a Blue Bubble Dhines in Deep Space in New Hubble Photo
A blue-tinted cosmic bubble floats 30,000 light-years from Earth.
A newly-released photo taken by the Hubble Space Telescope shows a star, named WR 31a, circled by a Wolf–Rayet nebula — the bubble-shaped blue structure made of gas and dust in the image.
"Unfortunately, the lifecycle of a Wolf–Rayet star is only a few hundred thousand years — the blink of an eye in cosmic terms," Hubble said in a statement.
"Despite beginning life with a mass at least 20 times that of the sun, Wolf–Rayet stars typically lose half their mass in less than 100,000 years."
Scientists think that the nebula formed about 20,000 years ago, and it's speeding outward at about 136,700 miles per hour, Hubble said.
New Mind-Controlled Prosthetic Hand Can Move Each Finger Individually
Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have developed a new brain-machine interface (BMI) that enables patients to move the individual fingers of a prosthetic hand using their brain signals. Reporting their progress in the Journal of Neural Engineering, the team describe how their test subject was able to operate the device with no previous training.
Though recent years have seen a number of major advancements in the field of prosthetics, the results reported in this new study represent a significant improvement on existing technologies. For instance, many of the latest BMIs allow users to master a number of different grip types when operating a mechanical hand, although these typically involve moving all fingers together as part of a single action. The ability to operate each finger independently of the rest, however, had until now never been achieved.
To accomplish the feat, researchers recruited a 20-year-old epilepsy patient who had undergone a procedure to implant a number of electrodes onto his sensorimotor cortex – the part of the brain responsible for planning and executing voluntary movements. Although the participant received these implants primarily with the intention of helping doctors to pinpoint the source of his seizures, he also agreed to allow scientists to use them to map his brain activity while moving each one of his fingers.
This information was obtained by asking the subject to move his fingers one by one, while researchers monitored the electrical impulses generated in his brain. Following this, the participant put on a special vibrating glove which stimulated the tips of each finger, generating a further set of readable brain signals.
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Horses Understand Human Facial Expressions
Like fearful humans, horses raise the inner brow of their eyes when threatened or surprised. Altogether their faces can convey 17 emotions (ours express 27), and they readily recognize the expressions on their fellow equines. But can they read our facial cues? To find out, researchers tested 28 horses, including 21 geldings and seven mares, from stables in the United Kingdom. Each horse was led by his/her halter rope to a position in the stable, and then presented with a life-size color photograph of the face of a man. The man was either smiling or frowning angrily. The scientists recorded the animals’ reactions, and measured their heart rates. Other studies have shown that stressed horses’ heart rates fluctuate, and when the horses looked at the angry man, their hearts reached a maximum heart rate more quickly than when they viewed the smiling image. When shown the angry face, 20 of the horses also turned their heads so that they could look at it with their left eye—a response that suggests they understood the expression, the scientists report online today in Biology Letters, because the right hemisphere of the brain is specialized for processing negative emotions. Dogs, too, have this “left-gaze bias” when confronting angry faces. Also, like dogs, the horses showed no such bias, such as moving their heads to look with the right eye, when viewing the happy faces—perhaps because the animals don’t need to respond to nonthreatening cues. But an angry expression carries a warning—the person may be about to strike. The discovery that horses as well as dogs—the only two animals this has been tested in—can read our facial expressions spontaneously and without training suggests one of two things: Either these domesticated species devote a lot of time to learning our facial cues, or the ability is innate and more widespread in the animal kingdom than previously thought.
Providing Three-Dimensional Printing Arteries
A Chinese company in the field of biotechnology has announced the achievement of the first three-dimensional bio-printer arteries in the world. However, scientists around the world for years to build artificial blood vessels were trying.
Rvvtk printer manufacturing company, to produce efficient and specific members of the body that are each one provides. This printer has two nozzles that turns and complementary work and can work for ten minutes to finish the construction of a vessel of 10 cm. This printer can produce stem cells provided to help biotechnology. The main objective of this technology is the production of stem cells unique to each person, so that may arise organ regeneration.
Yuji Kang, chief scientist Rvvtk says: "The core of the printer is a biological glue that stem cells located within it. The stem cells according to our needs, and under certain circumstances, the cells that we need to be converted. "
Complex vessels and vital part of the printer are dry because of them that are important nutrients to the body. The scientists hope that they will soon be using three-dimensional printers to produce their body parts but first they have arteries that are essential elements for building organs, was produced. The main challenge in achieving this important to keep the stem cells alive during the printing process.
Krung Dai, a member of the Academy of Engineering of China , said: "This success is not only to print a body vessel but to find a way to keep the cells of the vascular and functional materials. It also published in print and blood vessels, liver, kidneys and other body parts is useful. "
According to the member of the Academy of Engineering of China, this development has great potential but it still may be a long way from its use in human medical care in advance.
Animal Brought back to Life after Spending 30 Years Frozen
Researchers have successfully revived microscopic creatures that had been kept frozen for 30 years.
Tardigrades, also known as waterbears or moss piglets, are tiny water-dwelling organisms. They're segmented, with eight legs, and measure 1mm in length.
Scientists at at Japan's National Institute of Polar Research retrieved the creatures from a frozen moss sample collected in Antarctica in 1983. The sample had been stored at −20 °C for just over three decades.
Two waterbears were resuscitated. One of them died after 20 days, but the other went on to successfully reproduce with a third specimen hatched from a frozen egg.
It laid 19 eggs, of which 14 hatched successfully.
Found throughout the world, tardigrades can survive extreme pressure, such as deep underwater, and can even live in the vacuum of space for several days.
When they're frozen, the creatures enter a state called cryptobiosis, in which their metabolic processes shut down, and they show no visible signs of life.
