Category Archives: Uncategorized

How To Trap CO2 Molecules

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have taken the first images of carbon dioxide molecules within a molecular cage ­­– part of a highly porous nanoparticle known as a MOF, or metal-organic framework, with great potential for separating and storing gases and liquids.

The images, made at the Stanford-SLAC Cryo-EM Facilities, show two configurations of the COmolecule in its cage, in what scientists call a guest-host relationship; reveal that the cage expands slightly as the CO2 enters; and zoom in on jagged edges where MOF particles may grow by adding more cages.

This is a groundbreaking achievement that is sure to bring unprecedented insights into how these highly porous structures carry out their exceptional functions, and it demonstrates the power of cryo-EM for solving a particularly difficult problem in MOF chemistry,” said Omar Yaghi, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a pioneer in this area of chemistry, who was not involved in the study.

The team, led by SLAC/Stanford professors Yi Cui and Wah Chiu, described the study  in the journal Matter.

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

Vodafone Launches 5G In Britain With Unlimited Data Plans

Vodafone switched on its 5G network in seven British cities on Wednesday, aiming to set itself apart in its home market from rival EE by offering unlimited data plans that include the high-speed service at no premium. The move by the world’s No.2 mobile operator came as Deutsche Telekom announced a limited rollout of 5G services in its German home market, stealing a march on competitors. Nick Jeffery, chief executive of Vodafone UK, said offering unlimited data plans to both consumer and business customers would revolutionize the mobile market.

We will give customers all the data they need, when and where they want it,” he said. “We thought it was the right role for Vodafone to get back to its roots as a great British tech innovator,” he told reporters.

Jeffery said Vodafone had examined how consumers used their devices and how it managed its network, including the efficiencies offered by 5G technology, before deciding to switch to unlimited data plans.

EE, which is owned by BT, launched the first British 5G commercial service on May 30. It is offering a range of contract and sim-only deals for the ultrafast service.Vodafone is taking a different approach by offering unlimited downloads tiered according to speed, starting from 23 pounds ($28.90) a month for up to 2 Mbps, 26 pounds for up to 10 Mbps and 30 pounds for speeds as fast as the device and network will allow.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Replacement Meats Within 20 Years

Meat is big business. According to analysis by A.T. Kearney, the global meat market was worth $1,000 billion in 2018, and this is set to grow. The World Economic Forum’s Alternative Proteins report says demand for meat will double before 2050 as our global population increases, becomes wealthier on average, and adopts food choices that are currently restricted to high-income countries.

At the same time, concerns about how to feed this expanded populace, along with the impact meat has on factors including our health, the environment and animal welfare have been steadily rising. Vegetarianism, veganism and flexitarianism are regularly in the news, with more and more people becoming advocates of plant-based eating. A study conducted by the UK research company YouGov found that one in five believes the future is meat-free.

Correspondingly, in recent years we have witnessed a sharp upsurge in the attempt to find viable alternatives. Classic vegan and vegetarian meat replacements have been a standard feature on our supermarket shelves for several years of course, while insect-based meat replacements, while available, occupy a relatively niche position.

More recently, the search has found its way into our laboratories, and start-ups like Impossible Foods, Just and Beyond Meat have brought novel vegan meat replacement, a plant-based product category that imitates the sensory profile of meat, to the table. Looking further ahead, other companies are now using advances in biotechnology to prototype and test cultured meat, which is created using cells extracted from living animals, slaughter-free.

Source: https://www.weforum.org/

Universal Computer Memory

A new type of computer memory which could solve the digital technology energy crisis has been invented and patented by Lancaster scientists. The electronic memory device – described in research published in Scientific Reports – promises to transform daily life with its ultra-low energy consumption.  In the home, energy savings from efficient lighting and appliances have been completely wiped out by increased use of computers and gadgets, and by 2025 a ‘tsunami of data’ is expected to consume a fifth of global electricity. But this new device would immediately reduce peak power consumption in data centres by a fifth. It would also allow, for example, computers which do not need to boot up and could instantaneously and imperceptibly go into an energy-saving sleep mode – even between key stokes.“Universal Memory” which has preoccupied scientists and engineers for decades.

