Columbia engineers build biologically powered chip

Columbia Engineering researchers have, for the first time, harnessed the molecular machinery of living systems to power an integrated circuit from adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy currency of life. They achieved this by integrating a conventional solid-state complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) integrated circuit with an artificial lipid bilayer membrane containing ATP-powered ion pumps, opening the door to creating entirely new artificial systems that contain both biological and solid-state components. The study, led by Ken Shepard, Lau Family Professor of Electrical Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, is published online Dec. 7 in Nature Communications.

“In combining a biological electronic device with CMOS, we will be able to create new systems not possible with either technology alone,” says Shepard. “We are excited at the prospect of expanding the palette of active devices that will have new functions, such as harvesting energy from ATP, as was done here, or recognizing specific molecules, giving chips the potential to taste and smell. This was quite a unique new direction for us and it has great potential to give solid-state systems new capabilities with biological components.”

Caption: Illustration depicting biocell attached to CMOS integrated circuit with membrane containing sodium-potassium pumps in pore. Credit: Trevor Finney and Jared Roseman/Columbia Engineering

What's up with capitalizing the titles of books and songs?

Here is the general rule in the simplest form:

Capitalize every word EXCEPT for the following: 

a, an, and, at, but, by, for, in, nor, or, of, on, or, so, the, to, up, yet

UNLESS they are the first or last words of the title.

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • On Top of Old Smokey
  • With or Without You
  • Born to Run
  • About a Boy
  • In Between Days
  • She Bangs the Drums
  • The Crying of Lot 49
  • Blood on the Leaves

NOTE: There are other “rules” and “standards” for capitalizing titles. If you are instructed by your teacher, professor, or editor to comply with a specific style, consult the appropriate guide, e.g., The BBC News Style Guide, The Associated Press StylebookMLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, The Chicago Manual of Style.

(Kanye GIF source: Phil Howell Design)

CMOS technology provides new insights into how biofilms form

In a study published today in Nature Communications, a research team led by Ken Shepard, professor of electrical engineering and biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering, and Lars Dietrich, assistant professor of biological sciences at Columbia University, has demonstrated that integrated circuit technology, the basis of modern computers and communications devices, can be used for a most unusual application – the study of signaling in bacterial colonies. They have developed a chip based on complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) technology that enables them to electrochemically image the signaling molecules from these colonies spatially and temporally. They made an integrated circuit, a chip that, Shepard says, is an ‘active’ glass slide, a slide that not only forms a solid-support for the bacterial colony but also 'listens’ to the bacteria as they talk to each other.“

Daniel L. Bellin, Hassan Sakhtah, Jacob K. Rosenstein, Peter M. Levine, Jordan Thimot, Kevin Emmett, Lars E. P. Dietrich, Kenneth L. Shepard. Integrated circuit-based electrochemical sensor for spatially resolved detection of redox-active metabolites in biofilms. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4256

The development of colony biofilms by Pseudomonas aeruginosa is affected by redox-active compounds called phenazines. A phenazine-null mutant forms a hyperwrinkled colony with prominent spokes, while wild-type colonies are more constrained and smooth. Credit: Hassan Sakhtah, Columbia University

Yo, Grammar: What's up with the possessive form of nouns that end in "s"?

If the regular noun is a plural noun that ends in -s, we just add an apostrophe to express its possessive form:

  • The four cars’ owners were angry.
  • The veterinarian examined five dogs‘ ears.

If the regular noun is a singular noun that ends in -s, we add ’s to express its possessive form:

  • The boss’s chair is broken.
  • The class’s attention span is decreasing at an alarming rate.

Lastly, when it comes to a person’s name that ends in -s, it ultimately comes down to which style guide you’re required to follow.

Unless your teacher or editor has a preference, choose one style and use it consistently.

The YUNiversity prefers “Chris’s,” “Nicholas’s,” “Thomas’s,” “James’s,” etc. Since we put ’s after every other proper name, it doesn’t make much sense to not do the same with people’s names just because they happen to end in “s.” A singular name is a singular name.

Right, Chris?

(Yawning puppies GIF source: Sunny Sweetheart; Chris Hemsworth as Thor GIF source: Perez Hilton)


Zephyranthes in the wind by norsez Oh


Sony FDR-X3000 Action Cam

Sony’s new 4K action cam is the first Action Cam from Sony with optical stabilization.


  • Sensor: 1 /2,5-inch, 8.5 megapixels Exmor R CMOS
  • Lens: Zeiss Tessar, f/2.8
  • Stabilization: Optical
  • Whitebalans: Auto/Manual 
  • Recording MP4: MPEG-4 AVC / H.264, XAVC S
  • Resolution:
    30P/25P - 3840x2160, 30P/25P/24P (XAVC S HD) - 1920X1080
  • Output: HDMI-micro, Multi / micro-USB-aansluiting / HDMI-uitgang
  • Connectivity: WiFi / NFC
  • Battery: NP-BX1
  • Size: 29.4mm x 47.0mm x 83.0mm

More information can be found in the Sony Help Guide (Online/PDF).

Via Sony (Japan)