Edible batteries could power tech inside our bodies

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Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created ingestible batteries, that could make internal devices a possibility..

 

Developed by professors Christopher Bettinger and Jay Whitacre, from the materials science and engineering and biomedical engineering department at the institution, the idea stems from the need for a power source for biodegradable electronic materials that could have a number of medical benefits — timed drug delivery or health tracking, for example. The result is a non-toxic sodium ion battery that uses melanin derived from an organic material — cuttlefish ink. Since the ink is fairly commonly available, the cost of the edible batteries is low. The team says that the devices could be ingested in much the same way as a pill, without the need for prior sterilization, and any casing is biodegradable and deteriorates in the body. Combined with other technology, the batteries could have wide-ranging use — both medical and otherwise.

See on www.cmu.edu

Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins

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Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at UC Berkeley saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne pathogens.

 

The researchers say that spacing between the collagen fibers changes when the blood vessels swell or contract, depending upon whether the bird is excited or angry. The amount of swelling changes the way light waves are scattered and, in turn, alters the colors we see on the bird’s head. The researchers created a mobile app, the iColour Analyser, to show that a smartphone photo of the sensor’s color bands could be used to help identify chemicals of interest, such as vapor of the explosive TNT.

See on newscenter.berkeley.edu

Boosting computing power without large-scale changes to electronics

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Research hints that nanodevices in microcircuits can protect themselves from heat generation; could boost computing power without large-scale changes to electronics

 

A University at Buffalo study hints that, to make laptops and other portable electronic devices more robust, more heat might be the answer. Here, nanoconductors squeeze an electrical current into a narrow channel, increasing the amount of heat circulating through a microchip’s nanotransistor.

 

Research hints that nanodevices in microcircuits can protect themselves from heat generation; could boost computing power without large-scale changes to electronics

See on www.buffalo.edu

Tiny “Bio-Bots” Powered by Heart Cells Can Swim Like Sperm

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Engineers developed the first tiny, synthetic machines that can swim by themselves, powered by beating heart cells.

The bio-bots are modeled after single-celled creatures with long tails called flagella – for example, sperm. The researchers begin by creating the body of the bio-bot from a flexible polymer. Then they culture heart cells near the junction of the head and the tail. The cells self-align and synchronize to beat together, sending a wave down the tail that propels the bio-bot forward.

The team also built two-tailed bots, which they found can swim even faster. Multiple tails also opens up the possibility of navigation. The researchers envision future bots that could sense chemicals or light and navigate toward a target for medical or environmental applications. 

See on news.illinois.edu

Energy-dense sugar battery created

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A new sugar battery that could be on the market and powering the world’s gadgets in three years has an energy density and order of magnitude higher than others.

 

‘Sugar is a perfect energy storage compound in nature,’ Y.H. Percival Zhang said. ‘So it’s only logical that we try to harness this natural power in an environmentally friendly way to produce a battery.’

In America alone, billions of toxic batteries are thrown away every year, posing a threat to both the environment and human health, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Zhang’s development could help keep hundreds of thousands of tons of batteries from ending up in landfills.

See on www.sciencedaily.com

Solar-power device would use heat to enhance efficiency

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A new approach to harvesting solar energy, developed by MIT researchers, could improve efficiency by using sunlight to heat a high-temperature material whose infrared radiation would then be collected by a conventional photovoltaic cell. This technique could also make it easier to store the energy for later use, the researchers say.

See on web.mit.edu

Engineers create light-activated ‘curtains’

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UC Berkeley researchers are developing “smart curtains” that can bend or straighten in response to light.

 

Researchers at University of California, Berkeley are developing “curtains” that move in response to light. The light-activated “smart curtains” are made from carbon nanotubes layered together onto a plastic polycarbonate membrane. The nanotubes, which are atom-thick rolls of carbon, absorb light within just fractions of a second, converts it into heat, and transfers that heat to the surface of the membrane. The plastic polycarbonate membrane expands in response to the heat, but the layer of nanotube does not, causing the material to bend.

 

“We envision these in future smart, energy-efficient buildings,” said Javey. “Curtains made of this material could automatically open or close during the day.”  Other potential applications include light-driven motors and robotics that move toward or away from light, the researchers said.

See on newscenter.berkeley.edu