Bed made to float with neodymium magnets. Credit: mememetatata; imgur.

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Tiny chip could test for latent TB faster

Biomedical engineers at UC Davis have developed a microfluidic chip to test for latent tuberculosis. They hope the test will be cheaper, faster and more reliable than current testing for the disease. The researchers used a novel approach: They coated a gold wafer with short pieces of a single-stranded DNA segment known to stick specifically to interferon-gamma. They then mounted the wafer in a chip that has tiny channels for blood samples. If interferon-gamma is present in a blood sample, it sticks to the DNA, triggering an electrical signal that can be read by a clinician. The researchers plan to refine the system so that the microfluidic sensor and electronic readout are integrated on a single chip.

How ion bombardment reshapes metal surfaces

To modify a metal surface at the scale of atoms and molecules-for instance to refine the wiring in computer chips or the reflective silver in optical components-manufacturers shower it with ions. While the process may seem high-tech and precise, the technique has been limited by the lack of understanding of the underlying physics. In a new study, Brown University engineers modeled noble gas ion bombardments with unprecedented richness, providing long-sought insights into how it works. The improved understanding could open the door to new technologies, such as new approaches to make flexible electronics, biocompatible surfaces for medical devices, and more damage-tolerant and radiation-resistant surfaces. The new model revealed how ion bombardments can set three main mechanisms into motion in a matter of trillionths of a second. The researchers dubbed the mechanisms “dual layer formation,” “subway-glide mode growth,” and “adatom island eruption.” They are a consequence of how the incoming ions melt the metal and then how it resolidifies with the ions occasionally trapped inside.

Behind the scenes at an LED lighting lab

(GigaOm) “A dozen years ago, people couldn’t spell LED,” recalls Steve Lester, the chief technology officer of LED chip developer Bridgelux, in an interview. But “nobody debates the future of (LED lighting) anymore.” For example, earlier this month at Lightfair International, one of the world’s largest lighting tradeshows, Lester recalls that there was only one booth that featured a non-LED product. While LED lighting has caught on for commercial spaces, like spotlighting merchandise and for outdoor use like street lighting, it has yet to make its presence felt inside homes. That’s mainly because of its high, largely double-digit price tag, which leads to a much longer payback period, considering that consumers don’t keep lights on for as long as businesses do. However, despite a slower adoption by consumers, a McKinsey & Co. report last year projected that LED lighting could make up nearly 60 percent of the total lighting market by 2020.

Demonstration of neodymium magnets strength: How a 19-year-old built a floating bed

(Tecca, via Rare Metal Blog) Those adventurous enough to get quirky furniture for their homes know that they can add a lot of life and sparkle to an otherwise dreary space. Some people with deft hands and imaginative minds even go as far as to make their own. Take for example 19-year-old reddit user mememetatata, who decided one day that he wanted a floating bed… and actually built one using wood and magnets. It took him roughly a grand to buy the necessary materials: 10 puck-sized neodymium magnets—one of the strongest rare-earth magnet variants—priced at $72 each, and $200 to $300 worth of wood. Five of the magnets went inside a thinner, upper wooden panel, and were positioned to repel similar poles of the other five magnets inside a larger base, effectively creating a floating bed.

Obama Administration launches $26M multi-agency competition to strengthen advanced manufacturing clusters across the nation

The administration today announced a $26 million multi-agency Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge to foster innovation-fueled job creation through public-private partnerships. These coordinated investments will help catalyze and leverage private capital, build an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and promote cluster-based development in regions across the United States. This is the third round of the Jobs Accelerator competition, which is being funded by the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration, NIST, DDE, Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration and the National Science Foundation.

DOE Deputy Secretary announces new steps to support clean energy small businesses

DOE Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman announced in Fayetteville, Arkansas, $11 million in innovative research and technology grants of up to $150,000 to nearly 70 small businesses nationwide. He also highlighted that over the past year, the agency supported $8 billion in contracts to over 7,000 small businesses. Poneman made the announcements during a tour of Arkansas Power Electronics International, which develops state-of-the-art technology in power storage systems for electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies.

Spacegroup determination using CrystalToolkit

Do you know thatCrystalToolkit has recently been updated to perform spacegroup determination? Now, you can upload a POSCAR or cif of a structure with an unknown spacegroup into CrystalToolkit and the spacegroup will be displayed along with the crystal. This facility works whether the input structure is ordered or disordered. The spacegroup determination capabilities in the Materials Project is built on the excellent spglib written by Atsushi Togo. This code has also been incorporated in the latest version of pymatgen (v1.9.0) and a SymmetryFinder wrapper has been built to allow spglib to work seamlessly with pymatgen’s Structure objects.