Category Archives: Uncategorized

Long-lasting Lithium Batteries

The grand challenge to improve energy storage and increase battery life, while ensuring safe operation, is becoming evermore critical as we become increasingly reliant on this energy source for everything from portable devices to electric vehicles. A Columbia Engineering team led by Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering, announced today that they have developed a new method for safely prolonging battery life by inserting a nano-coating of boron nitride (BN) to stabilize solid electrolytes in lithium metal batteries.

While conventional lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries are currently widely used in daily life, they have low energy density, resulting in shorter battery life, and, because of the highly flammable liquid electrolyte inside them, they can short out and even catch fire. Energy density could be improved by using lithium metal to replace the graphite anode used in Li-ion batteries: lithium metal’s theoretical capacity for the amount of charge it can deliver is almost 10 times higher than that of graphite. But during lithium plating, dendrites often form and, if they penetrate the membrane separator in the middle of the battery, they can create short-circuits, raising concerns about battery safety.

We decided to focus on solid, ceramic electrolytes. They show great promise in improving both safety and energy density, as compared with conventional, flammable electrolytes in Li-ion batteries,” says Yang. “We are particularly interested in rechargeable solid-state lithium batteries because they are promising candidates for next-generation energy storage.” “Lithium metal is indispensable for enhancing energy density and so it’s critical that we be able to use it as the anode for solid electrolytes,” says Qian Cheng, the paper’s lead author and a postdoctoral research scientist in the department of applied physics and applied mathematics who works in Yang’s group. “To adapt these unstable solid electrolytes for real-life applications, we needed to develop a chemically and mechanically stable interface to protect these solid electrolytes against the lithium anode. It is essential that the interface not only be highly electronically insulating, but also ionically conducting in order to transport lithium ions. Plus, this interface has to be super-thin to avoid lowering the energy density of batteries.”

Th findings are outlined in a new study published by Joule.

Source: https://engineering.columbia.edu/

Quantum Computer Can See 16 Different Futures Simultaneously

When Mile Gu boots up his new computer, he can see the future. At least, 16 possible versions of it — all at the same time. Gu, an assistant professor of physics at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, works in quantum computing. This branch of science uses the weird laws that govern the universe’s smallest particles to help computers calculate more efficiently.

Tiny particles of light can travel in a superposition of many different states at the same time. Researchers used this quantum quirk to design a prototype computer that can predict 16 different futures at once.

Unlike classical computers, which store information as bits (binary digits of either 0 or 1), quantum computers code information into quantum bits, or qubits. These subatomic particles, thanks to the weird laws of quantum mechanics, can exist in a superposition of two different states at the same time.

Just as Schrödinger‘s hypothetical cat was simultaneously dead and alive until someone opened the box, a qubit in a superposition can equal both 0 and 1 until it’s measured. Storing multiple different outcomes into a single qubit could save a ton of memory compared to traditional computers, especially when it comes to making complicated predictions.

In a study published April 9 in the journal Nature Communications, Gu and his colleagues demonstrated this idea using a new quantum simulator that can predict the outcomes of 16 different futures (the equivalent of, say, flipping a coin four times in a row) in a quantum superposition. These possible futures were encoded in a single photon (a quantum particle of light) which moved down multiple paths simultaneously while passing through several sensors. Then, the researchers went one step further, firing two photons side-by-side and tracking how each photon’s potential futures diverged under slightly different conditions.

It’s sort of like Doctor Strange in the ‘Avengers: Infinity War‘” movie, Gu told Live Science. Before a climactic battle in that film, the clairvoyant doctor looks forward in time to see 14 million different futures, hoping to find the one where the heroes defeat the big baddie. “He does a combined computation of all these possibilities to say, ‘OK, if I changed my decision in this small way, how much will the future change?’ This is the direction our simulation is moving forwards to.

Source: https://www.livescience.com/

Memory In Older Adults Restored To Young Adult Level

Stimulating a precise location of the brain’s memory center with electromagnetic pulses improved the memory of older adults with age-related memory loss to the level of young adults, reports a new Northwestern Medicine study. The study, published in the journal Neurology, used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to target the hippocampus — the brain region that atrophies as people grow older, which is responsible for memory decline.

Older people’s memory got better up to the level that we could no longer tell them apart from younger people,” said lead investigator Joel Voss, PhD, associate professor in the Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology. “They got substantially better.” “It’s the part of the brain that links two unrelated things together into a memory, like the place you left your keys or your new neighbor’s name,” said Voss, also an associate professor of Medical Social Sciences and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “Older adults often complain about having trouble with this.” This type of memory worsens as we age. Nearly all people experience a decline in their memory ability as they age.

