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Txch This Week: Cancer-Detecting Nanotech And Produce Section Power Production


by Jared Kershner

This week on Txchnologist, NASA tested experimental rocket engine injectors that were 3-D printed to enhance performance over traditionally manufactured components. This 3-D printing technique, called direct laser melting, consists of a machine that fires a laser at metal powder under the control of a computer design program, depositing layers of the metal on top of one another until the part is produced. The hope? To demonstrate that 3-D printed designs can truly revolutionize system performance along with production time and cost.

A team led by biophysicist Markus Sauer and chemist Jürgen Seibel have pioneered a new microscopy method, dSTORM, which stands for direct Stochastic Optical Reconstruction Microscopy. This allows for the visualization of objects in super resolution, revealing details of cells ten times better than ever before by stitching together multiple images to create a single, sharper one. By resolving objects by mere millionths of millimeters across, researchers will inevitably gain new insights into activity in infectious diseases and cancer in human cells.

Harvard roboticists are in the process of constructing a soft-bodied, untethered robot that can continue operating through fire, water, crushing force, and even freezing conditions. Its body is constructed from a composite of silicone, fabric, and hollow glass microspheres. The group’s gains are an important step forward: If robots such as these are to perform rescue missions and survive demanding weather conditions, they need to be able to roam and slither free from cumbersome power connections.

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology, and innovation.

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Graphene-Based Artificial Retina Sensor Being Developed

Researchers at Germany’s Technical University of Munich are developing graphene sensors like the ones depicted above to serve as artificial retinas. The atom-thick sheet of linked carbon atoms is being used because it is thin, flexible, stronger than steel, transparent and electrically conductive. 

TUM physicists think that all of these characteristics and graphene’s compatibility with the body make it a strong contender to serve as the interface between a retinal prosthetic that converts light to electric impulses and the optic nerve. A graphene-based sensor could help blind people with healthy nerve tissue see, they say.

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Txch This Week: Internet Chatter Spots An Epidemic

by Annie Epstein

This week on Txchnologist, we watched MIT engineers move tiny metallic hairs using magnetic fields. The microhairs are made out of nickel mounted on stretchy silicone. Potential applications for the hairs include tunable waterproof coating, anti-glare applications and smart window coating that can control sun allowed into buildings.

Australian National University researchers manipulated wave frequencies and amplitudes to control the movement of particles on the surface of water. The researchers discovered ways to move objects against the direction of a wave. This research could help contain oil spills and even move small boats.

Japanese chemist Yosuke Okamura and his team have created a flexible, sticky coating called nanosheets that is similar to plastic wrap and, when applied to burns, creates a barrier against potentially fatal bacterial infections. The nanosheets can stick without adhesive and are made with a biodegradable polyester called poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA.

Finally, using nanoscopic pillars of a polyurethane and adhesive mix, researchers at the University of Michigan have created a watermark only visible when a person breathes on it. Soon we’ll be fighting counterfeiting one breath at a time.

Now we’re bringing you the news we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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New Ultrathin, Sticky Coating Prevents Infection From Burns


by Michael Keller

Scientists report they have made a new wound dressing for burn victims that can coat even the toughest nooks and crannies to prevent infection. 

Using a biodegradable polyester called poly(L-lactic acid), or PLLA, chemist Yosuke Okamura has developed a sticky coating called nanosheets that can be applied to any part of the body without adhesive. The nanosheet is like plastic wrap and forms a barrier that bacteria can’t penetrate to infect a patient.

“The nanosheets can adhere not only to flat surfaces, but also to uneven and irregular surfaces without adding any adhesives,” Okamura said.

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