ENDLESS FRONTIER:
INNOVATIONS IN SCIENCE & ENGINEERING

December 2018

Image: Wikimedia, Charles J. Sharp

Health/Convergence

MIT engineers repurpose wasp venom as an antibiotic drug

The venom of insects such as wasps and bees is full of compounds that can kill bacteria. Unfortunately, many of these compounds are also toxic for humans, making it impossible to use them as antibiotic drugs. MIT researchers have now used the venom from a South American wasp to engineer a new type of antibiotic that may be used to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have become a pressing public health challenge in recent years. Read more here http://news.mit.edu/2018/repurpose-wasp-venom-antibiotic-drug-1207

Ingestible capsule can be controlled wirelessly

Researchers at MIT and their colleagues have designed an ingestible capsule that can be controlled using Bluetooth wireless technology. The capsule, manufactured using 3-D-printing, can reside in the stomach for at least a month and be customized to sense environmental conditions, deliver drugs, or both. They might also be designed to sense infections, allergic reactions, etc. and release a drug in response. Read more here http://news.mit.edu/2018/ingestible-pill-controlled-wirelessly-bluetooth-1213

Science/Tech

Team invents method to shrink objects to the nanoscale

MIT researchers have invented a way to fabricate nanoscale 3-D objects of nearly any shape. They can also pattern the objects with a variety of useful materials, including metals, quantum dots, and DNA using a laser, and generating structures one thousandth the volume of the original. These tiny structures could have applications in many fields, from optics to medicine to robotics. The technique uses equipment that many biology and materials science labs already have, making it widely accessible for researchers who want to try it. Read more here http://news.mit.edu/2018/shrink-any-object-nanoscale-1213

On the right path to fusion energy

Fusion technology has long held the promise of producing safe, abundant, carbon-free electricity, while struggling to overcome the daunting challenges of creating and harnessing fusion reactions to produce net energy gain. A new report on the development of fusion as an energy source, written at the request of the U.S. Secretary of Energy, proposes adoption of a national fusion strategy that closely aligns with the course charted in recent years by MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and privately funded Commonwealth Fusion Systems (CFS), a recent MIT spinout. Read more here http://news.mit.edu/2018/nas-report-right-path-fusion-energy-1221

Deep-learning technique reveals “invisible” objects in the dark

Small imperfections in a wine glass or tiny creases in a contact lens can be tricky to make out, even in good light. In almost total darkness, images of such transparent features or objects are nearly impossible to decipher. But now, engineers at MIT have developed a technique that can reveal these “invisible” objects, in the dark. Read more here http://news.mit.edu/2018/deep-learning-dark-objects-1212