer. A team of scientists, led by Professor Suresh C. Pillai from IT Sligo (Ireland), have made the significant breakthrough which will allow everyday items – from smartphones to door handles — to be protected against deadly bacteria, including MRSA and E. coli. News of the discovery comes just days after UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne warned that superbugs could become deadlier than cancer and are on course to kill 10 million people globally by 2050.

superbug bacteria

Speaking at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, Mr Osborne warned that the problem would slash global GDP by around €100 trillion if it was not tackled. Using nanotechnology, the discovery is an effective and practical antimicrobial solution — an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth — that can be used to protect a range of everyday items. Items include anything made from glass, metallics and ceramics including computer or tablet screens, smartphones, ATMs, door handles, TVs, handrails, lifts, urinals, toilet seats, fridges, microwaves and ceramic floor or wall tiles. It will be of particular use in hospitals and medical facilities which are losing the battle against the spread of killer superbugs. Other common uses would include in swimming pools and public buildings, on glass in public buses and trains, sneeze guards protecting food in delis and restaurants as well as in clean rooms in the medical sector.

The discovery is the culmination of almost 12 years of research by a team of scientists, led by Prof. Suresh C. Pillai initially at CREST (Centre for Research in Engineering Surface Technology) in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and then at IT Sligo’s Nanotechnology Research Group (PEM Centre).

It’s absolutely wonderful to finally be at this stage. This breakthrough will change the whole fight against superbugs. It can effectvely control the spread of bacteria,” said Prof. Pillai. He continued: “Every single person has a sea of bacteria on their hands. The mobile phone is the most contaminated personal item that we can have. Bacteria grows on the phone and can live there for up to five months. As it is contaminated with proteins from saliva and from the hand, It’s fertile land for bacteria and has been shown to carry 30 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.”

The research started at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT)’s CREST and involves scientists now based at IT Sligo, Dublin City University (DCU) and the University of Surrey. Major researchers included Dr Joanna Carroll and Dr Nigel S. Leyland.

The research was published today in the journal, Scientific Reports, published by the Nature publishing group.

Source: https://itsligo.ie/

Vaccine Against Herpes, Potentially HIV

An effective vaccine against the virus that causes genital herpes has evaded researchers for decades. But now, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) working with scientists from the Kiel University (Germany) have shown that zinc-oxide nanoparticles shaped like jacks can prevent the virus from entering cells, and help natural immunity to develop.

zinc oxyde tetrapod

We call the virus-trapping nanoparticle a microbivac, because it possesses both microbicidal and vaccine-like properties,” says corresponding author Deepak Shukla, professor of ophthalmology and microbiology & immunology in the UIC College of Medicine. “It is a totally novel approach to developing a vaccine against herpes, and it could potentially also work for HIV and other viruses,” he said. The particles could serve as a powerful active ingredient in a topically-applied vaginal cream that provides immediate protection against herpes virus infection while simultaneously helping stimulate immunity to the virus for long-term protection, explained Shukla. Herpes simplex virus-2, which causes serious eye infections in newborns and immunocompromised patients as well as genital herpes, is one of the most common human viruses.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 15 percent of people from ages 14-49 carry HSV-2, which can hide out for long periods of time in the nervous system. The genital lesions caused by the virus increase the risk for acquiring human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV. “Your chances of getting HIV are three to four times higher if you already have genital herpes, which is a very strong motivation for developing new ways of preventing herpes infection,” Shukla said. Treatments for HSV-2 include daily topical medications to suppress the virus and shorten the duration of outbreaks, when the virus is active and genital lesions are present. However, drug resistance is common, and little protection is provided against further infections. Efforts to develop a vaccine have been unsuccessful because the virus does not spend much time in the bloodstream, where most traditional vaccines do their work.
The tetrapod-shaped zinc-oxide nanoparticles, called ZOTEN, have negatively charged surfaces that attract the HSV-2 virus, wh