• Glowing bacteria detect buried landmines, unexploded ordnance

    About half a million people around the world are suffering from mine-inflicted injuries, and each year an additional 15 to 20 thousand more people are injured or killed by these devices. More than 100 million such devices are still buried in over seventy countries. The major technical challenge in clearing minefields is detecting the mines. Researchers have developed a potential answer to this urgent need: a novel, functional system combining lasers and bacteria to remotely map the location of buried landmines and unexploded ordnance.

  • Hack-resistant hardware

    Military and civilian technological systems, from fighter aircraft to networked household appliances, are becoming ever more dependent upon software systems inherently vulnerable to electronic intruders. DARPA has advanced a number of technologies to make software more secure. But what if hardware could be recruited to do a bigger share of that work? That’s the question DARPA’s new System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program aims to answer.

  • Super sponge effectively removes toxins from lakes

    Mercury is very toxic and can cause long-term health damage, but removing it from water is challenging. To address this growing problem. Researchers have created a sponge that can absorb mercury from a polluted water source within seconds. The sponge converts the contamination into a non-toxic complex so it can be disposed of in a landfill after use. The sponge also kills bacterial and fungal microbes.

  • Reusable sponge soaks up oil, revolutionizes oil spill, diesel cleanup

    When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered a new wrinkle: the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or burned. Some of it was forming a plume and drifting through the ocean under the surface. Now, scientists have invented a new foam, called Oleo Sponge, that addresses this problem. The material not only easily absorbs oil from water, but is also reusable and can pull dispersed oil from the entire water column—not just the surface.

  • Selecting to right first responder technology

    With the abundance of tools and technologies available to assist first responders, it is important to address questions such as: How do the tools perform in real-world response situations? Can they withstand uncertain environments? Are they easy to use when a responder is wearing protective gear? How heavy is the technology? Will it weigh down, or fit within the gear of a responder who is already wearing their full kit? To help first responders answer these questions so they can make informed decisions about technology acquisition, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) hosted a 3-day Urban Operational Experimentation (OpEx).

  • Study: NIH funding generates large numbers of private-sector patents

    Research grants issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) contribute to a significant number of private-sector patents in biomedicine, according to a new study. The study, published in the journal Science, examines twenty-seven years of data and finds that 31 percent of NIH grants, which are publicly funded, produce articles that are later cited by patents in the biomedical sector. “The impact on the private sector is a lot more important in magnitude than what we might have thought before,” says one of the researchers.

  • Aging U.S. scientific workforce raises concerns

    The science and engineering workforce in the United States is aging rapidly, according to a new study. And it is only going to get older in coming years. Economists found that the average age of employed scientists increased from 45.1 to 48.6 between 1993 and 2010, faster than the workforce as a whole. The study estimates that, all else being the same, the average age of U.S. scientists will increase by another 2.3 years in the near future.

  • MIT president calls for investing in basic science to maintain U.S. edge

    President Trump’s proposed budget slashes at least $7 billion in funding for science programs. That course of action would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage, argues L. Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Since World War II, the U.S. government has been the world’s biggest supporter of potentially transformative science — which is a key reason why the country continues to have the highest share of knowledge- and technology-intensive industries in the world, amounting to nearly 40 percent of the economy,” Reif writes in the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs.

  • NSF-funded research continues to support national security

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) is usually associated with supporting scientists who go on to win Nobel Prizes, leading exploration of the planet’s polar regions, and enabling discoveries about the universe, from the subatomic world to distant galaxies. But the foundation also has ties to national defense that go back to its beginnings, as a product of the U.S. government working to enhance security during and after the Second World War. The National Science Foundation Act of 1950 called for the creation of an agency to “promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” NSF’s founder, Vannevar Bush, said: “It has become clear beyond all doubt that scientific research is absolutely essential to national security.”

  • Nextgen robots for nuclear clean-up

    The cost of cleaning up the U.K.’s existing nuclear facilities has been estimated to be between £95 billion, and £219 billion over the next 120 years or so. The harsh conditions within these facilities means that human access is highly restricted and much of the work will need to be completed by robots. Present robotics technology is simply not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required. A research a consortium to build the next generation of robots that are more durable and perceptive for use in nuclear sites.

  • Detecting weapons-grade uranium from afar

    It is hard enough to identify nuclear materials when you can directly scan a suspicious suitcase or shipping container. But if you cannot get close? A technique for detecting enriched uranium with lasers could help regulators sniff out illicit nuclear activities from as far as a couple of miles away.

  • Reusable sponge could revolutionize oil spill and diesel cleanup

    When the Deepwater Horizon drilling pipe blew out seven years ago, beginning the worst oil spill in U.S. history, those in charge of the recovery discovered a new wrinkle: the millions of gallons of oil bubbling from the sea floor weren’t all collecting on the surface where it could be skimmed or burned. Some of it was forming a plume and drifting through the ocean under the surface. Now, scientists have invented a new foam, called Oleo Sponge, that addresses this problem.

  • Purifying wastewater with sunlight

    Chemists have found a way to use sunlight to purify wastewater rapidly and cheaply, and to make self-cleaning materials for buildings. The technology uses modified titanium dioxide as a photocatalyst that works with sunlight, unlike other leading water purification products on the market that need ultraviolet light.

  • Up to $600 billion in American intellectual property stolen annually

    The theft of American intellectual property (IP) remains a systemic threat to the U.S. economy, inflicting an estimated cost that exceeds $225 billion in counterfeit goods, pirated software, and theft of trade secrets and could be as high as $600 billion annually. China remains the world’s principal IP infringer, driven by an industrial policy that continues to prioritize both acquisition and development of science and technology.

  • Lasers to keep poultry safe from avian bird flu

    Last week, the British government has extended the avian influenza (bird flu) prevention zone to April 2017. Also, the requirements of the zone have changed, meaning keepers may let their birds out provided that they have enhanced biosecurity measures in place. One such biosecurity measure is an automated laser which repels unwanted – and potentially infected — birds without causing harm to the wild birds, the chickens being protected, and the surrounding environment.