The new study of 16 people — ages 64 to 80 with normal age-related memory problems — shows it’s possible to alter memory ability in older adults using this type of brain stimulation, Voss said. “There is no previous evidence that the specific memory impairments and brain dysfunction seen in older adults can be rescued using brain stimulation or any other method.

Voss’ team located the hippocampus — which is smaller in older adults — individually for each participant with an fMRI. An fMRI (functional MRI) measures how active a part of the brain is at a given time Then, they located an area of the parietal lobe that communicates with the hippocampus for stimulation delivery. This spot was behind and slightly above a person’s left ear, but everyone had a slightly different spot. It isn’t possible to directly stimulate the hippocampus with TMS, which is noninvasive, because it’s too deep in the brain for the magnetic fields to penetrate. So, Voss and colleagues identified a superficial brain region close to the surface of the skull with high connectivity to the hippocampus.

We stimulated where brain activity is synchronized to the hippocampus, suggesting that these regions talk to each other,” said first author Aneesha Nilakantan, a neuroscience graduate student working in Voss’ lab. At baseline, younger and older adults were given memory tasks in which they learned arbitrary relations between paired things, such as this object goes on this spot on the computer screen. Younger adults score about 55 percent correct and older adults less than 40 percent correct. The research team then applied high-frequency repetitive magnetic stimulation to the spot for five consecutive days for 20 minutes a d

Then, 24 hours after the final stimulation, the subjects were given a new memory test in which they had to learn new arbitrary relations between paired things. After the brain stimulation, older adults scored at the level of young adults on the memory tasks.

Source: https://news.feinberg.northwestern.edu/

Internet Of Thoughts

Imagine a future technology that would provide instant access to the world’s knowledge and artificial intelligence, simply by thinking about a specific topic or question. Communications, education, work, and the world as we know it would be transformed. Writing in Frontiers in Neuroscience, an international collaboration led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the US Institute for Molecular Manufacturing predicts that exponential progress in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, AI, and computation will lead this century to the development of a “Human Brain/Cloud Interface” (B/CI), that connects neurons and synapses in the brain to vast cloud-computing networks in real time.

The B/CI concept was initially proposed by futurist-author-inventor Ray Kurzweil, who suggested that neural nanorobots – brainchild of Robert Freitas, Jr., senior author of the research – could be used to connect the neocortex of the human brain to a “synthetic neocortex” in  . Our wrinkled neocortex is the newest, smartest, ‘conscious’ part of the brain. Freitas’ proposed neural nanorobots would provide direct, real-time monitoring and control of signals to and from brain cells.

These devices would navigate the human vasculature, cross the blood-brain barrier, and precisely autoposition themselves among, or even within brain cells,” explains Freitas. “They would then wirelessly transmit encoded information to and from a cloud-based supercomputer network for real-time brain-state monitoring and data extraction.

This cortex in the cloud would allow “Matrix“-style downloading of information to the brain, the group claims. “A human B/CI system mediated by neuralnanorobotics could empower individuals with instantaneous access to all cumulative human knowledge available in the cloud, while significantly improving human learning capacities and intelligence,” says lead author Dr. Nuno Martins.

B/CI technology might also allow us to create a future “global superbrain” that would connect networks of individual human brains and AIs to enable collective thought. “While not yet particularly sophisticated, an experimental human ‘BrainNet’ system has already been tested, enabling thought-driven information exchange via the cloud between individual brains,” explains Martins. “It used electrical signals recorded through the skull of ‘senders’ and magnetic stimulation through the skull of ‘receivers,’ allowing for performing cooperative tasks. With the advance of neuralnanorobotics, we envisage the future creation of ‘superbrains’ that can harness the thoughts and thinking power of any number of humans and machines in real time. This shared cognition could revolutionize democracy, enhance empathy, and ultimately unite culturally diverse groups into a truly global society.”

According to the group’s estimates, even existing supercomputers have processing speeds capable of handling the necessary volumes of neural data for B/CI – and they’re getting faster, fast. Rather, transferring neural data to and from supercomputers in the cloud is likely to be the ultimate bottleneck in B/CI development. “This challenge includes not only finding the bandwidth for global data transmission,” cautions Martins, “but also, how to enable data exchange with neurons via tiny devices embedded deep in the brain.”

One solution proposed by the authors is the use of ‘magnetoelectric nanoparticles‘ to effectively amplify communication between neurons and the cloud. “These nanoparticles have been used already in living mice to couple external magnetic fields to neuronal electric fields – that is, to detect and locally amplify these magnetic signals and so allow them to alter the electrical activity of neurons,” explains Martins. “This could work in reverse, too: electrical signals produced by neurons and nanorobots could be amplified via magnetoelectric nanoparticles, to allow their detection outside of the skull.” Getting these nanoparticles – and nanorobots – safely into the brain via the circulation, would be perhaps the greatest challenge of all in B/CI.

