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Nanoparticles Fom Tea Leaves Destroy 80% Of Lung Cancer Cells

Nanoparticles derived from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells, destroying up to 80% of them, new research by a joint Swansea University (UK) and Indian team has shown. The team made the discovery while they were testing out a new method of producing a type of nanoparticle called quantum dots.  These are tiny particles which measure less than 10 nanometres.  A human hair is 40,000 nanometres thick.

Although nanoparticles are already used in healthcare, quantum dots have only recently attracted researchers’ attention.  Already they are showing promise for use in different applications, from computers and solar cells to tumour imaging and treating cancerQuantum dots can be made chemically, but this is complicated and expensive and has toxic side effects.  The Swansea-led research team were therefore exploring a non-toxic plant-based alternative method of producing the dots, using tea leaf extract.

Tea leaves contain a wide variety of compounds, including polyphenols, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants.   The researchers mixed tea leaf extract with cadmium sulphate (CdSO4) and sodium sulphide (Na2S) and allowed the solution to incubate, a process which causes quantum dots to form.   They then applied the dots to lung cancer cells. Tea leaves are a simpler, cheaper and less toxic method of producing quantum dots, compared with using chemicals, confirming the results of other research in the field. Quantum dots produced from tea leaves inhibit the growth of lung cancer cells.  They penetrated into the nanopores of the cancer cells and destroyed up to 80% of them.  This was a brand new finding, and came as a surprise to the team.

The research, published in “Applied Nano Materials”, is a collaborative venture between Swansea University experts and colleagues from two Indian universities.


Sea Bubbles, The Flying Taxi Tested In Paris

Paris trips Sea Bubbles up. These flying taxis, that are said to be tested on the Seine river by late September, will finally be tested in Paris in May-June 2018 and aim at making the Seine river a common means of transport so that you can cross the city of lights in less than 15 minutes!

Bertrand Lambert, Sea Bubbles inventor, announces to be able to navigate the Seine in May-June this year. The famous flying taxis have already been successfully tested last June.


For the record, initially planned for late September, Sea Bubbles testing have been postponed because of technical and regulatory constraints. On the one hand to improve the system enabling to make the driving available to everyone and on the other hand for speed issues. Actually, these machines can “fly” at a maximum speed of 32mph and cannot reduce it. Yet, the Seine limited speed is set at 7.5mph in the city center and 11.2mph outside. According to Voies Navigables de France (Navigable Waterways of France), a steadfast speed promises a great deal of discussions.

Finally, after months of negotiations, Alain Thébault, helped by Paris Authorities and the Ministry of Transport, is finally being authorized to navigate or “fly” at a speed of 15.53 mph.This new testing will be open to the public this time and last 2 months. Let’s fly over the Seine!

Called “Sea Bubbles”, these flying boats seem to come straight from sci-fi movies. Able to accommodate up to 4 passengers and one pilot, this new means of circulating is electric and rather simple to use.

In concrete terms, how does it work? Under each machine, there are wings propelled by two electric motors. When started up, they take off and lift but they still touch the water. Notwithstanding, the rubbing is reduced by 40% in comparison with a boat hull.


With The Artificial Arm Luke, You Easily Peel A Banana

You have lost completely your arm. Now imagine…
Reaching up to pluck an apple from a tree. Confidently manipulating chopsticks to pick up small bites of food. Picking up and operating a heavy piece of equipment with ease, or Peeling a banana without bruising the fruit. All this is possible as the LUKE prosthetic arm can read nerve signals from muscle left after an amputation

You will be able to do some of these things the very first time you put the arm on, all with a level of comfort and integration never realized before due to the sophisticated compression and release design of the High-Fidelity interface.


Are you a good candidate for the LUKE Arm? Currently, the LUKE Arm is available for three levels of amputationlower arm or trans-radialmid-arm or trans-humeral, and shoulder disarticulation (this level does not use the High-Fidelity Interface). The company which sells the product, Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics is the country’s premier bionic and prosthetic provider for amputees, blending technology and expertise with a personal approach to healthcare.

If you are a veteran, the LUKE Arm is covered in many cases by the VA. Other candidates may have access to funding depending on their particular circumstances. As a preferred provider of the LUKE Arm, the Next Step company answer any questions you may have on the arm and whether it is a good fit for your particular needs.

As one of the original development partners, Next Step has unique expertise in the fitting and use of the LUKE Arm. The goal is in helping patients get their lives back. To support the overall patient experience, an experienced, patient-centered team will ensure the strongest, most supportive patient experience. Customized physical and occupational therapy offered to the patients is offered in partnership with Catholic Medical Center.


How To Charge In Seconds 3D Batteries

The world is a big place, but it’s gotten smaller with the advent of technologies that put people from across the globe in the palm of one’s hand. And as the world has shrunk, it has also demanded that things happen ever faster – including the time it takes to charge an electronic device.

A cross-campus collaboration led by Ulrich Wiesner, Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science at Cornell University, addresses this demand with a novel energy storage device architecture that has the potential for lightning-quick charges.

The group’s idea: Instead of having the batteries’ anode and cathode on either side of a nonconducting separator, intertwine the components in a self-assembling, 3D gyroidal structure, with thousands of nanoscale pores filled with the components necessary for energy storage and delivery.

A rendering of the 3D battery architecture (top; not to scale) with interpenetrating anode (grey, with minus sign), separator (green), and cathode (blue, plus sign), each about 20 nanometers in size. Below are their respective molecular structures

This is truly a revolutionary battery architecture,” said Wiesner, whose group’s paper, “Block Copolymer Derived 3-D Interpenetrating Multifunctional Gyroidal Nanohybrid for Electrical Energy Storage,” was published in Energy and Environmental Science, a publication of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

This three-dimensional architecture basically eliminates all losses from dead volume in your device,” Wiesner said. “More importantly, shrinking the dimensions of these interpenetrated domains down to the nanoscale, as we did, gives you orders of magnitude higher power density. In other words, you can access the energy in much shorter times than what’s usually done with conventional battery architectures.”

