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  • Eye on the prize: More comfortable contact lenses | Engineering
    understand this problem was both a personal and professional goal Bhamla isn t alone More than 30 million Americans currently wear contacts but roughly half of them switch back to glasses because of contact lens induced symptoms such as dry eye Bhamla and Fuller suspected that most of the discomfort arises from the break up of the tear film a wet coating on the surface of the eye during a process called dewetting They found that the lipid layer an oily coating on the surface of the tear film protects the eye s surface in two important ways through strength and liquid retention By mimicking the lipid layer in contact construction millions of people could avoid ocular discomfort In their most recent study Bhamla and his co authors outline two functions of the lipid layer One is to provide mechanical strength to the tear film Lipids in this layer have viscoelastic properties that allow them to stretch and support the watery layer beneath them Bhamla likens this protective lipid layer to a swimming pool cover You can t run on the open water but even a thin tarp can provide mechanical strength to support a person s weight You will sometimes see the guards at the Stanford Avery pool run over the surface of the covered pool Bhamla said The mechanical structure is very thin but it protects the whole bulk of the liquid If the swimming pool is shrunk to 1 100th the width of a hair it is a good representation of the tear film with a lipid layer replacing the tarp The lipid layer also prevents the tear film from evaporating away Eyes are roughly 95 degrees Fahrenheit 35 degrees Celsius which is usually warmer than the ambient air Like any liquid on a hot surface the eye is constantly heating its liquid coating and losing moisture to the air We recognized early on that the fluid mechanical responses of the lipid layer were just as important as the conventional view that its role was to control evaporative loss Fuller said And it s been gratifying to realize that the combined role of these two forces is now accepted The key to producing comfortable contact lenses then involves designing lenses that don t destabilize the tear film Manufacturers recognize the importance of protecting the eye s natural tear film on a contact lens surface to minimize painful symptoms such as dry eye but it is not an easy thing to measure Some people are studying contact lenses by holding them up to a light dipping them in water and looking at them to see if the tear film breaks up Bhamla said We felt we could definitely do better than that To solve this Bhamla and Fuller built a device that mimics the surface of the eye The machine called the Interfacial Dewetting and Drainage Optical Platform or i DDrOP reproduces a tear film on the surface of a contact lens It allows both scientists and manufacturers

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/eye-prize-more-comfortable-contact-lenses (2016-04-27)
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  • Can bioengineering transform cells into drug factories? | Engineering
    scientists look for the drug s chemical cousin in other plant species extract it and use laboratory chemistry to finish the job That approach called semi synthesis is what s used today to turn a compound found in the needles and twigs of a yew species that is more common than the original source and can be harvested without damaging the plants into the taxol taken by patients A third option for producing plant based drugs has recently become more feasible thanks in part to improvements in genome data sequencing technology and DNA synthesis Whereas it was once laborious to sequence and identify genes many tools now exist to sift through an organism s genetic code to identify bits that are important for any biological process like making a particular chemical These advances in technology are in part what inspired the recent creation of the interdisciplinary institute Stanford ChEM H of which Sattely Smolke and Wender are members ChEM H intends to leverage chemistry engineering and medicine to improve human health Plants normally produce complex chemicals through the work of protein assembly lines They start with a chemical from the environment or from within the plant itself Then proteins called enzymes sequentially nip a bit here and add a bit there until the final chemical our drug emerges Each of the enzymes in that assembly line is coded for by a gene in the organism s DNA So the trick is finding which genes code for the enzymes in the assembly line Discovering the enzymes codes is moving a lot faster now because of new strategies says Smolke One strategy that we think is particularly powerful is looking at the plant s DNA sequence and using bioinformatics tools to identify regions that code for candidate enzymes Her team can then put the DNA sequence for that enzyme in yeast to see if the enzyme carries out the expected role But there s another hurdle after discovering the relevant enzymes and that s the matter of getting them to work in a foreign setting You are taking enzymes that have evolved to work in a particular organism