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The Lead

Trapping light with a twister

December 23, 2014 | Comments

Researchers at MIT who succeeded last year in creating a material that could trap light and stop it in its tracks have now developed a more fundamental understanding of the process.             

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Carbon nanoballs can greatly contribute to sustainable energy supply

January 28, 2015 9:07 am | by Johanna Wilde, Chalmers Univ. of Technology | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have discovered that the insulation plastic used in high-voltage cables can withstand a 26% higher voltage if nanometer-sized carbon balls are added. This could result in enormous efficiency gains in the power grids of the future, which are needed to achieve a sustainable energy system.

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Laser pulse that gets shorter by itself

January 28, 2015 8:53 am | by Florian Aigner, Vienna Univ. of Technology | Comments

In a marathon, everyone starts at roughly the same place at roughly the same time. But the faster runners will gradually increase their lead, and in the end, the distribution of runners on the street will be very broad. Something similar happens to a pulse of light sent through a medium. The pulse is a combination of different colors (or wavelengths), and when they are sent through a medium like glass, they travel at different speeds.

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New pathway to valleytronics

January 28, 2015 8:43 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A potential avenue to quantum computing currently generating quite the buzz in the high-tech industry is “valleytronics,” in which information is coded based on the wavelike motion of electrons moving through certain 2-D semiconductors. Now, a promising new pathway to valleytronic technology has been uncovered by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Drug combo suppresses growth of late-stage prostate cancer tumors

January 28, 2015 8:31 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Low doses of metformin, a widely used diabetes medication and a gene inhibitor known as BI2536 can successfully halt the growth of late-stage prostate cancer tumors, a Purdue Univ. study finds. Prostate cancer causes the second-highest number of cancer-related deaths in men in the U.S., and methods of treating advanced prostate cancer are limited.

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Researchers tune friction in ionic solids at the nanoscale

January 28, 2015 8:26 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Friction impacts motion, hence the need to control friction forces. Currently, this is accomplished by mechanistic means or lubrication, but experiments conducted by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered a way of controlling friction on ionic surfaces at the nanoscale using electrical stimulation and ambient water vapor.

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Man trumps dog: Earlier assumption about BPA exposure confirmed

January 28, 2015 8:18 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Comments

Coating the mouth with BPA-containing food does not lead to higher than expected levels of BPA in blood, according to a new study. The study concludes that oral exposure does not create a risk for high exposures. BPA, also known as bisphenol A, is used to make some plastics and to seal canned food containers against bacterial contamination. Food, which picks up trace amounts of BPA from packaging, is the major source of human exposure.

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Nanoscale mirrored cavities amplify, connect quantum memories

January 28, 2015 8:11 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

The idea of computing systems based on controlling atomic spins just got a boost from new research performed at MIT and Brookhaven National Laboratory. By constructing tiny "mirrors" to trap light around impurity atoms in diamond crystals, the team dramatically increased the efficiency with which photons transmit information about those atoms' electronic spin states, which can be used to store quantum information.

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Hybrid memory device for superconducting computing

January 26, 2015 12:20 pm | by NIST | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated a nanoscale memory technology for superconducting computing that could hasten the advent of an urgently awaited, low-energy alternative to power-hungry conventional data centers and supercomputers. In recent years, the stupendous and growing data demands of cloud computing, expanded Internet use, mobile device support and other applications have prompted the creation of large, centralized computing facilities.

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Synthetic amino acid enables safe, new biotechnology solutions

January 26, 2015 12:13 pm | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | Comments

Scientists from Yale Univ. have devised a way to ensure genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be safely confined in the environment, overcoming a major obstacle to widespread use of GMOs in agriculture, energy production, waste management and medicine.

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Scaffolding is in charge of calcium carbonate crystals

January 26, 2015 11:45 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | Comments

Nature packs away carbon in chalk, shells and rocks made by marine organisms that crystallize calcium carbonate. Now, research suggests that the soft, organic scaffolds in which such crystals form guide crystallization by soaking up the calcium like an "ion sponge". Understanding the process better may help researchers develop advanced materials for energy and environmental uses, such as for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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Nanoshuttle wear and tear: It’s the mileage, not the age

January 26, 2015 11:36 am | by Holly Evarts, Columbia Univ. | Comments

As nanomachine design rapidly advances, researchers are moving from wondering if the nanomachine works to how long it will work. This is an especially important question as there are so many potential applications, for instance, for medical uses, including drug delivery, early diagnosis, disease monitoring, instrumentation and surgery.

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Climate models disagree on why temperature “wiggles” occur

January 26, 2015 11:06 am | by Duke Univ. | Comments

A new study finds that most climate models likely underestimate the degree of decade-to-decade variability occurring in mean surface temperatures as Earth's atmosphere warms. The models also provide inconsistent explanations of why this variability occurs in the first place. These discrepancies may undermine the models' reliability for projecting the short-term pace as well as the extent of future warming, the study's authors warn.

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Researchers identify materials to improve biofuel, petroleum processing

January 26, 2015 10:57 am | by Univ. of Minnesota | Comments

Using one of the largest supercomputers in the world, a team of researchers led by the Univ. of Minnesota has identified potential materials that could improve the production of ethanol and petroleum products. The discovery could lead to major efficiencies and cost savings in these industries. The Univ. of Minnesota has two patents pending on the research and hopes to license these technologies.

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Visualizing interacting electrons in a molecule

January 26, 2015 10:48 am | by Peter Liljeroth, Aalto Univ. | Comments

Understanding this electronic effect in organic molecules is crucial for their use in optoelectronic applications. In their article published in Nature Physics, the research team demonstrates measurements on the organic molecule cobalt phthalocyanine (CoPC) that can be explained only by taking into consideration how electrons in the molecule interact with each other.

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Weighing gas with sound and microwaves

January 26, 2015 10:30 am | by NIST | Comments

NIST scientists have developed a novel method to rapidly and accurately calibrate gas flow meters, such as those used to measure natural gas flowing in pipelines, by applying a fundamental physical principle: When a sound wave travels through a gas containing temperature gradients, the sound wave's average speed is determined by the average temperature of the gas.

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