After Reading This, You'll Never Look At A Banana The Same Way Again
Bananas contain three natural sugars – sucrose, fructose and glucose combined with fiber. A banana gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy.
Research has proven that just two bananas provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. No wonder the banana is the number one fruit with the world's leading athletes. But energy isn't the only way a banana can help us keep fit. It can also help overcome or prevent a substantial number of illnesses and conditions, making it a must to add to our daily diet.
According to a recent survey undertaken by MIND amongst people suffering from depression, many felt much better after eating a banana. This is because bananas contain tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood and generally make you feel happier.
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This New Airbus Carbon Fibre Plane is Designed to Beat Jetlag
One of the biggest downsides to a long-haul flight - aside from being cooped up in a metal box for hours - is waiting for your body to readjust to the new time zone once you touch down. But commercial aircraft companies Airbus and Qatar Airways think they might have found a solution to the perennial jetlag problem with their latest aeroplane.
The A350 XWB comes with a variety of improvements designed to minimise that groggy feeling you get from flying halfway around the world. One of the main innovations is a system of LED lights inside the cabin that are designed to change colour to mimic the Sun's natural glow - and they're programmed to fit in with our bodies' natural circadian rhythms no matter what the actual time is.
What's more, the plane's filtering system refreshes the air inside the cabin every 2 or 3 minutes, and keeps it pressurised at the equivalent of an altitude of 1,828.8 metres (6,000 feet). Again, Airbus says this should improve comfort for passengers and minimise the effects of jetlag once they step back onto the ground.
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Smart Bandage Signals Infection by Turning Fluorescent
Bacterial infection is a fairly common and potentially dangerous complication of wound healing, but a new “intelligent” dressing that turns fluorescent green to signal the onset of an infection could provide physicians a valuable early-detection system.
Researchers in the United Kingdom recently unveiled a prototype of the color-changing bandage, which contains a gel-like material infused with tiny capsules that release nontoxic fluorescent dye in response to contact with populations of bacteria that commonly cause wound infections.
Led by Toby Jenkins, a professor of biophysical chemistry at the University of Bath, the inventors of the new bandage, which has not yet been tested in humans, say it could be used to alert health-care professionals to an infection early enough to prevent the patient from getting sick. In some cases it may even be able help avoid the need for antibiotics, says Jenkins.
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Scientists have Developed a Power Cell that Harnesses Electricity from Algae
Next week, international leaders and scientists are meeting in Paris to figure out how to lower the world’s reliance on fossil fuels – but one of the key challenges they’ll face is finding clean and highly efficient energy sources to take their place.
One candidate for the job? Green slime. Or, technically, blue-green slime. Scientists in Canada have used blue-green algae to energise a new kind of power cell that harnesses an electrical charge from the photosynthesis and respiration of cyanobacteria, which are the microorganisms that make up blue-green algae.
"Both photosynthesis and respiration, which take place in plant cells, involve electron transfer chains. By trapping the electrons released by blue-green algae during photosynthesis and respiration, we can harness the electrical energy they produce naturally,” said engineer Muthukumaran Packirisamy from Concordia University in Montreal.
The photosynthetic power cell consists of an anode, cathode, and proton exchange membrane. The blue-green algae are placed in the anode chamber, and as they undergo photosynthesis, they release electrons onto the electrode surface. With an external load attached to the cell, it’s possible to extract the electrons and harness power from the device.
From a natural resources point of view, blue-green algae are a fantastic choice to help take the burden off diminishing fossil fuels cyanobacteria are one of the most prosperous microorganisms on Earth. Plus, unlike other renewable energy sources like solar power and wind power, their efficiency doesn’t vary with changes in the weather.
“By taking advantage of a process that is constantly occurring all over the world, we’ve created a new and scalable technology that could lead to cheaper ways of generating carbon-free energy,” said Packirisamy.
It’s still early days for the technology, with the researchers noting that they have a lot of work to do in terms of scaling the power cell to make the concept commercially viable.
So far, they’ve measured open-circuit voltage as high as 993 millivolts and obtained a peak power of 175.37 microwatts, as detailed in their published findings in Technology. If they can expand on these initial achievements, the researchers hope the system will one day be powerful enough to run the electronic devices we use everyday – in addition to helping humanity cut down greenhouse gas emissions.
“In five years, this will be able to power your smart phone,” Packirisamy told Chris Arsenault at Reuters. Take that, lithium-ion.
The Global Market for Metal Oxide Nanoparticles to 2020
Metal oxide nanoparticles have novel electronic, optical, magnetic, chemical catalytic and mechanical properties from the high surface to volume
ratio, and quantum size effect. Nanomaterials are being applied across a raft of high-tech industries and technologies due to their
outstanding magnetic, optical, catalytic and electronic properties, which depend greatly on their size, structure, and shape. Conservative
market estimates for metal oxide nanoparticles in 2012 are 270, 041 tons, rising to 1663, 168 tons by 2020.
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Smart Ambulances: the Hi-Tech Future of Accident and Emergency Healthcare
Every year all over Europe ambulances come to the aid of millions of people. A study suggests almost half of the cases could be treated on the spot and not need hospital care. On that basis a European research project aims to create a Smart Ambulance that can respond quickly and comprehensively to emergencies.
It is hoped that very soon medics will be able to give an accurate early diagnosis in the so-called he ‘golden hour’ after an incident that could decide the fate of the patient.
“The ambulance will be equipped in such a way with ICT technology, so the ambulance crew can actually work with people inside the hospital,” said Declan Henegan, editor of Ambulance Today Magazine. “That also means that the quality of the diagnosis made on scene within the ambulance is going to be more exact, and could mean that the patient goes to one hospital instead of another hospital.”