How fast is that? Wiesner said that, due to the dimensions of the battery’s elements being shrunk down to the nanoscale, “by the time you put your cable into the socket, in seconds, perhaps even faster, the battery would be charged.”

The architecture for this concept is based on block copolymer self-assembly, which the Wiesner group has employed for years in other devices, including a gyroidal solar cell and a gyroidal superconductor. Joerg Werner, Ph.D. ’15, lead author on this work, had experimented with self-assembling filtration membranes, and wondered if the same principles could be applied to carbon materials for energy storage.


Bio-material Stronger Than Steel

At DESY‘s X-ray light source PETRA III, a team led by Swedish researchers has produced the strongest bio-material that has ever been made. The artifical, but bio-degradable cellulose fibres are stronger than steel and even than dragline spider silk, which is usually considered the strongest bio-based material. The team headed by Daniel Söderberg from the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm reports the work in the journal ACS Nano of the American Chemical Society. The ultrastrong material is made of cellulose nanofibres (CNF), the essential building blocks of wood and other plant life. Using a novel production method, the researchers have successfully transferred the unique mechanical properties of these nanofibres to a macroscopic, lightweight material that could be used as an eco-friendly alternative for plastic in airplanes, cars, furniture and other products.


The resulting fibre seen with a scanning electron microscope (SEM)

Our new material even has potential for biomedicine since cellulose is not rejected by your body”, explains Söderberg.

The scientists started with commercially available cellulose nanofibres that are just 2 to 5 nanometres in diameter and up to 700 nanometres long. A nanometre (nm) is a millionth of a millimetre. The nanofibres were suspended in water and fed into a small channel, just one millimetre wide and milled in steel. Through two pairs of perpendicular inflows additional deionized water and water with a low pH-value entered the channel from the sides, squeezing the stream of nanofibres together and accelerating it.

This process, called hydrodynamic focussing, helped to align the nanofibres in the right direction as well as their self-organisation into a well-packed macroscopic thread. No glue or any other component is needed, the nanofibres assemble into a tight thread held together by supramolecular forces between the nanofibres, for example electrostatic and Van der Waals forces.


Electric Powered Flight Ten Times Less Expensive

Consumer passenger flight could be the next industry that’s transformed by electric powertrains, and Seattle’s Zunum Aero wants to be at the forefront of that change. The Seattle-based company, which is backed by Boeing’s HorizonX fund and Jet Blue’s Technology Ventures, has a plan to change the fundamental economics of regional flight, and shift the economics of air travel on a path towards eventual fully electric flight.

The first Zunum aircraft is designed for regional service, with seating for 12 passengers and a delivery window starting in 2022. The economics are potentially game-changing, with operating expenses of around $260 per hour for the aircraft. With a max cruise stepped of 340 miles per hour (547 km/h) in the air, a take-off distance of 2,200 feet (671 meters), a total hybrid-electric range of 700 miles (1127 km), which it hopes to scale to over 1,000 (1610 km) )in time and 80 percent lower noise and emissions vs. traditional regional planes, Zunum is position its airplane as the perfect way to light up under-utilized regional airports across the U.S., providing affordable and efficient commuter flights where economic realities have made running regular service impractical.

In the past, very intentionally, we were quiet about operating costs, because it’s just shockingly low what you can get with an electric. So that you can get an aircraft of a size that could never compete with an airliner that can get you below commercial fares,” Zunum Aero CEO Ashish Kumar told in an interview. He put the cost per seat operating expenses at around 8 cents per mile. “That’s about one-tenth the operating cost of a business jet per hour,” he said.


A Pinch Of Salt Improves Drastically Battery Performance

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London, University of Cambridge and Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research have discovered how a pinch of salt can be used to drastically improve the performance of batteries. Surprisingly, the salt reacted with the sponge in special ways and turned it from a homogeneous mass to an intricate structure with fibres, struts, pillars and webs. This kind of 3D hierarchically organised carbon structure has proven very difficult to grow in a laboratory but is crucial in providing unimpeded ion transport to active sites in a battery. In the study, published in JACS (Journal of the American Chemical Society), the researchers demonstrate that the use of these materials in Lithium-ion batteries not only enables the batteries to be charged-up rapidly, but also at one of the highest capacities.

Due to their intricate architecture the researchers have termed these structures ‘nano-diatoms’, and believe they could also be used in energy storage and conversion, for example as electrocatalysts for hydrogen production.

This metamorphosis only happens when we heat the compounds to 800 degrees centigrade and was as unexpected as hatching fire-born dragons instead of getting baked eggs in the Game of Thrones. It is very satisfying that after the initial surprise, we have also discovered how to control the transformations with chemical composition,” said lead author Dr Stoyan Smoukov, from Queen Mary’s School of Engineering and Materials Science.


Orgasmic Fruit Flies

Male fruit flies enjoy orgasms more than alcohol – and Israeli researchers who tested the insects’ addiction to pleasure hope to apply their discovery to controlling human substance abuse. Scientists from Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv exposed the flies to a red light that activated a protein, corazonim (CRZ), in the abdomen that triggers ejaculation 

Galit Shohat-Ophir, who headed the team, said they then tested how repeated ejaculation affected the flies’ desires for other pleasures, such as alcohol-spiked liquid. Flies that orgasmed, as opposed to a control group that had not been stimulated, shunned the alcohol, preferring to congregate in the “red light district” because “it feels good” there, said Shir Zer Krispil, who led the study.

The scientists, whose research was published in the journal Current Biology, surmised that substance abuse in humans could be moderated by other rewardsnot necessarily of a sexual nature – that are naturally available, such as social interaction or sports.

In experiences where there is high reward level by natural reward – alcohol as a drug reward is not valuable,” Shohat-Ophir said.

