‘Ant bridge’-inspired nanoparticle assembly fixes broken electrical circuits

Colonies of social insects are capable of self-organizing and accomplishing complex tasks through individual interactions. For example, to march across large gaps, ants grip the bodies of each other, forming a living bridge that allows the colonies to reach the other side. Inspired by this swarm behavior of ants, scientists from the Chinese University of Hong Kong developed a nanoparticle self-assembly system that can fix … Continue reading ‘Ant bridge’-inspired nanoparticle assembly fixes broken electrical circuits

Jellyfish-inspired electronic skin can heal itself under water

Skin is the largest organ in human body, and can sense important information such as pressure, temperature and pain. This waterproof barrier protects us from infections and can heal itself. Electronic skins are soft and flexible electronics that mimic the functions of skin in one or multiple aspects, and can give robots or even prosthetic limbs the sensations of real skin. However, unlike real skin, … Continue reading Jellyfish-inspired electronic skin can heal itself under water

‘Pacemaker for the brain’ may help prevent seizures and treat movement disorders

Anyone who has ever been scolded for talking over someone knows that speaking and listening simultaneously is a hard thing to do. Conducting an intelligent conversation requires active listening, understanding the received knowledge, and crafting a meaningful response, which often requires blending the new information with one’s own experiences. On a microscopic scale, each neuron in the brain must do exactly this – listen to … Continue reading ‘Pacemaker for the brain’ may help prevent seizures and treat movement disorders

3D Printed Robot Plays Jingle Bells and More on the Piano

When looking for the perfect soundtrack to accompany your holiday celebrations, consider putting away the traditional albums and opting for this technologically savvy rendition of Jingle Bells instead.  The performer, the latest work from Josie Hughes and colleagues at the University of Cambridge, is none other than a robot hand designed to play the piano without moving its fingers.  While it may not be a … Continue reading 3D Printed Robot Plays Jingle Bells and More on the Piano

The Secret to a Spider’s Superpowered Silk

If you have ever swatted a spider web away from a dusty corner of the house, congratulations—you have unknowingly dismantled one of the toughest materials known to man. The silk which spiders use to spin their webs and capture prey is five times stronger than steel, yet lightweight and more flexible than rubber. Because of these remarkable properties, scientists have been trying for years to … Continue reading The Secret to a Spider’s Superpowered Silk

Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

This summer, heat waves hit the Northern Hemisphere with temperatures upward of 100°F, highlighting one of the biggest current worldwide challenges: keeping buildings (and the people inside them) cool. A group of researchers from Columbia University may have an answer. They’ve designed a new material that chills buildings by reflecting sunlight. Instead of getting rid of heat that has already slipped into the building, this … Continue reading Be the coolest house on the block with a fresh coat of a new polymer material

Nanomaterials as cancer treatment: overcoming drug resistance in chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a common cancer treatment, using drugs to destroy cancer cells. However, cancer cells can develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs by developing “efflux pumps”, pumps in the cell membrane that work to actively expel the chemotherapy drugs from the tumor cells. Shana Kelley and her team in University of Toronto developed nanomaterials that can deliver drugs into cancer cells and suppress their drug resistance. … Continue reading Nanomaterials as cancer treatment: overcoming drug resistance in chemotherapy

Taking out the (space) trash

If you saw the blockbuster Gravity, then you probably had the dangers of orbiting space debris impressed upon you by a 90-minute emotional Hollywood roller coaster. While such catastrophic events haven’t ever happened, the risks of in-space collisions are certainly very real. In 2009, two satellites collided and rapidly produced thousands of smaller orbiting objects. It is this high production of smaller material from a … Continue reading Taking out the (space) trash