Room for improvement
Currently, most ambulances are cramped and confined spaces with sometimes difficult access to equipment. That doesn’t help when trying to treat a patient’s injuries on the move, according to London-based paramedic Elaine Parris: “It’s not ideal to keep going here, standing moving, whereas, for instance (it’s better) if things are all available in front of you, easy to grab. The other thing we are unable to do is to get round the other side of the patient, even the cupboards don’t tend to open as much as they need to. I could then be putting myself right across the patient, who potentially could be vomiting.”
Researchers involved in the Smart Ambulance project created a prototype specifically designed to address those issues. Gianpaolo Fusari, a designer at London’s Royal College of Art demonstrated the layout to Futuris: “A digital diagnostic and communications system monitors the patient and sends data to hospitals.
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NASA's LRO Reveals 'Incredible Shrinking Moon'
Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. The results provide important clues to the moon's recent geologic and tectonic evolution.
The moon formed in a chaotic environment of intense bombardment by asteroids and meteors. These collisions, along with the decay of radioactive elements, made
the moon hot. The moon cooled off as it aged, and scientists have long thought the moon shrank over time as it cooled, especially
in its early history. The new research
reveals relatively recent tectonic activity connected to the long-lived cooling and associated contraction of the lunar interior.
"We estimate these cliffs, called lobate scarps, formed less than a billion years ago, and they could be as young as a
hundred million years," said Dr. Thomas Watters of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the Smithsonian's National
Air and Space Museum, Washington. While ancient in human terms, it is less than 25 percent of the moon's current age of more
than four billion years. "Based on the size of the scarps, we estimate the distance between the moon's center and its surface
shrank by about 300 feet," said Watters, lead author of a paper on this research appearing in Science August 20.
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Astronomers Discover the Most Distant Galaxy in the Universe
An international team of astrophysicists has successfully measured the most distant galaxy ever recorded, by observing its characteristic hydrogen signature in the early Universe.
The galaxy, called EGSY8p7, was initially identified by UCL graduate student Guido Roberts-Borsani using the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. The galaxy’s record-breaking distance was subsequently confirmed by a team of astronomers using the WM Keck Observatory in Hawai’i. The galaxy is so far away that we observe it at a time when the Universe was just over 4% of its current age, less than 600 million years after the Big Bang.
“This is a time when we believe the first galaxies were formed and had a considerable effect on the evolution of the Universe. Finding galaxies at such an early age is rare and provides us with a unique insight into the conditions that allowed these objects to form. We are looking at the very first moments of galaxy formation,” says Roberts-Borsani, a co-author of the confirmation paper.
Because light takes time to travel, when astronomers look into the depths of space they are in fact looking back in time. The largest and most powerful telescopes, like the 10m Keck I telescope on Mauna Kea (Hawai’i), let scientists see objects that are fainter, more distant and hence further back in time. This distance is measured in ‘redshift’ because the expansion of the Universe stretches the light waves as they travel towards us, making distant objects appear redder. Higher redshifts correspond to a younger Universe. However, there is a limit to how far back astronomers can look: the early Universe was shrouded in a fog of dark hydrogen gas, which rendered it opaque to the ultraviolet radiation of the first galaxies. It may be that this galaxy, which is abnormally bright and appears to consist of extremely hot stars, was able to clear the surrounding fog more quickly than other galaxies, the team says.
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NIST Physicists Show ‘Molecules’ Made of Light May Be Possible
it’s not lightsaber time, not yet. But a team including theoretical physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has taken another step toward building objects out of photons, and the findings* hint that weightless particles of light can be joined into a sort of “molecule” with its own peculiar force.
The findings build on previous research that several team members contributed to before joining NIST. In 2013, collaborators from Harvard, Caltech and MIT found a way to bind two photons together so that one would sit right atop the other, superimposed as they travel. Their experimental demonstration was considered a breakthrough, because no one had ever constructed anything by combining individual photons—inspiring some to imagine that real-life lightsabers were just around the corner.
Now, in a paper forthcoming in Physical Review Letters, the NIST and University of Maryland-based team (with other collaborators) has showed theoretically that by tweaking a few parameters of the binding process, photons could travel side by side, a specific distance from each other. The arrangement is akin to the way that two hydrogen atoms sit next to each other in a hydrogen molecule.
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Flexible Foam Made from Algae
Algae is proving to be pretty darn useful – in recent years, it’s been used to produce oxygen, purify wastewater, provide light and serve as a source of biofuel. Now, bioplastics firm Algix and clean tech company Effekt are making flexible foam out of the stuff, too.
The process starts with the harvesting of algae from waste streams in the US and Asia, using a mobile floating platform. In such settings, the overly-nutrient-rich waters often create algal blooms, which in turn cause the death of aquatic life such as fish. Therefore, no additional fertilizers are required to grow the algae, and removing it can actually help the local environment.
That harvested algae biomass is subsequently dewatered and dried, polymerized into pellets, then combined with other compounds to ultimately form a soft, pliable foam. Depending on the formulation and intended application, the algae makes up anywhere from 15 to 60 percent of the finished product, which is said to be similar in quality to traditional petroleum-derived foam.
The material will be marketed as Bloom foam, and production should begin early next year in the US and Asia. It could find use in products such as yoga mats, sporting goods and toys.
Making Theatre Personal-Glasses that Translate the Dialogue
If you’ve watched an opera or a foreign play, you may have noticed the surtitles above the stage. One company in France is trying to revolutionise the theatre experience with surtitling glasses.
Daisy Jacobs from Theatre in Paris explains how it works:
“Everyone can choose the language, colour and size of the text, as well as the brightness and position of the text that appears. I can open the application and I have all of the folders with surtitles, so there’s King Lear and Retour à Berratham which is on tonight. I’m going to choose to follow the surtitles in English and I’m going to start the text scroll by clicking on the arrow. If one of the actors skips a line or makes a mistake, you can easily do the same.”
