August 20/27, 2007


Paper power

Paper suffused with carbon nanotubes and an electrically conductive liquid forms flexible, lightweight batteries and supercapacitors that can be folded and cut into a variety of shapes. Batteries made from the paper could power machines ranging from vehicles to implantable medical devices. (Flexible Energy Storage Devices Based on Nanocomposite Paper, Procedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online August 15, 2007)

Cellular CT scan

A CT scan for cells builds three-dimensional images based on the way different materials bend light waves. This refractive index technique makes three-dimensional images of individual living cells without immobilizing them or altering them with fluorescent dyes or other contrast agents. (Tomographic Phase Microscopy, Nature Methods, published online August 12, 2007)

Spotting diseases

Quantum dots as microscopic barcodes make for microfluidic devices that identify multiple infectious diseases simultaneously in small droplets of blood. The technique could lead to fast, inexpensive, handheld devices for diagnosing and monitoring diseases. (Convergence of Quantum Dot Barcodes with Microfluidics and Signal Processing for Multiplexed High-Throughput Infectious Disease Diagnostics, Nano Letters, published online August 18, 2007)

Cellular cyborg

Put a cluster of pulsating rat heart cells on a tiny plastic platform with six legs and you get a microrobot that shows the potential of biological entities as components of microdevices. The tiny robot walked continuously for over 10 days, racking up 50 meters of mileage. (Establishment of a Fabrication Method for a Long-Term Actuated Hybrid Cell Robot, Lab on a Chip, published online August 10, 2007)

Worm clamps

A plastic chip full of tiny, narrowing channels gently traps dozens of microscopic worms, making it possible to measure and even perform surgery on many worms in parallel. The microfluidic device could help automate biological and medical research. (A Microfabricated Array of Clamps for Immobilizing and Imaging C. Elegans, Lab on a Chip, published online August 16, 2007)

EM-proof antenna

An antenna that converts radio signals to light field oscillations toughens radios against large electromagnetic pulses. Weapons that generate electromagnetic pulses can destroy or disable radios and other electronic devices. (All-Dielectric Photonic-Assisted Radio Front-End Technology, Nature Photonics, published online August 19, 2007)


View from the High Ground: ICL's John Pendry
Physics as machine tool, negative refractive index, metamaterials, shattered wine glasses, higher capacity DVDs, scientific backwaters, risk perception and practice, practice, practice.

How It Works: Quantum computing: qubits
Photons, electrons and atoms, oh my! These particles are the raw materials for qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers.

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July 10, 2007
Bipedal locusts
Looks like we're taking more than our share of the vegetables: human activities eat up nearly a quarter of the planet's plant growth...

July 2, 2007
Genome transplant

June 26, 2007
Springing ahead

June 18, 2007
Plants go with the climate flow


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"Physics is to the rest of science what machine tools are to engineering. A corollary is that science places power in our hands which can be used for good or ill. Technology has been abused in this way throughout the ages from gunpowder to atomic bombs."
- John Pendry, Imperial College London

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