Strain Improves Performance of Atomically Thin Semiconductor

Researchers in UConn’s Institute of Materials Science significantly improved the performance of an atomically thin semiconductor material by stretching it, an accomplishment that could prove beneficial to engineers designing the next generation of flexible electronics, nano devices, and optical sensors.

In a study appearing in the research journal Nano Letters, Michael Pettes, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, reports that a six-atom thick bilayer of tungsten diselenide exhibited a 100-fold increase in photoluminescence when it was subjected to strain. The material had never exhibited such photoluminescence before.

The findings mark the first time scientists have been able to conclusively show that the properties of atomically thin materials can be mechanically manipulated to enhance their performance, Pettes says. Such capabilities could lead to faster computer processors and more efficient sensors.

The process the researchers used to achieve the outcome is also significant in that it offers a reliable new methodology for measuring the impact of strain on ultrathin materials, something that has been difficult to do and a hindrance to innovation.

Experiments involving strain are often criticized since the strain experienced by these atomically thin materials is difficult to determine and often speculated as being incorrect,” says Pettes. “Our study provides a new methodology for conducting strain-dependent measurements of ultrathin materials, and this is important because strain is predicted to offer orders of magnitude changes in the properties of these materials across many different scientific fields.”


Israeli Startup To Grow Meat In The Lab

 Tyson Foods (TSN.N), the largest U.S. meat processor, has invested in an Israeli biotech company developing a way to grow affordable meat in a laboratory that takes live animals out of the equation.

Future Meat Technologies focuses on producing fat and muscle cells that are the core building blocks of meat, and is one of several firms working on technology to match rising demand for meat without adding more pressure on land from livestock. The firm’s founder and chief scientist, Yaakov Nahmias, said cultured meat typically had a production price of about $10,000 per kg but so far his company had reduced that to $800/kg and had “a clear roadmap to $5$10/kg by 2020.” Tyson’s venture capital arm has supported the Jerusalem-based startup by co-leading $2.2 million in seed investment.

We continue to invest significantly in our traditional meat business but also believe in exploring additional opportunities for growth that give consumers more choices,” said Justin Whitmore, Tyson’s executive vice president for corporate strategy. In December, Tyson raised its stake in plant-based protein maker Beyond MeatDemand for meat is expected to double between 2000 and 2050, when the earth’s population is set to surpass 9 billion, and proponents of growing meat in the lab say it is the only way to meet such demand without destroying the environment.


Laser Shoes to Fight Parkinson’s

Freezing of gait, an absence of forward progression of the feet despite the intention to walk, is a debilitating symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Laser shoes that project a line on the floor to the rhythm of the footsteps help trigger the person to walk. The shoes benefit the wearer significantly, according to research by the University of Twente and Radboud university medical center (Netherlands), which has been published in Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.


Walking problems are common and very disabling in Parkinson’s disease. In particular, freezing of gait is a severe symptom which generally develops in more advanced stages. It can last seconds to minutes and is generally triggered by the stress of an unfamiliar environment or when medication wears off. Because the foot remains glued to the floor but the upper body continues moving forward, it can cause the person to lose her balance and fall.
Parkinson patient experience a unique phenomenon. By consciously looking at objects on the floor, such as the lines from a zebra crossing (‘visual cues’), and stepping over them, they are able to overcome their blockages during walking. This activates other circuits in the brain, hereby releasing the blockages and allowing the person to continue walking. This is why patients often make use of floor tiles at home. With the laser shoes, these useful cues can be continuously applied in everyday life, to walk better and safer. The principle behind the laser shoes is simple: upon foot contact, the left shoe projects a line on the floor in front of the right foot. The patient steps over or towards the line, which activates the laser on the right shoe, and so on.

The present research study shows a beneficial effect in a large group of patients. The number of ‘freezingepisodes was reduced by 46% with the use of the shoes. The duration of these episodes was also divided by two. Both effects were strongest in patients while they had not taken their medication yet. This is typically when patients experience the most problems with walking. But an improvement was also seen after the patients had been taking their medication.


Harvesting Clean Hydrogen Fuel Through Artificial Photosynthesis

A new, stable artificial photosynthesis device doubles the efficiency of harnessing sunlight to break apart both fresh and salt water, generating hydrogen that can then be used in fuel cells.

The device could also be reconfigured to turn carbon dioxide back into fuel.

Hydrogen is the cleanest-burning fuel, with water as its only emission. But hydrogen production is not always environmentally friendly. Conventional methods require natural gas or electrical power. The method advanced by the new device, called direct solar water splitting, only uses water and light from the sun.

If we can directly store solar energy as a chemical fuel, like what nature does with photosynthesis, we could solve a fundamental challenge of renewable energy,” said Zetian Mi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Michigan who led the research while at McGill University in Montreal.

Faqrul Alam Chowdhury, a doctoral student in electrical and computer engineering at McGill, said the problem with solar cells is that they cannot store electricity without batteries, which have a high overall cost and limited life.

The device is made from the same widely used materials as solar cells and other electronics, including silicon and gallium nitride (often found in LEDs). With an industry-ready design that operates with just sunlight and seawater, the device paves the way for large-scale production of clean hydrogen fuel.

Previous direct solar water splitters have achieved a little more than 1 percent stable solar-to-hydrogen efficiency in fresh or saltwater. Other approaches suffer from the use of costly, inefficient or unstable materials, such as titanium dioxide, that also might involve adding highly acidic solutions to reach higher efficiencies. Mi and his team, however, achieved more than 3 percent solar-to-hydrogen efficiency.