A detailed analysis of the biodistribution and biocompatibility of nanoparticles is required before they can be considered for human development. Nevertheless, with these and other promising technologies for B/CI developing at an ever-increasing rate, an ‘internet of thoughts’ could become a reality before the turn of the century,” Martins concludes.

Source: https://www.frontiersin.org/

First 3D Printed Heart

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have managed to 3D print a heart using a patient’s cells and biological materials — a first. Scientists have previously built synthetic hearts and bio-engineered tissues using a patient’s cells. But the latest feat is the first time scientists have created a complex organ with biological materials.

This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” lead researcher Tal Dvir, a material scientist and professor of molecular cell biology at TAU, said in a news release.

The proof-of-concept feat could pave the way for a new type of organ transplant. For patients with late stage heart failure, a heart transplant is the only solution. But there is a lack of heart donors.

This heart is made from human cells and patient-specific biological materials. In our process these materials serve as the bioinks, substances made of sugars and proteins that can be used for 3D printing of complex tissue models,” Dvir said. “Our results demonstrate the potential of our approach for engineering personalized tissue and organ replacement in the future.”

The heart scientists printed couldn’t be used in a human transplant operation. Though completely vascularized, it’s too small at about the size of a rabbit heart. “But larger human hearts require the same technology.” Dvir said.

Researchers detailed their breakthrough this week in the journal Advanced Science.

Source: https://www.upi.com/

How To Create Electricity From Snowfall

Researchers from University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and colleagues have designed a new device that creates electricity from falling snow. The first of its kind, this device is inexpensive, small, thin and flexible like a sheet of plastic.

The device can work in remote areas because it provides its own power and does not need batteries,” said senior author Richard Kaner, who holds UCLA’s Dr. Myung Ki Hong Endowed Chair in Materials Innovation. “It’s a very clever device — a weather station that can tell you how much snow is falling, the direction the snow is falling, and the direction and speed of the wind.”

The researchers call it a snow-based triboelectric nanogenerator, or snow TENG. A triboelectric nanogenerator, which generates charge through static electricity, produces energy from the exchange of electrons.

Static electricity occurs from the interaction of one material that captures electrons and another that gives up electrons,” said Kaner, who is also a distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering, and a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. “You separate the charges and create electricity out of essentially nothing.”

Snow is positively charged and gives up electrons. Silicone — a synthetic rubber-like material that is composed of silicon atoms and oxygen atoms, combined with carbon, hydrogen and other elements — is negatively charged. When falling snow contacts the surface of silicone, that produces a charge that the device captures, creating electricity.

Snow is already charged, so we thought, why not bring another material with the opposite charge and extract the charge to create electricity?” said co-author Maher El-Kady, a UCLA assistant researcher of chemistry and biochemistry.

While snow likes to give up electrons, the performance of the device depends on the efficiency of the other material at extracting these electrons,” he added. “After testing a large number of materials including aluminum foils and Teflon, we found that silicone produces more charge than any other material.”

Findings about the device are published in the journal Nano Energy.

Source: https://newsroom.ucla.edu/

Paris orders 800 new electric buses to fight smog

Paris’ public transport operator has ordered up to 800 electric buses to take to the streets of the French capital to replace diesel versions and fight smog in the build up to the 2024 Olympics.

Three French engineering firms — Heuliez Bus, Bollore and Alstom — won the tender to supply the buses in deals worth up to 400 million euros ($450 million), the transport operator RATP  said. RATP will buy an equal number of buses from each supplier, it added, describing the tender as the biggest such bus purchase in Europe. It will begin by buying 150 buses, with the first deliveries expected between the end of 2020 and 2022, it added.

Local authorities in Paris want the French capital to have 100-percent clean buses by 2025 by using both electricity and biofuels.

This is a major step for the RATP and a symbol of its ambition to be a key player in the energy transition in the public transport sector,” said RATP chief executive Catherine Guillouard.

To put them into service, the company is mobilised to meet an industrial challenge within a very short tight deadline,” she added.

Paris already has one line — number 341 — fully operational with electric buses, but it will be a major task to transform its full fleet of just under 4,700 busesRATP currently has some 950 hybrid-powered buses, 140 bio-fuel buses and 83 electric buses in its fleet.

The use of electric buses is growing all over the world, with China the leader in employing the technology as it seeks to relieve pollution in clogged cities. But they are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in European cities, in particular in Dutch cities Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Paris’ Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made tackling smog a priority and is planning stricter rules aimed at phasing out diesel cars by 2024, and is also weighing the idea of making public transport free.