A secure wifi network is used to link the tablet to the glasses.
Avignon, a town steeped in history, has decided to go digital. Jean-François Césarini, the head of development at start-up accelerator ‘The Bridge’ explains why.
“The Bridge was an accelerator programme which was ear-marked by the Economy Minister to become the capital of culture and digital in France with a broader, European-scope. We welcome start-ups, we train and coach them, we help them find funding, clients and afterwards we send them through our networks that that they can grow and develop in our region to create jobs.
“For example Theatre in Paris and their glasses, we’ll send them to a hub in New York to try and put them into contact with Broadway so that they return stronger and that way they can better develop our territory.”
The company argue that the theatre experience is enhanced, with spectators able to view the performance and the text from whatever seat they choose.
“I thought it might be quite distracting and it wasn’t,” explains one theatregoer. “I thought I might feel like I had a kind of barrier between me and the stage, but I didn’t. And in fact compared to a normal surtitle, where you would have to look up or to the side, in fact after a while, it became very easy to just look wherever I wanted, read if I wanted to or not. I could watch lot of more stuff I probably would avoid at the moment because I’d be scared I would not understand it.”
Eventually the glasses could find uses beyond the opera. For now they have made the theatre experience a little more personal.
Chinese Scientists Create Liquid Metal Machines that 'Eat' Aluminium for Power
LIQUID METAL MACHINES have been developed by Chinese scientists that can 'eat' substances to change form, like the shape-shifting T-1000 robot in Terminator 2.
The technology was developed by researchers at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Tsinghua University medical school, and published in the journal Advanced Materials.
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Study Finds Metal Foams Capable of Shielding X-rays, Gamma Rays, Neutron Radiation
Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.
“This work means there’s an opportunity to use composite metal foam to develop safer systems for transporting nuclear waste, more efficient designs for spacecraft and nuclear structures, and new shielding for use in CT scanners,” says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper on the work.
Rabiei first developed the strong, lightweight metal foam for use in transportation and military applications. But she wanted to determine whether the foam could be used for nuclear or space exploration applications – could it provide structural support, protect against high impacts and provide shielding against various forms of radiation?
To that end, she and her colleagues conducted multiple tests to see how effective it was at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation. She then compared the material’s performance to the performance of bulk materials that are currently used in shielding applications. The comparison was made using samples of the same “areal” density – meaning that each sample had the same weight, but varied in volume.
The most effective composite metal foam against all three forms of radiation is called “high-Z steel-steel” and was made up largely of stainless steel, but incorporated a small amount of tungsten. However, the structure of the high-Z foam was modified so that the composite foam that included tungsten was not denser than metal foam made entirely of stainless steel.
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Water Parsimony Using Polymer Bead Cleaning Technology
At the core of the Xeros washing machine are the revolutionary little polymer beads that make everything about this system possible. These tiny, spheroidal plastic chips are able to absorb stains, stray dye, and soil, carrying them away from fabrics, resulting in a superior cleaning process that uses less water and chemicals than traditional commercial washing machines ever could.
With these beads, the Xeros machine washes fabrics at lower temperatures, conserving energy. By combining lower wash temperatures with the beads’ ability to absorb stray colours, you can minimise the risk of colour being re-deposited in your wash. This means that you spend less time sorting colours. For laundries that process large volumes each day, this makes the washing process more streamlined, reducing labour and improving productivity
Xeros’ proprietary bead cleaning technology is the product of years of research and development conducted at the University of Leeds’ School of Textiles. When it was realised that certain polymers that absorbed dye could also be used to remove stains from fabrics, the future direction of commercial laundry was set.
Graphene Holds Key to Unlocking Creation of Wearable Electronic Devices
An international team of scientists, including Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter, have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibres commonly associated with the textile industry.
The discovery could revolutionise the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.
The international collaborative research, which includes experts from the Centre for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter, the Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers, Microsystems and Nanotechnology (INESC-MN) in Lisbon, the Universities of Lisbon and Aveiro in Portugal and the Belgian Textile Research Centre (CenTexBel), is published in the leading scientific journal Scientific Reports.
Professor Craciun, co-author of the research said: "This is a pivotal point in the future of wearable electronic devices. The potential has been there for a number of years, and transparent and flexible electrodes are already widely used in plastics and glass, for example. But this is the first example of a textile electrode being truly embedded in a yarn. The possibilities for
its use are endless, including textile GPS systems, to biomedical monitoring, personal security or even communication tools for those who are sensory impaired. The only limits are really within our own imagination."
At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity. It is very flexible and is one of the strongest known materials. The race has been on for scientists and engineers to adapt graphene for the use in wearable electronic devices in recent years.
This new research has identified that 'monolayer graphene', which has exceptional electrical, mechanical and optical properties, make it a highly attractive proposition as a transparent electrode for applications in wearable electronics. In this work graphene was created by a growth method called chemical vapour deposition (CVD) onto copper foil, using a state-of-the-art nanoCVD system recently developed by Moorfield.
The collaborative team established a technique to transfer graphene from the copper foils to a polypropylene fibre already commonly used in the textile industry.
Dr Helena Alves who led the research team from INESC-MN and the University of Aveiro said: "The concept of wearable technology is emerging, but so far having fully textile-embedded transparent and flexible technology is currently non-existing. Therefore, the development of processes and engineering for the integration of graphene in textiles would give rise to a new universe of commercial applications. "
Dr Ana Neves, Associate Research Fellow in Prof Craciun's team from Exeter's Engineering Department and former postdoctoral researcher at INESC added: "We are surrounded by fabrics, the carpet floors in our homes or offices, the seats in our cars, and obviously all our garments and clothing accessories. The incorporation of electronic devices on fabrics would certainly be a game-changer in modern technology.