A stamp-sized nanofilm stores more data than 200 DVDs

Ninety percent of the world’s data has been created in the last two years, with a massive 2.5 quintillion bytes generated every single day. As you might suspect, this causes some challenges when it comes to storage. While one option is to gradually turn every square inch of free land into giant data centers, researchers from the  Center for Advanced Optoelectronic Functional Material Research, Northeast Normal University (China) may have come up with a more elegant solution. In a potential breakthrough, they have developed a new nanofilm80 times thinner than a human hair — that is able to store large amounts of data holographically. A single 10-by-10 cm piece of this film could archive more than 1,000 times the amount of data found on a DVD. By our count, that means around 8.5 TB of data. This data can also be retrieved incredibly quickly, at speeds of up to 1GB per second: The equivalent of 20 times the reading speed of modern flash memory.

In the journal Optical Materials Express, the researchers detail the fabrication process of the new film. This involves using a laser to write information onto silver nanoparticles on a titanium dioxide (titania) semiconductor film. This stores the data in the form of 3D holograms, thereby allowing it to be compressed into smaller spaces than regular optical systems.

That’s exciting enough, but what really makes the work promising is the fact that the data is stored in a way that is stable. Previous attempts at creating films for holographic data storage have proven less resilient than alternate storage methods since they can be wiped by exposure to ultraviolet light. That makes them less-than-viable options for long-term information storage. The creators of this new film, however, have shown that it has a high stability even in the presence of such light. This environmental stability means that the device could be used outside — or even conceivably in harsher radiation conditions like outer space.

Going forward, the researchers aim to test their new film by putting it through its paces outdoors. Should all go according to plan, it won’t be too long before this is available on the market. We might be willing to throw down a few bucks on Kickstarter for a piece!


Non-toxic Virus Quickly Dissipate Heat From Electronic Devices

The researcher team of Tokyo Tech discovered that the film constructed by assembling a nontoxic filamentous virus functions as a heat dissipation material, and that can be simply prepared by drying the virus aqueous solution at room temperature. This discovery is expected to elucidate the mechanism of new heat transport in electronics.

Organic polymeric materials generally have low thermal conductivity and are not suitable for rapid heat dissipation of electric and electronic equipment in the past. In order to improve its thermal conductivity, it has been considered effective to heat transfer through a covalent bond by “orientation processing” in which molecules are aligned in the same direction, or to composite with an inorganic material.

A research team led by Assistant Professor Toshiki Sawada and Professor Takeshi Serizawa is focusing on the capability to form regularly assembled structures in a wide scale from nano to macro (so called hierarchical assembly) observed in the natural systems and the hierarchically assembled structures prepared in this way, the phenomenon where molecules accumulate around the perimeter as an aqueous solution in which molecules are dissolved evaporates (coffee ring effect) was utilized to assemble a filamentous virus for the film preparation. As a result, it was found that the thermal diffusivity at the edge of the film drastically enhanced to a value comparable to that of inorganic glass, and that facilitates the utilization of the hierarchically assembled biomacromolecule. This helps future development of electric and electronic devices composed of not only viruses but also various naturally derived molecules.

(a) Phage and (b) hexagonally assembled structures of the phages in the film.

Until now, orientation processing and compositing with inorganic materials have been considered effective for the high thermal conductivity of organic polymeric materials. However, since this virus film can be prepared by evaporating an aqueous solution of a filamentous virus at room temperature, it is expected to lead to the establishment of a method for easily constructing heat dissipation materials under mild conditions that do not require special operations.


How To Hear Art

Are you aware of the fact that some of us can hear colors? Synesthesia, which is a neurological condition causing the stimulation of one sense to produce experiences in a different one, affects around 4% of the population. Thanks to the work of scientists from the Lodz University of Technology (Poland), soon there will be a way for the rest of us to experience a similar sensation too.


The “Hearing Art” project is an innovative system which enables its users to read digital images through the use of sound. Using motion sensor technology to map out the placement of each color in the chosen image, the app generates a sound suitable for each color. In order to do so, the system analyses the hue, saturation, and value of a color and uses its placement on the color wheel to emit an appropriate sound.

While the system could serve as an additional auditory sensation for just about any art lover, the researchers point towards the revolutionary potential of the technology for visually impaired people. Once implemented, the innovation could make art galleries much more accessible by enabling blind people to experience visual art in a completely different way. The project’s developers admit that the technology would not work for people who were completely blind from birth – it is however suitable for people whose visual impairment is partial, or acquired later in life.

So how does it work in practice? “The user aims at a specific point of a painting. As they start moving their arm in its vicinity, they begin hearing a melody, as each color, and each pixel of the image is assigned a different tone” – explains one of the system’s creators, Damian Jóźwiak.

While the project takes advantage of the fact that visually impaired people often experience a heightened sense of hearing, and are thus more sensitive to sound stimuli, the technology has been adapted for sighted participants as well. The motion sensor is marked with a red dot on the system’s display, which shows its placement on the original painting. By tracking the placement of the sensor on the image, users are able to associate each color with a sound.

As for its accuracy, preliminary tests conducted in the Lodz chapter of the Polish Association of the Blind have revealed an 80% success rate in “reading” colors with the use of the technology.The biggest shock came when one of the participants has attempted calling one of their visually impaired friends – the recipient was able to recognize 100% of the sounds and identify each color assigned to it – adds Jóźwiak.

So what’s in store for the project in the near future? The creators of the “Hearing Art” see its future in museums, where it could be experience by visually impaired and sighted patrons alike. If you feel like hearing colors could be an interesting experience, feel free to plan a trip to the Museum of Lodz in the near future, as the application will find its first home there.


Perovskite Solar Cells One Giant Step Closer To The Market

Harnessing energy from the sun, which emits immensely powerful energy from the center of the solar system, is one of the key targets for achieving a sustainable energy supplyLight energy can be converted directly into electricity using electrical devices called solar cells. To date, most solar cells are made of silicon, a material that is very good at absorbing light. But silicon panels are expensive to produce.

