ENDLESS FRONTIER:
INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

October 2010

Energy

Enhancing the Power of Batteries
Batteries might gain a boost in power capacity as a result of a new finding from researchers at MIT. They found that using carbon nanotubes for one of the battery’s electrodes produced a significant increase — up to tenfold — in the amount of power it could deliver from a given weight of material, compared to a conventional lithium-ion battery. Such electrodes might find applications in small portable devices, and with further research might also lead to improved batteries for larger, more power-hungry applications. Read more >>

Putting Carbon Dioxide to Good Use
MIT professor Angela Belcher is taking a new approach to removing carbon dioxide from the environment -- transforming it into solid carbonates that could be used for building construction. By genetically engineering ordinary baker's yeast, Belcher and two of her graduate students, Roberto Barbero and Elizabeth Wood, have created a process that can produce about two pounds of carbonate for every pound of carbon dioxide captured. Read more >>

Health

Shining a Light -- Literally -- on Diabetes
Diabetic patients could be able to monitor their blood glucose levels with light, rather than drawing blood, thanks to research at MIT's Spectroscopy Laboratory. The technique uses Raman spectroscopy, a method that identifies chemical compounds based on the frequency of vibrations of the bonds holding the molecule together. Read more >>

Gene Shows Promise for Alzheimer's
MIT researchers have modified a gene in mouse brains that allows aging mice to retain memory and learning ability. The research is the latest sign that the gene SIRT1 may be connected to Alzheimers's, and provides hope that a treatment targeting the gene can be found. Read more >>

This work was funded by an American Parkinson Disease Association fellowship and grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Paul F. Glenn Foundation, which backs research on the biology of aging.

Space

Antimatter-Hunting Experiment Delivered for Last Space Shuttle Flight
Scientists seek to confirm that dark matter exists with the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), which is scheduled to be added to the International Space Station when NASA's last scheduled space shuttle flight occurs in February 2011. Nobel laureate Samuel Ting, an MIT physicist, is the project leader. The AMS will be able to provide a more-detailed look at findings made by Italian satellite PAMELA, another cosmic-ray detector. Read more >>

Innovation and Competitiveness

For Future Prosperity, Sow Seeds Now
MIT president Susan Hockfield and Qualcomm CEO Paul E. Jacobs make the case for reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act. They say that by investing in the education and research provided for in America COMPETES, Congress will "plant the seeds for the next generation of job-creating industries." Read more >>