Monday, April 30, 2007

Plastic solar cell efficiency breaks record at WFU nanotechnology center

The global search for a sustainable energy supply is making significant strides at Wake Forest University as researchers at the university�s Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials have announced that they have pushed the efficiency of plastic solar cells to more than 6 percent.
In a paper to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters, Wake Forest researchers describe how they have achieved record efficiency for organic or flexible, plastic solar cells by creating �nano-filaments� within light absorbing plastic, similar to the veins in tree leaves.  This allows for the use of thicker absorbing layers in the devices, which capture more of the sun�s light.
In order to be considered a viable technology for commercial use, solar cells must be able to convert about 8 percent of the energy in sunlight to electricity.  Wake Forest researchers hope to reach 10 percent in the next year, said Carroll, who is also associate professor of physics at Wake Forest.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scientists are creating artificial bones using a modified version of an inkjet printer.

The technology creates perfect replicas of bones that have been damaged and these can then be inserted in the body to help it to heal.

The process will revolutionise bone graft surgery, which currently relies on either bits of bone taken from other parts of the body or ceramic-like substitutes.

Original Aritcle

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

neuroArm: Exploring the Depths of Neurosurgery

neuroArm is an MRI-compatible, ambidextrous robot capable of performing the most technically challenging surgical procedures. Its dextrous components are two image-guided manipulators with end-effectors that mimic human hands and are capable of interfacing with new microsurgical tools. It has tremor filters that eliminate unwanted hand tremors seen under the microscope.
Each end-effector is equipped with a three-dimensional (3D) force-sensor providing the robot with its sense of touch. A surgeon, seated at a surgical workstation, controls the robot using force feedback hand-controllers. Combined with a 3D visual display of the surgical site and 3D MRI displays with superimposed 'virtual' tools, the workstation recreates the sight and sensation of microsurgery. Surgical simulation software on the workstation allows the surgeon to calculate the optimal incision site, plan a path that avoids critical structures and permits risk-free rehearsal of rare or complex procedures. To ensure safety, redundant computer systems continuously monitor and control neuroArm's movements.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Geordi come home

Software that can be taught to refine the information sent from a bionic eye to its wearer is being trialled in Germany.
Retinal implants can restore some vision to blind or partially blind people by taking over the job of turning light into signals transmitted to the brain. So far, about 10 people in Germany and 15 in the US have been fitted with such implants although expanded US trials are planned.
Eckmiller says the secret to improving these implants is to match the signals they produce with the signals that a healthy eye sends to the brain. One team in California, US, is trying to do that by building a copy of the retina's neurons in silicon. Eckmiller, along with colleagues Oliver Baruth and Rolf Schatten, plan to use learning software instead.

Original Article

Monday, April 09, 2007

Flexible Batteries That Never Need to Be Recharged

Mobiles phones, remote controls, and other gadgets are generally convenient--that is, until their batteries go dead. For many consumers, having to routinely recharge or replace batteries remains the weakest link in portable electronics. To solve the problem, a group of European researchers say they've found a way to combine a thin-film organic solar cell with a new type of polymer battery, giving it the capability of recharging itself when exposed to natural or indoor light.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Building the Bionic Man

Once the realm of science fiction, bionics is slowly but surely becoming a reality. Advances in medical prostheses and computer technology are making the dream of building a bionic human a reality.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ways to Lure Viruses to Their Death

There are only a few basic ways to fight viruses. A vaccine can prime the immune system to attack them as soon as they invade the body. If a virus manages to establish itself, a doctor may be able to prescribe a drug to slow down its spread. And if all else fails, a doctor may quarantine a patient to head off an epidemic.
Now some scientists are exploring a fundamentally different strategy to fight viruses. They want to wipe them out by luring them to their destruction, like mice to mousetraps.