CEP: News Update


When a dragonfly emerges from its underwater larval stage and stretches out its wings for the first time, those wings are as soft as jelly. But after a mere hour or so, they are solid and strong enough to zip the insect along at up to 34 mph. The natural marvel of the dragonfly’s wings has inspired a new method of making aerogels, the lightest, most porous materials in the world.

Soft actuator technology inspired by invertebrate locomotion may enable the Army’s next generation of reconnaissance robots to more-stealthily slip through cracks and track bad guys.

The notion of capturing carbon from waste streams and storing it deep underground, away from the atmosphere, has long been tempting for mitigating climate change. Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) is even woven into mitigation scenarios published by organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). But bringing these technologies to market has been a challenge, largely due to cost and lack of incentive. Now, though, researchers say that there is at least one easy way to kick-start CCS in the U.S. — by capturing carbon dioxide from biorefining.

Typical methods of creating specialized cell types from stem cells employ growth factors. However, growth factors can generate unwanted tissue growth — including tumors — when used in the human body. Exploring alternatives to protein-based growth factors, a team led by Akhilesh Gaharwar, an assistant professor in Texas A&M Univ.’s Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, recently demonstrated how a new class of two-dimensional (2D) clay nanoparticles, called nanosilicates, can direct stem cells to become cartilage and bone cells.

Who says you can’t improve on nature? New research finds that an algorithm that systematically improves on the design of plant peptides could be a powerful tool for inspiring new antibiotics.

A new material inspired by the roots of a cactus can stay stable while absorbing water 933 times faster than it loses the fluid to evaporation.

The nanoscale building blocks that make up many materials exhibit extraordinary mechanical properties due to their defect-free structures. However, it is difficult to translate these mechanical properties to the macroscale because the building blocks must be arranged into patterns, and poor adhesion and misalignment create defects at larger scales.

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