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Method to create colloidal diamonds developed

The colloidal diamond has been a dream of researchers since the 1990s. These structures — stable, self-assembled formations of miniscule materials — have the potential to make light waves as useful as electrons in computing, and hold promise for a host of other applications. But while the idea of colloidal diamonds was developed decades ago, no one was able to reliably produce the structures. Until now.

Researchers led by David Pine, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and professor of physics at NYU, have devised a new process for the reliable self-assembly of colloids in a diamond formation that could lead to cheap, scalable fabrication of such structures. The discovery, detailed in “Colloidal Diamond,” appearing in the September 24 issue of Nature, could open the door to highly efficient optical circuits leading to advances in optical computers and lasers, light filters that are more reliable and cheaper to produce than ever before, and much more.

Pine and his colleagues, including lead author Mingxin He, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Physics at NYU, and corresponding author Stefano Sacanna, associate professor of chemistry at NYU, have been studying colloids and the possible ways they can be structured for decades. These materials, made up of spheres hundreds of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, can be arranged in different crystalline shapes depending on how the spheres are linked to one another. Each colloid attaches to another using strands of DNA glued to surfaces of the colloids that function as a kind of molecular Velcro. When colloids collide with each other in a liquid bath, the DNA snags and the colloids are linked. Depending on where the DNA is attached to the colloid, they can spontaneously create complex structures.

This process has been used to create strings of colloids and even colloids in a cubic formation. But these structures did not produce the Holy Grail of photonics — a band gap for visible light. Much as a semiconductor filters out electrons in a circuit, a band gap filters out certain wavelengths of light. Filtering light in this way can be reliably achieved by colloids if they are arranged in a diamond formation, a process deemed too difficult and expensive to perform at commercial scale.

“There’s been a great desire among engineers to make a diamond structure,” said Pine. “Most researchers had given up on it, to tell you the truth — we may be the only group in the world who is still working on this. So I think the publication of the paper will come as something of a surprise to the community.”

The investigators, including Etienne Ducrot, a former postdoc at NYU Tandon, now at the Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal — CNRS, Pessac, France; and Gi-Ra Yi of Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, South Korea, discovered that they could use a steric interlock mechanism that would spontaneously produce the necessary staggered bonds to make this structure possible. When these pyramidal colloids approached each other, they linked in the necessary orientation to generate a diamond formation. Rather than going through the painstaking and expensive process of building these structures through the use of nanomachines, this mechanism allows the colloids to structure themselves without the need for outside interference. Furthermore, the diamond structures are stable, even when the liquid they form in is removed.

The discovery was made because He, a graduate student at NYU Tandon at the time, noticed an unusual feature of the colloids he was synthesizing in a pyramidal formation. He and his colleagues drew out all of the ways these structures could be linked. When they happened upon a particular interlinked structure, they realized they had hit upon the proper method. “After creating all these models, we saw immediately that we had created diamonds,” said He.

“Dr. Pine’s long-sought demonstration of the first self-assembled colloidal diamond lattices will unlock new research and development opportunities for important Department of Defense technologies which could benefit from 3D photonic crystals,” said Dr. Evan Runnerstrom, program manager, Army Research Office (ARO), an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

He explained that potential future advances include applications for high-efficiency lasers with reduced weight and energy demands for precision sensors and directed energy systems; and precise control of light for 3D integrated photonic circuits or optical signature management.

“I am thrilled with this result because it wonderfully illustrates a central goal of ARO’s Materials Design Program — to support high-risk, high-reward research that unlocks bottom-up routes to creating extraordinary materials that were previously impossible to make.”

The team, which also includes John Gales, a graduate student in physics at NYU, and Zhe Gong, a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania, formerly a graduate student in chemistry at NYU, are now focused on seeing how these colloidal diamonds can be used in a practical setting. They are already creating materials using their new structures that can filter out optical wavelengths in order to prove their usefulness in future technologies.

This research was supported by the US Army Research Office under award number W911NF-17-1-0328. Additional funding was provided by the National Science Foundation under award number DMR-1610788.

