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MIT creates glucose fuel cell to power implanted brain-computer interfaces

MIT creates glucose fuel cell to power implanted brain-computer interfaces
Neuroengineers at MIT have created a implantable fuel cell that generates electricity from the glucose present in the cerebrospinal fluid that flows around your brain and spinal cord. In theory, this fuel cell could eventually drive low-power sensors and computers that decode your brain activity to interface with prosthetic limbs. The glucose-powered fuel cell is crafted out of silicon and platinum, using standard semiconductor fabrication processes. Size-wise, the MIT engineers have created glucose-powered fuel cells that are as large as 64x64mm (2.5in), or as small as just a few millimeters. This discovery is exciting for two main reasons: a) The fuel cell is completely synthetic, and b) they can be produced using low-tech, decades-old chip fabrication processes. Ultimately, this fuel cell will hopefully be used to power implanted, ultra-low-power devices that sit inside your skull or spinal cord. Read more at MIT or download the paper at PLoS ONE (non-paywalled!) Related:  Future Of...evolving interfaces

Cover Charge: New Spray-On Battery Could Convert Any Object into an Electricity Storage Device Perhaps someday you'll need to go to the store because you ran out of cathode paint. A team of researchers has just announced a new paint-on battery design. The technique could change the way batteries are produced and eliminate restrictions on the surfaces used for energy storage. The paint-on battery, like all lithium ion batteries, consists of five layers: a positive current collector, a cathode that attracts positively charged ions, an ion-conducting separator, an anode to attract negative ions, and a negative current collector. Neelam Singh, a member of the team of materials scientists and chemists from Rice University in Houston and Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and lead author of the paper, says, "It was really exciting to find out. Singh says her team's work is filling a need in the socially critical field of energy storage for new battery designs. But for now paint-on batteries are not quite ready to hit the shelves at your local hardware store.

Paralyzed woman controls robotic arm, sips coffee Performing even a simple movement is a rather complicated process. First, the brain has to signal its intent to perform an action, which then gets translated into the specific motions that are required to achieve that intention. Those motions require a series of muscle contractions; the signals for these need to be sent out of the brain, through the spinal cord, and to the appropriate destination. For most people who suffer from paralysis, it's really these later steps that are affected—most of the setup can still go on in the brain, but damage keeps the signals from making their way to the muscles. This may sound like science fiction, but significant progress has been made in the area. Now, we've taken the next big step. The two individuals involved were implanted with the same device (termed "BrainGate") that had been used in the earlier experiments in which some individuals controlled a cursor. The success rates weren't enormous, but these experiments were really pretty limited.

Meet the scientific accident that could change the world Well, going by the video it appears to be have comparable energy density to similarly sized but expensive rechargeable watch batteries. The key breakthroughs are, I think: 1) How fast it is to charge it. It normally takes several tens of minutes, to several hours to even a few days to properly a charge any lithium ion battery. This supercapacitor can be charged in seconds to only a few minutes. 2) It's made of graphene. 3) It's cheaply made by a simple process. Basically if this discover can scale to in arbitrarily large banks of stacked supercapacitors, the operation and use of a huge range of electronic and electrical devices will change enormously. Laptops that can be hold several hours worth of work energy and yet only charged in less than a minute. Since electricity and batteries are so fundamental to modern life there is very little this discovery won't touch in the decades to come. The energy density is on par with nickel metal hydride batteries.

Berkeley Lab Scientists Generate Electricity From Viruses News Release Imagine charging your phone as you walk, thanks to a paper-thin generator embedded in the sole of your shoe. This futuristic scenario is now a little closer to reality. The scientists tested their approach by creating a generator that produces enough current to operate a small liquid-crystal display. Their generator is the first to produce electricity by harnessing the piezoelectric properties of a biological material. The milestone could lead to tiny devices that harvest electrical energy from the vibrations of everyday tasks such as shutting a door or climbing stairs. It also points to a simpler way to make microelectronic devices. The first part of the video shows how Berkeley Lab scientists harness the piezoelectric properties of a virus to convert the force of a finger tap into electricity. The scientists describe their work in a May 13 advance online publication of the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Next, the scientists increased the virus’s piezoelectric strength.

