Kimani Toussaint led research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that demonstrates the first-ever recording of optically encoded audio onto a non-magnetic plasmonic nanostructure, opening the door to multiple uses in informational processing and archival storage.

To demonstrate its abilities to store sound and audio files, Toussaint and fellow researchers created a musical keyboard or “nano piano,” using the available notes to play “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (listen below).

“The chip’s dimensions are roughly equivalent to the thickness of human hair,” he says.

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Nano piano’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”

 

Toussaint-nano piano

Nano piano concept: Arrays of gold, pillar-supported bowtie nanoantennas (bottom left) can be used to record distinct musical notes, as shown in the experimentally obtained dark-field microscopy images (bottom right). These particular notes were used to compose ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’

Among the judges for this year’s Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering was Calestous Juma (pictured with Brian Cox, fellow panelist and professor at University of Manchester ). The Queen Elizabeth Prize, designed to become a “Nobel” for engineering, was set up with cross-party backing and industry support to celebrate innovators with global impact.

The verdict is in: Professor Robert Langer of MIT has won the £1m award for his development of drug-release systems, tissue building and microchip implants.

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Kimani C. Toussaint, Jr. has won the College of Engineering Dean’s Award for Excellence in Research for his exceptional research accomplishments in the last five years. The award will be presented at the Engineering Faculty Awards Ceremony on April 27, 2015.

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In connection with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, James Mickens opted to participate in a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) in hopes of answering this question: What is it like to be a person of color in technology and computer science?

“DISCLAIMER,” he writes, “I am not an official spokesperson for MIT, Microsoft, or any other noun besides James Mickens.”

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Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Diego Chowell, Sri Krishna, Xiangguo Qiu, and Karen S. Anderson report that the effect of early diagnosis of pre-symptomatic infections is strongly dependent on the effectiveness of isolation of infectious individuals in health-care settings:

“Our results suggest that a strategy that focuses on early diagnosis of high-risk individuals, caregivers, and health-care workers at the pre-symptomatic stage, when combined with public health measures to improve the speed and efficacy of isolation of infectious individuals, can lead to rapid reductions in Ebola transmission.”

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Terrence Blackman visits AIMS South Africa

Terrence Blackman, along with a number of important world renowned mathematicians, is attendingthe AIMS-Stellenbosch University Number Theory Workshop in Cape Town from January 19-23, 2015. The event is hosted by the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) South Africa in Muizenberg.

The goal of this conference, which is being done in collaboration with the Clay Mathematics Institute in the USA, is to give a broad perspective of areas of modern number theory and to highlight some recent advances. This conference is one of the biennial Number Theory meetings which has been held at Stellenbosch University since 1997.

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Coco Fusco‘s commentary in The New York Times (12/15/2014) compares the recent protests over police aggression with Occupy Wall Street demonstrations: “Indeed, occupy activists are sharing tactics with organizers in Ferguson and elsewhere.”

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André Taylor‘s latest paper on improving carbon nanotube electronics was highlighted by theAmerican Chemical Society’s Chemical & Engineering News. In “Role of HF in Oxygen Removal from Carbon Nanotubes: Implications for High Performance Carbon Electronics,” Dr. Taylor and his team report that hydrogen fluoride plus electric current purifies nanotubes, improves their electronic properties.

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Calestous Juma on how Nigeria defeated ebola

Calestous Juma‘s latest article in The Guardian observes that the key to Nigeria’s successful containment of ebola is the strength of the public sector: state governments, universities and hospitals.

“A brief look at the news suggests African countries aren’t stepping up their support to the affected countries,” writes Juma. “This view, however, ignores three important lessons from Africa’s response to the outbreak.”

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Jim Gates featured in PBS program series

Dr. Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr. is featured in the PBS program The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements.  Hosted by Michael Emerson, the three-hour series is about the amazing human story behind the Periodic Table. Mystery of Matter covers one of the great adventures in the history of science: the long (and continuing) quest to understand what the world is made of—to identify, understand and organize the basic building blocks of matter. The series airs Monday, October 20, 27, and November 3, 2014 at 10 p.m. on OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting). MORE