Hand-picked specialty crops ‘ripe’ for precision agriculture techniques

Timing the harvest and transport of highly perishable, hand-picked crops such as strawberries so these delicate products reach consumers at peak flavor and freshness is an intricate dance that partners Mother Nature with manual labor. However, many of the “smart farming” techniques and technologies that help growers harvest more of what they sow faster and … Read more

Agricultural robot may be “game changer” for crop growers, breeders

A semiautonomous robot may soon be roaming agricultural fields gathering and transmitting real-time data about the growth and development of crops, information that crop breeders – and eventually farmers – can use to identify the genetic traits in plants likely to produce the greatest yields. A team of scientists from the Carle R. Woese Institute … Read more

Study: Changing the environment within bone marrow alters blood cell development

Researchers at the University of Illinois report they can alter blood cell development through the use of biomaterials designed to mimic characteristics of the bone marrow. The findings, reported in the journal Science Advances, are a first step toward developing more effective bone marrow treatments for diseases like leukemia and lymphoma. Blood cells flow throughout … Read more

Tumor-targeting system uses cancer’s own mechanisms to betray its location

By hijacking a cancer cell’s own metabolism, researchers have found a way to tag and target elusive cancers with small-molecule sugars. This opens treatment pathways for cancers that are not responsive to conventional targeted antibodies, such as triple-negative breast cancer. Led by Jianjun Cheng, a Hans Thurnauer Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University … Read more

Luminescence switchable carbon nanodots follow intracellular trafficking and drug delivery

Tiny carbon dots have, for the first time, been applied to intracellular imaging and tracking of drug delivery involving various optical and vibrational spectroscopic-based techniques such as fluorescence, Raman, and hyperspectral imaging. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated, for the first time, that photo luminescent carbon nanoparticles can exhibit reversible switching … Read more

Now you can “build your own” bio-bot

I’ll bet you don’t have one of these at home. For the past several years, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been developing a class of walking “bio-bots” powered by muscle cells and controlled with electrical and optical pulses. Now, Rashid Bashir’s bioengineering research group is sharing the recipe for the current … Read more

Nano-level lubricant tuning improves material for electronic devices and surface coatings

Molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), which is ubiquitously used as a solid lubricant, has recently been shown to have a two-dimensional (2D) form that is similar to graphene. But, when thinned down to less than a nanometer thick, MoS2 demonstrates properties with great promise as a functional material for electronic devices and surface coatings. Researchers at the … Read more

Sensors embedded in sports equipment could provide real-time analytics to your smartphone

Sports analytics—tracking how fast the ball is moving or how players move across the field—is becoming a key component of how coaches make decisions and fans view games. Data for these analytics is currently sourced through cameras in stadiums and courts and is incredibly expensive to acquire. In an effort to make big data analytics … Read more

Dual-function nanorod LEDs could make multifunctional displays

Cellphones and other devices could soon be controlled with touchless gestures and charge themselves using ambient light, thanks to new LED arrays that can both emit and detect light. Made of tiny nanorods arrayed in a thin film, the LEDs could enable new interactive functions and multitasking devices. Researchers at the University of Illinois at … Read more

New brush polymers catalyze their own formation

Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Connecticut have developed new brush polymers – synthetic protein-like molecules that catalyze their own formation – that could provide insight into enzyme behavior and self-replicating systems. The polymers have potential applications in catalyst development, nanomaterials and medicine. As reported in the journal Nature Chemistry, the … Read more