field of microfluidics aims to do for test
tubes what the computer chip did for vacuum
tubes. A postage-stamp-size chip that stores
1,000 tiny droplets could set the stage for
replacing roomfuls of laboratory equipment
with desktop and handheld devices.
mix boosts batteries
A new material for making the electrodes that shunt
electricity into and out of batteries promises to
bring on a new generation of cheaper, nontoxic lithium
batteries that can deliver bigger bursts of energy
and recharge faster. The material could be a boon
for electric cars, implantable medical devices and
tag makes foolproof ID
Your credit card or passport could soon have a fingerprint
of its own. Small plastic squares filled with tiny
pieces of glass that scatter laser beams into speckle
patterns could give everyday objects unique identities.
The key is the tags can't be copied or faked.
hides Web access
A method for hiding access to censored Web pages
is the latest volley in the war between those who
would restrict the flow of information and those
who want unfettered access. MIT's Infranet project
is aimed at giving political dissidents a fighting
chance at getting their messages out, and letting
anyone access banned material without being tracked.
jolts move artificial muscle
Give certain plastics a big enough jolt of electricity
and they change shape. A composite material from
Penn State can be motivated with much smaller voltages,
paving the way for safer artificial muscles for
toys and medical devices. The material could also
lead to much smaller batteries for electric cars.