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+ - Researchers Direct Growth Of Neurons With Silicon Nitride Microtubes->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Bioengineers want to connect electronics and neurons to make devices such as new cochlear implants or prosthetic limbs with a seemingly natural sense of touch. They also could build synthetic neural circuitry to use to study how the brain processes information or what goes wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.

As a step toward these applications, a team of researchers has developed a way to direct the growth of axons, the connection-forming arms of neurons. They use transparent silicon nitride microtubes on glass slides to encourage the cells’ axons to grow in specific directions. The cultured nerve cells grow aimlessly until they bump into one of the tubes. The axon then enters the tube, and its growth is accelerated 20-fold.

Silicon nitride already is used in some orthopedic devices, and could serve as a substrate for electronics to interface with the growing neurons.

 "

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+ - Chemists Grow Soil Fungus On Cheerios, Discover New Antifungal Compounds->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many drugs that treat bacterial and fungal infections were found in microbes growing in the dirt. These organisms synthesize the compounds to fend off other bacteria and fungi around them. To find possible new drugs, chemists try to coax newly discovered microbial species to start making their arsenal of antimicrobial chemicals in the lab. But fungi can be stubborn, producing just a small set of already-known compounds.

Now, one team of chemists has hit upon a curiously effective and consistent trick to prod the organisms to start synthesizing novel molecules: Cheerios inside bags. Scientists grew a soil fungus for four weeks in a bag full of Cheerios and discovered a new compound that can block biofilm formation by an infectious yeast. The chemists claim that Cheerios are by far the best in the cereal aisle at growing chemically productive fungi."

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+ - Magnetic Fields Help Transform Adult Mouse Cells Into Stem Cells->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Biologists have been building up evidence that magnetic fields affect living things in some ways. For example, plants and amphibian embryos develop abnormally when shielded from Earth’s geomagnetic field. Now, for the first time, an international team reports that low-strength magnetic fields may foster the transformation of adult cells into pluripotent stem cells. In fact, when the researchers blocked the Earth's natural magnetic field, the cells couldn't undergo the transformation at all. If confirmed, the phenomenon could lead to new tools for tissue engineering and help researchers understand the potential health effects of changing magnetic fields on astronauts."
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+ - Engineers Build Ultrasmall Organic Laser->

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Researchers have made the tiniest organic laser reported to date. The 8-micrometer-long, 440-nanometer-wide device, which looks like a suspended bridge riddled with holes, is carved into a silicon chip coated with an organic dye. Integrated into microprocessors, such tiny lasers could one day speed up computers by shuttling data using light rather than electrons. The new organic laser is optically pumped—that is, powered by pulses from another laser. But it has a very low threshold—the energy required to start lasing—of 4 microjoules per square centimeter. The low threshold brings the device closer to engineers’ ultimate goal of creating an organic laser that can run on electric current, which would be key for on-chip use."
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+ - Strong And Springy Materials Made In The Freezer->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Many strong, porous inorganic materials, such as silica aerogels and metal foams, currently find use in insulation, aircraft wings, and battery electrodes. But these lightweight materials are brittle. Compress them too much and they crack or crumble. Now researchers have developed a one-step freezing method to make porous inorganic materials that can spring back after being squeezed to 15% of their original size. Basically, they freeze a mixture of inorganic particles and a polymer solution and then thaw it after the material has set. These ultralight elastic materials could find use in tissue-engineering scaffolds, biomedical implants, and electronics."
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+ - Researchers Report Largest DNA Origami To Date->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Bioengineers can harness DNA’s remarkable ability to self-assemble to build two- and three-dimensional nanostructures through DNA origami. Until now, researchers using this approach have been limited to building structures that are tens of square nanometers in size. Now a team reports the largest individual DNA origami structures to date, which reach sizes of hundreds of square nanometers. What’s more, they have developed a less expensive way to synthesize the DNA strands needed, overcoming a tremendous obstacle to scaling up the technology."
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+ - The Narcotic That May Not Grow on Trees, After All->