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IEEE Spectrum

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ScienceDaily

Proof-of-concept for a new ultra-low-cost hearing aid for age-related hearing loss

A new ultra-affordable and accessible hearing aid made from open-source electronics could soon be available worldwide, according to a study published September 23, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Soham Sinha from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia, US, and colleagues.

Hearing aids are a major tool for individuals with hearing loss — especially age-related hearing loss, which currently affects approximately 226 million adults over the age of 65 worldwide (and is projected to affect 900 million by 2050). However, hearing aid adoption remains relatively low among adults: fewer than 3 percent of adults in low-and-middle-income countries (LMIC) use hearing aids, versus around 20 percent of adults in non-LMIC countries. Though various reasons contribute to this poor uptake, cost is a significant factor. While the price to manufacture hearing aids has decreased over time, the retail price for a pair of hearing aids ranges from $1,000 to $8,000 USD, with the average pair costing $4,700 in the US.

In this study, Sinha and colleagues used mass-produced open source electronics to engineer a durable, affordable, self-serviceable hearing aid that meets most of the targets set by the WHO for mild-to-moderate age-related hearing loss: “LoCHAid.” When mass-produced at 10,000 units including earphones, a coin-cell battery, and holder, LoCHAid costs $0.98 (this doesn’t include labor costs) and is designed to be marketed over-the-counter — or even as a DIY project. LoCHAid doesn’t require specialty parts, and repairs can be completed by a minimally skilled user with access to a soldering iron and solder. Though it’s not currently programmable, simulations show that the LoCHAid is well fitted to a range of age-related hearing loss profiles for men and women between the ages of 60-79 years.

Potential limitations include the device lifetime (currently 1.5 years), as well as its relatively large size, which may not appeal to all consumers. The authors are currently working on a smaller prototype, but this costs more money to produce and would likely require third-party assemblers.

Despite these limitations, LoCHAid shows great potential to benefit individuals impacted by age-related hearing loss, especially those consumers challenged by the affordability and accessibility of current hearing aids available on the market.

The authors add: “In this work, we describe the development and rigorous audiological testing a minimal, 3d-printed and ultra low-cost ($1 in parts) hearing aid. The vision of the device is to make hearing aid accessible and affordable for elderly individuals with age related hearing loss in low- and middle-income countries.”

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ScienceDaily

Flood risks: More accurate data due to COVID-19

Emerging use of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) makes it possible to continuously measure shallow changes in elevation of Earth surface. A study by the University of Bonn now shows that the quality of these measurements may have improved significantly during the pandemic, at least at some stations. The results show which factors should be considered in the future when installing GPS antennas. More precise geodetic data are important for assessing flood risks and for improving earthquake early warning systems. The journal Geophysical Research Letters now reports on this.

A number of countries went into politically decreed late hibernation at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of those affected by the lockdown suffered negative economic and social consequences. Geodesy, a branch of the Earth Science to study Earth’s gravity field and its shape, on the other hand, has benefited from the drastic reduction in human activity. At least that is what the study now published in the Geophysical Research Letters shows. The study, which was carried out by geodesists from the University of Bonn, investigated the location of a precise GNSS antenna in Boston (Massachusetts) as an example.

GNSS receivers can determine their positions to an accuracy of a few mm. They do this using the US GPS satellites and their Russian counterparts, GLONASS. For some years now, it has also been possible to measure the distance between the antenna and the ground surface using a new method. “This has recently allowed our research group to measure elevation changes in the uppermost of soil layers, without installing additional equipment,” explains Dr. Makan Karegar from the Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation at the University of Bonn. Researchers, for instance, can measure the wave-like propagation of an earthquake and the rise or fall of a coastal area.

The measuring method is based on the fact that the antenna does not only pick up the direct satellite signal. Part of the signal is reflected by the nearby environment and objects and reaches the GNSS antenna with some delays. This reflected part therefore travels a longer path to the antenna. When superimposed on the directly received signal, it forms certain patterns called interference. The can be used to calculate the distance between the antenna and the ground surface which can change over time. To calculate the risk of flooding in low-elevation coastal areas, it is important to know this change — and thus the subsidence of the Earth surface — precisely.