Source: https://www.france24.com/

5G Connected Cows

They may look like regular cows, but a herd of Friesian dairy cattle at a British farm are internet pioneers and they are enjoying the benefits of 5G connectivity before you. 5G promises super-fast connections, which evangelists say will transform the way we live our lives, enabling everything from self-driving cars to augmented-reality glasses and downloading a feature-length film to your phone in seconds.

While it is being used in pockets of pilot studies around the world, the first near-nationwide coverage is not expected in countries such as China, Japan or the United States until 2023, according to industry analysts. For the cows, among the 5G-connected gadgets they are wearing is a collar that controls a robotic milking systemWhen the cow feels ready to be milked it will approach machine gates that will automatically open. The device recognizes the individual to precisely latch on to its teats for milking, while the cow munches on a food reward.

At the government-funded Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre (Agri-EPI Centre) in Shepton Mallet, in southwest England, around 50 of the 180-strong herd is fitted with the 5G smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags. The gadgets do not harm the cows and the monitoring allows handlers to see any signs of distress.

We are testing the ability of 5G to transmit the data from our sensors much quicker, and not via the farm’s PC and a slow broadband internet connection,” said Duncan Forbes, Project Manager at the Agri-Epi Centre. “And the significance of that is it means that this sort of technology could be taken up … not just on farms but on rural communities right across the country.

The working dairy, set up by Agri-EPI with the support of Britain’s innovation agency, uses a range of technology; including automated brushes that rotate when the cow rubs up against them, sensor-operated curtains that open depending on the weather, and a smart feeding system that automatically delivers food in the barn via ceiling-mounted rails.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Verizon Turns On its 5G Networks In Chicago And Minneapolis

The world may not have seemed to have changed much between today and yesterday, but rest assured that something earth-shattering has occurred in the world of mobile tech. Verizon has officially flipped the switch and turned on 5G network access in Chicago and Minneapolis a full week ahead of schedule.

Verizon’s 5G network was due to come to life on April 11, alongside the launch of Motorola’s 5G Moto Mod for the Moto Z3. However, for an unknown reason, Verizon has decided to start the 5G revolution a week early, turning on 5G access in selected parts of Chicago and Minneapolis. Verizon has also pushed the release of the 5G Moto Mod forward to match, so users with a Moto Z3 with the mod will be able to access it immediately.

It’s an impressive technical feat. When customers are actually able to access the network, they’ll be rewarded with incredibly fast download speeds from their new mobile connection. According to Verizon, 450 Mbps can be expected as a typical download speed, while peak speeds could rise to as high as 1 Gbps, with latency as low as 30 milliseconds. That’s astoundingly fast, and rivals most, if not all, home internet connections.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to roam far from the hot spots to use it, as the range is currently extremely limited. In Chicago, you can expect to find 5G signal in the West Loop and South Loop, around landmarks like Union Station, Willis Tower, The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and the Chicago Theatre. Unsurprisingly, you’ll also find signal in Verizon stores in The Magnificent Mile and throughout The Gold Coast, Old Town, and River North.

Minneapolis is similarly limited. You’ll find 5G signal in the Downtown area, including Downtown West and Downtown East, as well as inside and around U.S. Bank Stadium. It will also be available around landmarks like the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minneapolis Central Library, the Mill City Museum, Target Center and First Avenue venues, The Commons, areas of Elliot Park, and in the Verizon store in the Mall of America.

Source: https://www.digitaltrends.com/

Premature Aging, Obesity, Brain Disorders: 3 FrontRunners In The CRISP-R Therapy Race

CRISPR is the ultimate child star in the biomedical universe. Just six years old, the gene editing prodigy is now the subject of multiple clinical trials that aim to push the lab tech into the real world. In 2017, a 44-year-old man received the first-ever dose of gene therapy—in the form of zinc-finger nucleases—that targeted a deficient gene in his liver. This type of gene therapy, called “in vivo” in scientist-speak, is markedly different than the most common type these days.

So far, the only gene therapies on the market are CAR-Ts: a procedure targeting blood cancer that extracts a person’s immune cells, genetically edits them within the lab to boost their cancer-killing power, and then infuses them back into the body.

In vivo gene therapy is far more intimate: rather than extracting a person’s cells, a gene editing mix is directly injected into a person, with the hope of performing molecular surgery with a single shot. CRISPR is now making that possibility very real. With dozens of efforts in the making, from premature aging to obesity and developmental brain disorders, here are the frontrunners beyond CRISPR-based cancer therapy to watch out for.

Source: https://singularityhub.com/