Why wood pulp is world's new wonder material - tech - 23 August 2012 THE hottest new material in town is light, strong and conducts electricity. What's more, it's been around a long, long time. Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC), which is produced by processing wood pulp, is being hailed as the latest wonder material. To ramp up production, the US opened its first NCC factory in Madison, Wisconsin, on 26 July, marking the rise of what the US National Science Foundation predicts will become a $600 billion industry by 2020. So why all the fuss? "It is the natural, renewable version of a carbon nanotube at a fraction of the price," says Jeff Youngblood of Purdue University's NanoForestry Institute in West Lafayette, Indiana. The $1.7 million factory, which is owned by the US Forest Service, will produce two types of NCC: crystals and fibrils. Production of NCC starts with "purified" wood, which has had compounds such as lignin and hemicellulose removed. "The beauty of this material is that it is so abundant we don't have to make it," says Youngblood.

CAVE a high-tech research, education tool published in 2002 Advanced microscope technology allows you to cells and molecules in 3-D by pressing your eye to a lens or looking at the view on a computer screen. CAVE technology allows you to create a room-size projection and walk around inside of a cell. Virginia Tech’s University Visualization and Animation Group helps researchers use the CAVE — which stands for Computer Augmented Virtual Environment. VT-CAVE is a multidisciplinary computer graphic visualization research and educational facility that is part of the new ACITC. When objects become extremely large and complex, a virtual reality CAVE can be used to literally walk inside of these structures. Many departments on campus are using the CAVE for both education and research projects. — the Virtual Jamestown project — the USDA project, “Putting Bugs in a CAVE Room,” entomology — the “Virtual Dandelion” project, plant pathology Remote site CAVE labs have been created in architecture, interior design, and materials science. Crumbs?

Solar panel made with ion cannon is cheap enough to challenge fossil fuels Twin Creeks, a solar power startup that emerged from hiding today, has developed a way of creating photovoltaic cells that are half the price of today’s cheapest cells, and thus within reach of challenging the fossil fuel hegemony. The best bit: Twin Creeks’ photovoltaic cells are created using a hydrogen ion particle accelerator. As it stands, almost every solar panel is made by slicing a 200-micrometer-thick (0.2mm) wafer from a block of crystalline silicon. You then add some electrodes, cover it in protective glass, and leave it in a sunny area to generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect (when photons hit the silicon, it excites the electrons and generates a charge). This is where Twin Creeks’ ion cannon, dubbed Hyperion, comes into play. According to Technology Review, ion beams have been considered before, but particle accelerators were simply too expensive to be commercially viable. Read more at Twin Creeks

Stanford scientists use 'wired microbes' to generate electricity from sewage Public release date: 16-Sep-2013 [ Print | E-mail Share ] [ Close Window ] Contact: Tom Abatetabate@stanford.edu 650-736-2245Stanford School of Engineering Engineers at Stanford University have devised a new way to generate electricity from sewage using naturally-occurring "wired microbes" as mini power plants, producing electricity as they digest plant and animal waste. In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, co-authors Yi Cui, a materials scientist, Craig Criddle, an environmental engineer, and Xing Xie, an interdisciplinary fellow, call their invention a microbial battery. One day they hope it will be used in places such as sewage treatment plants, or to break down organic pollutants in the "dead zones" of lakes and coastal waters where fertilizer runoff and other organic waste can deplete oxygen levels and suffocate marine life. "You can see that the microbes make nanowires to dump off their excess electrons," Criddle said. Media Contact

LG produces the first flexible cable-type lithium-ion battery LG Chem, a member of the LG conglomerate/chaebol and one of the largest chemical companies in the world, has devised a cable-type lithium-ion battery that’s just a few millimeters in diameter, and is flexible enough to be tied in knots, worn as a bracelet, or woven into textiles. The underlying chemistry of the cable-type battery is the same as the lithium-ion battery in your smartphone or laptop — there’s an anode, a lithium cobalt oxide (LCO) cathode, an electrolyte — but instead of being laminated together in layers, they’re twisted into a hollow, flexible, spring-like helix. LG Chem’s battery starts with thin strands of copper wire, which are coated with a nickel-tin (Ni-Sn) alloy to create the anode. These strands are twisted into a yarn, and then wrapped tightly around a 1.5mm-diameter rod. The rod is removed, leaving a strong spring. If you removed batteries from the equation, new form factors would explode onto the market.

