Archive for the ‘engineering’ category: Page 8

Jul 16, 2020

Neuroscientists identify the brain cells that help humans adapt to change

Posted by in categories: engineering, neuroscience

There are 86 billion neurons, or cells, in the human brain. Of these, an infinitely small portion of them handle cognitive flexibility—our ability to adjust to new environments and concepts.

A team of researchers with interdisciplinary expertise in psychology, informatics (the application of information science to solve problems with data) and engineering along with the Vanderbilt Brain Institute (VBI) gained critical insights into one of the biggest mysteries in neuroscience, identifying the location and critical nature of these neurons.

The article was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) on July 13. The discovery presents an opportunity to enhance researchers’ understanding and treatment of mental illnesses rooted in cognitive flexibility.

Jul 15, 2020

The solar panel made from a particle collider

Posted by in categories: engineering, particle physics, solar power, sustainability

Circa 2012

Big science meets applied engineering. CERN, renowned for smashing protons, culling antimatter and the like, has put its accelerating processes to use making and commercializing solar panels.

Jul 13, 2020

Tiny bubbles make a quantum leap

Posted by in categories: computing, encryption, engineering, quantum physics

July 13, 2020—Researchers at Columbia Engineering and Montana State University report today that they have found that placing sufficient strain in a 2-D material—tungsten diselenide (WSe2)—creates localized states that can yield single-photon emitters. Using sophisticated optical microscopy techniques developed at Columbia over the past three years, the team was able to directly image these states for the first time, revealing that even at room temperature they are highly tunable and act as quantum dots, tightly confined pieces of semiconductors that emit light.

“Our discovery is very exciting, because it means we can now position a emitter wherever we want, and tune its properties, such as the color of the emitted photon, simply by bending or straining the material at a specific location,” says James Schuck, associate professor of mechanical engineering, who co-led the study published today by Nature Nanotechnology. “Knowing just where and how to tune the single-photon is essential to creating quantum optical circuitry for use in quantum computers, or even in so-called ‘quantum’ simulators that mimic physical phenomena far too complex to model with today’s computers.”

Developing such as quantum computers and quantum sensors is a rapidly developing field of research as researchers figure out how to use the unique properties of quantum physics to create devices that can be much more efficient, faster, and more sensitive than existing technologies. For instance, quantum information—think encrypted messages—would be much more secure.

Jul 12, 2020

Liquid crystals create easy-to-read, color-changing sensors

Posted by in categories: engineering, wearables

Chameleons are famous for their color-changing abilities. Depending on their body temperature or mood, their nervous system directs skin tissue that contains nanocrystals to expand or contract, changing how the nanocrystals reflect light and turning the reptile’s skin a rainbow of colors.

Inspired by this, scientists at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago have developed a way to stretch and strain liquid crystals to generate different colors.

By creating a thin film of polymer filled with liquid crystal droplets and then manipulating it, they have determined the fundamentals for a color-changing sensing system that could be used for smart coatings, sensors, and even wearable electronics.

Jul 9, 2020

Observation of the Quantum Spin Liquid State in Novel Material Advances Spintronics

Posted by in categories: engineering, particle physics, quantum physics

New insight into the spin behavior in an exotic state of matter puts us closer to next-generation spintronic devices.

Aside from the deep understanding of the natural world that quantum physics theory offers, scientists worldwide are working tirelessly to bring forth a technological revolution by leveraging this newfound knowledge in engineering applications. Spintronics is an emerging field that aims to surpass the limits of traditional electronics by using the spin of electrons, which can be roughly seen as their angular rotation, as a means to transmit information.

