3D printed corals grow algae that photosynthesize more efficiently

Central to coral reefs around the world is the deeply interdependent relationship between corals and algae. This interconnection is responsible for algae’s protected habitat, corals’ bright colors, and the mutual exchange of nutrients for photosynthesis. Algae growth is modulated by a process called self-shading, decreasing exposure to light. In an artificial setup, however, this process prevents researchers from growing coral quickly. To prevent this light … Continue reading 3D printed corals grow algae that photosynthesize more efficiently

‘Double-sided tape’ could replace surgical stitches

Sutures are commonly used to close wounds in the skin or other tissues. Similar to sewing fabric, the doctors will use a needle attached to a thread to penetrate the tissue and close the edges of the wound together, facilitating quick healing. Although surgical sutures have been used for thousands of years, they still have some limitations: 1) the needles cause some damage to the … Continue reading ‘Double-sided tape’ could replace surgical stitches

‘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