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water bead on hydrophobic surface

Engineers at Brigham Young University have created a surface with extreme water-repelling properties. Known as super-hydrophobic surfaces, these materials are so waterproof that water molecules can be bounced off of them like a ball. The surfaces are also "self-cleaning" in that as water beads up on them, it picks up dirt and just rolls it away. Engineers created the surfaces by combining micro-etched patterns of channels or posts with a hydrophobic coating such as Teflon.

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An electrical engineer at Stanford University has developed a way to wirelessly power and charge electronic implants safely within the body, without the need for batteries or clunky recharging mechanisms. Known as mid-field wireless transfer, the system combines both near-field and far-field electromagnetic waves. Using roughly the same power as a cell phone, the system can be used to run small electronics such as pacemakers, sensors, or nerve stimulators.

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ultra-fast

Researchers have developed a robotic arm that can catch almost any palmable object being hurled its way, including a bottle, a ball or even a tennis racquet.

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What can you do if a tornado strikes and you don't have access to a storm shelter or basement? Researchers from the Department of Material Science and Engineering at the University of Alabama at Birmingham may soon have a solution. The researchers have developed special panels that can be retrofitted for spaces like closets or bathrooms to create a tornado shelter right inside your home. During a tornado, a person or family would enter into the paneled space and latch the door.

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Engineers in the Netherlands are testing luminescent road paint as a possible alternative to streetlights. The glowing paint gets its charge from the sun during the day and emits a green glow at night. The paint can hold a charge for up to eight hours. The engineers have also considered using the paint as a means to alert drivers to potential hazards.

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A recent graduate of the University of Washington, Thomas Larson, has developed a device that can transform a smartphone or tablet into a portable microscope. Referred to as the Micro Phone Lens, this soft flexible lens can be attached to a phone's camera without the use of adhesives. Larson's invention is significantly less expensive than previously developed smartphone magnification devices. About the size of a button, the lens enables objects to be magnified up to 15 times on the screen of a device running in camera mode.

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Engineers at Brown University have developed a unique device that can harness the power of the tides. A device that can capture tidal power is particularly attractive because it can offer a more reliable and constant source of energy than wind turbines and watermills. However, tidal energy is particularly difficult to control, especially in shallow water. Tidal energy systems are also very expensive to create and very few exist in the world today. To develop the device, the researchers designed a pole equipped with several wings or hydrofoil.

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Engineers at Duke University have developed a three dimensional acoustic cloaking device that can shield objects from sound waves. The device consists of a stack of perforated plastic plates arranged in the shape of a pyramid. When placed around an object, the device alters the trajectory of sound waves so they behave as if they were reflecting off a flat surface. The researchers tested the device by placing a small sphere beneath it, and then pinging it with sound waves from different angles. They then compared these results with tests of the sphere alone and with a flat plane.

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egret in wetlands

UCLA researchers have developed a reusable water system that mimics the filtration processes of the wetlands. Known as the Gray2Blue Mobile Wetland Graywater Treatment System, the system takes gray water from showers, sinks, and laundry rooms and filters it so it can be used for tasks like watering trees and lawns. Gray water is filtered through a flower bed that sits atop a rectangular box, which then circulates down through the plant roots over the course of about 3 hours.

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Courtesy: National Science Foundation

A team of investigators including an associate mechanical engineering professor from MIT, a secondary school teacher, and a secondary school student have designed and tested a water filtration system that uses the wood of the pine tree as a filter. The inspiration for the system came from the way trees can filter out air bubbles within their circulatory systems while allowing sap to flow. The researchers first tested dried wood samples, but found that the drying process affects the system of channels, or xylem, within the tree, making it an ineffective filter.

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