"All electronic devices need wiring, so the first issue to be address in this strategy is the development of conducting textile fibres while keeping the same aspect, comfort and lightness. The methodology that we have developed to prepare transparent and conductive textile fibres by coating them with graphene will now open way to the integration of electronic devices on these textile fibres"
Dr Isabel De Schrijver, an expert of smart textiles from CenTexBel said: "Successful manufacturing of wearable electronics has the potential for a disruptive technology with a wide array of potential new applications. We are very excited about the potential of this breakthrough and look forward to seeing where it can take the electronics industry in the future."
In 2012 Professor Craciun and Professor Russo, from the University of Exeter's Centre for Graphene Science, discovered GraphExeter - sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two graphene layers which makes a whole new system that is the best known transparent material able to conduct electricity. The same team recently discovered that GraphExeter is also more stable than many transparent conductors commonly used by, for example, the display industry.
Microbullet Hits Confirm Graphene’s Strength
Rice University scientists fired microbullets at supersonic speeds in experiments that show graphene is 10 times better than steel at absorbing the energy of a penetrating projectile.
Credit: Jae-Hwang Lee/Rice University
Graphene's great strength appears to be determined by how well it stretches before it breaks, according to Rice University scientists who tested the material's properties by peppering it with microbullets.
The two-dimensional carbon honeycomb discovered a decade ago is thought to be much stronger than steel. But the Rice lab of materials scientist Edwin "Ned" Thomas didn't need even close to a pound of graphene to prove the material is on average 10 times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy.
The researchers report in the latest edition of Science that firing microscopic projectiles at multilayer sheets of graphene allowed the scientists to determine just how hard it is to penetrate at the nano level -- and how strong graphene could be in macroscopic applications.
Thomas suggested the technique he and his research group developed could help measure the strength of a wide range of materials.
While other labs have looked extensively at graphene's electronic properties and tensile strength, nobody had taken comprehensive measurements of its ability to absorb an impact, Thomas said. His lab found graphene's ability to simultaneously be stiff, strong and elastic gives it extraordinary potential for use as body armor or for shielding spacecraft.
The lab pioneered its laser-induced projectile impact test (LIPIT), which uses the energy from a laser to drive microbullets away from the opposite side of an absorbing gold surface at great speed. In 2012, they first used an earlier version of LIPIT to determine the properties of multiblock copolymers that could not only stop microbullets but also completely encase them.
Since that study, Thomas and lead author Jae-Hwang Lee, a former research scientist at Rice and now an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, have enhanced their technique to fire single microscopic spheres with great precision at speeds approaching 3 kilometers per second, much faster than a speeding bullet from an AK-47.
The researchers built a custom stage to line up multilayer graphene sheets mechanically drawn from bulk graphite. They tested sheets ranging from 10 to 100 nanometers thick (up to 300 graphene layers). They then used a high-speed camera to capture images of the projectiles before and after hits to judge their speed and viewed microscope images of the damage to the sheets.
In every case, the 3.7-micron spheres punctured the graphene. But rather than a neat hole, the spheres left a fractured pattern of "petals" around the point of impact, indicating the graphene stretched before breaking.
"We started writing the paper about the petals, but as we went along, it became evident that wasn't really the story," said Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering. "The bullet's kinetic energy interacts with the graphene, pushes forward, stretches the film and is slowed down."
The experiments revealed graphene to be a stretchy membrane that, in about 3 nanoseconds before puncture, distributes the stress of the bullet over a wide area defined by a shallow cone centered at the point of impact. Tensile stress cannot travel faster than the speed of sound in materials, and in graphene, it's much faster than the speed of sound in air (1,125 feet per second).
"For graphene, we calculated the speed at 22.2 kilometers per second, which is higher than any other known material," Thomas said.
As a microbullet impacts the graphene, the diameter of the cone it creates -- determined by later examination of the petals -- provides a way to measure how much energy the graphene absorbs before breaking.
"The game in protection is getting the stress to distribute over a large area," Thomas said. "It's a race. If the cone can move out at an appreciable velocity compared with the velocity of the projectile, the stress isn't localized beneath the projectile."
Controlled layering of graphene sheets could lead to lightweight, energy-absorbing materials. "Ideally you would have a lot of independent layers that aren't too far apart or so close that they're touching, because the loading goes from tensile to compressive," Thomas said. That, he said, would defeat the purpose of spreading the strain away from the point of impact.
He expects LIPIT will be used to test many experimental materials. "Before you scale a project up, you've got to know what will work," he said. "LIPIT lets us develop rapid methodologies to test nanoscale materials and find promising candidates. We're working to demonstrate to NASA and the military that these microscopic tests are relevant to macroscopic properties."
The paper's co-authors are Rice graduate student Phillip Loya and Jun Lou, an associate professor of materials science and nanoengineering.
Smart Polymers that Move by Light
Microvehicles and other devices that can change shape or move with no power source other than a beam of
light may be possible through research led by the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. The researchers are investigating polymers that “snap” when
triggered by light, thereby converting light energy into mechanical work and potentially eliminating the need for traditional machine components
such as switches and power sources.
The research, performed by M. Ravi Shankar, PhD, associate professor of industrial engineering at Pitt in collaboration with Timothy J. White,
PhD, Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Matthew Smith, PhD, assistant professor of engineering at Hope College
in Holland, Mich., was published this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the official
journal of the United States National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Shankar’s research was enabled through an eight-week Air Force Office of
Scientific Research (AFOSR) summer Faculty Fellowship.