The device is the realisation of the search for a “Universal Memory, which has robustly stored data that is easily changed, is widely considered to be unfeasible, or even impossible, but this device demonstrates its contradictory properties,” explains Physics Professor Manus Hayne of Lancaster University.

US patent has been awarded for the electronic memory device with another patent pending, while several companies have expressed an interest or are actively involved in the research. The inventors of the device used quantum mechanics to solve the dilemma of choosing between stable, long-term data storage and low-energy writing and erasing. The device could replace the $100bn market for Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), which is the ‘working memory’ of computers, as well as the long-term memory in flash drives. While writing data to DRAM is fast and low-energy, the data is volatile and must be continuouslyrefreshed’ to avoid it being lost: this is clearly inconvenient and inefficient. Flash stores data robustly, but writing and erasing is slow, energy intensive and deteriorates it, making it unsuitable for working memory.
The ideal is to combine the advantages of both without their drawbacks, and this is what we have demonstrated. Our device has an intrinsic data storage time that is predicted to exceed the age of the Universe, yet it can record or delete data using 100 times less energy than DRAM,” said Professor Hayne.

Source: https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/

Magnetic Nanoclusters Kill Hard-To-Reach Tumors

Researchers at Oregon State University have developed an improved technique for using magnetic nanoclusters to kill hard-to-reach tumorsMagnetic nanoparticles – tiny pieces of matter as small as one-billionth of a meter – have shown anti-cancer promise for tumors easily accessible by syringe, allowing the particles to be injected directly into the cancerous growth. Once injected into the tumor, the nanoparticles are exposed to an alternating magnetic field, or AMF. This field causes the nanoparticles to reach temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit, which causes the cancer cells to die. But for some cancer types such as prostate cancer, or the ovarian cancer used in the Oregon State study, direct injection is difficult. In those types of cases, a “systemicdelivery method – intravenous injection, or injection into the abdominal cavity – would be easier and more effective.

The challenge for researchers has been finding the right kind of nanoparticles – ones that, when administered systemically in clinically appropriate doses, accumulate in the tumor well enough to allow the AMF to heat cancer cells to death.

Olena Taratula and Oleh Taratula of the OSU College of Pharmacy tackled the problem by developing nanoclusters, multiatom collections of nanoparticles, with enhanced heating efficiency. The nanoclusters are hexagon-shaped iron oxide nanoparticles doped with cobalt and manganese and loaded into biodegradable nanocarriers.

There had been many attempts to develop nanoparticles that could be administered systemically in safe doses and still allow for hot enough temperatures inside the tumor,” said Olena Taratula, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences. “Our new nanoplatform is a milestone for treating difficult-to-access tumors with magnetic hyperthermia. This is a proof of concept, and the nanoclusters could potentially be optimized for even greater heating efficiency.”

Findings were published in ACS Nano.

Source: https://today.oregonstate.edu/

Electric Ice Cream Van

Nissan has partnered with the famous Mackies of Scotland to create a rather sweet concept vehicle. The electric vehicle pioneers and the ice cream brand have collaborated to create an all-electric ice cream van for “Clean Air Day” in the U.K. on June 20th, which demonstrates how a “Sky to Scoopapproach can remove carbon dependence at every stage of “the ice cream journey.”

Going green is nothing new for Mackies, which powers its family-owned dairy farm by renewable wind and solar energy, but most ice cream vans across Britain are powered by diesel engines which stay running even when the van is stopped to power the fridges and freezers onboard. In fact, some U.K. towns and cities are even looking to ban ice cream vans – which is a preposterous thought, even for someone like me who can’t eat ice cream. Nissan‘s new concept provides something of a solution to the impending doom of the good old ice cream van, reducing its carbon footprint while keeping kids happy and parents predictably out of pocket.

