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Mashable

Researchers at MIT developed SoFi, a soft robotic fish designed to study underwater organisms and their environments, reports Mashable. “The soft robotic fish serves a nice purpose for hopefully minimizing impact on the environments that we’re studying and also helps us study different types of behaviors and also study the actual mechanics of these organisms as well,” says graduate student Levi Cai.

WCVB

Researchers at MIT have “created a stretchable color-changing material based on how nature often reflects color,” reports Nicole Estaphan for WCVB’s Chronicle. “As you stretch it, these embedded nanostructures change size,” explains graduate student Benjamin Miller, “which in turn changes the color of light that comes back. We are making an elastic, squishy version of the sort of thing you find in nature.”

Scientific American

Researchers at MIT have developed a silk-based biodegradable substitute for microplastics, reports Ysabelle Kempe for Scientific American. “This type of research is urgent for companies that face tightening regulations on deliberate use of microplastics,” writes Kempe.

The Washington Post

Washington Post reporter Pranshu Verma spotlights Prof. Kevin Chen’s research creating flying lightning bug robots that could be used to pollinate crops in vertical farms or even in space. “If we think about the insect functions that animals can’t do,” says Chen, “that inspires us to think about what smaller, insect-scale robots can do, that larger robots cannot.”

Fast Company

Fast Company reporter Elissaveta Brandon writes that a team of scientists from MIT and elsewhere have developed an amphibious artificial vision system inspired by the fiddler crab’s compound eye, which has an almost 360-degree field of view and can see on both land and water. “When translated into a machine,” writes Brandon, “this could mean more versatile cameras for self-driving cars and drones, both of which can become untrustworthy in the rain.”

Salon

Researchers at MIT have developed a silk-based substitute that could be used to replace microplastics, reports Matthew Rozsa for Salon. Prof. Benedetto Marelli and postodoctoral associate Muchun Liu explain that they have demonstrated that “silk protein can be used as a technological material in agricultural products and cosmetics – it can protect and control the release of active ingredients, and it can be biodegraded.”

TechCrunch

TechCrunch reporter Brian Heater spotlights multiple MIT research projects, including MIT Space Exploration Initiative’s TESSERAE, CSAIL’s Robocraft and the recent development of miniature flying robotic drones.

WHDH 7

MIT engineers have created insect-sized robots that can emit light when they fly and could eventually be used to aid search-and-rescue missions, reports WHDH. “Our idea is, if we can send in hundreds or thousands of those tiny flying robots then once they find that survivor, they will shine out light and pass information back and signal people on the outside saying ‘we found someone who’s trapped,'” explains Prof. Kevin Chen.

Popular Science

MIT engineers have developed tiny flying robots that can light up, reports Colleen Hagerty for Popular Science. “If you think of large-scale robots, they can communicate using a lot of different tools—Bluetooth, wireless, all those sorts of things,” says Prof. Kevin Chen. “But for a tiny, power-constrained robot, we are forced to think about new modes of communication.”

Science

Using cellulose nanocrystals found in trees, MIT researchers have developed a new material that is both tough and strong, reports Kathryn Hulick for Science News for Students. Abhinav Rao PhD ’18 explains that he was inspired to create the material “by looking at what nature has to teach us.”

Smithsonian Magazine

MIT scientists have discovered a way to watch and record the development of butterfly scales from the inside of a butterfly’s chrysalis, reports Elizabeth Gamillo for Smithsonian Magazine. “The team plans on further exploring the structure of butterfly wings and the reasoning behind the ridged design,” writes Gamillo.

CNET

CNET science writer Monisha Ravisetti spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the scale formation of butterfly wings during its transformation. “Understanding their schematics could ultimately benefit constructed materials like windows and thermal systems and even bring an ethereal quality to textiles,” writes Ravisetti.

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Hannah Seo writes that MIT researchers have developed a way to watch and record how the microscopic scales on a butterfly’s wings grow and tile themselves as the butterfly develops inside its chrysalis. The researchers hope to “use butterfly scales as inspiration for the design of new materials,” writes Seo. “Butterfly scales have other fascinating properties such as water repellency and the ability to regulate temperature.”

Ars Technica

ARS Technica senior writer Jennifer Ouellette spotlights MIT researchers who have successfully recorded the structural growth of butterfly wings inside its chrysalis for the first time. “A lot of these stages were understood and seen before, but now we can stitch them all together and watch continuously what’s happening, which gives us more information on the detail of how scales form,” says research assistant Anthony McDougal. 

Wired

Wired reporter Max G. Levy writes that MIT researchers have developed a glue inspired by barnacles that can adhere to wet tissues and stop bleeding in seconds. “For us, everything is a machine, even a human body,” says research scientist Hyunwoo Yuk. “They are malfunctioning and breaking, and we have some mechanical way to solve it.”