and then you are asking them to work in a very different organism Smolke says For example the complex origami of how proteins fold into the correct shape occurs differently in plants versus yeast In recent years more information has become available about how plants and yeast differ and how to modify genes so that the proteins for which they code perform properly in the foreign environment In 2013 advances in technology and knowledge paid off when a team of researchers from the company Amyris UC Berkeley and the National Research Council of Canada isolated the six genes from sweet wormwood that code for the anti malaria drug artemisinin the drug whose discovery earned Chinese scientist Youyou Tu a Nobel Prize in 2015 and put them into yeast Today about one third of the world s supply of artemisinin is produced by yeast in

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/can-bioengineering-transform-cells-drug-factories (2016-04-27)
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  • The body's biggest defender may one day be smaller than you think | Engineering
    it s that we apply them too late he says Nanotechnology has the potential to detect and even kill early cancer cells present in the hundreds or thousands versus the billions already present in currently diagnosable tumors He and his colleagues envision a day in the not too distant future when nanosensors implanted in our bodies or even in household appliances like the toilet can alert us to the first signs of trouble often without our conscious participation He compares the approach to that of piloting a jet airplane An airplane s engine is constantly monitored and information is sent to a global portal to diagnose problems in real time We re missing that in health care today But maybe not for long Swallowing the doctor The concept of miniature medical minions isn t new In 1959 noted physicist Richard Feynman discussed the possibility of swallowing the doctor in a talk at the California Institute of Technology and British researchers first realized the potential of liposomes for drug delivery in 1961 These spheres can be engineered to contain water soluble drugs in their interior while also squirreling away hydrophobic or insoluble drugs in their fatty membrane Careful engineering can result in liposome based structures that deliver multiple drugs in precise ratios and at high levels without the toxicities that can occur when delivering the medicines orally or through an IV They accumulate naturally in tumor tissue or can be targeted to specific cell types by the addition of antibodies or other molecules to their surface The technique was first approved by the U S Food and Drug Administration in 1995 to deliver the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin to patients with AIDS related Kaposi s sarcoma There are now more than a dozen liposomally packaged drugs on the marketplace and researchers have begun to explore ways to use other types of nanoparticles to deliver not just drugs but also small RNA molecules to block the expression of specific genes or a payload of radioactivity to kill the cell From a practical perspective nano based techniques aren t the wave of the future This is the now says Heather Wakelee an associate professor of medicine at Stanford who focuses on the treatment of lung cancer patients And it s changing how we treat patients in the clinic In addition to devising new nanoparticles for use inside the body the researchers are working on nanosensing technology for use outside the body to identify and characterize tumor cells present at minuscule levels in all manner of bodily fluids tracking the course of known disease or even pinpointing its inception long before symptoms arise Wakelee has worked with center co director Wang to design a kind of magnetic sifter that quickly sorts cancer cells from normal blood based on magnetic nanotags engineered to coat the cells surface A key component of the technique is the ability to swiftly release the bound living cells for further study Another approach also launched in Wang s lab involves a

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/research-profile/bodys-biggest-defender-may-one-day-be-smaller-you-think (2016-04-27)
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  • Ford Motor Company CEO: To innovate, one must challenge customs and question traditions | Engineering
    the city of Oslo hopes to ban the private use of vehicles downtown In addition companies like Uber Lyft and Zipcar are changing the way people think about getting from point A to point B As car sharing and ridesharing business models offer alternatives to car ownership Ford is asking itself How do we play a role in these new economies and lead the way in identifying new urban mobility solutions While Ford traditionally has focused on measuring vehicles sold the company is broadening its business to think about how it can combine great products with great experiences that help make people s lives better In one of the most significant strategic shifts in the company s 113 year history Ford is expanding its business model to be both an auto and a mobility company While building on its core strengths as an auto company