Submitted by carmendrahl
carmendrahl (2593679) writes "Tramadol is a painkiller that's been on the market since the 1970's (it was recently reclassified as a Schedule IV controlled substance). It was designed to contain the essential structural elements of morphine but it was produced entirely synthetically. Last year, researchers reported finding tramadol in the roots of the pincushion tree (Nauclea latifolia), a plant used in traditional medicine in Africa. But last week, a different team published their own findings: they report that the tramadol in the pincushion tree is a contamination. Farmers in the region feed cattle tramadol, and then the cattle excrete it near the trees. Experts who weren't involved in either study are leaning toward contamination being the real story, but they're holding out for a few more types of studies before committing to a side."
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+ - Computer's Heat Sink Used To Slash Cost Of Medical Diagnostic Test->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Researchers have harnessed that heat from a computer CPU to run the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to amplify DNA in a blood sample. The team developed software that cycles the temperature of the CPU to drive PCR’s three distinct steps.The method allowed them to detect miniscule amounts of DNA from a pathogenic parasite that causes Chagas disease. They hope their technique will lead to low-cost diagnostic tests in developing countries."
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+ - Researchers Print Electronic Memory On Paper->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Electronics printed on paper promise to be cheap, flexible, and recyclable, and could lead to applications such as smart labels on foods and pharmaceuticals or as wearable medical sensors. Many engineers have managed to print transistors and solar cells on paper, but one key component of a smart device has been missing—memory. Now a group of researchers has developed a method that uses ink-jet technology to print resistive random access memory on an ordinary piece of 8.5 by 11 inches paper. The memory is robust: Engineers could bend the device 1,000 times without any loss of performance."
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+ - Reproducing a Monet Painting with Aluminum Nanostructures->

Submitted by MTorrice
MTorrice (2611475) writes "Plasmonic printing is a recently developed method to create color images using different shapes and sizes of gold or silver nanostructures. It relies on the oscillations of electrons in the metal surfaces and can produce images with a resolution 100 times that of a common desktop printer. Now researchers have expanded the color palette of the technique using tiny aluminum-capped nanopillars. Each pixel consists of four nanopillars; tuning the diameters and arrangement of the pillars produced a palette of more than 300 different colors. Using these pixels, the researchers created a microscale reproduction of Claude Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise.”"
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+ - Spinning Stretchy Graphene Oxide Yarns

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Chemists report a new process for making carbon fibers from graphene oxide that promises to be a scalable, organic-solvent-free route to new kinds of strong, lightweight materials. They coat a large surface with an aqueous solution of graphene oxide and let the water evaporate, leaving a dried sheet of the nanomaterial. Then by taping down one end of the sheet and attaching an electric screwdriver to the other end (video), they can spin the sheet into a yarn. The fibers are tough and stretchy, elongating 76% before fracturing. Unlike conventional carbon fibers, these graphene oxide fibers can be knotted and knitted, opening up potential applications in energy-storing textiles, novel optical materials, and wearable electronics."

+ - First Transistors Made Entirely Of 2-D Materials->

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Two independent research groups report the first transistors built entirely of two-dimensional electronic materials, making the devices some of the thinnest yet. The transistors, just a few atoms thick and hence transparent, are smaller than their silicon-based counterparts, which would allow for a super-high density of pixels in flexible, next-generation displays. The research teams, one at Argonne National Laboratory and the other at the University of California, Berkeley, used materials such as tungsten diselenide, graphene, and boron nitride to make all three components of a transistor: a semiconductor, a set of electrodes, and an insulating layer. Electrons travel in the devices 70 to 100 times faster than in amorphous silicon. Such a high electron mobility means the transistors switch faster, which dictates a display’s refresh rate and is necessary for high-quality video, especially 3-D video."
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+ - Printing Holograms At Home->

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Holograms are a common security element on banknotes, credit cards, passports, and medicine packaging. Consumers usually can’t make their own holograms, because the images are recorded and printed with costly instruments and complex methods. Now a fast, simple holography technique can produce a hologram within a few seconds and with some common materials. Researchers at Cambridge University used permanent-marker ink coated on plastic as the recording medium. Ultrashort pulses of light from a common Nd:YAG laser engraved the holographic pattern by heating up the ink and vaporizing it. The new technique can record holograms directly on curved surfaces and on any type of material, such as tape or a plastic bottle cap. The researchers envision integrating the technology into desktop printers so that anyone could make holograms at home."
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+ - An Electrochemical Method Rapidly Produces High-Quality Graphene ->

Submitted by ckwu
ckwu (2886397) writes "Graphene is easy to acquire in small amounts. But mass production of the strong, conductive, two-dimensional carbon material for commercial uses remains a challenge. Now, scientists have shown they can rapidly produce large quantities of graphene using a bath of inorganic salts and an electric current. Researchers placed two electrodes, one made of platinum and the other of graphite, into an inorganic salt solution, and ran a direct current through them. The graphite electrode shed layers of carbon into the solution, turning more than 75% of the electrode into graphene flakes. In one test using ammonium sulfate as the salt, the researchers were able to produce approximately 16.3 g of graphene in 30 minutes. The researchers see the potential to scale up production to the kilogram scale needed for industrial use."
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+ - Promising Solar Cell Materials Also Emit Laser Light->

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "Perovskites have recently become a hot topic in photovoltaics research. They have high light-to-electricity conversion efficiencies, and are inexpensive and easy to make. Scientists in the U.K. now show that the materials also can be used to make lasers. The researchers demonstrated that a perovskite can convert 70% of absorbed light into emitted light. This remarkably high luminescent efficiency suggests the materials could be used in low-cost lasers and LEDs."
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