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ENDLESS FRONTIER: INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

January 2016

 

Science & Tech

 

New chip fabrication approach

Today’s computer chips are built by stacking layers of different materials and etching patterns into them. MIT researchers have reported the first fabrication technique that enables significantly different materials to be deposited in the same layer. The layers in the experimental chip are also extremely thin–and consequently, could support efforts to manufacture thin, flexible, transparent computing devices.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/1ZSWvYf

 

Health/Convergence

 

No more insulin injections?

In Type 1 diabetes, the immune system attacks the pancreas, eventually leaving patients without the ability to naturally control blood sugar; they must inject themselves with insulin to keep their levels within a healthy range. Researchers have shown in tests on mice that encapsulated human islet cells could cure diabetes for up to six months.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/23pRcUG

 

Energy

 

Solar energy from discarded car batteries

MIT researchers have developed a simple procedure for making a promising type of solar cell using lead recovered from discarded car batteries — a practice that could benefit both the environment and human health. As new lead-free car batteries come into use, old batteries would be sent to the solar industry rather than to landfills. Experiments confirm solar cells made with recycled lead work just as well as those made with high-purity, commercially available starting materials. Battery recycling could support production of these novel solar cells, while researchers work to replace the lead with a more benign but equally effective material.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/1mg8ZMw

 

New finding may explain heat loss in fusion reactors

One of the biggest obstacles to making fusion power practical — and realizing its promise of virtually limitless and relatively clean energy — has been that computer models have been unable to predict how the hot, electrically charged gas inside a fusion reactor behaves under the intense heat and pressure required to make atoms stick together. Solving a longstanding mystery, MIT experiments reveal two forms of turbulence interacting.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/1SzmvIX

 

A new way to store solar heat

Imagine if your clothing could, on demand, release just enough heat to keep you warm and cozy, allowing you to dial back on your thermostat settings and stay comfortable in a cooler room. Or, picture a car windshield that stores the sun’s energy and then releases it as a burst of heat to melt away a layer of ice.  According to a team of researchers at MIT, both scenarios may be possible before long, thanks to a new material that can store solar energy during the day and release it later as heat, whenever it’s needed. This transparent polymer film could be applied to many different surfaces, such as window glass or clothing.

Learn more at http://bit.ly/1OeOYNY