Watch: Slug-Inspired Medical Bio-Glues, Battery-Free Cellphones and Etch A Sketch Circuits

01 August 2017

Slugs Inspire Next-Gen Bio-Glue

If you’ve ever tried sticking a Band Aid on wet skin, you’ll understand the need for a bio-glue that sticks to all kinds of biological surfaces. Engineers from Harvard University’s Wyss Lab have developed just that—a super-strong, non-toxic adhesive that sticks to human tissue, even when it’s wet. The material’s strength can be compared to that of the body’s own resilient cartilage. The adhesive was inspired by the double-layered hydrogel glue slugs produce.

Etch A Sketch Circuits

Imagine developing and modifying circuits with the ease of drawing on an Etch A Sketch. It’s now a possibility. Physicists from Washington State University have found a way to write an electrical circuit into a crystal, opening up the possibility of transparent, 3D electronics that can be erased and reconstructed just like on an Etch A Sketch. While crystals do not typically conduct electricity, the particular crystal the researchers used gets heated under specific conductions creating a phenomenon called “persistent photoconductivity.” There are a handful of applications where it would be pretty cool to have a circuit on a window, where it’s actually an invisible form of electronics. We’re now one step closer.

Battery-Free Cellphones are the Future

Another breakthrough out of the University of Washington comes in the form of a battery-free cellphone. The phone consumes only a few micro-watts of power, can sense speech, actuate the earphones and switch between uplink and downlink communications, all in real time. The system optimizes transmission and reception of speech while harvesting power at the same time to allow it to operate continuously. The proof-of-concept device could impact everyday devices in the future. The team envisions cell towers and Wi-Fi routers of the future that would come equipped with the technology. Next steps include improving operating range, encrypting conversations and streaming video over battery-free cellphones using low-power e-ink screens.

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