“I like to compare this action to that of a Venus Fly Trap,” says Shankar, whose research focuses on innovative nanomaterials. “The
underlying mechanism that allows the Venus Fly Trap to capture prey is slow. But because its internal structure is coupled to use elastic
instability, a snapping action occurs, and this delivers the power to shut the trap quickly. A similar mechanism acts in the beak of the
Hummingbird to help snap-up insects”
Focusing on this elastic instability, Dr. Shankar examined polymeric materials, prepared by researchers at the Air Force Research Laboratory, which demonstrated
unprecedented actuation rates and output powers. With light from a hand-held laser pointer, the polymers generate high amounts of power
to convert the light into mechanical work without any onboard power source or wiring. Specific functions would be pre-programmed into the
material so that the device would function once exposed to a light source and controlled by changing the character of the light.
“As we look to real-world applications, you could activate a switch simply by shining light on it,” Dr. Shankar says. “For example, you
could develop soft machines such as stents or other biomedical devices that can be more adaptive and easily controlled. In a more complex
mechanism, we could imagine a light-driven robotic or morphing structure, or micro-vehicles that would be more compact because you
eliminate the need for an on-board power system. The work potential is built into the polymer itself and is triggered with light.”
3D X-ray Microscopy
Pleasanton, CA, USA, March 11, 2015
ZEISS announces the new Ultra Load Stage for ZEISS Xradia Ultra 3D X-ray microscopes (XRM). Xradia Ultra Load Stage uniquely enables in situ nanomechanical testing—compression, tension, indentation—with non-destructive 3D tomographic imaging. For the first time, researchers will be able to image the evolution of structure in 3D under load down to 50 nm resolution. This new capability applies to a wide range of interests, covering both engineered and natural materials.
Of particular interest to materials scientists, Xradia Ultra Load Stage explores a new critical length scale for in situ materials characterization, enabling researchers to observe internal features such as nanoscale cracks and voids that ultimately lead to deformation and failure at the macroscale. This capability supports “materials by design,” a concept that enables the development of unique new materials for function-specific applicability, such as lighter, stronger fiber composites for airplane wings; more durable concrete for building materials; and biomimetic materials reproducing the advanced mechanical properties of many natural structures.
The University of Manchester in Manchester, UK has performed 3D in situ imaging of crack growth using Xradia Ultra Load Stage in nanoindentation mode to understand how cracks grow in dentin, the nano-composite that forms the bulk of teeth. Philip Withers, Professor of Materials Science and Director of the Manchester Henry Moseley X-ray Imaging Facility, says, “In situ nanomechanical testing in the Xradia Ultra X-ray microscope has enabled us to link the nanoscale 3D structure of a material directly to its performance. For the first time we can now undertake time-lapse 3D imaging with phase contrast to follow the nucleation and growth of defects and cracks in both natural and synthetic nanostructured materials.”
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Targeted Delivery of Daunorubicin to T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia by Aptamer.
1Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran.
Application of daunorubicin in treatment of leukemia has been limited for its side effects like cardiotoxicity. Specific delivery of chemotherapy drugs is an important factor in decreasing their side effects. In this study, sgc8, an aptamer for protein tyrosine kinase-7 (PTK7), was used for specific delivery of daunorubicin to Molt-4 cells (PTK7(+)). Flow cytometric experiments showed that aptamer-daunorubicin complex was internalized effectively to Molt-4 cells (PTK7(+)), but not to U266 cells (PTK7(-)). This fact was confirmed by less cytotoxicity of aptamer-drug complex in U266 cells in compare to daunorubicin alone. No significant change in viability between daunorubicin and aptamer-daunorubicin complex treated Molt4 cells was observed. In conclusion, sgc8-daunorubicin complex is introduced as a simple and efficient system for targeted delivery of drug to acute lymphoblastic leukemia T cells.
World’s Smallest Badge Reader
RF IDeas Inc., the leading innovator and manufacturer of employee badge readers for in-building applications such as computer access,
identification, time and attendance, today announced its revolutionary new pcProx® Nano Reader. Making this the smallest badge reader on the
market today, the pcProx Nano is being revealed in the RF IDeas Booth #3441 at HIMSS’15 in Chicago April 12-16, 2015.
Over 80% of employees across all industries use some type of mobile device such as a laptop to do their job. Everyone needs to deal with user
names and passwords while security managers need to ensure those aren’t shared. Authentication is now made easy with the pcProx Nano reader
which allows the worker to authenticate “on the go.” In a busy hospital setting, it’s important to go to where the work is, such as doctors
bringing their laptops into patient rooms, labs, or testing facilities. Signing-in shouldn’t slow anyone down and the pcProx Nano badge reader
enables a speedy wave of the doctor’s or nurse’s badge for instantaneous access to patient records and critical information.
The revolutionary small size brings significant opportunity and flexibility in terms of solution variety and integration. The ultra-compact size
and weight open the door for a multitude of applications in healthcare as well as government, manufacturing, public safety, enterprise and more.
The pcProx Nano reader is backward compatible and easily integrates into existing 125 kHz proximity badge systems.
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New Findings Support University Bid for Bandages to Enter the Electronic Age
The most detailed study to date showing how electrical stimulation accelerates wound healing has been carried out in 40 volunteers by University of Manchester scientists.
Skin wounds that are slow to heal are a clinical challenge to physicians all over the world. Every year, the NHS alone spends £1 billion on treating chronic wounds such as
lower limb venous and diabetic ulcers. Wounds become chronic when they fail to heal and remain open for longer than six weeks.
Researchers from The University of Manchester carried out the unique human volunteer study of skin wound healing in 40 individuals with the results published in the journal PLOS ONE.
This study has provided new data supporting previous work by the team, enabling a new partnership with Oxford BioElectronics Ltd, which in collaboration
with the University, will develop and evaluate devices and dressings for faster healing of wounds.
