Optogenetically engineered mice run faster than the pack

February 21, 2017

The 12-year-old technique of optogenetics, which enables scientists to control brain cells with light, typically requires a multi-step process and several surgeries on animal models. Polina Anikeeva at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and her colleagues came up with an engineering solution that combines those steps into one, and improves the function of the device. The group described their invention today in the journal Nature Neuroscience. Optogenetics enables researchers…


DNA switch sparks advancement of nano-electronics

February 20, 2017

Much like flipping your light switch at home—only on a scale 1,000 times smaller than a human hair—an ASU-led team has now developed the first controllable DNA switch to regulate the flow of electricity within a single, atomic-sized molecule. The new study, led by ASU Biodesign Institute researcher Nongjian Tao, was published in the advanced online journal Nature Communications. “It has been established that charge transport is possible in DNA,…


Nanoelectronic thread brain probes don’t leave a scar

February 16, 2017

At The University of Texas at Austin, engineering researchers have designed ultra-flexible, nanoelectronic thread (NET) brain probes that can achieve more reliable long-term neural recording than existing probes and don’t elicit scar formation when implanted. The researchers described their findings in a research article published on February 15th in Science Advances. A team led by Chong Xie, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Cockrell School of…


Improving the design for fusion experiments

February 13, 2017

The old carpenters saying: “measure twice, cut once” is a clear reminder that you can save time and materials in the long run with careful planning. This proverb also will apply to the design of stellarators, which are complex nuclear fusion experiments meant to explore fusion’s potential as an energy source. Stellarators work by confining a ring of blazing-hot plasma inside a precisely shaped magnetic field generated by external electromagnetic…


New test helps identify particles for gene delivery

February 9, 2017

There is a constant battle of trying to find way to treat diseases by delivering DNA or RNA, which turns a gene on and off, and one obstacle present in this battle is finding ways to safely deliver the genetic material to the correct cells. Encapsulating strands of RNA or DNA in tiny particles is one promising approach. To help speed up the development of such drug-delivery vehicles, a team…


‘Radiator’ developed to emit millimeter-wave signals

February 9, 2017

As your doctor waves their hand-held scanner over your body, they get a detailed high-resolution image of your internal organs and tissues, then using the same device physicians will send gigabytes of data instantly to a remote server and just as rapidly receives information to make a diagnosis. A silicon microchip-based component that could make these and many other actions possible, has been developed by integrated circuit researchers at the…


Microchip fits on your fingertip

February 9, 2017

Holding the key to advances in medical imaging, communications and drug development, electromagnetic pulses lasting one millionth of a millionth of a second. But the pulses, called terahertz waves, have long required elaborate and expensive equipment to use. Now, researchers at Princeton University have drastically shrunk much of that equipment: moving from a tabletop setup with lasers and mirrors to a pair of microchips small enough to fit on a…


Cobalt grid reliably programmed at room temperature

February 3, 2017

Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition, they have discovered that for every hole (‘antidot’), three magnetic states can be configured in a nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grid. The results have been published in the journal Scientific Reports. Physicist Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure…


Sensors designed to detect single protein molecules

January 24, 2017

MIT engineers have designed sensors that can detect single protein molecules as they are secreted by cells or even a single cell. These sensors, which consist of chemically modified carbon nanotubes, could help scientists with any application that requires detecting very small amounts of protein, such as tracking viral infection, monitoring cells’ manufacturing of useful proteins, or revealing food contamination, the researchers say. “We hope to use sensor arrays like…


Bulk alloys converted to oxide nanowires in low-cost technique

January 20, 2017

A simple technique for producing oxide nanowires directly from bulk materials could dramatically lower the cost of producing the one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures. That could open the door for a broad range of uses in lightweight structural composites, advanced sensors, electronic devices – and thermally-stable and strong battery membranes able to withstand temperatures of more than 1,000°C. The technique uses a solvent reaction with a bimetallic alloy – in which one…