Scientists have been working on an alternative, made from perovskite structures. True perovskite, a mineral found in the earth, is composed of calcium, titanium and oxygen in a specific molecular arrangement. Materials with that same crystal structure are called perovskite structuresPerovskite structures work well as the light-harvesting active layer of a solar cell because they absorb light efficiently but are much cheaper than silicon. They can also be integrated into devices using relatively simple equipment. For instance, they can be dissolved in solvent and spray coated directly onto the substrate.

Materials made from perovskite structures could potentially revolutionize solar cell devices, but they have a severe drawback: they are often very unstable, deteriorating on exposure to heat. This has hindered their commercial potential. The Energy Materials and Surface Sciences Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), led by Prof. Yabing Qi, has developed devices using a new perovskite material that is stable, efficient and relatively cheap to produce, paving the way for their use in the solar cells of tomorrow. This material has several key features:

  • First, it is completely inorganic – an important shift, because organic components are usually not thermostable and degrade under heat. Since solar cells can get very hot in the sun, heat stability is crucial. By replacing the organic parts with inorganic materials, the researchers made the perovskite solar cells much more stable..  “The solar cells are almost unchanged after exposure to light for 300 hours,” says Dr. Zonghao Liu, an author on the paper.
  • Second feature: Inorganic perovskite solar cells tend to have lower light absorption than organic-inorganic hybrids, however, but the OIST researchers doped their new cells with manganese in order to improve their performance. Manganese changes the crystal structure of the material, boosting its light harvesting capacity.  “Just like when you add salt to a dish to change its flavor, when we add manganese, it changes the properties of the solar cell,” says Liu.
  • Thirdly, in these solar cells, the electrodes that transport current between the solar cells and external wires are made of carbon, rather than of the usual gold. Such electrodes are significantly cheaper and easier to produce, in part because they can be printed directly onto the solar cells. Fabricating gold electrodes, on the other hand, requires high temperatures and specialist equipment such as a vacuum chamber.

The findings are published in Advanced Energy Materials. Postdoctoral scholars Dr. Jia Liang and Dr. Zonghao Liu made major contributions to this work.


How To Deliver Drug Deep In The Brain

By learning how rabies virus travels in the brain, Anti-Parkinson’s drug can be delivered deep in the brain where currently the drugs are not able to reachRabies virus has the capability to trick the nervous system and cross the blood brain barrier. This trick could be used for drug design. Glycoprotein 29 present on the rabies virus is attached to a nanoparticle stuffed full of deferoxamine ( Anti-Parkinson’s medication) and injected into the brain to trick the brain.

Rabies virus may have some tricks to bypass the blood brain barrier, this trick can be used to treat disease that require drugs to effectively cross the blood brain barrier, finds a new study.

The researchers can now exploit rabies viruses machinery to deliver a Parkinson’s disease medication directly to the brain. Upon injection the nanoparticles grab excess iron and relieve symptoms. While the common cause of Parkinson’s disease is unknown, it has been proved that accumulation of iron in neurons is one of the commonest features of Parkinson’s disease.

Deferoxamine is a metal-grabbing compound and sop up the excess iron in patients. But a large quantity of this drug needs to reach the brain in order for them work.
To usher deferoxamine into the brain, the researchers Yan-Zhong Chang, Xin Lou, Guangjun Nie took advantage of a key part of the rabies virusGlycoprotein 29.
When they injected this iron-grabbing nanoparticles into mouse models of Parkinson’s disease, the iron levels dropped and this reduced brain damage caused by Parkinson’s disease.

The findings of this study is published in the ACS Nano journal.


Squeeze And Get More Power Out Of Solar Cells

Physicists at the University of Warwick have published new research in the Journal Science  that could literally squeeze more power out of solar cells by physically deforming each of the crystals in the semiconductors used by photovoltaic cells. The paper entitled the “Flexo-Photovoltaic Effect” was written by Professor Marin Alexe, Ming-Min Yang, and Dong Jik Kim who are all based in the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics.

The Warwick researchers looked at the physical constraints on the current design of most commercial solar cells which place an absolute limit on their efficiency. Most commercial solar cells are formed of two layers creating at their boundary a junction between two kinds of semiconductors, p-type with positive charge carriers (holes which can be filled by electrons) and n-type with negative charge carriers (electrons). When light is absorbed, the junction of the two semiconductors sustains an internal field splitting the photo-excited carriers in opposite directions, generating a current and voltage across the junction. Without such junctions the energy cannot be harvested and the photo-exited carriers will simply quickly recombine eliminating any electrical charge. That junction between the two semiconductors is fundamental to getting power out of such a solar cell but it comes with an efficiency limit. This Shockley-Queisser Limit means that of all the power contained in sunlight falling on an ideal solar cell in ideal conditions only a maximum of 33.7% can ever be turned into electricity.

There is however another way that some materials can collect charges produced by the photons of the sun or from elsewhere. The bulk photovoltaic effect occurs in certain semiconductors and insulators where their lack of perfect symmetry around their central point (their non-centrosymmetric structure) allows generation of voltage that can be actually larger than the band gap of that material. Unfortunately the materials that are known to exhibit the anomalous photovoltaic effect have very low power generation efficiencies, and are never used in practical power-generation systems. The Warwick team wondered if it was possible to take the semiconductors that are effective in commercial solar cells and manipulate or push them in some way so that they too could be forced into a non-centrosymmetric structure and possibly therefore also benefit from the bulk photovoltaic effect.

Extending the range of materials that can benefit from the bulk photovoltaic effect has several advantages: it is not necessary to form any kind of junction; any semiconductor with better light absorption can be selected for solar cells, and finally, the ultimate thermodynamic limit of the power conversion efficiency, so-called Shockley-Queisser Limit, can be overcome“,  explains Professor Marin Alexe  (University of Warwick).