In the new research, half-centimetre, harmless wounds were created on each upper arm of the volunteers. One wound was left to heal normally while the other was treated with electrical pulses over a period of two weeks. These pulses stimulated the process through which new blood vessels form – known as angiogenesis – increasing the blood flow to the damaged area and resulting in the wounds healing significantly faster.
Now, the researchers at the University’s Institute of Inflammation and Repair led by Dr Ardeshir Bayat are to work with Oxford BioElectronics Ltd on a five-year project to develop and evaluate devices and dressings which use the same techniques to stimulate the body’s nervous system to generate nerve impulses to the site of skin repair.
Dr Ardeshir Bayat, the principal investigator from the University, is also leading on the partnership. He said: “This research has shown the effectiveness of electrical stimulation in wound healing, and therefore we
believe this technology has the potential to be applied to any situation where faster wound healing is
particularly desirable, such as following human or veterinary surgical wounds, accidental, or military trauma and in sports injuries.”
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Scientists’ Breakthrough with Artificial Spider Silk
pider silk is one of the strongest materials known to man.
A strand just 3 cm thick would be able to stop a speeding train.
But despite huge efforts by scientists to recreate this material, that spiders have been making for millennia, the ability to manufacture silk in a lab has proved illusive.
That is until now, researchers from the University of Bayreuth in Bavaria, Germany say they have created an artificial spider silk as durable as the real thing with the help of bacteria found in the guts of humans and animals.
Professor Thomas Scheibel is leading the team, “The special properties of spiders’ fibres are their enormous toughness” he says. “So it’s a combination of strength and elasticity, which means that a spider silk fibre can take much more energy before it ruptures, in comparison to any other fibre, man-made or natural.”
While artificial silk is not quite as strong as natural spider silk, it is even more elastic. Its toughness – a measure of both strength and elasticity – matches the real stuff. The present fibre prototypes are smooth to the touch and they shine like silk. They are brilliant white and can be dyed with common techniques used in the textile industry. Because of its biocompatability, the silk used in the process could have a variety of uses.
Next up, the team is working on combining mouse cells with the artificial spider silk to create living cells that would develop cardiac muscles, skin or nerve tissue.
Humanoid Robot Can Recognise and Interact with People
An ultra-realistic humanoid robot called 'Han' recognises and interprets people's facial expressions and can even hold simple conversations. Developers Hanson
Robotics hope androids like Han could have uses in hospitality and health care industries where face-to-face communication is vital.
Nokian Develops Winter Tires with Retractable Studs
Studded tires may make it easier to drive on ice, but those same studs will quickly wear down when used on dry asphalt – plus, they'll create a very rough, noisy ride. The problem is, most winter drivers encounter both types of road conditions, often even on the same trip. That's why Nokian has created a snow tire with retractable studs.
Currently just a demo project, the tire is a variation on the existing Nokian Hakkapeliitta 8 SUV studded winter tire. Instead of that tire's permanently-deployed studs, however, the new one features studs with a flat housing that remains in place, from within which a hard metal pin can be raised or lowered.
The idea is that drivers could activate the studs on all four wheels from within the vehicle when approaching icy patches, simply by pressing a button. When conditions improved, they could withdraw them again.
Although there's no hard word on commercial availability, Nokian has stated that "The unique stud concept may indeed become a reality one day."
10 Good Things for SMEs
Managers of small businesses in 10 countries from around the world say how ISO standards contribute to their success in a new ISO brochure entitled, 10 good things for SMEs.
The managers, eight of whom are senior executives or owners, are from a rich variety of businesses in Canada, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Singapore, Kenya, United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil and New Zealand. They testify to how ISO standards do the following good things for SMEs:
1- Standards help you compete on a level playing field with bigger enterprises
2- Standards open up export markets for your products and services
3- Standards help you discover best business practices
4- Standards drive efficiency in your business operations
5- Standards add credibility and confidence for your customers
6- Standards open new business opportunities and sales
7- Standards give you the competitive edge
8- Standards make your brand name internationally recognized
9- Standards help your company grow
10- Standards enable a common “language” to be used across an industry sector
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Tiny Particles May Pose Big Risk
Thousands of consumer products — including cosmetics, sunscreens, and clothing — contain nanoparticles added by manufacturers to improve texture, kill microbes, or enhance shelf life, among other purposes. However, several studies have shown that some of these engineered nanoparticles can be toxic to cells.
A new study from MIT and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) suggests that certain nanoparticles can also harm DNA. This research was led by Bevin Engelward, a professor of biological engineering at MIT, and associate professor Philip Demokritou, director of HSPH’s
Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology.
The researchers found that zinc oxide nanoparticles, often used in sunscreen to block ultraviolet rays, significantly damage DNA. Nanoscale silver, which has been added to toys, toothpaste, clothing, and other products for its antimicrobial properties, also produces substantial DNA damage, they found.
The findings, published in a recent issue of the journal ACS Nano, relied on a high-speed screening technology to analyze DNA damage. This approach makes it possible to study nanoparticles’ potential hazards at a much faster rate and larger scale than previously possible.
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Getting around on Mars is tricky business. Each NASA rover has delivered a wealth of information about the history and composition
of the Red Planet, but a rover's vision is limited by the view of onboard cameras, and images from spacecraft orbiting Mars are
the only other clues to where to drive it. To have a better sense of where to go and what's worth studying on Mars, it could be useful to have a low-flying scout.
Enter the Mars Helicopter, a proposed add-on to Mars rovers of the future that could potentially triple the distance these
vehicles currently drive in a Martian day, and deliver a new level of visual information for choosing which sites to explore.The helicopter would fly ahead of the rover almost every day,
checking out various possible points of interest and helping engineers back on Earth plan the best driving route.
