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The Economist

Research scientist Ryan Hamerly and his team are working to harness “the low power consumption of hybrid optical devices for smart speakers, lightweight drones and even self-driving cars,” reports The Economist

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.”

Boston.com

MIT researchers have developed “a programmable wireless device that can control light orders of magnitude more quickly than commercial devices,” reports Susannah Sudborough for Boston.com. “The device, which is called a spatial light modulator (SLM), will have impactful practical uses beyond creating holograms,” writes Sudborough.

Science

Alexander Sludds, a graduate student in MIT’s Research Lab for Electronics, joins Megan Cantwell on the Science magazine podcast to discuss his team’s new method for processing data on edge devices, which are devices that connect two networks together.

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.”

Reuters

Researchers at MIT co-authored a study which found that two stars in a binary system 3,000 light years from Earth are orbiting each other so closely that one of the stars has burnt out, reports Will Dunham for Reuters. "Basically, they were bound together for 8 billion years in a binary orbit,” says postdoc Kevin Burdge, “And now, right before the second one could end its stellar life cycle and become a white dwarf in the way that stars normally do - by evolving into a type of star called a red giant - the leftover white dwarf remnant of the first star interrupted the end of the companion's lifecycle and started slowly consuming it."

Popular Mechanics

MIT researchers have developed firefly-inspired robots that can emit light while flying, reports Popular Mechanics. “The robots may be able to converse with one another because of this electroluminescence and, for instance, a robot that finds survivors while on a search-and-rescue mission, within a fallen building, could use lights to alert others and request assistance.”

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.”

Popular Science

Popular Science reporter Charlotte Hu writes that MIT researchers have developed an “electronics chip design that allows for sensors and processors to be easily swapped out or added on, like bricks of LEGO.” Hu writes that “a reconfigurable, modular chip like this could be useful for upgrading smartphones, computers, or other devices without producing as much waste.”

The Daily Beast

MIT engineers have developed a wireless, reconfigurable chip that could easily be snapped onto existing devices like a LEGO brick, reports Miriam Fauzia for The Daily Beast. “Having the flexibility to customize and upgrade an old device is a modder’s dream,” writes Fauzia, “but the chip may also help reduce electronic waste, which is estimated at 50 million tons a year worldwide.”

The Washington Post

Astronomers and researchers from MIT and 80 other institutions have captured the first image of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy reports Joel Achenbach for The Washington Post.  “The pandemic slowed us down but it couldn’t stop us,” said research scientist Vincent Fish of the pandemic’s impact on the Event Horizon Telescope team’s work.

NBC News

Researchers from MIT and 80 other institutions have captured the first image of the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, reports Denise Chow for NBC News. The image provides “the first direct visual evidence of ‘the gentle giant’ that lies at the center of our galaxy,” writes Chow.

CBS Boston

Researchers from MIT contributed to the first image of a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, reports CBS Boston. “Black holes don’t emit light, but the image shows the shadow of the black hole surrounded by a bright ring of light, which is bent by the gravity of the black hole,” reports CBS.