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The Vagus Nerve: A Back Door for Brain Hacking

Doctors stimulate a nerve in the neck to treat epilepsy, heart failure, stroke, arthritis, and a half dozen other ailments

8 min read
Illustration by Tavis Coburn
Illustration: Tavis Coburn

“This is a bottle of pills,” says J.P. Errico, showing me something that’s obviously not a bottle of pills.

Errico, who is cofounder and CEO of ElectroCore Medical, is holding the GammaCore, a noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator. If ElectroCore’s R&D work holds up, this device is about to turn decades of evidence about the importance of a single nerve into a new kind of medicine: an electrical therapy as benign as a morning swim and as straightforward as popping a pill with your coffee.

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For Better AR Cameras, Swap Plastic Lenses for Silicon Chips

Metalenz adds the power of polarization to its innovative PolarEyes chips

5 min read
Silicon Nanostructures

Metalenz uses standard semiconductor manufacturing processes to build metasurfaces comprising nanostructures that control light, with one chip replacing multiple traditional camera lenses.

Metalenz

This week, startup Metalenz announced that it has created a silicon chip that, paired with an image sensor, can distinguish objects by the way they polarize light. The company says its “PolarEyes” will be able to make facial authentication less vulnerable to spoofing, improve 3D imaging for augmented and virtual reality, aid in telehealth by distinguishing different types of skin cells, and enhance driving safety by spotting black ice and other hard-to-see road hazards.

The company, founded in 2017 and exiting stealth a year ago, previously announced that it was commercializing waveguides composed of silicon nanostructures as an alternative to traditional optics for use in mobile devices.

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How Quantum Computers Can Make Batteries Better

Hyundai partners with IonQ to optimize lithium-air batteries

3 min read
A tan car with a Hyundai logo. Overlayed is a rendering of lithium-air batteries with a call-out showing a rendering of a molecular compound
Hyundai

Hyundai is now partnering with startup IonQ to see how quantum computers can design advanced batteries for electric vehicles, with the aim of creating the largest battery chemistry model yet to be run on a quantum computer, the companies announced yesterday.

A quantum computer with high enough complexity—for instance, enough components known as quantum bits or "qubits"—could theoretically achieve a quantum advantage where it can find the answers to problems no classical computer could ever solve. In theory, a quantum computer with 300 qubits fully devoted to computing could perform more calculations in an instant than there are atoms in the visible universe.

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COMSOL News Special Edition Biomedical

How simulation and apps have enabled engineers and scientists to develop biomedical design

1 min read
COMSOL News Special Edition Biomedical features 12 stories of how simulation and apps have enabled design engineers, researchers, and scientists to develop biomedical designs.
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