Nanoscale Transistor

Flexible televisions
, tablets and phones as well as ‘truly wearable’ smart tech are a step closer thanks to a nanoscale transistor created by researchers at The University of Manchester and Shandong University in China. The international team has developed an ultrafast, nanoscale transistor – known as a thin film transistor, or TFT, – made out of an oxide semiconductor. The TFT is the first oxide-semiconductor based transistor that is capable of operating at a benchmark speed of 1 GHz. This could make the next generation electronic gadgets even faster, brighter and more flexible than ever before. A TFT is a type of transistor usually used in a liquid crystal display (LCD). These can be found in most modern gadgets with LCD screens such as smart phones, tablets and high-definition televisions.

How do they work? LCD features a TFT behind each individual pixel and they act as individual switches that allow the pixels to change state rapidly, making them turn on and off much more quickly. But most current TFTs are silicon-based which are opaque, rigid and expensive in comparison to the oxide semiconductor family of transistors which the team from the UK and China are developing. Whilst oxide TFTs will improve picture on LCD displays, it is their flexibility that is even more impressive.

Aimin Song, Professor of Nanoelectronics in the School of Electrical & Electronic Engineering, The University of Manchester, explains:

TVs can already be made extremely thin and bright. Our work may help make TV more mechanically flexible and even cheaper to produce. “But, perhaps even more importantly, our GHz transistors may enable medium or even high performance flexible electronic circuits, such as truly wearable electronics. “Wearable electronics requires flexibility and in many cases transparency, too. This would be the perfect application for our research. “Plus, there is a trend in developing smart homes, smart hospitals and smart cities – in all of which oxide semiconductor TFTs will play a key role.

Oxide-based technology has seen rapid development when compared to its silicon counterpart which is increasingly close to some fundamental limitations. Prof Song says there has been fast progress in oxide-semiconductors in recent years and extensive efforts have been made in order to improve the speed of oxide-semiconductor-based TFTs. So much so some oxide-based technology has already started replacing amorphous silicon in some gadgets. Prof Song thinks these latest developments have brought commercialisation much closer.


How Solar Cells Absorb 20 % More Sunlight

Trapping light with an optical version of a whispering gallery, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a nanoscale coating for solar cells that enables them to absorb about 20 percent more sunlight than uncoated devices. The coating, applied with a technique that could be incorporated into manufacturing, opens a new path for developing low-cost, high-efficiency solar cells with abundant, renewable and environmentally friendly materials.

Illustration shows the nanoresonator coating, consisting of thousands of tiny glass beads, deposited on solar cells. The coating enhances both the absorption of sunlight and the amount of current produced by the solar cells

The coating consists of thousands of tiny glass beads, only about one-hundredth the width of a human hair. When sunlight hits the coating, the light waves are steered around the nanoscale bead, similar to the way sound waves travel around a curved wall such as the dome in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. At such curved structures, known as acoustic whispering galleries, a person standing near one part of the wall easily hears a faint sound originating at any other part of the wall.

Using a laser as a light source to excite individual nanoresonators in the coating, the team found that the coated solar cells absorbed, on average, 20 percent more visible light than bare cells. The measurements also revealed that the coated cells produced about 20 percent more current.


How To Turn On Cancer-Killing Immune Cells

A remote command could one day send immune cells on a rampage against a malignant tumor. The ability to mobilize, from outside the body, targeted cancer immunotherapy inside the body has taken a step closer to becoming reality. Bioengineers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have installed a heat-sensitive switch into T-cells that can activate the T-cells when heat turns the switch on. The method, tested in mice and published in a new study, is locally targeted and could someday help turn immunotherapy into a precision instrument in the fight against cancer.

Immunotherapy has made headlines with startling high-profile successes like saving former U.S. President Jimmy Carter from brain cancer. But the treatment, which activates the body’s own immune system against cancer and other diseases, has also, unfortunately, proved to be hit-or-miss.

In patients where radiation and traditional chemotherapies have failed, this is where T-cell therapies have shined, but the therapy is still new,” said principal investigator Gabe Kwong. “This study is a step toward making it even more effective.”

Cancer is notoriously wily, and when T-cells crawl into a tumor, the tumor tends to switch off the T-cellscancer-killing abilities. Researchers have been working to switch them back on.

Kwong’s remote control has done this in the lab, while also boosting T-cell activity. In the study, Kwong’s team successfully put their remote-control method through initial tests in mice with implanted tumors (so-called tumor phantoms, specially designed for certain experiments).


Adaptive Materials

Engineers at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and the University of Maryland have developed a technique that causes a composite material to become stiffer and stronger on-demand when exposed to ultraviolet light. This on-demand control of composite behavior could enable a variety of new capabilities for future Army rotorcraft design, performance and maintenance.

ARL‘s Dr. Frank Gardea, a research engineer, said the focus of the research was on controlling how molecules interact with each other. He said the aim was to “have them interact in such a way that changes at a small size, or nanoscale, could lead to observed changes at a larger size, or macroscale.”

Dr. Bryan Glaz, chief scientist of ARL‘s Vehicle Technology Directorate said “an important motivation for this work is the desire to engineer new structures, starting from the nanoscale, to enable advanced rotorcraft concepts that have been proposed in the past, but were infeasible due to limitations in current composites. One of the most important capabilities envisioned by these concepts is a significantly reduced maintenance burden due to compromises we make to fly at high speeds”, he said. The reduced scheduled maintenance of future Army aviation platforms is an important technological driver for future operating concepts.

Army researchers imagine a rotorcraft concept, which represents reactive reinforcements that when exposed to ultraviolet light will increase the mechanical behavior on-demand. The engineers said control of mechanical behavior could potentially lead to increased aerodynamic stability in rotorcraft structures.

The enhanced mechanical properties with potentially low weight penalties, enabled by the new technique, could lead to nanocomposite based structures that would enable rotorcraft concepts that we cannot build today,” Glaz said.

