Archive for the ‘engineering’ category

Jan 18, 2017

A toolkit for transformable materials

Posted by in categories: engineering, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

Scientists have now made metamaterials scalable in their purpose and usage.

Metamaterials — materials whose function is determined by structure, not composition — have been designed to bend light and sound, transform from soft to stiff, and even dampen seismic waves from earthquakes. But each of these functions requires a unique mechanical structure, making these materials great for specific tasks, but difficult to implement broadly.

But what if a material could contain within its structure, multiple functions and easily and autonomously switch between them?

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Jan 17, 2017

Human organs-on-chips: Harvard develops microchips lined with living cells to revolutionise medicine

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, engineering, neuroscience

Biological engineers at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have invented a microchip that can be lined with living human cells in order to revolutionise medicine, particularly relating to drug testing, disease modelling and personalised medicine.

The ‘human organs-on-chip’ is a microchip made from a clear flexible polymer that contains hollow microfluidic channels that are lined with living human cells, together with an interface that lines the interior surface of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, known as an endothelium.

The idea is that the microchip can emulate the microarchitecture and functions of multiple human organs such as the lungs, kidneys, skin, bone marrow, intestines and blood-brain barrier. And if you were able to do this, you could then test out drugs and study how diseases affect the body without having to endanger human patients, or waste precious organs needed for transplants.

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Jan 17, 2017

Enhancing fuel cell performance with graphene

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering, sustainability

  • Exploiting the usage of 2 D crystals in methanol fuel cells

ChemEurpoe — Scientists from the School of Chemical Engineering and Analytical Science, in the University of Manchester have come up with a way to utilize 2D materials in an actual operating direct methanol fuel cell. They have shown that the addition of single layer graphene by Chemical vapour deposition, on to the membrane area has significantly reduced the methanol cross over at the same time obtaining negligible resistance to protons thereby enhancing the cell performance by 50%.

Fuel cells count as interesting energy technology of the near future, as they pave the way for the production of sustainable energy using simple hydrocarbons as fuels. They work by a simple operational mechanism with the fuel oxidation on one side, and oxidant reduction on other side, which liberates electrons used for electrical energy generation. A wide variety of fuels, short chain alcohols have been used so far. Methanol remains a favourable candidate due to its high energy density, ease of handling and other operational characteristics.

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Jan 17, 2017

‘5-D protein fingerprinting’ with nanopores could give insights into Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering, neuroscience


In research that could one day lead to advances against neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, University of Michigan engineering researchers have demonstrated a technique for precisely measuring the properties of individual protein molecules floating in a liquid.

Proteins are essential to the function of every cell. Measuring their properties in blood and other body fluids could unlock valuable information, as the molecules are a vital building block in the body. The body manufactures them in a variety of complex shapes that can transmit messages between cells, carry oxygen and perform other important functions.

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Jan 12, 2017

Stem cells used to regenerate the external layer of a human heart

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering

A process using human stem cells can generate the cells that cover the external surface of a human heart — epicardium cells — according to a multidisciplinary team of researchers.

“In 2012, we discovered that if we treated human stem cells with chemicals that sequentially activate and inhibit Wnt signaling pathway, they become myocardium muscle cells,” said Xiaojun Lance Lian, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and biology, who is leading the study at Penn State. Myocardium, the middle of the heart’s three layers, is the thick, muscular part that contracts to drive blood through the body.

The Wnt signaling pathway is a group of signal transduction pathways made of proteins that pass signals into a cell using cell-surface receptors.

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Jan 10, 2017

Fast Radio Bursts from Extragalactic Light Sails

Posted by in categories: alien life, engineering

Abstract: We examine the possibility that Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) originate from the activity of extragalactic civilizations. Our analysis shows that beams used for powering large light sails could yield parameters that are consistent with FRBs. The characteristic diameter of the beam emitter is estimated through a combination of energetic and engineering constraints, and both approaches intriguingly yield a similar result which is on the scale of a large rocky planet. Moreover, the optimal frequency for powering the light sail is shown to be similar to the detected FRB frequencies. These ‘coincidences’ lend some credence to the possibility that FRBs might be artificial in origin. Other relevant quantities, such as the typical mass of the light sail, and the angular velocity of the beam, are also derived. By using the FRB occurrence rate, we infer upper bounds on the rate of FRBs from extragalactic civilizations in a typical galaxy. The possibility of detecting fainter signals is briefly discussed, and the wait time for an exceptionally bright FRB event in the Milky Way is estimated.

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Jan 10, 2017

Microsoft looks to tap quasiparticles to bring about a scalable quantum computer

Posted by in categories: computing, engineering, quantum physics

Microsoft has been on a quest to build the holy grail of computers for over a decade, dumping tons of money into researching quantum computing and the company says they are ready to transition over to the engineering phase of their endeavor. At least that’s what MS executive Todd Holmdahl aims to accomplish by developing the hardware and software to do so.

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Jan 10, 2017

Could We Marsiform Ourselves?

Posted by in categories: engineering, environmental

Changing another world to support Earth life is called terraforming. But maybe it’s a better idea to just change Earth life to live on other worlds.

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Jan 8, 2017

Mixed Reality will be most important tech of 2017

Posted by in categories: augmented reality, engineering, information science, quantum physics, virtual reality

Quantum will be the most important technology in 2017; as it will touch everything as well as change everything. Until we see a better integration of AR in Enterprise Apps, platforms, and published services; AR like VR will remain a niche market gadget.

I do know companies like Microsoft, SAP, and Oracle have been looking at ways to leverage AR in their enterprise platforms and services such as ERP and CRM as well as Big Data Analytics; however, to see the volume of sales needed to make VR or AR have staying power on a large scale; the vendors will need to it a pragmatic useful device on multiple fronts. And, yes it is great that we’re using VR and AR in healthcare, defense, engineering, and entertainment (includes gaming); we just need to make it an every consumer device that people canot live with out.

2016 has been a remarkable year that’s brought continued growth and awareness to the worlds of Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality. Set to become a $165 Billion dollar industry by 2020, there’s still a common question that lingers among many newcomers trying to understand this fast moving digital phenomena we are just beginning to watch evolve: What’s the difference between them and how will it impact the digital world as I currently know it?

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Jan 5, 2017

Tiny 3D printed biobots could dispense drug doses from inside your body

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, engineering

Samuel Sia, a professor of biomedical engineering at New York City’s Columbia University, has developed a 3D printed biobot that can be implanted in the body to release controlled doses of drugs. The amazing device can be controlled from outside the body using only magnets.

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