Ford is aggressively expanding into emerging opportunities through Ford Smart Mobility the company s plan to be a leader in connectivity mobility autonomous vehicles the customer experience and data and analytics To innovate in these areas the approach at Ford Fields says is to disrupt from within To innovate challenge customs and question traditions As Ford looks to expand into emerging opportunities in the world of mobility Fields explains that innovation at Ford can be traced back to founder Henry Ford Ford s people know how to innovate Fields says It s the job of leadership to make sure that innovation can happen When asked how he enables innovation at a company as large and with as much history as Ford Fields shares one of Ford s cultural tenets Challenge customs question traditions Fields makes deliberate efforts to talk about the importance of challenging customs and questioning traditions with Ford employees every opportunity he gets This way even if someone is in a meeting with a manager that is three levels up they understand they have the permission to say Hey what about this Encouraging employees to challenge customs and question traditions alone however is not enough Fields has learned that ongoing and proactive communication is critical to success When you don t communicate about your objectives your progress your challenges people make up their own facts about what s going on That s where rumors start and things can get dysfunctional says Fields Fields spends a lot time communicating within the organization through regular video blogs and town hall meetings He prioritizes sharing information about what s happening in the marketplace in government policy and with the competition to help employees understand where they fit into the bigger picture And in an effort to reinforce the company s core values Fields ends all hands meetings with stories from teams who successfully challenged customs or questioned traditions to innovate as well as teams who took appropriate risks and maybe didn t succeed initially but learned something useful Dream with a deadline In whatever position he s in Fields says he takes the time to look

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/ford-motor-company-ceo-innovate-one-must-challenge-customs-question-traditions (2016-04-27)
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  • News & Updates | Engineering
    March 7 2016 A team of engineers works on a material that can flex like skin transmit sensory data to the brain and restore a sense of touch Read More What is the secret to a successful Chinese startup Friday March 4 2016 An engineering professor shows why an innovative product isn t always enough Read More Manu Prakash You suddenly stumble upon completely new and creative solutions Friday March 4 2016 Stanford bioengineers explore the inner workings of a novel mode of insect flight Read More On the road to a safer driving experience Wednesday March 2 2016 By testing the physical limits of speeding cars a group of engineers hope to develop safer autonomous driving systems Read More Martin Hellman Finding the truth is more important than getting your way Tuesday March 1 2016 An inventor of public key cryptography explains why listening is the key to solving problems in one s personal life and everywhere else Read More Stanford cryptography pioneers win the ACM 2015 A M Turing Award Tuesday March 1 2016 A groundbreaking algorithm from Martin Hellman and Whitfield Diffie enabled a secure Internet Read More Squishiness can indicate embryo viability Tuesday March 1 2016 A group of bioengineers physicians discover that embryo squishing could lead to more successful IVF pregnancies Read More Can large scale solar power storage become a reality Friday February 26 2016 An unexpected finding by a team of engineers could lead to a revolutionary change in how we produce store and consume energy Read More The economic damage from climate change may be more than you think much more Friday February 26 2016 Researchers say the cost of carbon dioxide emissions may be six times more than government estimates Read More Pioneering Stanford computer researcher and educator Edward McCluskey dies Thursday February 25 2016 The professor emeritus who paved the way for everything from complex chips to crash proof computers and who trained 75 PhDs also loved quirky hats and nature Read More Machine learning makes poverty mapping as easy as night and day Thursday February 25 2016 An artificial intelligence system trains itself to identify poverty zones by comparing daytime and nighttime satellite images in a novel way Read More How data analytics is going to transform all industries Tuesday February 23 2016 At Stanford s first Women in Data Science Conference engineers from industry and academia discuss personalized medicine entertainment marketing cybersecurity and more Read More The National Academy of Engineering elects four new Stanford faculty members Friday February 12 2016 Three engineers and a biochemist are selected for the field s highest professional honor Read More What if we could shape ideas the way a sculptor molds clay Thursday February 11 2016 An engineer designs computers that let us think with our hands Read More How can we improve the criminal justice system Wednesday February 10 2016 Engineers use computational analysis tools to reveal discrimination and reduce crime Read More What might the future hold Wednesday February