This method works well if the surrounding ground is flat, like the surface of a mirror. “But many GNSS receivers are mounted on buildings in cities or in industrial zones,” explains Prof. Dr. Jürgen Kusche. “And they are often surrounded by large parking lots — as is the case with the antenna we investigated in Boston.”

Cars cause disturbance

In their analysis, the researchers were able to show that parked cars significantly reduce the quality of the elevation data: Parked vehicles scatter the satellite signal and cause it to be reflected several times before it reaches the antenna, like a cracked mirror. This not only reduces the signal intensity, but also the information that can be extracted from it: It’s “noisy.” In addition, because the “pattern” of parked cars changes from day to day, these data can not be easily corrected.

“Before the pandemic, measurements of antenna height had an average accuracy of about four centimeters due to the higher level of noise,” says Karegar. “During the lockdown, however, there were almost no vehicles parked in the vicinity of the antenna; this improved the accuracy to about two centimeters.” A decisive leap: The more reliable the values, the smaller the elevation fluctuations that can be detected in the upper soil layers.

In the past, GNSS stations were preferably installed in sparsely populated regions, but this has changed in recent years. “Precise GNSS sensors are often installed in urban areas to support positioning services for engineering and surveying applications, and eventually for scientific applications such as deformation studies and natural hazards assessment,” says Karegar. “Our study recommends that we should try to avoid installation of GNNS sensors next to parking lots.”

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ProgrammableWeb

apilayer’s mediastack Offers Real-Time News Data via API

apilayer, a provider of APIs and SaaS applications for developers, has launched a new product called mediastackTrack this API that provides API access to news data that can be integrated into live news feeds, data analytics platforms, and trend analysis applications. The platform aims for affordability and includes a free option, as well as paid options that provide real-time data access and increased bandwidth. 

mediastack sources news content every minute from an aggregate of over 7,500 news sources and blogs across the world. The API then provides this data to developers via JSON, with the documentation noting that “The API comes with a single news HTTP GET endpoint along with a series of parameters and options you can use to narrow down your news data results. Among other options, you can filter by dates and timeframes, countries, languages, sources, and search keywords.”

ProgrammableWeb reached out to Paul Zehetmayr, apilayer’s CEO, to discuss the motivation for the company to expand mediastack, a resource that began as an internal sports news aggregation feed, into a standalone product. Zehetmayr noted that:

“Essentially, we have felt that the market lacks an easy-to-use and affordable solution for real-time news data. We wanted to build a simple and JSON-based REST API that delivers news data from a large number of sources, but all standardized, lightweight, and without too much fuss. Integrations take only a few minutes and you’re good to go. This will be interesting to anybody who #1 wants to display live news feeds on websites or apps, #2 is looking to analyze news articles both live and historically, etc.”

In regards to affordability, the API launches with the inclusion of a free option that is limited to 500 calls per month, and the news feed is delayed by 15 minutes. Beyond that, the company is providing paid tiers that range from $24.99 to $249.99 per month and up to 250,000 calls per month. Additionally, all paid tiers include real-time access to news data and HTTPS encryption, access to historical data, and technical support.

The onboarding process for developers seems aimed at simplicity with mediastack providing developers with a 3-step quick-start guide. Additionally, the documentation includes code samples for PHP, Python, Nodejs, jQuery, Go, and Ruby. 

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">KevinSundstrom</a>

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ProgrammableWeb

Amazon Adds Contact Flow APIs to Amazon Connect

Eric Carter Eric the founder of Dartsand and Corporate Counsel for a power tool manufacturer. He is a frequent contributor to technology media outlets and also serves as primary legal counsel for multiple startups in the Real Estate, Virtual Assistant, and Software Development Industries. Follow me on Google+

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">ecarter</a>

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ProgrammableWeb

Daily API RoundUp: MX Technologies, Cyanite, StackAPI, reSmush, Reconmap

Every day, the ProgrammableWeb team is busy, updating its three primary directories for APIs, clients (language-specific libraries or SDKs for consuming or providing APIs), and source code samples. If you have new APIs, clients, or source code examples to add to ProgrammableWeb’s directories, we offer forms (APIs, Clients, Source Code) for submitting them to our API research team. If there’s a listing in one of our directories that you’d like to claim as the owner, please contact us at [email protected].

