Monthly Archives: May 2018
Wireless charging is finally making its way to market as an energy source for electric vehicles, with BMW readying to start production in July for release by the end of summer. BMW’s existing 530e plug-in hybrid sedan will be the first EV coming from a major automaker with an inductive pad capable of charging the electric car. The German automaker first announced the launch in September of last year, explaining how the 530e can be charged on the floor of the garage or parking space once the electric car is parked close enough to the inductive charging pad to work correctly.
The company will roll out wireless charging to other BMW models, but the 530e will introduce the technology to interested consumers. It uses a 3.2 kW current that allows the wireless unit to fully charge the EV within three-and-a-half hours. The charging pad uses an alternating magnetic field that carries power between a coil inside the pad itself and a coil built into the electric car to wirelessly charge the battery.
Wireless charging has been years in the making with major companies getting behind the technology but support from automakers taking a long time. Years from now, wireless charging is expected to play a vital role in mass adoption of EVs and alleviating resistance to charging the cars. Tests are being conducted by university researchers that could one day set up wireless charging points on highways. EV owners will be able to drive from cities such as San Francisco to Los Angeles without stopping for a charge.
Transferring power wirelessly goes back more than a century ago when electricity pioneer Nikola Tesla worked tirelessly but failed to bring wireless transmission beyond the Wardenclyffe Tower in Shoreham, New York. It was said to have eventually ruined his reputation and career as Tesla became obsessed over making the technology work the way radio waves had been sending communications over the airwaves.
A Dutch architect has developed a new technique to generate free energy in a sustainable way at home, whereby energy is released by perpetually unbalancing a weight — offering an alternative to solar and wind technology.
Gravity, an inexhaustible and always present source of power for harvesting energy from falling or tilting objects.
“Intuitively, I thought that gravity must have something to offer, given that everything is drawn to earth,” co-creator Janjaap Ruijssenaars of Universe Architecture said. “By unbalancing a weight at the top that is only just stable, using little force, a large force is created at the bottom at a single point. The idea was that this should yield something.”
Scientists are calling the patent-pending technique a breakthrough.
“Thanks to clever use of gravity, the energy yield from the so-called Piezomethod, which converts mechanical pressure into electrical energy, is increased from 20 to 80 percent,” said Theo de Vries, system architect and senior lecturer of the group Robotics and Mechatronics, associated with the University of Twente. “Ruijssenaars literally turned the method on its head, as a result of which we, as scientists, have started to look at this method in a new light. Everything that is currently offered as mechanical energy will actually be useful, thanks to the invention.”
“In situations where we cannot work sustainably with solar modules, we may well be able to use this new technique,” said Professor Beatriz Noheda, faculty of Mathematics and Natural Science at the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen who believes piezoelectric energy harvesting is a real part of the future.
Practical applications are being sought for the technique, such as the manufacture of a sustainable and, therefore, “clean” phone charger, or a generator for lighting in homes, among endless other possibilities.
Glioblastoma multiforme, a type of brain tumor, is one of the most difficult-to-treat cancers. Only a handful of drugs are approved to treat glioblastoma, and the median life expectancy for patients diagnosed with the disease is less than 15 months.
MIT researchers have now devised a new drug-delivering nanoparticle that could offer a better way to treat glioblastoma. The particles, which carry two different drugs, are designed so that they can easily cross the blood-brain barrier and bind directly to tumor cells. One drug damages tumor cells’ DNA, while the other interferes with the systems cells normally use to repair such damage.
In a study of mice, the researchers showed that the particles could shrink tumors and prevent them from growing back.
“What is unique here is we are not only able to use this mechanism to get across the blood-brain barrier and target tumors very effectively, we are using it to deliver this unique drug combination,” says Paula Hammond, a David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, the head of MIT’s Department of Chemical Engineering, and a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
Drug manufacturers are looking at ways to alleviate memory loss, one of the most distressing symptoms of diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Professor George Kemenes from the Sussex University (UK) intends to show how such drugs could work.
‘The goal is to identify brain molecules that are crucial for the building up and maintenance of long-term memory,’ he says. ‘We aim to find ways to manipulate these molecules to enable us to control functions and improve the speed at which animals learn, or help them remember for longer periods of time. This would then link into drug development for humans.’
Pond snails are ideal for this kind of study because they share important characteristics with humans. These include the basic molecular mechanisms that control long-term memory and learning. These mechanisms involve the activation or suppression of a protein, CREB, which is key to the formation of long-term memory. CREB is present in species ranging from molluscs and flies to rats and humans.
Memory responses can be tested with classic Pavlovian experiments. Snails exposed to the smell of pear drops followed by food still respond weeks later to the smell by moving their mouth parts in anticipation of food. This ‘flashbulb’ memory is created by just one exposure to the two stimuli. The snails have a memory associating the smell of pear drops with the arrival of food – a learned and remembered response.
In a similar test, a snail is exposed to a mildly unpleasant stimulus by touching its head with a paintbrush (snails don’t like being tickled) before food is introduced. It takes much longer for the snail to associate an unpleasant stimulus with the arrival of food. Recently, George has succeeded in inhibiting the quickly learned memory and improving the weaker, more slowly-acquired memory at molecular level.
Working in collaboration with colleagues at the University, key findings include the discovery that amyloid peptides, substances that are thought to underlie Alzheimer’s disease in humans, also cause memory loss in snails. Another finding is that age-related memory loss in snails can be prevented by treatment with a small peptide known as PACAP.
Set to map the entirety of the global ocean floor by 2030, the Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project has started operations, based on a seed money pledge of US$2 million-per-year from the Japan-based Nippon Foundation.
Officially launched during the United Nations Ocean Conference (5-9 June 2017) in New York, the project draws on the experience of international organizations and mapping experts under the coordination of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).
Having a comprehensive map of the ocean floor could assist global efforts to combat pollution, aid marine conservation, forecast tsunami wave propagation, and help inform the study of tides and wave action. It could also help in search and rescue operations, as in the disappearance of the MH370 Malaysian Airlines flight in March 2014.
Despite its obvious useful applications, detailed bathymetric data – the topography of the ocean floor – is still missing for much of the global ocean. More than 85% of the world ocean floor remains unmapped with modern mapping methods, and by any technological standards we know more about Mars than we do about the depths of the ocean.
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 cancer. Quantum 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.
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 amputation: lower arm or trans-radial, mid-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.
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.