But the design of devices that can operate using spin is extremely challenging and requires the use of new materials in exotic states–even some that scientists do not fully understand and have not experimentally observed yet. In a recent study published in Nature Communications, scientists from the Department of Applied Physics at Tokyo University of Science, Japan, describe a newly synthesized compound with the formula KCu6AlBiO4(SO4)5Cl that may be key in understanding the elusive “quantum spin liquid (QSL)” state. Lead scientist Dr Masayoshi Fujihala explains his motivation: “Observation of a QSL state is one of the most important goals in condensed-matter physics as well as the development of new spintronic devices. However, the QSL state in two-dimensional (2D) systems has not been clearly observed in real materials owing to the presence of disorder or deviations from ideal models.”

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Jul 6, 2020

New nano-engineering strategy shows potential for improved advanced energy storage

Posted by in categories: energy, engineering, nanotechnology, sustainability

The rapid development of renewable energy resources has triggered tremendous demands in large-scale, cost-efficient and high-energy-density stationary energy storage systems.

Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) have many advantages but there are much more abundant metallic elements available such as sodium, potassium, zinc and aluminum.

These elements have similar chemistries to lithium and have recently been extensively investigated, including (SIBs), potassium-ion batteries (PIBs), zinc-ion batteries (ZIBs), and aluminum-ion batteries (AIBs). Despite promising aspects relating to redox potential and density the development of these beyond-LIBs has been impeded by the lack of suitable electrode materials.

Jul 2, 2020

Researchers observe branched flow of light for the first time

Posted by in categories: engineering, nanotechnology, physics

A team of researchers from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology has observed branched flow of light for the very first time. The findings are published in Nature and are featured on the cover of the July 2, 2020 issue.

The study was carried out by Ph.D. student Anatoly (Tolik) Patsyk, in collaboration with Miguel A. Bandres, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Technion when the project started and is now an Assistant Professor at CREOL, College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida. The research was led by Technion President Professor Uri Sivan and Distinguished Professor Mordechai (Moti) Segev of the Technion’s Physics and Electrical Engineering Faculties, the Solid State Institute, and the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute.

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Jun 29, 2020

Habitat Mars: Learning to live sustainably on the red planet

Posted by in categories: engineering, habitats, space, sustainability

There’s quite a bit of buzz these days about how humanity could become a “multiplanetary” species. This is understandable, considering that space agencies and aerospace companies from around the world are planning on conducting missions to low earth orbit (LEO), the moon, and Mars in the coming years, not to mention establishing a permanent human presence there and beyond.

To do this, humanity needs to develop the necessary strategies for sustainable living in hostile environments and enclosed spaces. To prepare humans for this kind of experience, groups like Habitat Marte (Mars Habitat) and others are dedicated to conducting simulated missions in analog environments. The lessons learned will not only prepare people to live and work in space but foster ideas for sustainable living here on Earth.

Habitat Marte was founded in 2017 by Julio Francisco Dantas de Rezende, the professor of sustainability in the Department of Product Engineering at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) and the director of innovation with the Research Support Foundation (FAPERN). He is also the coordinator of Habitat Marte and Mars Society Brazil.

Jun 28, 2020

Faces of Technology — Women of NASA 2020

Posted by in categories: engineering, space travel

On this Women in Engineering Day, meet some of the NASA — National Aeronautics and Space Administration women who are making contributions to the technologies that make space exploration, including NASA’s Artemis missions to the Moon, possible. WATCH #INWED20

Jun 25, 2020

Engineering an immunotherapy to outwit cancer — and launch a biotech

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, engineering

Tweaking an immune protein called interleukin-18 can overcome tumors that lure it into binding with a decoy receptor protein and render it harmless to cancer cells, new research in mice shows. In conjunction with the paper, published Wednesday in Nature, a company founded by senior author Aaron Ring announced $25 million in initial financing to create and commercialize a drug based on the discovery.

The approach adds another weapon to an immunotherapy arsenal that activates immune responses hijacked by cancer. Checkpoint inhibitors, for example, take the brakes off immune cells that should battle invaders. IL-18 is a cytokine that normally activates T cells and natural killer cells, two immune forces that fight infection, but it’s disarmed by the decoy wielded by tumors.

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