EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne)

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EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) Articles

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Eco Innovation
6th January 2023
A step towards solar fuels out of thin air

EPFL chemical engineers have invented a solar-powered artificial leaf, built on a novel electrode which is transparent and porous, capable of harvesting water from the air for conversion into hydrogen fuel. The semiconductor-based technology is scalable and easy to prepare.

14th August 2018
Feeling as if a prosthetic limb belonged to one's body

Amputees still feel their missing limb, even if it is physically gone, and this ghost limb aka phantom limb is perceived as much smaller that the lost limb. Next, the commercially available prosthetic limb does not yet provide sensory feedback other than what the patient sees, meaning that the patient has no sense of touch from the prosthetic limb and must constantly watch it for correct use.

1st August 2018
Optical fibres can 'feel' the materials around them

EPFL researchers have developed an optical fibre capable of detecting what sort of material or liquid they have come into contact with. Their research has been published in Nature Communications. In recent years optical fibres have served as sensors to detect changes in temperature, like a thermometer, and pressure, like an artificial nerve. This technique is particularly useful in structures such as bridges and gas pipelines.

26th July 2018
Insect-inspired drone deforms upon impact

An origami-like drone developed at EPFL is flexible enough to absorb shocks without breaking before returning to its initial shape. This new type of drone, which was inspired by insect wings, draws on the advantages of both stiff and flexible structures. In recent years, robotics experts have taken a page from the traditional Japanese practice of origami and come up with light and flexible robots and drones.

19th June 2018
The neurons that rewrite traumatic memories

Neuroscientists at EPFL have located the cells that help reprogram long-lasting memories of traumatic experiences towards safety, a first in neuroscience. The study is published in Science. Memories of traumatic experiences can lead to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can destroy a person’s life. It is currently estimated that almost a third of all people will suffer from fear- or stress-re...

30th May 2018
Elastic fibre could revolutionise smart clothing

EPFL scientists have found a fast and simple way to make super-elastic, multi-material, high-performance fibres. Their fibres have already been used as sensors on robotic fingers and in clothing. This breakthrough method opens the door to new kinds of smart textiles and medical implants. It’s a whole new way of thinking about sensors. The tiny fibres developed at EPFL are made of elastomer and can incorporate materials l...

28th February 2018
Super-resolution microscopy in space and time

Super-resolution microscopy is a technique that can “see” beyond the diffraction of light, providing unprecedented views of cells and their interior structures and organelles. The technique has garnered increasing interest recently, especially since its developers won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014. But super-resolution microscopy comes with a big limitation: it only offers spatial resolution.

Test & Measurement
19th December 2017
A smart and miniaturised system to analyse sweat

EPFL researchers have teamed up with startup Xsensio to develop a tiny, fully portable system that can encapsulate and analyse biomarkers in a person’s sweat. The low-power system, which fits on a chip measuring under 1 cm², was presented this week at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in San Francisco. The miniature chip was developed by researchers at EPFL’s Nanoelectronic Devices Laboratory (Nanolab), heade...

Test & Measurement
14th December 2017
Targeting cancer cells by measuring electric currents

EPFL researchers have used electrochemical imaging to take a step forward in mapping the distribution of biomolecules in tissue. This technology, which uses only endogenous markers – rather than contrast agents – could be an alternative to current cell imaging techniques. In the field of theranostics – a portmanteau of the words “therapy” and “diagnostics” – researchers use spatial information ...

8th November 2017
Mini robot gets a schooling when swimming with fish

  Researchers from EPFL have developed a new miniature robot that can swim with fish to learn how they communicate with each other and make them change direction or come together. These capabilities have been proven on schools of zebrafish.  

30th October 2017
Brain rewires itself to adjust to advanced prostheses

  EPFL scientists from the Center for Neuroprosthetics have used functional MRI to show how the brain re-maps motor and sensory pathways following targeted motor and sensory reinnervation (TMSR), a neuroprosthetic approach where residual limb nerves are rerouted towards intact muscles and skin regions to control a robotic limb.

27th October 2017
Embark on a cognitive revolution at EPFL

Use your brainwaves to control the workings of a machine and contribute to science at EPFL ArtLab’s next art-science exhibition, "Mental Work" from October 27th – February 11th, 2018. EPFL ArtLab inaugurates the world's first cognitive symbiosis experiment, open to the public on October 27th, in the form of an art-science exhibit called Mental Work, and it’s literally thought-provoking.

26th October 2017
Abionic's abioSCOPE detects allergies in minutes

The United States Food and Drug Administration has just registered Abionic’s rapid allergy diagnostic system, which tests for sensitivity to four common respiratory allergens in the United States. This puts the EPFL spin-off on track to market its single-use capsules and testing platform in the US in 2018. It takes only five minutes and a single drop of blood for Abionic’s abioSCOPE to produce a preliminary yet highly reliable di...

9th October 2017
Walking on two legs isn’t as easy as it seems...

  For robots and their designers, walking on two legs isn't as easy as it seems. Researchers at EPFL’s Biorobotics Laboratory are testing novel algorithms to improve humanoids’ ability to walk and interact with humans.

31st August 2017
Soft robots really suck!

EPFL scientists have created the first functional robot powered entirely by vacuum: made up of soft building blocks, it moves by having air sucked out of them. The robot can be reconfigured to perform different tasks, like climbing vertical walls and grabbing objects. This new robot sucks: to move, air has to be sucked out of its individual components. Inspired by muscle contraction, its individual soft components are activated (they collaps...

25th August 2017
Applications of mathematics reveal brain's complexity

The lack of a formal link between neural network structure and its emergent function has hampered our understanding of how the brain processes information. The discovery of a mathematical framework to describe the emergent behaviour of the network in terms of its underlying structure comes one step closer. A new approach to neuroscience based on mathematics is helping to reveal a universe of multi-dimensional geometrical structures and space...

8th June 2017
Personalised virtual heart for non-invasive heart diagnostics

  EPFL mathematician Alfio Quarteroni and his team are building a virtual heart model based on personalised medical images that may one day help cardiologists and cardiac surgeons non-invasively diagnose pathological heart conditions. The team recently modelled and simulated the behaviour of a patient’s aortic valve.

18th May 2017
Helping the visually impaired to better understand their surroundings

At École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland, engineers have developed a novel touchpad that can represent various objects, idea, and locations to help visually impaired people to learn, navigate, and interact with the world. As part of the BlindPAD project, the device has a bunch of knobs that can pop up or down. The entire array of these popups can create representations of street intersections, objects...

20th February 2017
Six-legged robots faster than nature-inspired gait

When vertebrates run, their legs exhibit minimal contact with the ground. But insects are different. These six-legged creatures run fastest using a three-legged, or "tripod" gait where they have three legs on the ground at all times -- two on one side of their body and one on the other. The tripod gait has long inspired engineers who design six-legged robots, but is it necessarily the fastest and most efficient way for bio-inspired robots to move...

15th February 2017
Miniaturising frequency combs

EPFL scientists have found a way to miniaturise frequency combs, realising a new step toward miniaturisation of such tools. Their device can measure light oscillations with a precision of 12 digits. A compact, precision tool for counting and tracking laser frequencies may improve atomic clocks and optical data transmission devices. However, light waves oscillate hundreds of trillions of times per second, a frequency that is impossible to mea...

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