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The birth of topological spintronics

July 24, 2014 | Comments

Research led by Penn State Univ. and Cornell Univ. physicists is studying "spintorque" in devices that combine a standard magnetic material with a new material known as a topological insulator. The new insulator, which is made of bismuth selenide and operates at room temperature, overcomes one of the key challenges to developing a spintronics technology based on spin-orbit coupling.

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R&D Daily

New assay tool characterizes plant sugar transporters

July 28, 2014 4:54 pm | Comments

A powerful new tool that could help advance the genetic engineering of “fuel” crops bioenergy, has been developed by researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Their new, unique assay enabled them to analyze nucleotide sugar transporter activities in Arabidopsis, a promising source of plant biomass, and characterize a family of six nucleotide sugar transporters that has never before been described.

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New tools help neuroscientists analyze big data

July 28, 2014 4:45 pm | Comments

Big data can mean big headaches for scientists. A new library of software tools from Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus speeds analysis of data sets so large and complex they would take days or weeks to analyze on a single workstation, even if a single workstation could do it at all. The new tool, Thunder, should help interpret data that holds new insights into how the brain works.

Physicists unlock nature of high-temperature superconductivity

July 28, 2014 4:14 pm | by Jeanne Galatzer-Levy, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago | Comments

Physicists have identified the “quantum glue” that underlies a promising type of superconductivity—a crucial step towards the creation of energy superhighways that conduct electricity without current loss. The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is a collaboration between the Univ. of Illinois at Chicago,  Cornell Univ. and Brookhaven National Laboratory.

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Cagey material acts as alcohol factory

July 28, 2014 2:37 pm | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Some chemical conversions are harder than others. Refining natural gas into an easy-to-transport, easy-to-store liquid alcohol has so far been a logistic and economic challenge. But now, a new material, designed and patented by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is making this process a little easier.

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Scientists create model “bead-spring” chains with tunable properties

July 28, 2014 2:25 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. researchers are using magnetic beads and DNA “springs” to create chains of varying flexibility that can be used as microscale models for polymer macromolecules. The experiment is visual proof that “bead-spring” polymers, introduced as theory in the 1950s, can be made as stiff or as flexible as required and should be of interest to materials scientists who study the basic physics of polymers.

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New protein structure could help treat Alzheimer’s

July 28, 2014 2:16 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but the research community is one step closer to finding treatment. Univ. of Washington bioengineers have a designed a peptide structure that can stop the harmful changes of the body’s normal proteins into a state that’s linked to widespread diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

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Gadget Watch: PadFone novel as phone-tablet hybrid

July 28, 2014 1:26 pm | by Anick Jesdanun - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Companies often blend old products to give you something new. This summer, AsusTek Computer Inc. claims you don't need both a phone and a tablet—as long as you get its new PadFone X. The PadFone works like any other phone and has a screen that measures 5 in diagonally.

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Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

July 28, 2014 11:12 am | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. recently published work that describes how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.  These waveguide loops, called “racetrack resonators” because of their shape, could help form a device architecture that would make graphene biochemical sensors a reality.

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Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

July 28, 2014 10:48 am | by Dina Cappiello, Associated Press | Comments

As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America's unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution. This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine the president's strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and also reveals a side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem.

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U.S. plans wide seismic testing of sea floor

July 28, 2014 10:45 am | by Wayne Parry, Associated Press | Comments

The U.S. Geological Survey plans this summer and next to map the outer limits of the continental shelf, and also study underwater landslides that would help predict where and when tsunamis might occur. But environmentalists say it could cause the same type of marine life damage they fought unsuccessfully to prevent this month off the coast of New Jersey.

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Technology translation engine launches “organs-on-chips” company

July 28, 2014 10:07 am | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products.

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NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations

July 28, 2014 9:55 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | Comments

To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at NIST have developed a prototype field test standard to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. Once the standard is field tested, it will serve as a model for constructing similar devices for state weights and measures inspectors to use.

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Climate change, air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

July 28, 2014 9:18 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution. A new study shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

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Understanding the source of extra-large capacities in promising Li-ion battery electrodes

July 28, 2014 8:15 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Lithium (Li)-ion batteries power almost all of the portable electronic devices that we use every day, including smartphones, cameras, toys and even electric cars. Researchers across the globe are working to find materials that will lead to safe, cheap, long-lasting and powerful Li-ion batteries.

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The source of the sky’s x-ray glow

July 28, 2014 8:02 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft x-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system. The source of this "diffuse x-ray background" has been debated for the past 50 years.

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