The ice cream van concept is based on Nissan‘s all-electric e-NV200 light commercial vehicle, which combines a zero-emission drivetrain, second-life battery storage and renewable solar energy generation for the home as well.

Ice cream is enjoyed the world over, but consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of how we produce such treats, and the ‘last mile’ of how they reach us,” said Kalyana Sivagnanam, managing director, Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd.

This project is a perfect demonstration of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility strategy, applying more than a decade of EV experience and progress in battery technology to create cleaner solutions for power on the go – in ways customers might not expect. “By eliminating harmful tailpipe emissions, and increasing our use of renewable energy, we can help make this a better world for everyone.”

Source: https://www.motor1.com/

Robot Farmer Operates 20 Hours A Day, Harvesting Tens Of Thousands Of Raspberries

Fieldwork Robotics, a University of Plymouth spin-off company, is developing an autonomous harvesting robot platform. A number of flexible robot arms attached to the platform will be able to pick raspberries, tomatoes, and other crops without crushing them or destroying the plant.

Fieldwork Robotics has completed initial field trials of its robot raspberry harvesting system. The tests took place at a West Sussex farm owned by Fieldwork’s industry partner, leading UK soft-fruit grower Hall Hunter Partnership, which supplies Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Waitrose. Data from the trials will be used to refine and improve the prototype system before further field trials are held later this year. If they are successful, manufacturing of a commercial system is expected to begin in 2020.

Fieldwork Robotics was incorporated to develop and commercialise the work of Dr Martin Stoelen, Lecturer in Robotics at the University’s School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics.

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Starting the field testing at Hall Hunter Partnership is a major milestone for us, and will give us invaluable feedback to keep developing the system towards commercialisation, as part of our Innovate UK funding. I am very proud of the achievements of the team, at Fieldwork Robotics Ltd and across my different research projects on robotic harvesting here at the University of Plymouth,  says Dr Martin Stoelen,

Farmers around the world are increasingly interested in robot technology to address the long-term structural decline in labourFieldwork is focusing initially on raspberries because they are hard to pick, are more delicate and easily damaged than other soft fruits, and grow on bushes with complex foliage and berry distribution. Once the system is proved to work with raspberries, it can be adapted readily for other soft fruits and vegetables, with the same researchers also developing proof-of-concept robots for other crops following interest from leading agribusinesses.

Source: https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/

Remote-Controlled Drug Delivery Implant

People with chronic diseases like arthritis, diabetes and heart disease may one day forego the daily regimen of pills and, instead, receive a scheduled dosage of medication through a grape-sized implant that is remotely controlled.

Researchers from Houston Methodist successfully delivered continuous, predetermined dosages of two chronic disease medications using a nanochannel delivery system (nDS) that they remotely controlled using Bluetooth technology. The nDS device provides controlled release of drugs without the use of pumps, valves or a power supply for possibly up to year without a refill for some patients. This technology will be tested in space next year.

A proof-of-concept paper recently published in Lab on a Chip (online June 25) explains how the Houston Methodist nanomedicine researchers accomplished long-term delivery of drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and high blood pressure, medications that are often administered at specific times of the day or at varying dosages based on patient needs.

Nanomedicine scientists at Houston Methodist Research Institute created a remote-controlled implantable nanochannel drug delivery system (nDS) the size of a grape

We see this universal drug implant as part of the future of health care innovation. Some chronic disease drugs have the greatest benefit of delivery during overnight hours when it’s inconvenient for patients to take oral medication. This device could vastly improve their disease management and prevent them from missing doses, simply with a medical professional overseeing their treatment remotely,” said Alessandro Grattoni, Ph.D., corresponding author and chair of the department of nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

Grattoni and the Houston Methodist researchers have worked on implantable nanochannel delivery systems to regulate the delivery of a variety of therapies for medical issues ranging from HIV-prevention to cancer. As basic research progresses with the remote-controlled device, the Houston Methodist technology is planned for extreme remote communication testing on the International Space Station in 2020. The team hopes that one day the system will be widely available to clinicians to treat patients remotely via telemedicine. This could provide both an improvement in the patients’ quality of life and a reduction of cost to the health care system.

