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Defects through the looking glass

September 3, 2015 12:10 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Nanoscale defects are enormously important in shaping the electrical, optical and mechanical properties of a material. For example, a defect may donate charge or scatter electrons moving from one point to another. However, observing individual defects in bulk insulators, a ubiquitous component to almost all devices, has remained elusive: it’s far easier to image the detailed electrical structure of conductors than insulators.

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Feel the Electricity

September 3, 2015 11:20 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

A group of people form a huge circle. Every individual in the circle holds hands tightly. The last two people in the circle grasp a lightbulb tightly with their combined hands high up into the darkness so the rest of the circle can see. After a few seconds, the light bulb illuminates, blinking at first, but then offering a steady source of light.

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Bacterial litmus test provides inexpensive measurement of micronutrients

September 3, 2015 10:45 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

A bacterium engineered to produce different pigments in response to varying levels of a micronutrient in blood samples could give health officials an inexpensive way to detect nutritional deficiencies in resource-limited areas of the world. This “bacterial litmus test,” which currently measures levels of zinc, would require no electrical equipment and make results visible as simple color changes.

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Metallic gels produce tunable light emission

September 3, 2015 9:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a family of materials that can emit light of precisely controlled colors and whose output can be tuned to respond to a wide variety of external conditions. The materials could find a variety of uses in detecting chemical and biological compounds, or mechanical and thermal conditions.

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Drug Protects Against Effects of Nuclear Radiation Poisoning

September 3, 2015 9:15 am | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

A group of physicians have discovered a peptide called TP508 that may be able to prevent intestinal damage from severe radiation exposure. The study, led by researchers from the Univ. of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB), was recently published in the journal Laboratory Investigation.

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Blueberry extract could help fight gum disease

September 3, 2015 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Gum disease is a common condition among adults that occurs when bacteria form biofilms or plaques on teeth, and consequently the gums become inflamed. Some severe cases, called periodontitis, call for antibiotics. But now scientists have discovered that wild blueberry extract could help prevent dental plaque formation.

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Wasp Venom Inhibits Cancer Growth

September 3, 2015 7:14 am | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

A Brazilian wasp’s venom may hold the key to fighting cancer. Polybia paulista, a social and aggressive wasp, fights against predators by producing a venom. However, the venom’s toxin, called Polybia-MP1, is a known cancer-fighting agent. Researchers from the Univ. of Leeds and São Paulo State Univ. described how the venom’s toxin kills cancer cells without harming normal cells in a paper in Biophysical Journal.

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Boehringer Strikes Deal with Startup to Find Weight Loss Drug Targets

September 2, 2015 7:00 pm | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Articles | Comments

Boehringer Ingelheim announced on August 12 it would embark on another collaborative project with Circuit Therapeutics, a Menlo Park, California-based startup specializing in optogenetics. Both organizations will spend the next three years, “investigating metabolic disorders with the aim of developing novel medicines to improve the treatment of obesity and associated diseases,” according to Boehringer’s official statement.

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Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering with 3-D printers

September 2, 2015 6:00 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Advances in 3-D printing have led to new ways to make bone and some other relatively simple body parts that can be implanted in patients. But finding an ideal bio-ink has stalled progress toward printing more complex tissues with versatile functions. Now scientists, reporting in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, have developed a silk-based ink that could open up new possibilities toward that goal.

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Solar Panels Step Up Renewables’ Game

September 2, 2015 5:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

With the U.S. seeking energy independence, as well as trying to boost its economy, renewable energy sources seem a feasible fit. From biofuels to solar and wind energy, the U.S. is diving into the technologies and processes that make these energy sources viable.

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Radioactive contaminants found in coal ash

September 2, 2015 4:00 pm | by Duke Univ. | News | Comments

A new Duke Univ.-led study has revealed the presence of radioactive contaminants in coal ash from all three major U.S. coal-producing basins. The study found that levels of radioactivity in the ash were up to five times higher than in normal soil, and up to 10 times higher than in the parent coal itself because of the way combustion concentrates radioactivity.

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Making fuel from light

September 2, 2015 3:00 pm | by Jo Napolitano, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Refined by nature over a billion years, photosynthesis has given life to the planet, providing an environment suitable for the smallest, most primitive organism all the way to our own species. While scientists have been studying and mimicking the natural phenomenon in the laboratory for years, understanding how to replicate the chemical process behind it has largely remained a mystery, until now.

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Sea Sapphires, from Neon to Invisibility

September 2, 2015 2:50 pm | by Greg Watry, Digital Reporter | Articles | Comments

Sea sapphires, tiny ocean creatures, live up to the iridescence of their namesake stone. As they sway and swim in the water, the creatures bounce between incredible displays of blue, purple and green and near invisibility. Researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science recently discovered the underlying mechanism of the color transformations, publishing their findings in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

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Method opens pathway to new drugs and dyes

September 2, 2015 2:00 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have developed a practical method to synthesize chemical building blocks widely used in drug discovery research and in the manufacture drugs and dyes. The new method from the lab of Rice synthetic chemist K.C. Nicolaou was designed to enable the discovery and development of novel drugs to attack cancer cells and as an efficient way to create new molecular entities for biology and medicine.

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For 2-D boron, it’s all about that base

September 2, 2015 1:36 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have theoretically determined that the properties of atom-thick sheets of boron depend on where those atoms land. Calculation of the atom-by-atom energies involved in creating a sheet of boron revealed that the metal substrate—the surface upon which 2-D materials are grown in a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) furnace—would make all the difference.

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