Play World of Warcraft... With Your Mind! World of Warcraft may be slowly losing players, but it's gaining new ways to play the game -- specifically, thanks to G.Tec Medical Engineering in Austria, you will soon be able to play WoW with your mind: Video explains in detail how the process works, but if you're impatient, the Warcraft action starts at around 1:50. According to G.Tec's Armin Schnürer, this system, called intendiX®SOCI (for Screen Overlay Control Interface), will be commercially available later this year. And while this video demo only shows user movement in Warcraft (forward/backward/left/right), Armin tells me it's feasible to add other commands. From a smartass perspective, this could be a way for lazy gamers to play WoW without even having to move. From an utterly serious angle, however, this could be a great way for the disabled to play with their friends and loved ones, even when they have no physical ability to do so. Tweet

Super-efficient solar-energy technology: ‘Solar steam’ so effective it can make steam from icy cold water Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. The new "solar steam" method from Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics is so effective it can even produce steam from icy cold water. The technology's inventors said they expect it will first be used in sanitation and water-purification applications in the developing world. Rice University scientists have unveiled a revolutionary new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. Details of the solar steam method were published online November 19 in ACS Nano. "This is about a lot more than electricity," said LANP Director Naomi Halas, the lead scientist on the project. The efficiency of solar steam is due to the light-capturing nanoparticles that convert sunlight into heat. "We're going from heating water on the macro scale to heating it at the nanoscale," Halas said. Halas, the Stanley C.

Sweden imports waste from European neighbors to fuel waste-to-energy program When it comes to recycling, Sweden is incredibly successful. Just four percent of household waste in Sweden goes into landfills. The rest winds up either recycled or used as fuel in waste-to-energy power plants. Burning the garbage in the incinerators generates 20 percent of Sweden’s district heating, a system of distributing heat by pumping heated water into pipes through residential and commercial buildings. According to Swedish Waste Management, Sweden recovers the most energy from each ton of waste in the waste to energy plants, and energy recovery from waste incineration has increased dramatically just over the last few years. The problem is, Sweden’s waste recycling program is too successful. Catarina Ostlund, Senior Advisor for the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency said the country is producing much less burnable waste than it needs. “We have more capacity than the production of waste in Sweden and that is usable for incineration,” Ostlund said.

No Pulse: How Doctors Reinvented The Human Heart Meeko the calf stood nuzzling a pile of hay. He didn't seem to have much appetite, and he looked a little bored. Every now and then, he glanced up, as though wondering why so many people with clipboards were standing around watching him. Fourteen hours earlier, I'd watched doctors lift Meeko's heart from his body and place it, still beating, in a plastic dish. As many as five million Americans suffer some form of heart failure, but only about 2,000 hearts a year become available for transplant. To understand why they still haven't succeeded, pick up a two-pound barbell and start curling it. The problem is the "beating" part. It turns out that imitating a beating heart with metal and plastic has several limitations. Clark probably would not have been able to hang on much longer in any case. A transplantable heart, alas, is an increasingly rare find. "His giant heartbeat," Rainer Maria Rilke wrote of God early in the past century, "is diverted in us into little pulses."

Sensing Cyborg Tissues Now Feasible Scientists have developed a technique for constructing silicon nanowire tissue scaffolds that contain nanoscale electrodes capable of monitoring intra- and extracellular function within living biological tissues grown through them. The porous three-dimensional (3D) biocompatible scaffolds can be generated as a mesh or planar construct and manipulated into just about any shape required before seeding with living cells. Embedded in the framework are silicon nanowire field-effect transistor (FET) detectors that can monitor and detect changes in physicochemical parameters within tissues grown through the scaffold. Initial experiments demonstrated utility of the platform to monitor electrical responses in tissues grown from cardiac and neural cells, and also to monitor pH changes in synthetic blood vessels constructed from smooth muscle cells. Initial experiments demonstrated that the nanoES were capable of supporting the 3D growth of heart and nerve cells seeded into them.

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