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ENDLESS FRONTIER: INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

May 2015

Energy & Environment

 

MITEI releases report on the future of solar energy

Solar energy holds the best potential for meeting humanity’s future long-term energy needs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions. But to realize this potential will require increased emphasis on developing lower-cost technologies and more effective deployment policy, says a comprehensive new study released by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).  The Future of Solar Energy discusses the enormous potential and pathways toward affordable solar energy.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1FmtlZW

 

Science & Tech

 

MIT engineers hand ‘cognitive’ control to underwater robots

For the last decade, scientists have deployed increasingly capable underwater robots to map and monitor pockets of the ocean to track the health of fisheries, and survey marine habitats and species. When deploying autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), much of an engineer’s time is spent writing scripts, or low-level commands, in order to direct a robot to carry out a mission plan. Now, utilizing a new programming approach developed by MIT engineers, robots plan underwater missions autonomously.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1FmtNr5

 

Translating thought to print

Spider silk has long been noted for its graceful structure, as well as its advanced material properties: Ounce for ounce, it is stronger than steel. MIT research has explained some of the material’s mysteries, which could help design synthetic resources that mimic the extraordinary properties of natural silk, with similar high strength and low density.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1FmtRqO

 

Electrons corralled using new quantum tool

Researchers have succeeded in creating a new ’whispering gallery’ effect for electrons in a sheet of graphene — making it possible to precisely control a region that reflects electrons within the material. They say the accomplishment could provide a basic building block for new kinds of electronic lenses, as well as quantum-based devices that combine electronics and optics.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1Fmv6WW

 

Convergence/Health

 

Designing better medical implants

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering, or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless. A team of MIT researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection: discovering that larger, spherical devices are actually better able to maintain their function and avoid scar-tissue buildup.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1FmuHng

 

MIT Researchers identify new target for anti-malaria drugs

A new target for drug development in the fight against the deadly disease malaria has been discovered by researchers at MIT: Manipulating the permeability of a type of vacuole could help defeat malarial parasites.

Read more at http://bit.ly/1FmuZus