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National Science Foundation


Science of Innovation (2016)

Science of Innovation

From 3-D bioprinting that could one day generate heart tissue to origami-inspired structures built for medicine and space exploration, a new set of educational videos continues an exploration begun three years ago inside the creative process that leads to innovation. Six new stories in the "Science of Innovation" video series highlight how innovation can turn fundamental science and engineering ideas into significant societal and economic impacts.

"Science of Innovation" is produced by NBC Learn in partnership with the National Science Foundation and the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Episode 1. 3-D Bioprinting

image of sample tissue in a petri dish

Adam Feinberg at Carnegie Mellon University has come up with a technique that expands the use of 3-D printing technology and could one day allow researchers to print heart tissue.

View video (5:36 min.)

Episode 2. Origami Structures

people folding paper

Origami is the ancient Japanese art of paper folding. But to engineer Mary Frecker of Pennsylvania State University, it is the future for designing tools that could be used in fields such as medicine and space exploration.

View video (5:54 min.)

Episode 3. Friction-Stir Welding

machine working on metal

Welding has long been used to join pieces of metal together. At the University of North Texas, Rajiv Mishra is using a form of welding in a new technology that can improve metalís strength, toughness, and other properties and could bring new opportunities to the automotive and aircraft industries.

View video (4:46 min.)

Episode 4. Motion Controller for Virtual Reality

man wearing eye device for virtual reality

William Provancher of Tactical Haptics has developed a device that combines the sense of touch with technology. Called the "reactive grip," it allows the user to experience the virtual world in a whole new way.

View video (4:52 min.)

Episode 5. Micro-Fabrication for Cochlear Implants

instrument holding a part of cochlear implant

Angelique Johnson is the CEO of MEMStim, a company that is innovating how electrode arrays in cochlear implants are manufactured. Using automated micro-fabrication, instead of costly hand-made manufacturing, Johnson is able to lower the cost of production, allowing more people in need of implants to afford them.

View video (5:02 min.)

Episode 6. Using Viruses to Make Batteries

sample in a petri dish

While most people see viruses as harmful, Angela Belcher at MIT sees the future of energy. Belcher uses viruses engineered in her laboratory to form nano-scale wires for tiny batteries that could eventually be used to produce a wide range of electronics at a lower cost.

View video (5:30 min.)

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