Sixteen APIs have been added to the ProgrammableWeb directory in categories including Climate, Payments, and Database. Highlights include an API for searching music libraries by mood, genre, or BPM, and an API for compressing and optimizing images. Here’s a rundown of the latest additions.

APIs

MX Technologies is a financial data service for banks, credit unions and fintech innovators to help customers understand and manage finances. The MX Platform APITrack this API aggregates and enhances financial data for tens of thousands of financial institutions. It connects customers to MX financial accounts and provides AI-driven predictive recommendations for customers about finances. Other MX APIs are available in the Financial category of ProgrammableWeb as well.

Cyanite.ai provides artificial music intelligence for effective music search. Cyanite.ai GraphQL APITrack this API enables users to search through music data via GraphQL methods. Song data is first analyzed and classified with tags such as mood, genre, beats per minute, key, voice, energy, all searchable via this API, which can be easily integrated into any existing catalog platform. This API is filed under Music.

Cyanite API enalbes more effective music search. Screenshot: Cyanite

StackAPI is an online NoSQL database backend for web and serverless applications. The StackAPITrack this API enables API hosting for a user’s projects. StackAPI can be used to read, push, modify, and remove data from StackAPI databases. StackAPI db have a unique URL as a REST endpoint with client applications that communicate via URL and JSON objects. This API is listed in the Database category.

Contacts+ is a contact management application. The Contacts+ APITrack this API retrieves JSON data to manage contacts for individuals, teams, & small businesses. This API is listed under Contacts in the ProgrammableWeb directory.

Thunderhead is a cloud-based customer engagement platform designed to discover insights across every interaction. The Thunderhead ONE APITrack this API allows developers to manage, request and delete customer data. Thunderhead features omni-channel listening, identity and recognition capabilities, adaptive customer profiles, and customer journey analytics. This API is listed under the Engagement category.

reSmush.it APITrack this API is a web service that compresses images and returns data about the image compression. Users can specify optimization level and get returned data such as source and optimized picture URLs, original and optimized file sizes, percentage of gain, error details, and more. This is a free service. It is listed in the Images category.

Unofficial CNBC APITrack this API enables user to query for business news and live market data that appears on the CNBC website. This API is not officially associated with CNBC or NBCUniversal. This API is listed under Data Mining.

Thuasne provides a range of products for athletes for the prevention of injuries. The Thuasne Orders APITrack this API has been designed to enable Thuasne Customers to send their orders for injury support products. The API makes it possible to have an acknowledgement of the order. Retrieve order data regarding customer number, email, items ordered, delivery date & address, and more. Find it in the Ordering category.

Reconmap is an open source security tool for information sececurity professionals that allows users to plan, execute and document penetration test and reconnaissance projects for multiple targets and clients. The Reconmap APITrack this API allows you to manipulate all data that is available through the Reconmap Web and Mobile applications. Examples of such data are: vulnerabilities, tasks, projects, reports, users, stats and more. It is listed in the Security category.

Rindap helps companies to increase their efficiency by offering developers a low-code platform with RESTful API to automate business processes based on the requirements set by the management. The Rindap APITrack this API enables users to connect with the Rindap business process automation platform. Methods are available to manage work spaces, workers, tasks, task queues, workflows, reservations and more. This API is listed in the Business category.

SeerBit APITrack this API enables developers to integrate secure payment flows with business oriented applications. This API is used to accept payments, define payment methods, and create order objects. The API features Token-based authentication. SeerBit is PCI-DSS Level 1 compliant. The API is listed in the Payments category.