Source: https://www.houstonmethodist.org/

How To Initiate Bacterial Suicide to Fight Antibiotic Resistance

Overuse of antibiotics has escalated the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Unfortunately, the growth of resistance has outpaced the development and discovery of new antibiotics and limited the treatment of bacterial infections.

Now, scientists are turning to a uniquely human advantage, the ability to think and reason, to solve the issue. Now, we’re tricking pathogenic microbes into killing themselves.

In April, a team of French scientists published a new kind of molecular trickery that selectively kills harmful and antibiotic-resistant bacteria without traditional antibiotics. The research, led by genomicist Rocío López-Igual and colleagues at the Pasteur Institute capitalized on mechanisms of gene regulation to trick Vibrio cholerae into producing self-destructive toxins. This approach could be adapted to target other microbes and reduce the need for antibiotics.

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a major threat to human health

V. cholerae, which causes cholera, encodes multiple toxins in its genome. Bacterial toxins inhibit vital processes like DNA replication or cell division. Typically, anti-toxins – that the bacteria also produce themselves –protect bacteria from poisoning themselves. Stress activates the toxins, often leading to cell death. Although exactly why bacteria maintain deadly toxin genes is still puzzling, we know that artificially activating the toxins provides a route to kill bacteria. The star of López-Igual and her colleagues’ method is a toxin that inhibits, an important bacterial enzyme. Normally, DNA gyrase relieves stress from twisted DNA strands, so preventing DNA gyrase activity causes breaks in DNA. And like in human cells, such severe DNA damage is also fatal to bacterial cells.The researchers manipulated the DNA sequences of V. cholerae to create a code for production of the toxin in specific kinds of bacteria. The specificity of bacterial gene regulation ensures that only certain bacteria can interpret this code. Bad news for the ones that can: they end up triggering their own death.

Source: https://massivesci.com/

Graphene Boosts Life Time Of Implantable Devices

The United States is seeing an increase in the number of neurological diseases. Stroke is ranked as the fifth leading cause of death, with Alzheimer’s being ranked sixth. Another neurological disease – Parkinson’s – affects nearly 1 million people in the U.S. each year. Implantable neurostimulation devices are a common way to treat some of these diseases. One of the most commonly used elements in these devices is platinum microelectrodes – but it is prone to corrosion, which can reduce the functional lifetime of the devices. Purdue University researchers have come up with a solution to help – they are adding a graphene monolayer to the devices to protect the microelectrodes.

I know from my industry experience that the reliability of implantable devices is a critical issue for translating technology into clinics,” said Hyowon “Hugh” Lee, an assistant professor in Purdue’s College of Engineering and a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center, who led the research team. “This is part of our research focusing on augmenting and improving implantable devices using nano and microscale technologies for more reliable and advanced treatments. We are the first ones that I know of to address the platinum corrosion issue in neurostimulation microelectrodes.

Lee said he learned about the advantage of using graphene from his colleague at Birck Nanotechnology Center, Zhihong Chen, who is an expert in graphene technology. The team has shown the graphene monolayer to be an effective diffusion barrier and electrical conductor.

If you attempt to deliver more charge than the electrode can handle, it can corrode the electrode and damage the surrounding tissues,” Lee said. He also thinks that microscale electrodes are going to play a key role in the future with more demand for precise and targeted neurostimulation therapy. “We think neurosurgeons, neurologists, and other scientists in neuroengineering field will be able to use this electrode technology to better help patients with implantable devices for restoring eyesight, movement, and other lost functionalities.”

Lee and his team are working with the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization on patenting and licensing the technology. They are looking for partners interested in licensing it.

The research has been published in the journal  2D Materials.

Source: https://www.purdue.edu/