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June 28, 2016

BROWSE NEWS RESULTS

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Technology Review
March 16, 2010

Fingertip Bacteria: A Promising Forensic Tool

The genetic makeup of microbes on a person's skin could provide crime scene evidence.
It's not just our genomes that make us unique. The genomic profile of bacteria that rub off our fingertips and onto objects we touch--a computer keyboard, for instance--also provides a "fingerprint" that could be used for forensic purposes, according to researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Noah Fierer, Rob Knight, and colleagues recovered bacteria from keyboards of three individuals and sequenced large numbers of bacterial genomes at once.
Technology Review
March 16, 2010

Giving Plastic Solar Cells an Energy Boost

Plastic cells are lighter than silicon ones, but they're not as efficient--one company aims to fix that.
Polymer solar cells are finding use in solar charging backpacks and umbrellas, but they still only convert around 6 percent of the energy in sunlight into electricity--or around a third of what conventional silicon panels are capable of. If the efficiency of polymer solar cells--which are cheaper and lighter than silicon cells--can be boosted significantly, they could be ideal for plastering on rooftops or laminating on windows. Solarmer Energy, based in El Monte, CA, is on target to reach 10 percent efficiency by the end of this year, says Yue Wu, the company's managing director and director of research and development. Organic cells will likely need at least that efficiency to compete on the photovoltaic market.
Technology Review
March 16, 2010

Smarter LED Lights

A new lighting system uses network cables, instead of electrical wires, to supply power and carry data.
A new approach to LED lighting uses network cables, rather than conventional electrical wiring, to supply power to lights. Developed by a startup in Fremont, CA, the system also allows the cables to carry data from an array of sensors on the lights to a central control station. The system would cost about the same as a conventional lighting system, but because it can sense and control every light in a building, it could cut power consumption from lighting by 50 to 80 percent. The new system offers a better way to control LEDs, which are relatively efficient and long-lasting compared to conventional lights, by taking advantage of the fact that they run on low-voltage direct current power. Current LED-based systems require transformers at each light to convert the higher-voltage alternating current in conventional wiring into lower-voltage direct current. The new system converts alternating current to low-voltage direct current at a central location, rather than at each light. This more efficient method cuts energy consumption by 10 to 20 percent, according to Jeremy Stieglitz, vice president of marketing for Redwood Systems, which will start selling its systems this summer.
MIT Research News
March 16, 2010

Self-Assembling Computer Chips

Molecules that arrange themselves into predictable patterns on silicon chips could lead to microprocessors with much smaller circuit elements.
The features on computer chips are getting so small that soon the process used to make them, which has hardly changed in the last 50 years, won’t work anymore. One of the alternatives that academic researchers have been exploring is to create tiny circuits using molecules that automatically arrange themselves into useful patterns. In a paper that appeared Monday in Nature Nanotechnology, MIT researchers have taken an important step toward making that approach practical.

Currently, chips are built up, layer by layer, through a process called photolithography. A layer of silicon, metal, or some other material is deposited on a chip and coated with a light-sensitive material, called a photoresist. Light shining through a kind of stencil — a “mask” — projects a detailed pattern onto the photoresist, which hardens where it’s exposed. The unhardened photoresist is washed away, and chemicals etch away the bare material underneath.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

Startups Focus on AI at South by Southwest

A new crop of startups aims to bring artificial intelligence to the masses.
South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive has a reputation as being the place for social Web startups to hit the headlines. Twitter found one of its first big audiences at the event in 2007, and attendees are among the most eager adoptees of new social Web tools. To harness this cutting-edge mood, last year the event's organizers launched the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator, a competition showcasing 32 Web-focused startups. This year's competition starts today.
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

Turning Gas Flares into Fuel

Microreactor developers race to turn troublesome gas into usable crude oil.
Natural gas may be the cleanest fossil fuel, but it can be an unnecessary pest when it's produced as waste from remote offshore oil wells. Brazilian state oil company Petrobras is fueling a race between two developers of modular chemical reactors that could turn this "associated gas" into synthetic crude. U.K.-based Compact GTL will unveil a commercial partnership today with Sumitomo Precision Products, a Japanese industrial company with which Compact GTL is building a gas-to-liquid (GTL) pilot plant to be delivered to Petrobras by this summer. Nipping at Compact GTL's heels, meanwhile, is Columbus-based microreactor developer Velocys, which announced plans last month to build a pilot plant for Petrobras using its potentially more compact design.
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

Smarter Chargers for Electric Vehicles

The devices could help stabilize the grid, and make charging electric cars cheaper.
This spring, GE will start selling a line of "smart charging stations," devices that communicate with utilities to optimize charging, for electric vehicles. The technology could be key to ensuring that electric cars don't strain the power grid, and it could cut down on consumer electricity bills. Eventually, because the charging stations could help stabilize the grid, they could allow utilities to rely more on intermittent renewable sources of energy such as solar and wind power. The GE products come as automakers introduce a new wave of electric vehicles. GM, Nissan and Ford, for example, plan to start selling electric vehicles this year, and others will follow. While other companies already offer electric vehicle chargers, GE's products could be important because they're made to work with the rest of the company's "smart grid" infrastructure, which stretches from the power plant, through the grid, all the way to smart appliances in the home. The company also has close relationships to utilities, which could speed adoption.
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

FCC unveiling sweeping national broadband plan

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Communications regulators are unveiling a sweeping proposal to overhaul U.S. broadband policy. Their aim: to bring affordable, high-speed Internet connections to all Americans and make access much faster for people who already have broadband.
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

Venezuelan Web site rejects Chavez's allegations

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A Venezuelan Web site that was accused by President Hugo Chavez of spreading false reports of killings said Sunday the government is trying to restrict criticism, but announced it had banned the visitors who posted the inaccurate rumors.
Technology Review
March 15, 2010

Privacy issues nix Netflix movie-picking contest

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- DVD-by-mail service Netflix Inc. has canceled a sequel to a $1 million movie-recommendation contest, avoiding a potential courtroom drama over the privacy rights of its subscribers.
MIT Research News
March 15, 2010

Unraveling Silks’ Secrets

A new analysis of the structure of silks explains the paradox at the heart of their super-strength, and may lead to even stronger synthetic materials.
Spiders and silkworms are masters of materials science, but scientists are finally catching up. Silks are among the toughest materials known, stronger and less brittle, pound for pound, than steel. Now scientists at MIT have unraveled some of their deepest secrets in research that could lead the way to the creation of synthetic materials that duplicate, or even exceed, the extraordinary properties of natural silk.

Markus Buehler, the Esther and Harold E. Edgerton Associate Professor in MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, and his team study fundamental properties of materials and how those materials fail. With silk, that means using computer models that help determine the molecular and atomic mechanisms responsible for the material’s remarkable mechanical properties. The models can simulate not just the structures of the molecules but also how they move and interact in relation to each other.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office
MIT Research News
March 15, 2010

Zooming In on Cells

New microscopy technique offers close-up, real-time view of how proteins kill bacteria
For two decades, scientists have been pursuing a potential new way to treat bacterial infections, using naturally occurring proteins known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that kill bacteria by poking holes in their cell membranes. Now, MIT scientists have recorded the first real-time microscopic images showing the deadly effects of AMPs in live bacteria.

Researchers led by MIT Professor Angela Belcher modified an existing, extremely sensitive technique known as high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) to allow them to image the bacteria in real time. Their method, described in the March 14 online edition of Nature Nanotechnology, represents the first way to study living cells using high-resolution images recorded in rapid succession.
Read Full Article at MIT News Office