Permalink here: http://www.scitechdigest.net/2015/08/white-laser-crispr-immune-editing.html
White laser, CRISPR immune editing, DeepBind DNA binding, Programming swarm robotics, Light amplification, Power electronics, Resurrecting viruses, Chromatophore simulation, Connectome maps, Macro self-assembly.
1. The First White Laser
The first laser able to emit light over the full spectrum of visible light has been created with the aid of a new semiconducting alloy, arranged in a segmented sheet, and made of zinc, cadmium, sulfur, and selenium http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/semiconductors/devices/the-first-white-laser. The fabrication method sounds anything but simple, but the benefits of such a device could be profound. Applications include laser lighting nearly 3 times as efficient as LED lighting as well as more vivid colours and contrast, and Li-Fi wireless data communication up to 100 times as fast as comparable LED systems.
2. Human Immune Editing with CRISPR
Recent work demonstrates how human T-Cells can now be routinely modified via targeted CRISPR edits https://www.ucsf.edu/news/2015/07/131146/crispr-advance-scientists-successfully-edit-human-t-cells. Interestingly the technique the group uses involves assembling the CRISPR machinery outside of the cells and then transferring these into the cells. Demonstrated edits include disabling the cell-surface protein CXCR4, which HIV uses to exploit T-Cells, and also shutting down the PD-1 protein, which induces T-Cells to attack tumours. Future therapies building on this technology would involve taking T-Cells from a patient, editing them, and injecting them back into the blood to do their work.
3. DeepBind Determines DNA Binding Sites
In yet another example of deep learning approaches being applied in ever-more areas of inquiry, DeepBind is a new deep learning system for analysing the binding of proteins to DNA and RNA and predicting what the impact of particular mutations in conventional protein binding sites will be for gene regulation http://phys.org/news/2015-07-deepbind-proteins-uncovering-disease-causing-mutations.html. Recent demonstrations of the system showed insights in protein-binding disruptions linked mutations in cancer, haemophilia, and genetically-linked high cholesterol.
4. Swarm Robotics Programming Language
A new programming language called Buzz has been developed for enabling heterogeneous control of robot swarms http://www.technologyreview.com/view/539761/a-programming-language-for-robot-swarms/. Buzz facilitates both bottom-up control of robot swarms, enabling control of individual robots in the swarm, and also top-down control of swarms, in which the entire swarm can be controlled as a whole. As part of one demonstration the group shows how Buzz can lead to natural-swarm-like self-organised behavior using relatively simple rules. Could possibly be a good widely-applicable tool for enabling more diverse robot swarm applications.
5. Amplifying Light with Nanoresonators
A new optical nanoresonator device produces optical output up to 10,000 times greater than the light energy it receives http://www.gizmag.com/nanoscale-light-amplification-wisconsin-madison/38435/. Such a device or array of devices might in future substitute for conventional lenses in some situations, with the ability to harvest light not dependent on size. The team hope to develop photodetectors with the technology that could give exceptional low-light performance, photovoltaics, and other optical devices to exploit the ability to condense light to a size smaller than its wavelength.
6. Gallium Nitride Power Electronics
Gallium nitride materials and fabrication has matured to the point that a new company has been launched to commercialise gallium nitride transistors and power electronic circuits that are smaller and should cut energy usage in the devices that use them by up to 20% compared to conventional silicon power electronics http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/gallium-nitride-electronics-silicon-cut-energy-0729. Power electronics convert electricity to different voltages and currents as needed and the new materials have just 10% of the resistance that silicon materials do in these applications, but can be manufactured in the same facilities at the same cost.
7. Ancient Viruses Resurrected for Gene Therapy
Ancient versions of adeno-associated viruses (which currently circulate in human populations and are used as gene therapy vectors) have been engineered by recreating the evolutionary timeline of these viruses to create older versions that are still stable and effective http://www.masseyeandear.org/news/press-releases/2015/07/researchers-resurrect-ancient-viruses-in-hopes-of-improving-gene-therapy. The oldest version proved to be very effective in delivering genes to a range of tissues without producing toxic side effects. Additional versions of these viruses are valuable because they provide additional delivery options for patients whose immune systems have already seen a particular virus and so render that version less effective.
8. 100-Million Atom Chromatophore Simulation
The largest ever atomically accurate computer simulation has been conducted on the Titan supercomputer, running an accurate model of a chromatophore containing 100-million atoms that comprise a range of components including 16,000 lipids and 101 proteins https://www.olcf.ornl.gov/2015/07/29/researchers-build-bacterias-photosynthetic-engine/. Chromatophores are simpler bacterial structures for converting light into ATP chemical energy, and this simulation allowed the team to study how this energy conversion process takes place and is coordinated by the various chemical structures. The simulation proceeds in 2 femtosecond steps and hopes to eventually capture a whole microsecond of behaviour.
9. Most Detailed Connectome Map
The first complete 3D connectome reconstruction of a piece of mammalian neocortex has been made, covering an area just 1,500 cubic microns but including fragments of 1,600 neurons and 1,700 synapses http://www.nature.com/news/crumb-of-mouse-brain-reconstructed-in-full-detail-1.18105. The connectome represents the latest development in the technique for diamond-blade microtome brain slicing (10s of nanometers), automated electron microscope scanning, and algorithmic image stitching to achieve a resolution of just 3nm and able to easily distinguish individual synaptic vesicles. Among the new knowledge gained were surprises in how nearby and distant neurons connected to one another.
10. Macro-Scale Self-Assembly
A new study explores how discrete functionally-designed objects can be induced to self-assemble into larger macroscale objects just by vibrating the container they are in, which seems to draw loose parallels with the much faster and hectic thermal vibration environment in the cell in which proteins self-assemble into stable and functional 3D structures http://phys.org/news/2015-07-self-building-3d-bricks-hint-future.html. This form of programmable self-assembly uses tetrahedral bricks with small embedded magnets and faces that incorporate novel topography to facilitate stable binding. The only drawback is the time it takes to find the stable configuration.