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Improving insulation materials, down to wetting crossed fibres

July 2, 2015 8:52 am | by Springer | News | Comments

Sandcastles are a prime example of how adding a small amount of liquid to a granular material changes its characteristics. But understanding the effect of a liquid wetting randomly oriented fibers in a fibrous medium remains a mystery. Now, scientists have demonstrated that the spreading of the liquid is controlled by three key parameters: the amount of liquid on the fibers, the fibres’ orientation and the minimum distance between them. 

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Implantable 'artificial pancreas' could help diabetes patients control their blood sugar

July 2, 2015 8:48 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Scientists are reporting the development of an implantable "artificial pancreas" that continuously measures a person's blood sugar, or glucose, level and can automatically release insulin as needed.

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Ultra-stable JILA microscopy technique tracks tiny objects for hours

July 2, 2015 8:44 am | by NIST | News | Comments

​JILA researchers have designed a microscope instrument so stable that it can accurately measure the 3D movement of individual molecules over many hours--hundreds of times longer than the current limit measured in seconds.

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Team develops new storage cell for solar energy storage, nighttime conversion

July 2, 2015 8:41 am | by UT Arlington | News | Comments

A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new energy cell that can store large-scale solar energy even when it's dark. The innovation is an advancement over the most common solar energy systems that rely on using sunlight immediately as a power source. 

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We're not alone, but the universe may be less crowded than we think

July 2, 2015 8:38 am | by Michigan State University | News | Comments

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the universe. There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University.

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Technologists John Kelton and Daniel Ray perform inspection of the Falling Particle Receiver during a cloud delay atop the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories. Courtesy of Randy Montoya

Testing heats up at Sandia’s Solar Tower with high temperature falling particle receiver

July 1, 2015 1:56 pm | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories are working to lower the cost of solar energy systems and improve efficiencies in a big way, thanks to a system of small particles. This month, engineers lifted Sandia’s continuously recirculating falling particle receiver to the top of the tower at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility, marking the start of first-of-its-kind testing that will continue through 2015.

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Muon tomography images of a valve allowed researchers to differentiate between an open and closed valve. Courtesy of Matt Durham, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Using muons from cosmic rays to find fraying infrastructure

July 1, 2015 12:58 pm | by Laurel Hamers, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

In the United States, electricity comes with the flip of a switch and heat arrives with the push of a button. Behind such convenience lies a massive infrastructure network that produces and distributes energy. And just like roads wear down and need to be repaved occasionally, this energy infrastructure degrades over time. Pipes can corrode and concrete can wear thin. Failure can be catastrophic...

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Smaller is more stable. Smaller Mg nanoparticles display better mechanical performance that is good for structural stability during cycling and also hydrogen storage kinetics. Courtesy of Qian Yu/Zhejiang University

Physical study may give boost to hydrogen cars

July 1, 2015 12:21 pm | by Jason Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

A team of researchers describes the physics of magnesium hydride, one type of material that potentially could be used to store hydrogen fuel in future automobiles and other applications. Using a technique known as in situ transmission electron microscopy, the team tested different sized nanoparticles of magnesium hydride to gauge their mechanical properties and discovered how one might engineer the nanoparticles to make them better.

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This is a branch of Dracaena marginata. Courtesy of Linnea Hesse

The inside story: MRI imaging shows how plants can inspire new engineering materials

July 1, 2015 10:39 am | by Society for Experimental Biology | News | Comments

3-D imaging of plant branching structures is allowing researchers to see how exactly their internal tissues respond under stress, giving new insights into the design of potential new engineering materials, such as those used in aircraft. Researchers have developed a new method to visualize the junction between branches and stems. The method uses MRI to study how vascular tissue within the ramifications deforms under stress and strain.

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A fresh CNF based microwave silicon transistor chip. After 3 weeks of putting it in a woodpile, the chip was partially degraded with the help of fungi. Courtesy of Jung-Hun Seo, Shaoqin Gong and Zhenqiang Ma/University of Wisconsin-Madison

Biodegradable, flexible silicon transistors developed

July 1, 2015 10:26 am | by Zhengzheng Zhang, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Researchers have come up with a new solution to alleviate the environmental burden of discarded electronics. They have demonstrated the feasibility of making microwave biodegradable thin-film transistors from a transparent, flexible biodegradable substrate made from inexpensive wood, called cellulose nanofibrillated fiber (CNF). This work opens the door for green, low-cost, portable electronic devices in future.

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Subterranean objects influence the tick rate of local clocks that are located above the Earth’s surface. New lava filling a magma chamber beneath a volcano makes a clock located above that volcano tick more slowly than a clock that is located further away

Monitoring volcanoes with ground-based atomic clocks

July 1, 2015 10:07 am | by University of Zurich | News | Comments

An international team led by scientists from the University of Zurich finds that high-precision atomic clocks can be used to monitor volcanoes and potentially improve predictions of future eruptions. In addition, a ground-based network of atomic clocks could monitor the reaction of the Earth’s crust to solid Earth tides.

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New method can make cheaper solar energy storage

July 1, 2015 7:46 am | by EPFL | News | Comments

Storing solar energy as hydrogen is a promising way for developing comprehensive renewable energy systems. EPFL scientists have now developed a simple, unconventional method to fabricate high-quality, efficient solar panels for direct solar hydrogen production with low cost.

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NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by NASA | News | Comments

NASA's Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. The outburst came from V404 Cygni, a binary system located about 8,000 light-years away that contains a black hole. Every couple of decades the black hole fires up in an outburst of high-energy light, becoming an X-ray nova. Until the Swift detection, it had been slumbering since 1989.

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Water used for hydraulic fracturing varies widely across United States

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by American Geophysical Union | News | Comments

The amount of water required to hydraulically fracture oil and gas wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national-scale analysis and map of hydraulic fracturing water usage detailed in a new study.

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Scientists propose new model of mysterious barrier to fusion known as the 'density limit'

July 1, 2015 7:00 am | by Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed a detailed model of the source of a puzzling limitation on fusion reactions. The findings complete and confirm previous PPPL research and could lead to steps to overcome the barrier if the model proves consistent with experimental data. 

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