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/about/news?page=1 (2016-04-27)
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  • News & Updates | Engineering
    collisions when thousands of drones are flying in congested areas A software enabled system could play the role of an autonomous air traffic manager for unmanned flights Read More Stanford led skyscraper style chip design could boost electronic performance by factor of a thousand Wednesday December 9 2015 In modern computer systems processor and memory chips are laid out like single story structures in a suburb But suburban layouts waste time and energy A new skyscraper like design based on materials more advanced than silicon provides the next computing platform Read More New Stanford research reveals the secrets of stishovites a rare form of crystallized sand Tuesday December 8 2015 Lasers are nothing like meteor strikes but in the nanosecond when each strike silicon dioxide the main ingredient in coastal sand stishovites form Understanding how this rare crystal form will help improve laser technology and allow Earth scientists to better understand meteor impacts Read More Stanford engineers invent process to accelerate protein evolution Monday December 7 2015 A new tool enables researchers to test millions of mutated proteins in a matter of hours or days speeding the search for new medicines industrial enzymes and biosensors Read More Electrical Engineering Chair Abbas El Gamal receives 2016 IEEE Richard W Hamming Medal Thursday December 3 2015 El Gamal is noted for contributions to network multi user information theory and for impact on programmable circuit architectures Read More Stanford engineers among recipients of Precourt Institute and TomKat Center 2 1 million grants Thursday December 3 2015 Grants will fund groundbreaking energy research Read More Stanford engineers develop invisible wires that could improve solar cell efficiency Thursday December 3 2015 Stanford engineers have discovered how to make the electrical wiring on top of solar cells nearly invisible to incoming light The new design which uses silicon nanopillars to hide the wires could dramatically boost solar cell efficiency Read More Plasma experiments bring astrophysics down to Earth Tuesday December 1 2015 New laboratory technique allows researchers to replicate on a tiny scale the swirling clouds of ionized gases that power the sun to further our understanding of fusion energy solar flares and other cosmic phenomena Read More Stanford researcher suggests storing solar energy underground for a cloudy day Tuesday November 24 2015 A common criticism of a total transition to wind water and solar power is that the U S electrical grid can t affordably store enough standby electricity to keep the system stable Stanford researcher Mark Z Jacobson proposes an underground solution to that problem Read More Atom sized craters make a catalyst much more active Tuesday November 24 2015 SLAC Stanford Engineering discovery could speed important chemical reactions such as making hydrogen fuel Read More Stanford students put computer science skills to social good Thursday November 19 2015 Four undergraduates have co founded CS Social Good an organization that utilizes technology to make a positive social impact Read More Stanford designs underwater solar cells that turn captured greenhouse gases into fuel Wednesday November

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/about/news?page=2 (2016-04-27)
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  • News & Updates | Engineering
    fellow Wednesday September 30 2015 Stanford s Christopher Ré an assistant professor of computer science has been awarded a genius grant from the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation He was recognized for his work in developing a data inference system that analyzes data with a high degree of certainty Read More Tension helps heart cells develop normally in the lab according to Stanford engineers Wednesday September 30 2015 Researchers have long been able to prod stem cells into forming heart like beating clumps in the lab but those cells don t behave like normal heart cells Getting them to mimic normal adult cells a critical step for eventually using them to test drugs requires tension and a specific shape Read More Stanford team re engineers virus to deliver therapies to cells Monday September 21 2015 Researchers stripped a virus of its infectious machinery and turned its benign core into a delivery vehicle that can target sick cells while leaving healthy tissue alone Read More Stanford engineers invent transparent coating that cools solar cells to boost efficiency Monday September 21 2015 The hotter solar cells become the less efficient they are at converting sunlight to electricity a problem that has long vexed the solar industry Now Stanford engineers have developed a transparent overlay that increases efficiency by cooling the cells even in full sunlight Read More Arun Majumdar