In case you missed it (ICYMI), here are some of the stories that made headlines in the world of cleanrooms and nanotechnology in the past week.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been working on developing a class of walking “bio-bots,” which are powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses. The engineers are now sharing their secrets so people can build their own bio-bots. The protocol includes each step of constructing the robots — using a 3D printer to create the skeleton, tissue engineering the skeletal muscle actuator, and details about the manufacturers and part numbers for every component the U of I engineers used. The idea is to share the findings so that other researchers and educators will gain the tools and knowledge to build such bio-hybrid systems that can be used for applications in health, medicine, and environment.
A scientist at NASA has developed a technique for manufacturing lightweight, high-resolution X-ray mirrors using silicon, which is normally utilized for computer chips. Astrophysicist William Zhang has proven through repeated testing that single-crystal silicon — a hard, brittle non-metallic element — functions extremely well as an X-ray optic. Using silicon would give X-ray astrophysicists working with limited space and budget the ability to create lightweight, super-thin mirrors with drastically improved resolution.
Finally, researchers A*STAR have come up with a carbon-free version of one of the oxygen electrocatalyst, a key component of zinc-air batteries. zinc-air batteries are a promising solution for large-scale storage of solar, wind, and hydro energy, as they’re cheap and non-flammable — however, since oxygen attacks and corrodes their carbon-based components, they don’t have a long lifespan. The latest research offers a solution by developing carbon-free battery components.