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Photos: Technion innovations

A tour of Israel's science and engineering institute finds a bounty of tech innovations.
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1 of 12 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Einstein's tree

Albert Einstein planted this tree in 1950 at the original Technion building (now the Israel National Museum of Science, Technology and Space). At the time, the university was 26 years old, but Israel was only 2. Einstein encouraged then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to exploit science and technology for economic growth.

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LCD glasses

Technion Professor Yoram Baram has created a visual feedback "walker," a pair of glasses with a small built-in LCD screen. The small screen creates a pattern of black-and-white floor tiles. Patients with multiple sclerosis or some other diseases that hinder mobility can walk again on their own with the aid of the screen. These patients often become afraid of crossing surfaces or floors with few visual markers. But when wearing the glasses, they can use the "tiles" projected on the LCD screen and thus on the room around them, as visual markers.

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Robotic ants

Alfred Bruckstein (left) has come up with robotic ants that can communicate what they've learned about a maze to one another. After a few minutes, the robotic ants can map out a region.

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Modern campus

The modern Technion campus has about 9,200 undergraduates and 3,500 graduate students. Most start college in their early 20s. Before attending college, Israelis must join the military for a few years; many then go on to spend a year traipsing around the Far East before starting school.

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Synthetic blood clots

Dror Seliktar, a senior lecturer of biomedical engineering, holds up a vial of material that creates a synthetic blood clot. When injected into a person, the material can get the body to regrow cartilage or badly shattered bone. Currently, fixing harsh breaks or cartilage requires grafts or screws. "Those are inert materials. They don't induce biological activity," Seliktar said.

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Clotting

The blood clotting material (left) is placed under ultraviolet light. In a few minutes, it's turned into a rubbery material (right). The secret ingredient is a human protein called fibrinogen that's attached to a synthetic molecule. With the man-made molecule, the blood clot can survive for months inside the body and stimulate cartilage growth. Ordinarily, the blood clot would dissipate after a few days, which is why cartilage doesn't heal on its own, Seliktar said.

Human tests will take place soon. Regenitis Biomaterials plans to try to commercialize the material.

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Computer science building

This is Technion's computer science building. A lot of Technion's buildings sport the names of U.S. benefactors. That's because the largest alumni donors are in the United States.

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Inside an optics lab

Here are sub-wavelength waveguides and other equipment in the optics lab of Professor Erez Hasman. He's working on ways to create vortexes with optical technology so that light can manipulate molecules.

"We can translate the angular momentum of the light to rotate the molecule," he said. "We can rotate nanoparticles with optics rather than transport data with optics."

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Waveguides

Hasman shows off a close-up of one of the gallium arsenide waveguides created in the lab. Among other experiments, the lab has come up with ways to manipulate and direct thermal energy. Potentially, this could be used to create a heat beam that removes heat from a PC. The lab also is working on ways to focus a single light on different parts of an optical disc to extract information in parallel.

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Student housing

Here is housing near the Technion campus. How do 6 million-plus people live in Israel, which is about as big as New Jersey? They live stacked up.

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11 of 12 Bill Detwiler/ZDNet

Environmental sciences building

The architect of the Technion's Yitzhak Rabin Environmental Science building chose to emphasize natural contours for the design. To help air condition the building, a large block of ice is made each night--when electricity is cheaper--in an underground chamber. The melting ice then cools the building.

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Microsoft billboard

Hey, is that a Microsoft billboard? Yes it is. The company put up the sign during a career day on the campus about six months ago and then left it there. Microsoft--along with Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Philips and several other multinationals--has a development office just down the road.

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