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Breakthroughs

Research Roundup

The Effects of “Net Neutrality”

As the Internet becomes more crowded with high-bandwidth applications and content, a wide-ranging debate is taking place about the issue of “network neutrality,” particularly whether application traffic that requires performance assurances could be serviced differently, or what the impact would be if all traffic were to be treated in an equal manner. A new study by researchers at Rensselaer, AT&T Labs, and the University of Nevada, Reno, suggests that an Internet where all traffic is treated identically would require significantly more capacity than one in which differentiated services are offered. “The study makes clear that there are substantial additional costs for the extra capacity required to operate networks in which all traffic is treated alike,” says principal investigator Shivkumar Kalyanaraman, professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering.

Injecting Individual Cells

Rensselaer researchers have analyzed the effects of the nanoscale injection process — using specialized pulsed lasers to inject individual cells with a variety of materials — on living cells and discovered that minor intensity changes could mark the difference between a healthy and dead cell. Understanding how materials like proteins or drug ingredients affect an individual cell can give researchers important insight into how that material might impact the entire human body, according to Ingrid Wilke, assistant professor of physics. The new findings could serve as a set of guidelines for future research that requires precise microinjection of live single cells.

Mimicking Muscles With Nanotubes

The ability of carbon nanotubes to withstand repeated stress yet retain their structural and mechanical integrity is similar to the behavior of soft tissue, according to a new study from Rensselaer. When paired with the strong electrical conductivity of carbon nanotubes, this ability to endure wear and tear, or fatigue, suggests the materials could be used to create structures that mimic artificial muscles or interesting electro-mechanical systems, according to Victor Pushparaj, a senior research specialist in Rensselaer’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2007 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.