The joint work, recently published in Advanced Materials Interfaces (DOI: 10.1002/admi.201800038), shows that these composite materials could become 93-percent stiffer and 35-percent stronger after a five minute exposure to ultraviolet light. The technique consists of attaching ultraviolet light reactive molecules to reinforcing agents like carbon nanotubes. These reactive reinforcing agents are then embedded in a polymer. Upon ultraviolet light exposure, a chemical reaction occurs such that the interaction between the reinforcing agents and the polymer increases, thus making the material stiffer and stronger.


How To End Malaria

Gene-editing technologies that alter mosquitoesDNA could prove critical in the fight against malaria, Bill Gates said on Wednesday, and ethical concerns should not block progress in such gene-modifying research.

Speaking at the Malaria Forum conference in London, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist said that while gene editing raises “legitimate questions”, that should not jeopardize exploration of tools such as CRISPR gene editing and so-called “gene drive” technologies.

I’m very energized about the potential of gene drive. (It’s) the kind of breakthrough we need to support,” Gates said. “It may prove critical here.” 

Gene drive technologies alter DNA and drive self-sustaining genetic changes through multiple generations by overriding normal biological processes. CRISPR technology enables scientists to find and modify or replace virtually any gene. The techniques are being explored across science – from human medicine to livestock– and crop-breeding. In mosquitoes that transmit malaria, genetic alterations can be used to induce infertility to reduce populations, or alter the insects’ ability to carry and pass on the malaria parasite. 

The technologies can be extremely powerful, but they are also controversial, since such genetically engineered organisms released into the environment could have an unknown and irreversible impact on the ecosystem. Asked in a interview with Reuters about that controversy, Gates said there were understandable concerns about safety and efficacy that would need to be addressed in research and trials. But he countered: “Malaria itself is quite controversial – it kills about 400,000 kids a year. So we’re definitely not on the side of malaria.”

He also noted that at their summit in January, leaders of the African Union endorsed gene drive research as part of the fight against a disease that continues to kill their people.


Tool Speeds Up Manufacturing Of Powered Wearable

People could soon power items such as their mobile phones or personal health equipment by simply using their daily movements, thanks to a new research tool that could be used by manufacturers.

In a new paper published by Nano Energy, experts from the Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) at the University of Surrey (UK) detail a new  methodology that allows designers of smart-wearables to better understand and predict how their products would perform once manufactured and in use.

The technology is centred on materials that become electrically charged after they come into contact with each other, known as triboelectric materials – for example, a comb through hair can create an electrical charge. Triboelectric Nanogenerators (TENGs), use this static charge to harvest energy from movement through a process called electrostatic induction. Over the years, a variety of TENGs have been designed which can convert almost any type of movement into electricity. The University of Surrey’s tool gives manufacturers an accurate understanding of the output power their design would create once produced.

This follows the news earlier this year of the ATI announcing the creation of its £4million state-of-the-art Nano-Manufacturing Hub. The new facility will produce plastic nanoscale electronics for wearable sensors, electronic tags and other electronic devices.

Ishara Dharmasena, lead scientist on this project from the University of Surrey, said: “The future global energy mix will depend on renewable energy sources such as solar power, wind, motion, vibrations and tidal. TENGs are a leading technology to capture and convert motion energy into electricity, extremely useful in small scale energy harvesting applications. Our work will, for the first time, provide universal guidance to develop, compare and improve various TENG designs. We expect this technology in household and industrial electronic products, catering to a new generation of mobile and autonomous energy requirements.”


Plastic-Eating Enzyme

Scientists have engineered an enzyme which can digest some of our most commonly polluting plastics, providing a potential solution to one of the world’s biggest environmental problems. The discovery could result in a recycling solution for millions of tonnes of plastic bottles, made of polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, which currently persists for hundreds of years in the environment. The research was led by teams at the University of Portsmouth and the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

 Professor John McGeehan at the University of Portsmouth and Dr Gregg Beckham at NREL solved the crystal structure of PETase—a recently discovered enzyme that digests PET— and used this 3D information to understand how it works. During this study, they inadvertently engineered an enzyme that is even better at degrading the plastic than the one that evolved in nature. The researchers are now working on improving the enzyme further to allow it to be used industrially to break down plastics in a fraction of the time.


Few could have predicted that since plastics became popular in the 1960s huge plastic waste patches would be found floating in oceans, or washed up on once pristine beaches all over the world. “We can all play a significant part in dealing with the plastic problem, but the scientific community who ultimately created these ‘wonder-materials’, must now use all the technology at their disposal to develop real solutions,” said Professor McGeehan, Director of the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences in the School of Biological Sciences at Portsmouth,


The Zero Bills Home

The Zero Bills Home build at the BRE Innovation Park in UK represents the first show home for a new 96 home zero bills development in Newport Essex for the Sir Arthur Ellis family Trust. Newport is 8 miles from Stansted and 15 miles from Cambridge. The new zero bills village is 150 yards from a station on the Bishopsgate / Cambridge railway line.


Superinsulated concrete foundation slab with optional additional piles to match most ground conditions.Laser cut galv steelpowder coated structural ring beam with C16 UK timber studs. UK fabricated OSB structural boards enables one floor to be built every two days. Superinsulated cladding with heat recovery ventilation and triple glazing reduces heat demand to the point where a tiny heat pump can provide comfort and hot water. ZED Factory designed BIPV solar roofing system provides durable roof with electric generation and optional solar loft conservatory. Good daylight, water saving appliances and LED lighting reduces electric demand allowing surplus solar electricity to power an electric car. A smart LIPO4 Fitcraft battery system, positioned under the stair stores solar electricity, minimising grid imports and limiting grid export to 3kW maximum avoids the need to upgrade the existing mains grid infrastructure. The system enables simple, adaptable plans which create convenient internal layouts for any plot orientation.

