Why "utility fogs" could be the technology that changes the world

Arthur C. Clarke is famous for suggesting that any sufficiently advanced technology would be indistinguishable from magic. There's no better example of this than the ultra-speculative prospect of "utility fogs" — swarms of networked microscopic robots that could assume the shape and texture of virtually anything. » 8/08/12 10:18am 8/08/12 10:18am

Breakthrough silk compound could lead to longer-lasting antibiotics and…

One of the major hurdles of getting a number of drugs into the developing world is that they need to be kept chilled to remain effective. A breakthrough technique using silk proteins has found a way around the need to keep cold, and could mean drugs that stay usable at high temperature for months — if not years — at a… » 7/12/12 7:55am 7/12/12 7:55am

A virus that creates electricity

A virus called simply M13 has the power (literally) to change the world. A team of scientists at the Berkeley Lab have genetically engineered M13 viruses to emit enough electricity to power a small LED screen. M13 poses no threat to humans — it can only infect bacteria — but it could one day serve humanity by… » 5/16/12 4:18pm 5/16/12 4:18pm

Watch a nanotube being eaten, and then barfed back up, by a flake of…

There are a lot of grown-up ways I might have chosen to write that headline, but when you watch this video you'll see why I resorted to talking like my five-year-old neighbor. Though what you're watching are simple chemical reactions under a transmission electron microscope (TEM), it's tempting to describe them in… » 5/16/12 9:13am 5/16/12 9:13am

Carbon breakthrough could mean cheap, eternally stretching graphene

Graphene, the eternally stretching two-dimensional form of carbon, is one of the most promising synthetic materials in existence, but is still costly to produce to specification. New research released in the PNAS shows a simple and cheap way to produce the stuff, and could herald a graphene revolution. » 3/31/12 3:00pm 3/31/12 3:00pm

Watch nanowires growing in real time

Nanowires are ultra-tiny metal threads that, under specific conditions, grow like plants out of chemical and metal substrates. Now, in this incredible video, you can see what they look like when they're growing. They're pretty much nanoscopic Cthulhu tentacles. » 3/12/12 7:40am 3/12/12 7:40am

Is this the birth of 3D liquid crystal displays?

In this video, you'll see an amazing vision of the high-tech future: A series of videos taken under the microscope, documenting a new kind of pixel that could one day turn your tablet computer into a 3D display. University of Cambridge photonic engineer Tim Wilkinson is combining liquid crystals with nanotechnology… » 1/30/12 7:40am 1/30/12 7:40am

Behold: Complex, self-assembling, 3D objects

Right now, the race is on to create complex, self-assembling, three dimensional objects. It would be a boon to manufacturers, medical researchers, and even toy makers. Now, a new technique has been developed which not only assembles these objects molecule by molecule, but can do so in many shapes. » 12/09/11 3:00pm 12/09/11 3:00pm

Breakthrough: This metal is almost as light as air

Ultra-lightweight materials are an incredibly cool area of materials science, bringing us crazy substances like aerogel. And now, for the first time, scientists have produced a metal that's so light it can balance on the fluff of a dandelion. Here's why this material is revolutionary — and how it's made. » 11/17/11 12:59pm 11/17/11 12:59pm

New invention brings us one step closer to an all-consuming,…

Self-replication. If there's one thing that scifi has taught us it's that there's no possible situation where giving things that can't replicate the ability to do so is a good thing. Yet, against all our grey goo warnings, science has brought us one step closer. » 10/13/11 6:30am 10/13/11 6:30am

The proton transistor could finally give us perfect machine-human…

One of the barriers that stops us from plugging computers into our brains and replacing our eyeballs with cameras is the fact that biological systems and electronics use different control systems. Electronics use electrons and living creatures use either protons or ions. Because of this, our cyborg dreams are a bit… » 9/23/11 7:30am 9/23/11 7:30am

Scientists grow nanowire directly on a crystal — and help usher in the…

Growing nanowires vertically has been within our power for some time now, but growing them horizontally, and directly on a surface you might actually want? That's harder. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science think they've figured out the trick, and have coaxed nanowires to grow in nice straight lines on… » 8/19/11 1:21pm 8/19/11 1:21pm

Your blood cells are not what they seem

Bioengineers have figured out a new way to deliver cancer-killing drugs to your body. They hide the drugs inside the skins of red blood cells. Literally. » 6/22/11 4:09pm 6/22/11 4:09pm

Carbon nanotubes could make seawater drinkable

Carbon nanotubes have been heralded as the next big thing in nanomaterials thanks to their incredible abilities (though there are some reservations). Now it seems that they could also help get us more clean drinking water. » 6/03/11 7:30am 6/03/11 7:30am

Nanogenerators powered by your heartbeat could replace batteries in…

In a few years, you may never have to recharge your phone again. Today scientists announced the first viable "nanogenerator," a tiny computer chip that gets its power from body movements like snapping fingers or - eventually - your heartbeat. » 3/29/11 3:15pm 3/29/11 3:15pm

Nanotechnology: what is reality and what is magic?

Arthur C. Clarke famously said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." I always keep this quote in my mind when reading science fiction and try to spot where things become indistinguishable from magic. They always do. One of the most popular ways in modern sci-fi to get away with… » 2/13/11 6:00pm 2/13/11 6:00pm

Buckyballs and acid make the first 3D self-assembling nanostructure

The key to nanotechnology may not be making tiny structures out of individual molecules. It may be forcing those structures to build themselves. And scientists appear to have found a way to make that happen. » 11/29/10 8:30am 11/29/10 8:30am

One of the best comic books of the 1990s is coming back at last

The mid-1990s was the heyday of Vertigo Comics, DC's trippy, grown-up imprint. But one of the best Vertigo-esque comics appeared instead, almost unnoticed, on DC's Milestone Imprint. And after 14 years, the unsettling supernatural nanotechnology tale XOMBI is coming back. » 10/15/10 7:30am 10/15/10 7:30am

Nanobubbles: A New Weapon In The Fight Against Cancer?

Scientists may be able to explode individual cancer cells — by implanting nanoparticles into the cells and then hitting them with lasers to create "nanobubbles," which can grow until they burst the cells. » 2/09/10 3:56pm 2/09/10 3:56pm

Lucy Liu, Nanotech Assassin!

Lucy Liu kills about 500 people by spin-kicking, stabbing, machine-gunning and rocket-launchering in Ballistick: Ecks Vs. Sever. But the movie's most ridiculous kill is when she gives the villain a heart attack with cartoon nanobots. » 2/01/10 5:30pm 2/01/10 5:30pm