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Center for Bits and Atoms

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NewsNation

Researchers at MIT and elsewhere have developed a filter from used brewery yeast capable of removing lead and other metals from water, reports Rich Johnson for NewsNation. “Through a process called biosorption, the yeast can bind to lead, as well as the metals commonly used in electronic components,” explains Johnson. “That, say the researchers, could be a game-changer when recycling those metals. But the more valuable impact may be the ability to filter drinking water, starting with home faucets, and eventually scaling up to serve municipal water systems.” 

Popular Science

MIT researchers have developed a 3D printer that can use “unrecognizable printing materials in real-time to create more eco-friendly products,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. The engineers “detailed a newly designed mathematical function that allows off-the-shelf 3D-printer’s extruder software to use multiple materials—including bio-based polymers, plant-derived resins, or other recyclables,” explains Paul.

Popular Science

Using techniques inspired by kirigami, a Japanese paper-cutting technique, MIT researchers have developed a “a novel method to manufacture plate lattices – high performance materials useful in automotive and aerospace designs,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “The kirigami-augmented plate lattices withstood three times as much force as standard aluminum corrugation designs,” writes Paul. “Such variations show immense promise for lightweight, shock-absorbing sections needed within cars, planes, and spacecraft." 

Popular Science

Researchers at MIT have developed underwater robotic structures that can contort into different shapes, reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “This ability is key in submersible robots, since it allows them to move through the water much more efficiently, as countless varieties of fish do in rivers, lakes, and the open ocean,” explains Paul.

TechCrunch

MIT researchers have developed a new system for creating deformable underwater robots that can be used to build robots of varying shapes and sizes with both hard and soft elements, reports Brian Heater for TechCrunch. “The robot is largely hollow, built of modular voxels that can be assembled to create systems that are rigid in certain directions and soft in others,” Heater explains.

BBC

Prof. Neil Gershenfeld and graduate student Amira Abdel-Rahma speak with BBC Digital Planet reporters Gareth Mitchell and Ghislaine Boddington about their research developing tiny robots that can assemble themselves into structures, vehicles or even larger robots. “The main objective of this research is the robot can have a few choices,” says Abdel-Rahma. “First it can build the structure, the second choice is it could self-replicate or clone… the third, it could evolve and build a bigger robot.”

Fox News

Paul Best reports for Fox Business on how MIT researchers are developing tiny robots with built-in intelligence that can allow them to assemble into structures, vehicles or even larger robots.

Popular Science

Researchers from MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms are developing fully autonomous robots that can work together to assemble “almost any conceivable structure or product, including bigger iterations of themselves as their projects scale larger,” reports Andrew Paul for Popular Science. “Potential uses include building structures to aid in protection against sea level rise and coastal erosion,” writes Paul, “as well as 3D printed houses and space habitat construction.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal reporter Daniela Hernandez spotlights the work of Media Lab Research Scientist Andreas Mershin in developing sensors that can detect and analyze odors. Mershin “is focusing on medical applications of olfaction technology. Inspired by dogs that have demonstrated an ability to sniff out malignancies in humans, he’s working on an artificial-intelligence odor-detection system to detect prostate cancer.”

Forbes

Forbes contributor Jeff Kart writes that a new study by MIT researchers finds that yeast, an abundant waste product from breweries, can filter out even trace amounts of lead. The researchers demonstrated that in just five minutes “a single gram of the inactive, dried yeast cells can remove up to 12 milligrams of lead in aqueous solutions with initial lead concentrations below 1 part per million.”

TechCrunch

MIT startup Volta Labs is developing a new instrument that can automate the processes used to prepare genetic samples, reports Emma Betuel for TechCrunch. CEO and co-founder Udayan Umapathi ’17 is confident that with the right programming, the platform could allow “liquids to be manipulated in even more complex ways, like using magnetic fields to draw certain molecules out of samples for further analysis,” writes Betuel.

New York Times

An international team of scholars, including MIT researchers, has published a new study exploring the history and use of letterlocking, reports William J. Broad for The New York Times. The researchers note that they hope their work prompts “novel kinds of archival research, and allows even very well-known artefacts to be examined anew.”

NPR

Researchers from MIT and other institutions have successfully uncovered the letterlocking technique that Mary, Queen of Scots, used to seal her final letter, reports NPR’s Tien Le. The spiral lock requires more than 30 steps and involves cutting out a ‘lock,’ often resembling a dagger or sword, out of the blank margin of the letter,” writes Le. “The lock acts as a needle and is sewn through the letter after folding it.”

The Guardian

An international team of researchers has found that Mary, Queen of Scots, used a complicated paper-folding technique called letterlocking to conceal the contents of her final letter, reports Alison Flood for The Guardian. MIT Libraries Conservator Jana Dambrogio explains that working on Mary's last letter “and figuring out its unique spiral lock was thrilling as a researcher – and a real a-ha! moment in the study of letterlocking.”

Vox

Research scientist Andreas Mershin speaks with Noam Hassenfeld of Vox about his work developing a new AI system that could be used to detect disease using smell.