Battery-free technology brings gesture recognition to all devices

Mute the song playing on your smartphone in your pocket by flicking your index finger in the air, or pause your “This American Life” podcast with a small wave of the hand.

Report: Earth became habitable 4.4 billion years ago

With the help of a tiny fragment of zircon extracted from a remote rock outcrop in Australia, the picture of how our planet became habitable to life about 4.4 billion years ago is coming into sharper focus.

An ancient 'Great Leap Forward' for life in the open ocean

It has long been believed that the appearance of complex multicellular life towards the end of the Precambrian (the geologic interval lasting up until 541 million years ago) was facilitated by an increase in oxygen, as revealed in the geological record.

JILA physicists discover 'quantum droplet' in semiconductor

JILA physicists used an ultrafast laser and help from German theorists to discover a new semiconductor quasiparticle—a handful of smaller particles that briefly condense into a liquid-like droplet.

Report: Offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes before they reach land

For the past 24 years, Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, has been developing a complex computer model to study air pollution, energy, weather and climate. A recent application of the model has been to simulate the development of hurricanes. Another has been to determine how much energy wind turbines can extract from global wind currents.

Want your computer to go faster? Just add light

Every second, your com­puter must process bil­lions of com­pu­ta­tional steps to pro­duce even the sim­plest out­puts. Imagine if every one of those steps could be made just a tiny bit more effi­cient. “It would save pre­cious nanosec­onds,” explained North­eastern Uni­ver­sity assis­tant pro­fessor of physics Swastik Kar.

Scientists complete top quark puzzle

Scientists on the CDF and DZero experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have announced that they have found the final predicted way of creating a top quark, completing a picture of this particle nearly 20 years in the making.

3D printer creates transformative device for heart treatment

Using an inexpensive 3-D printer, biomedical engineers have developed a custom-fitted, implantable device with embedded sensors that could transform treatment and prediction of cardiac disorders.

Does climate engineering have a future?

With global greenhouse gas emissions continuing to increase proposals to limit the effects of climate change through the large-scale manipulation of the Earth system are increasingly being discussed.

Vibration energy the secret to self-powered electronics

A multi-university team of engineers has developed what could be a promising solution for charging smartphone batteries on the go — without the need for an electrical cord.

How to make cheaper second-gen biofuel

Producing second-generation biofuel from dead plant tissue is environmetally friendly - but it is also expensive because the process as used today needs expensive enzymes, and large companies dominate this market.

A new laser for a faster Internet

The study was published the week of February 10–14 in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The work is the result of a five-year effort by researchers in the laboratory of Amnon Yariv, Martin and Eileen Summerfield Professor of Applied Physics and professor of electrical engineering; the project was led by postdoctoral scholar Christos Santis (PhD '13) and graduate student Scott Steger.

Will plug-in cars crash the electric grid?

Selecting a Chevy Volt, Tesla Model S, Nissan Leaf — or one of many other new models — shoppers in the United States bought more than 96,000 plug-in electric cars in 2013. That’s a tiny slice of the auto market, but it’s up eighty-four percent from the year before. In Vermont, as of January 2014, there were 679 plug-in vehicles, according to the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation. That’s two hundred percent growth over 2013.

New, inexpensive production materials boost promise of hydrogen fuel

Generating electricity is not the only way to turn sunlight into energy we can use on demand. The sun can also drive reactions to create chemical fuels, such as hydrogen, that can in turn power cars, trucks and trains.

Rise of the compliant machines

Are we on the brink of a robotics revolution? That’s what numerous media outlets asked last December when Google acquired eight robotics companies that specialize in such innovations as manipulation, vision, and humanoid robots.

Using holograms to improve electronic devices

A team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering and Russian Academy of Science have demonstrated a new type of holographic memory device that could provide unprecedented data storage capacity and data processing capabilities in electronic devices.

A step closer to a photonic future

The future of computing may lie not in electrons, but in photons – that is, in microprocessors that use light instead of electrical signals. But these so-called photonic devices are typically built using customized methods that make them difficult and expensive to manufacture.

An essential step toward printing living tissues

A new bioprinting method developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) creates intricately patterned 3D tissue constructs with multiple types of cells and tiny blood vessels. The work represents a major step toward a longstanding goal of tissue engineers: creating human tissue constructs realistic enough to test drug safety and effectiveness.

Pond-dwelling powerhouse's genome points to its biofuel potential

Duckweed is a tiny floating plant that's been known to drive people daffy. It's one of the smallest and fastest-growing flowering plants that often becomes a hard-to-control weed in ponds and small lakes. But it's also been exploited to clean contaminated water and as a source to produce pharmaceuticals.

Kinetic battery chargers get a boost

New technology to capture the kinetic energy of our everyday movements, such as walking, and to convert it into electrical energy has come a step closer thanks to research to be published in the International Journal Biomechatronics and Biomedical Robotics.