News

Engineer Creates Origami Battery

A Binghamton engineer, Seokheun "Sean" Choi, developed an inexpensive, bacteria-powered battery made from paper. Using a drop of bacteria-containing liquid, the battery generates power from microbial respiration and delivers enough energy to run a paper-based biosensor.

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New Computer Operates on Water Droplets

A synchronous computer from Stanford University operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets. The work combines the manipulation of droplet fluid dynamics with a fundamental element of computer science – an operating clock.

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Compact Light Source Improves CT Scans

A new study shows that the recently developed Compact Light Source (CLS) – a commercial X-ray source with roots in research and development efforts at the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory – enables computer tomography scans that reveal more detail than routine scans performed at hospitals today. The new technology could soon be used in preclinical studies and help researchers better understand cancer and other diseases.

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"TREASORES" Project Moves Towards "Printed" Organic Solar Cells, LEDs

Flexible optoelectronic devices that can be produced roll-to-roll – much like newspapers are printed – are a highly promising path to cheaper devices such as solar cells and LED lighting panels. Scientists from "TREASORES" project recently demonstrated prototype flexible solar cell modules, as well as novel silver-based transparent electrodes, that outperform currently used materials.

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Will robots hurt the job market?

This week's Question: In a cover article in this month's issue of The Harvard Business Review, two researchers suggest strategies for remaining gainfully employed in an age of robotics and smarter machines. Although the authors concede the advance of automation, editor at large Julia Kirby and Babson College professor Thomas H. Davenport write that machines will increase possibilities for employment and that “the threat of automation” could be reframed as an “opportunity for augmentation." The authors provide examples of opportunities for humans to collaborate with machines, including big-data drug discovery, precision agriculture, design work, and elder care. Machines and computers, however, already perform tasks formerly done by humans, including factory sorting, manufacturing, and even journalism. What do you think? Will robots hurt the job market?

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New Etching Method Boosts Nanofiber Production

A new technique from MIT researchers boosts production of nanofibers fourfold, while cutting energy consumption by more than 90 percent. Potential nanofiber applications include solar cells, water filtration, and fuel cells.

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Will Hyperloops replace trains?

According to the Navigant Research firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has made a deal with central California landowners to build the world's first Hyperloop. The 5-mile test track will be built along California's Interstate 5. The Hyperloop, brought up in 2014 by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, would hypothetically enable passengers to travel in suspended pods through low-pressure tubes at more than 750 miles per hour. Supporters say the Hyperloop has the potential to be a faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient form of travel than planes, trains, or buses. It is not yet known, however, if the technology is feasible or safe. What do you think? Will Hyperloops replace trains?

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