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The Lead

Crystallizing the DNA nanotechnology dream

October 20, 2014 | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Comments

DNA has garnered attention for its potential as a programmable material platform that could spawn entire new and revolutionary nanodevices in computer science, microscopy, biology and more. Researchers have been working to master the ability to coax DNA molecules to self-assemble into the precise shapes and sizes needed in order to fully realize these nanotechnology dreams.

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Special microscope captures defects in nanotubes

October 22, 2014 8:16 am | Comments

Univ. of Oregon chemists have devised a way to see the internal structures of electronic waves trapped in carbon nanotubes by external electrostatic charges. Their atomic scale observations provide a detailed view of traps that disrupt energy flow, possibly pointing toward improved charge-carrying devices.

Could I squeeze by you?

October 22, 2014 8:15 am | by Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Communications Specialist, Ames Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have developed deeper understanding of the ideal design for mesoporous nanoparticles used in catalytic reactions, such as hydrocarbon conversion to biofuels. The research will help determine the optimal diameter of channels within the nanoparticles to maximize catalytic output.

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Study: Graphene fragments speed up rate of chemical reactions

October 22, 2014 8:11 am | Comments

Researchers in Australia have discovered that nano-sized fragments of graphene have the ability to speed up the rate of chemical reactions. The finding is significant, say researchers, because it suggested that graphene might have potential applications in catalyzing chemical reactions of industrial importance.

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Garnet ceramics ideal for high-energy lithium batteries

October 22, 2014 8:06 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have discovered exceptional properties in a garnet material that could enable development of higher-energy battery designs. The team used electron microscopy to take an atomic-level look at a cubic garnet material called LLZO. The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations.

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New 3-D printing algorithms speed production, reduce waste

October 22, 2014 7:51 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

New software algorithms have been shown to significantly reduce the time and material needed to produce objects with 3-D printers. Because the printers create objects layer-by-layer from the bottom up, this poses a challenge when printing overhanging or protruding features like a figure's outstretched arms. They must be formed using supporting structures—which are later removed—adding time and material to the process.

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Researchers advance genome editing technique

October 22, 2014 7:41 am | by Mick Kulikowski, North Carolina State Univ. News Services | Comments

Customized genome editing has major potential for application in medicine, biotechnology, food and agriculture. Now, in a paper published in Molecular Cell, North Carolina State Univ. researchers and colleagues examine six key molecular elements that help drive this genome editing system, which is known as CRISPR-Cas.

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Researchers take big data approach to estimate range of electric vehicles

October 21, 2014 10:58 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed new software that estimates how much farther electric vehicles can drive before needing to recharge. The new technique requires drivers to plug in their destination and automatically pulls in data on a host of variables to predict energy use for the vehicle.

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Big black holes can block new stars

October 21, 2014 10:46 am | by Dennis O'Shea, Johns Hopkins Univ. | Comments

Massive black holes spewing out radio frequency-emitting particles at near-light speed can block formation of new stars in aging galaxies, a study has found. The research provides crucial new evidence that it is these jets of radio frequency feedback streaming from mature galaxies’ central black holes that prevent hot free gas from cooling and collapsing into baby stars.

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If CD8 T cells take on one virus, they’ll fight others too

October 21, 2014 10:36 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

Scientists think of CD8 T cells as long-lived cells that become tuned to fight just one pathogen, but a new study finds that once CD8 T cells fight one pathogen, they also join the body’s “innate” immune system, ready to answer the calls of the cytokine signals that are set off by a wide variety of infections.

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Puzzling new behavior found in high-temperature superconductors

October 21, 2014 9:11 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | Comments

Research by an international team of scientists has uncovered a new, unpredicted behavior in a copper oxide material that becomes superconducting at relatively high temperatures. This new phenomenon presents a challenge to scientists seeking to understand its origin and connection with high-temperature superconductivity. Their ultimate goal is to design a superconducting material that works at room temperature.

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Supercomputers link proteins to drug side effects

October 21, 2014 8:48 am | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | Comments

New medications created by pharmaceutical companies have helped millions of Americans alleviate pain and suffering from their medical conditions. However, the drug creation process often misses many side effects that kill at least 100,000 patients a year, according to Nature.

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Sweeping air devices for greener planes

October 21, 2014 8:36 am | Comments

The large amount of jet fuel required to fly an airplane from point A to point B can have negative impacts on the environment and a traveler's wallet. With funding from NASA and the Boeing Company, engineers from Caltech and the Univ. of Arizona have developed a device that lets planes fly with much smaller tails, reducing the planes' overall size and weight, thus increasing fuel efficiency.

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Starfish shell-mimicking crystals could advance 3-D printing pills

October 21, 2014 8:19 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

In a design that mimics a hard-to-duplicate texture of starfish shells, Univ. of Michigan engineers have made rounded crystals that have no facets. The team calls the crystals "nanolobes". The nanolobes' shape and the way they're made have promising applications. The geometry could potentially be useful to guide light in advanced LEDs, solar cells and non-reflective surfaces.

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High blood-sugar levels may harden heart valves

October 21, 2014 8:05 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. bioengineers have found new evidence of a possible link between diabetes and the hardening of heart valves. A Rice laboratory, in collaboration with the Univ. of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School, discovered that the interstitial cells that turn raw materials into heart valves need just the right amount of nutrients for proper metabolic function.

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Getting the salt out

October 21, 2014 7:54 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

The boom in oil and gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is seen as a boon for meeting U.S. energy needs. But one byproduct of the process is millions of gallons of water that’s much saltier than seawater, after leaching salts from rocks deep below the surface. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and in Saudi Arabia say they have found an economical solution for removing the salt from this water.

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