Articles on Innovation and Invention

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Artist rendition of the National Western Center, a net-zero campus under construction in Denver to house multiple activities. City and County of Denver | Mayor’s Office of the National Western Center

Buildings consume lots of energy – here’s how to design whole communities that give back as much as they take

Net zero energy buildings produce at least as much energy as they use. Designing whole net zero campuses and communities takes the energy and climate benefits to a higher level.
Mating laser-driven atomic clocks like the one shown here with microwaves promises more accurate electronic devices. N. Phillips/NIST

Pairing lasers with microwaves makes mind-bogglingly accurate electronic clocks – a potential boon for GPS, cell phones and radar

Researchers have made some of the most accurate clocks imaginable in recent years, but the trick is harnessing those clocks to electronics. Using lasers to tune microwaves bridges the gap.
What if you could test yourself for coronavirus with a test in the comfort of your home? John Paraskevas/Newsday RM vis Getty Images

Rapid home-based coronavirus tests are coming together in research labs — we’re working on analyzing spit using advanced CRISPR gene editing techniques

Testing for coronavirus has been a fiasco in the US. But now companies are developing super fast tests, including ones that might eventually be as simple as at home pregnancy tests.
The old idea of running with springs on your feet gets a high-tech makeover. Krisztina Braun

Robo-boot concept promises 50% faster running

A high-tech twist on an old idea – running on springs – could give human-powered movement its biggest boost in more than a century.
Artificial intelligence can do what humans can’t – connect the dots across the majority of coronavirus research. baranozdemir/E+ via Getty Images

AI tool searches thousands of scientific papers to guide researchers to coronavirus insights

The scientific community is churning out vast quantities of research about the coronavirus pandemic – far too much for researchers to absorb. An AI system aims to do the heavy lifting for them.
A conceptual schematic of a laser-based method for identifying the coronavirus quickly. Penn State University

Lasers could speed up coronavirus diagnostics

A team of physicists, virologists and computer scientists are seeking to develop a coronavirus diagnostic tool that could deliver rapid results.
Tiny fuel cells convert sweat to electricity that can power sensors in electronic skin. Yu et al., Sci. Robot. 5, eaaz7946 (2020)

A smart second skin gets all the power it needs from sweat

Lightweight, flexible materials can be used to make health-monitoring wearable devices, but powering the devices is a challenge. Using fuel cells instead of batteries could make the difference.
A nurse (left) operates a robot used to interact remotely with coronavirus patients while a physician looks on. MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images

Robots are playing many roles in the coronavirus crisis – and offering lessons for future disasters

Robots are helping health care workers and public safety officials more safely and quickly treat coronavirus patients and contain the pandemic. They have something in common: They're tried and tested.

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