GlobalWarming.org provides current data about the climate via graphs and APIs. We have added several APIs from GlobalWarming.org to the Climate category which are listed below.

Earth arctic sea ice extent APITrack this API rovides the average monthly Arctic sea ice extent each September since 1979, derived from satellite observations.

Global temperature anomalies APITrack this API provides on a monthly basis, the global mean surface temperature anomaly from 1880.04 to present (in celsius).

Atmosphere nitrous oxide levels APITrack this API provides on a monthly basis, the amount of nitrous oxide in the atmosphere from 2001. Expressed as a mole fraction in dry air, parts per million (ppm).

Global warming methane atmosphere concentration APITrack this API provides on a monthly basis, the amount of methane in the atmosphere from 1983 to the present. Expressed as a mole fraction in dry air, parts per million (ppm).

Global Warming carbon dioxide (CO2) atmosphere concentration APITrack this API provides on a quasi-daily basis, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from 2010.01.01 to present. It is expressed as a mole fraction in dry air, parts per million (ppm).

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Author: <a href="https://www.programmableweb.com/user/%5Buid%5D">joyc</a>

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ScienceDaily

A cheaper, faster COVID-19 test

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet have developed a method for fast, cheap, yet accurate testing for COVID-19 infection. The method simplifies and frees the testing from expensive reaction steps, enabling upscaling of the diagnostics. This makes the method particularly attractive for places and situations with limited resources. It is equally interesting for repeated testing and for moving resources from expensive diagnostics to other parts of the care chain. The study is published in Nature Communications.

“We started working on the issue of developing a readily available testing method as soon as we saw the developments in Asia and southern Europe, and before the situation reached crisis point in Sweden,” says principal investigator Bjorn Reinius, research leader at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics at Karolinska Institutet. “Our method was effectively finished already by the end of April, and we then made all the data freely available online.”

The spread of the new coronavirus at the end of 2019 in China’s Wuhan region quickly escalated into a global pandemic. The relatively high transmission rate and the large number of asymptomatic infections led to a huge, world-wide need for fast, affordable and effective diagnostic tests that could be performed in clinical as well as non-clinical settings.

Established diagnostic tests for COVID-19 are based on the detection of viral RNA in patient samples, such as nasal and throat swabs, from which RNA molecules must then be extracted and purified. RNA purification constitutes a major bottleneck for the testing process, requiring a great deal of equipment and logistics as well as expensive chemical compounds.

Making the current methods simpler without markedly compromising their accuracy means that more and faster testing can be carried out, which would help to reduce the rate of transmission and facilitate earlier-stage care.

The cross-departmental research group at Karolinska Institutet has now developed methods that completely circumvent the RNA-extraction procedure, so that once the patient sample has been inactivated by means of heating, rendering the virus particles no longer infectious, it can pass straight to the diagnostic reaction that detects the presence of the virus.

According to the researchers, the most important keys to the method’s success are both the above virus inactivation procedure and a new formulation of the solution used to collect and transport the sample material taken from the patients.

“By replacing the collection buffer with simple and inexpensive buffer formulations, we can enable viral detection with high sensitivity directly from the original clinical sample, without any intermediate steps,” says Dr Reinius.

Institutions and research groups around the world have shown great interest in the method since a first version of the scientific article was published on the preprint server medRxiv. The article was read more than 15,000 times even before it was peer-reviewed by other researchers in the field and officially published in Nature Communications.

“Thanks to the low cost and the simplicity of the method, it becomes a particularly attractive option at sites and in situations with limited resources but a pressing need to test for COVID-19,” he says and adds: “I would certainly like to see that this test used in Sweden too, for example for cheap periodic testing of asymptomatic people to eliminate the spread of infection.”

The study was supported by grants from the Wallenberg Foundations via the SciLifeLab/KAW National COVID-19 Research Program and from the Ragnar Soderberg Foundation.

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Can AI and Automation Deliver a COVID-19 Antiviral While It Still Matters?







































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IEEE Spectrum

AI Tool to Diagnose Autism Could Give Concerned Parents a Fast Diagnosis