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Coating by Sputtering Method
This is a suitable and relatively easy method for deposition of a thin layer of metal or metal alloys on nonconductive substrate.
The target material is exposed to a high energy plasma which is made by the noble and heavy gas, Argon.
The target surface is eroded by plasma which causes target’s ejected molecules to collide with residual gas molecules. Because the mean
free path of target atoms is very small, they will collide with each other and create a layer on the surface of the sample.
The four main factors that influence the rate of sputtering are voltage, plasma current, target material, and nature of the inert gas.
The physical process that happens in sputtering is that by the effect of created plasma, the cathode surface is bombarded by energetic ions. This will lead to the process of erosion of cathode material
during which the material’s atoms will erode, and due to different orientations, will deposit as thin layer on the sample
and the walls of the container. The thin layer is used to increase conductivity of samples for scanning electron microscope imaging.
There are many metals and alloys which are used as targets such as beryllium, aluminum, chromium, tungsten, silver, nickel, palladium, gold, copper, gold-palladium,
etc. The type of coating on the sample can vary depending on the type of tests.
Using silver as a coating material is not common but can be useful for some reasons. On the one hand when the sample is covered with silver,
the coating can easily be wiped off with simple methods; on the other hand silver’s conductivity is higher than other metals.
1. Echlin,Patrik.Handbook of sample preparation for scanning electron microscopy and x-ray microanalysis.2009.330p
3. Stephen A.Leslie,John C.Mitchell .Removing gold coating from SEM samples.Palaeontology .2006.Vol 50.1459-1461.
Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy
Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) is a powerful tool which was widely used in the last decades to characterize corrosion processes as well as protective performances
of pretreatments and coatings. This electrochemical technique is not destructive and can consequently be used to follow the evolution
of a coated system exposed to an accelerated ageing test and provide, in short time, information about the corrosion kinetics .
Since EIS is nondestructive test, it allows the researcher to observe changes in the film with time. Unlike traditional salt-spray tests (ASTM 2005a), EIS does
not require a subjective visual rating. EIS can measure both intact and defective coatings. Functionally, EIS measures
the electrochemical response to a small AC voltage applied over many frequencies. This electrochemical response is usually interpreted
in terms of an equivalent circuit, a circuit composed of electrical components with the same frequency response as the electrochemical
reaction. For example, a capacitor has the same frequency response as a reaction step when electrons or ions build up on a surface,
and a resistor represents the transport of charge through materials or interfaces. Often, it is possible to assign physical meaning
to individual elements in the equivalent circuit based upon a reaction mechanism. For example, the equivalent circuit in Fig 1 has
been applied by many authors to describe the corrosion response of coated materials. The major concepts will be stated here for clarity.
Fig1. - Equivalent circuit model used to describe a coated metal .
Fig 2 shows the effect of samples with different coating structure on their EIS response. Therefore, EIS can provide an
important tool for evaluating
the corrosion behavior and the structure of an unknown coated sample.
EIS also can be employed to characterize the adhesion of an organic coating to metal surfaces. Measuring adhesion to metallic surfaces has been of considerable interest in materials science and engineering,
and numerous traditional techniques exist. Many of these methods are mechanical (pull-off. bending. peel test. etc.), and are therefore
destructive. The unique advantages of EIS is that data relating to the coatings performance can be obtained in situ, in a non-destructive
manner, leading to a detailed understanding of the probable mechanism of adhesion loss. In aqueous media water penetration
and absorption through a coating will ultimately affect the corrosion and adhesion properties at the polymer metal interface, it
is clear that both of these processes are related. It is apparent that there is a direct correlation between an organic coating exposed
to high humidity or condensed water and the adhesion strength which declines considerably on exposure, due to swelling, delaminating,
corrosion processes, etc; but these effects will ultimately depend on the quality of the coating. Therefore it is possible to draw the
conclusion that the adhesion of the coating is indirectly related to corrosion processes which may be occurring at the metal surface.
Obviously different organic coatings will afford different levels of protection and adhesion. But these can be affected by the
penetration of polar molecules such as water in aqueous environments, leading to electrochemical corrosion and adhesion loss .
Therefore, EIS now offer a viable alternative leading to detailed information about performance and adhesion of organic coatings.
1. Razavi, R.S., Recent Researches in Corrosion Evaluation and Protection. 2012: InTech.
2. Zelinka, S.L., et al., Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) as a tool for measuring corrosion of polymer-coated fasteners used in treated wood. FOREST PRODUCTS JOURNAL, 2009. 59: p. 77-82.
3. Kelly, R.G., et al., Electrochemical Techniques in Corrosion Science and Engineering. 2002: Taylor & Francis.
4. Hinton, A.J., Determination of coating adhesion using electrochemlcal impedance spectroscopy. Solartron, Materials Test, Farnborough, Hampshire, UK.
NASA Helicopter Drop Test a Smashing Success
NASA researchers and others from the military and national and international government agencies spent more than three years
preparing for less than 10 seconds. That's about how long it took for a 45-foot-long former Marine helicopter to fall 30 feet into
a bed of dirt during the Transport Rotorcraft Airframe
Crash Testbed full-scale crash test at NASA Langley's Landing and Impact Research (LANDIR) facility.
We chose soil because if you look at the mishap data the majority of the mishaps don't occur on prepared surfaces,
like concrete " said Martin Annett, lead test engineer. "The helicopter plowed into the dirt at about 30 miles an hour – a severe but
survivable crash according to civilian and military standards.
Inside were 13 instrumented crash test dummies and two non-instrumented manikins. They were strapped in as cables hauled the helicopter
fuselage into the air and then swung it to the ground, much like a pendulum. Just before impact pyro-technic devices released
the suspension cables from the helicopter to allow free flight.
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