Science News and Carnegie Mellon University – Many natural organisms have the ability to repair themselves. Now, manufactured machines will be able to mimic this property. In findings published this week in Nature Materials, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have created a self-healing material that spontaneously repairs itself under extreme mechanical damage.
This soft-matter composite material is composed of liquid metal droplets suspended in a soft elastomer. When damaged, the droplets rupture to form new connections with neighboring droplets and reroute electrical signals without interruption. Circuits produced with conductive traces of this material remain fully and continuously operational when severed, punctured, or had material removed.
Applications for its use include bio-inspired robotics, human-machine interaction, and wearable computing. Because the material also exhibits high electrical conductivity that does not change when stretched, it is ideal for use in power and data transmission.
All About Circuits – As the pandemic resurges in many parts of the world, researchers have found a way to bring the speed and accuracy of infection testing to mobile devices with a lab-on-a-chip.
A new lab-on-a-chip has been developed by researchers at Imperial College London who hope it can pave the way for low-cost portable diagnostic testing. The lab-on-a-chip (LoC) technology, known as TriSilix, is a “micro laboratory” that can reportedly perform a scaled-down version of the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on the spot, presenting its results in just a few minutes. PCR, which detects viruses and bacteria in biological samples, is usually performed in a laboratory, meaning that test results don’t become immediately available.
Each LoC device contains a DNA sensor, temperature detector, and heater so that the testing process can be automated. According to the researchers’ published findings in Nature Communications, a standard smartphone battery is capable of powering up to 35 tests on a single charge.
(The Conversation) – If you want to conduct groundbreaking but contentious biological research, go to China. Last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced he had created the world’s first gene-edited human babies, shocking the world at a time when such practice is illegal in most leading scientific nations. More recently, US-based researcher Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte revealed he had produced the world’s first human-monkey hybrid embryo in China to avoid legal issues in his adopted country.
Yet if China is fast becoming the world capital of controversial science, it is not alone in producing it. More babies produced using the “CRISPR” gene-editing technology are now planned by a scientist in Russia, where another researcher is also hoping to conduct the world’s first human head transplant. And Japan has recently lifted its own ban on human-animal hybrids.
The world is rapidly moving towards a two-tier system of cutting-edge medical research, broadly divided between countries with minimal regulation and those that refuse to allow anything but the earliest stages of this work. The consequences of this split are likely to be significant, even potentially affecting your own access to healthcare.