“Metamaterials” that can be designed to have surprising properties have many physicists abuzz. Continue reading… “Magic ‘metamaterials’ taking physics by storm”
Yan Qu and Clement Cid spend a lot more time thinking about poop than your average academics. The pair, both at Caltech, are part of a team working on what could be the future of bathrooms: a self-cleaning, solar-powered toilet that turns human waste into hydrogen and fertilizer.
A computer chip that can heal its own injuries.
Our technologies are becoming more biological with each passing year. And here’s the latest breakthrough: Caltech engineers have developed an integrated computer chip that can learn to heal its own injuries.
Using a $1.50 digital camera sensor, scientists at Caltech have created the simplest and cheapest lens-free microscope yet. Such a device could have many applications, including helping diagnose disease in the developing world, and enabling rapid screening of new drugs.
A tough ceramic’s structure mimics that of abalone shells.
Ceramics are lightweight and hard, but you can’t make jet engines out of them because they’d shatter like dinner plates. So, materials scientists have been trying to mimic natural materials that combine strength (a measure of resistance to deformation) with toughness (a measure of resistance to fracture). In particular, they’ve looked to the porous but resilient material called nacre that lines abalone shells. Now researchers have developed a method for manufacturing nacre-like materials in the lab. These new materials have mechanical properties similar to metal alloys and are the toughest ceramics ever made. The new method could lead the way to ceramic structural materials for energy-efficient buildings and lightweight but resilient automobile frames.
A microfluidic chip identifies 35 proteins in a drop of blood within 10 minutes.
Measuring proteins in the blood can help doctors determine patients’ cancer risk and monitor the health of the elderly and people with chronic diseases. But current methods for testing these proteins are too expensive and require too much blood to be performed regularly. A microfluidic chip in clinical trials does on a single chip in 10 minutes what normally takes multiple technicians hours to do–and with just a single drop of blood. Researchers hope to make bedside diagnostics based on blood proteins a reality by bringing down the cost of such tests by at least an order of magnitude.