The system build costs at scale are circa £1450- £1650/ m2 (around 1500 euros/m2) for a completed building which compares favourably with current costs of meeting building regulations. Combined with no net annual energy bills and the potential to achieve higher resale values based on the additional features of the building, the ZBH system offers a cost effective and sustainable alternative to traditional builder offerings. 


Human Internal Verbalizations Understood Instantly By Computers

MIT researchers have developed a computer interface that can transcribe words that the user verbalizes internally but does not actually speak aloud. The system consists of a wearable device and an associated computing system. Electrodes in the device pick up neuromuscular signals in the jaw and face that are triggered by internal verbalizations — saying wordsin your head” — but are undetectable to the human eye. The signals are fed to a machine-learning system that has been trained to correlate particular signals with particular words. The device also includes a pair of bone-conduction headphones, which transmit vibrations through the bones of the face to the inner ear. Because they don’t obstruct the ear canal, the headphones enable the system to convey information to the user without interrupting conversation or otherwise interfering with the user’s auditory experience.

The device is thus part of a complete silent-computing system that lets the user undetectably pose and receive answers to difficult computational problems. In one of the researchers’ experiments, for instance, subjects used the system to silently report opponents’ moves in a chess game and just as silently receive computer-recommended responses.

The motivation for this was to build an IA device — an intelligence-augmentation device,” says Arnav Kapur, a graduate student at the MIT Media Lab, who led the development of the new system. “Our idea was: Could we have a computing platform that’s more internal, that melds human and machine in some ways and that feels like an internal extension of our own cognition?” “We basically can’t live without our cellphones, our digital devices,” adds Pattie Maes, a professor of media arts and sciences and Kapur’s thesis advisor. “But at the moment, the use of those devices is very disruptive. If I want to look something up that’s relevant to a conversation I’m having, I have to find my phone and type in the passcode and open an app and type in some search keyword, and the whole thing requires that I completely shift attention from my environment and the people that I’m with to the phone itself. So, my students and I have for a very long time been experimenting with new form factors and new types of experience that enable people to still benefit from all the wonderful knowledge and services that these devices give us, but do it in a way that lets them remain in the present.”


Revolutionary NanoDrops Replace Glasses

Israeli scientists and clinicians appear to have come up with “revolutionary” eye-drops that can correct short– or long-sightedness and eliminate the need for glasses. The so-called ‘nano-drops’ have been developed by a team at Sha’are Zedek Medical Center and Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials.

They have been shown to improve both short-sightedness (myopia) and long-sightedness (hyperopia) in tests on pigs, with plans to begin clinical testing on humans later this year.

If the drops are found to improve human vision then the nano-drops solution could eliminate the need for glasses and “revolutionise ophthalmological and optometry treatment”.

Prospective patients would use a smartphone app to scan their eyes, measure their refraction, create a laser pattern then apply a “laser corneal stamping” of an optical pattern onto the corneal surface of their eyes.


Taiwanese Electric SuperCar Aims To Take On Tesla

Hailed as the world’s first electric supercar with onroad and offroad capabilities, the “Miss R” is the company’s electric vehicle (EV) designed for serious performance driving. Harnessing a four-wheel torque vectoring system capable of launching it at roughly 168 MPH (270 km/h), 4 independent electric motors rated at 350V each will give the Miss R the edge over Tesla’s future Roadster 2.0 (base version). The 0–60 MPH will be covered in 1.8 seconds and the 0–124 MPH (200 km/h) in a blistering 5.1 seconds.


What makes the Electric Supercar XING Mobility Miss R different from other high-end performance EVs is that it is designed to reach that performance on almost any road surface. On-road, on-track, and off-road is the leitmotiv of the company that wants to offer a versatile driving experience no matter what the pavement.

According to XING Mobility’s Co-founder and CEO, Royce YC Hong: “Miss R is the embodiment of the paradigm shift of EVs surpassing traditional combustion-engine cars in both performance and capability. The core idea behind the prototype is to achieve game-changing performance levels and driving experiences that are otherwise impossible to achieve in a gasoline-powered vehicle.” Indeed, XING Mobility is out to prove once and for all that the electric drivetrain is far superior to its contemporary internal combustion engine (ICE) cousin.


Ultra-Powerful Batteries

From smartphones to electric vehicles, many of today’s technologies run on lithium ion batteries. That means that consumers have to keep their chargers handy. An iPhone X battery only lasts for 21 hours of talk time, and Tesla’s model S has a 335-mile range—which means you could expect to make it from Newark, Delaware to Providence, Rhode Island, but not all the way to Boston, on one charge. Scientists all over the world—including  even the inventor of lithium ion batteries himself, John Goodenough—are looking for ways to make rechargeable batteries safer, lighter, and more powerful.

Now, an international team of researchers led by Bingqing Wei, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Delaware and the director of the Center for Fuel Cells and Batteries, is doing work that could lay the foundation for more widespread use of lithium metal batteries, which have more capacity than the lithium ion batteries commonly used in consumer electronics today. The team developed a method to mitigate dendrite formation in lithium metal batteries, which they  have described in a paper published in Nano Letters.

In a lithium ion battery, the anode, or current-generating side, is made of a material, such as graphite, with lithium ions bound to it. The lithium ions flow to the cathode, or current-collecting side.

In a lithium metal battery, the anode is made of lithium metal. Electrons flow from the anode to the cathode to generate electricity. Rechargeable batteries made of lithium metal hold a lot of promise because lithium is the most electrically positive metal and has a very high capacity.

“Theoretically, lithium metal is one of the best choices for batteries, but it is hard to handle in practice,” Wei said.

Lithium metal batteries have been inefficient, unstable, and even a fire hazard thus far. Their performance is hampered by lithium dendrites, formations that look like tiny stalagmites made of lithium deposits. As a battery is being used, lithium ions collect on the anode. Over time, the lithium deposits become non-uniform, leading to the formations of these dendrites, which can cause the battery to short circuit.