Engineering

Cleaning with sunlight
The sun breaks through the clouds - and surfaces start cleaning themselves! It may sound like magic, but in fact it's all thanks to the addition of titanium dioxide molecules. Activated by UV light, they trigger a reaction which destroys bacteria, algae and fungi, keeping items such as the armrests of garden chairs nice and clean.

Human eye inspires clog-free ink jet printer invented by MU researcher
Clogged printer nozzles waste time and money while reducing print quality. University of Missouri engineers recently invented a clog-preventing nozzle cover by mimicking the human eye.

Controlling your computer with your eyes
Millions of people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, spinal cord injuries or amputees could soon interact with their computers and surroundings using just their eyes, thanks to a new device that costs less than 40.

Solid-state terahertz devices could scan for cancer
Cornell researchers have developed a new method of generating terahertz signals on an inexpensive silicon chip, offering possible applications in medical imaging, security scanning and wireless data transfer.

Triboelectric generator produces electricity by harnessing frictional forces
Researchers have discovered yet another way to harvest small amounts of electricity from motion in the world around us - this time by capturing the electrical charge produced when two different kinds of plastic materials rub against one another. Based on flexible polymer materials, this "triboelectric" generator could provide alternating current (AC) from activities such as walking.

Sharing data links in networks of cars
Wi-Fi is coming to our cars. Ford Motor Co. has been equipping cars with Wi-Fi transmitters since 2010; according to an Agence France-Presse story last year, the company expects that by 2015, 80 percent of the cars it sells in North America will have Wi-Fi built in. The same article cites a host of other manufacturers worldwide that either offer Wi-Fi in some high-end vehicles or belong to standards organizations that are trying to develop recommendations for automotive Wi-Fi.

Long-term hormone treatment increases synapses in rat prefrontal cortex
A new study of aged female rats found that long-term treatment with estrogen and a synthetic progesterone known as MPA increased levels of a protein marker of synapses in the prefrontal cortex, a brain region known to suffer significant losses in aging.

White leds directly on paper
Imagine a white luminous curtain waving in the breeze. Or wallpaper that lights up your room with perfect white light. In his doctoral thesis, Gul Amin shows how white LEDs can be manufactured directly on paper.

Feel-good glass for windows
Daylight acts on our body clock and stimulates the brain. Fraunhofer researchers have made use of this knowledge and worked with industry partners to develop a coating for panes of glass that lets through more light. Above all, it promotes the passage through the glass of those wavelengths of light that govern our hormonal balance.

Northwestern researchers create rubber-band electronics
For people with heart conditions and other ailments that require monitoring, life can be complicated by constant hospital visits and time-consuming tests. But what if much of the testing done at hospitals could be conducted in the patient's home, office, or car?