Synthetic Biology Brings New Life to Biomanufacturing

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Assembly Line

Artificial Intelligence for Synthetic Biology

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Authors: Mohammed Eslami, Aaron Adler, Rajmonda S. Caceres, Joshua G. Dunn

Topics: Synbio

Synthetic biology (synbio) aims to design biological systems to a specification (for example, cells that produce a desired amount of biofuel, or that react in a specific manner to an external stimulus). To this end, synthetic biologists leverage engineering design principles to use the predictability of engineering to control complex biological systems. These engineering principles include standardized genetic parts, and the Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) cycle, iteratively used to achieve a desired outcome.

Synbio is primed to have a transformative impact on every activity sector in the world: food, energy, climate, medicine, and materials. Synbio has already produced insulin without the need to sacrifice pigs for their pancreases (in a previous stage, as genetic engineering), synthetic leather, parkas made of spider silk that have never seen a spider, antimalarial and anticancer drugs, meatless hamburgers that taste like meat, renewable biofuels, hoppy flavored beer produced without hops, the smell of extinct flowers, synthetic human collagen for cosmetic applications, and gene drives to eliminate dengue-bearing mosquitos. Many believe this is just the tip of the iceberg because the ability to engineer living beings provides seemingly unlimited possibilities, and there is a growing level of investment, both public and private, in this field.

Read more at Communications of the ACM

Fast and Efficient Plastic-Degrading Enzyme Developed Using AI

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Author: Julianna LeMieux

Topics: Synbio, Recycling

Organizations: University of Texas

Plastic waste build-up in the environment is an enormous ecological challenge. Indeed, 40% of plastic waste goes around collection systems and ends up residing in natural environments. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) accounts for 12% of global solid waste. Enzymes that break down PET, PET hydrolases, have been previously developed but suffer from practical limitations with slow reaction rates and specific pH and temperature ranges.

Now, researchers have used a structure-based, machine learning algorithm to engineer a robust and active PET hydrolase. The enzyme, FAST-PETase (functional, active, stable, and tolerant PETase), can break down environment-throttling plastics that typically take centuries to degrade in just a matter of hours and days.

Read more at Genetic Engineering & Biotechonology News

Boeing Bionics Allow Teammates to Suit up for Safety

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Topics: Worker Safety, Wearable Technology

Organizations: Boeing

In Boeing’s commercial division, the exoskeleton vest is in use or planned for use as personal protective equipment in the 737, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner programs. Teams at a number of Boeing sites have tested the vest since 2018. It is rolling out as an innovative enterprise standard tool designed to lessen the pressure mechanics bear as they work repetitive jobs at chest level and above.

“When you activate the vest, it’s somewhere between 5 to 18 pounds (2 to 8 kilograms) offloaded from the wearer,” said Dr. Christopher Reid, a Boeing engineer and Associate Technical Fellow who specializes in ergonomics and wearable technology. “It reduces the stress on the shoulders and ultimately reduces injuries.”

Read more at Manufacturing & Engineering Magazine

The X-Ray Tech That Reveals Chip Designs

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Authors: Anthony F.J. Levi, Gabriel Aeppli

Vertical: Semiconductor

When you’re baking a cake, it’s hard to know when the inside is in the state you want it to be. The same is true—with much higher stakes—for microelectronic chips: How can engineers confirm that what’s inside has truly met the intent of the designers? The new version of our X-ray technique, called ptychographic X-ray laminography, can uncover the interconnect structure of entire chips without damaging them, even down to the smallest structures. Using that technique, we could easily discover a (deliberate) discrepancy between the design file and what was manufactured.

Although we can already tell a lot about an IC from just the layout of its interconnects, with further improvements we should be able to discover everything about it, including the materials it’s made of. For the 16-nm-technology node, that includes copper, aluminum, tungsten, and compounds called silicides. We might even be able to make local measurements of strain in the silicon lattice, which arises from the multilayer manufacturing processes needed to make cutting-edge devices.

Read more at IEEE Spectrum

Auger Back again??

Manufacturing line design configuration with optimized resource groups

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Author: Takahiro Nakano

Topics: Genetic Algorithm, Manufacturing Line Commissioning

Organizations: Hitachi

Skilled line engineers spend several months designing a manufacturing line based on their experience. Optimization of the four design specifications from the viewpoint of productivity and equipment continuity is required for the line design process. However, these four design specifications are highly dependent on each other and the number of feasible combinations of the specifications is enormous and difficult to automate.

To solve these issues, our research introduces the concept of a resource group that enables a methodology to solve the four design items hierarchically and develops methods to quickly build new manufacturing lines in response to changes in product varieties and manufacturing fluctuations in a factory.

Read more at Hitachi Industrial AI Blog

The Art of the Possible: .NET-based Industrial Applications

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Author: Josh Eastburn

Organizations: Tatsoft, Opto22

Today’s applications require more than a one-vendor approach. FrameworX by Tatsoft provides an open, extensible software platform as an alternative to the big control vendors. It includes everything you need to build world-class industrial applications at an affordable price: SCADA, HMI, MES, IIoT, mobile, dashboards, and more. With FrameworX, you can do it all without breaking the bank!

But being the affordable alternative doesn’t mean we’re lightweights. Tatsoft’s founder and CTO was the founder of InduSoft, and many from the core development team are also key contributors to FrameworX. That experienced team came together again to build a new platform that addresses common process control problems and can be extended easily using modern programming languages to meet your customers’ unique requirements.

Read more at Opto22 Blog