named co director of Stanford s Precourt Institute for Energy Thursday September 17 2015 Arun Majumdar a professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford will serve as co director of the university s Precourt Institute for Energy He will serve with the current director Sally M Benson professor of energy resources engineering Read More Stanford engineers produce cancer drug from rare plant in lab to benefit human health Friday September 11 2015 Stanford scientists produced a common cancer drug previously only available from an endangered plant in a common laboratory plant This work could lead to a more stable supply of the drug and allow scientists to manipulate that drug to make it even safer and more effective Read More Stanford Toyota to collaborate on AI research effort Friday September 4 2015 Led by Associate Professor Fei Fei Li the new SAIL Toyota Center for AI Research will focus on teaching computers to see and make critical decisions about how to interact with the world At the outset research will address intelligent robotics and autonomous cars Read More Most sensors designed to measure head impacts in sports produce inaccurate data Stanford bioengineers find Monday August 31 2015 As scientists zero in on the skull motions that can cause concussions David Camarillo s lab has found that many commercially available sensors worn by athletes to gather this data are prone to significant error Read More Stanford engineers find secret to steady drone cameras in swan necks Friday August 28 2015 By solving how whooper swans keep their heads steady during flapping flight Stanford engineers have developed a camera suspension system that could allow

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/about/news?page=3 (2016-04-27)
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  • News & Updates | Engineering
    27 new prolific inventors including several engineers have invented at least seven technologies that have generated over 500 000 Read More Stanford high speed video reveals how lovebirds keep a clear line of sight during acrobatic flight Monday July 6 2015 Lovebirds turn their heads at record speeds to maneuver through densely crowded airspace Stanford Engineering s David Lentink says this strategy could be applied to drone cameras to improve visual systems Read More Stanford engineering students teach autonomous cars to avoid obstacles Wednesday July 1 2015 The best way to survive a car accident is to avoid collisions in the first place Professor Chris Gerdes engineering students are developing algorithms and pop up obstacles that could lead to safe autonomous driving Read More Stanford researchers stretch a thin crystal to get better solar cells Thursday June 25 2015 Crystalline semiconductors such as silicon can catch photons and convert their energy into electron flows New research shows that a little stretching could give one of silicon s lesser known cousins its own place in the sun Read More Stanford Engineering Hero Charles Simonyi talks about creating first WYSIWYG software space travel and challenges of making a profit Thursday June 25 2015 Computer Science alum shares stories about working with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and his two flights to the International Space Station Read More Single catalyst water splitter from Stanford produces clean burning hydrogen 24 7 Tuesday June 23 2015 Stanford scientists have developed a cheap and efficient way to extract clean burning hydrogen fuel from water 24 hours a day seven days a week Read More 2015 Maurice Wilkes Award presented to Christos Kozyrakis Monday June 22 2015 Associate professor of electrical engineering honored for outstanding contributions to transactional memory technologies Read More Stanford collaboration with General Motors recognized by the American Society for Engineering Education Monday June 22 2015 Excellence in Engineering Education Collaboration Award recognizes joint development of course that helps GM engineers improve products processes and services Read More PhD candidates Jayant Charthad and Steven Bell receive 2015 Centennial Teaching Assistant Award Friday June 19 2015 Electrical engineering students honored for outstanding teaching among TA s in the schools of humanities and sciences earth sciences and engineering Read More Stanford engineers find a simple yet clever way to boost chip speeds Tuesday June 16 2015 Inside each chip are millions of tiny wires to transport data wrapping them in a protective layer of graphene could boost speeds by 30 percent Read More Stanford engineers team up with U S Army to set computational record Wednesday June 10 2015 Now billions of questions can be answered in about three minutes Read More Stanford engineers discover the limitation of a popular technique for one way optical data transmission on computer chips Monday June 8 2015 Backward leakage of light beams constrains ability to keep optical information flowing in only one direction research shows Read More Just add water Stanford engineers develop a computer that operates on water

    Original URL path: http://engineering.stanford.edu/about/news?page=4 (2016-04-27)
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