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Finger-mounted reading device for the blind

March 10, 2015 | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at the MIT Media Laboratory have built a prototype of a finger-mounted device with a built-in camera that converts written text into audio for visually impaired users.             

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Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

March 27, 2015 8:01 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Chemists from Brown Univ. have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon. In a paper published in Nanoletters, the researchers describe methods for making nanoribbons and nanoplates from a compound called silicon telluride. The materials are pure, p-type semiconductors that could be used in a variety of electronic and optical devices.

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Dark matter even darker than once thought

March 27, 2015 7:54 am | by Hubble Information Centre | Comments

Astronomers using observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have studied how dark matter in clusters of galaxies behaves when the clusters collide. The results, published in Science, show that dark matter interacts with itself even less than previously thought, and narrows down the options for what this mysterious substance might be.

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Using magnetic fields to understand high-temperature superconductivity

March 27, 2015 7:44 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

Taking our understanding of quantum matter to new levels, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory are exposing high-temperature superconductors to very high magnetic fields, changing the temperature at which the materials become perfectly conducting and revealing unique properties of these substances.

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Analysis sees many promising pathways for solar photovoltaic power

March 26, 2015 12:07 pm | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

In a broad new assessment of the status and prospects of solar photovoltaic technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say that it is “one of the few renewable, low-carbon resources with both the scalability and the technological maturity to meet ever-growing global demand for electricity.”

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FDA to scrutinize unproven alternative remedies

March 26, 2015 12:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | Comments

Federal officials plan to review the safety and evidence behind alternative remedies like Zicam and Cold-Eeze, products that are protected by federal law, but not accepted by mainstream medicine. The Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday that it will hold a two-day meeting next month on regulations for homeopathic medicines, which have long occupied a place on the fringes of U.S. health care.

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Ancient Martian lake system records two water-related events

March 26, 2015 11:37 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | Comments

Researchers from Brown Univ. have completed a new analysis of an ancient Martian lake system in Jezero Crater, near the planet’s equator. The study finds that the onslaught of water that filled the crater was one of at least two separate periods of water activity in the region surrounding Jezero.

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Quantum compute this

March 26, 2015 11:05 am | by Washington State Univ. | Comments

Washington State Univ. mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer. Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

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Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

March 26, 2015 10:55 am | by Univ. of East Anglia | Comments

Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the Univ. of East Anglia. A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol. It is estimated that more than 400 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage.

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Protein shake-up

March 26, 2015 10:47 am | by Chris Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

For living organisms proteins are an essential part of their body system and are needed to thrive. In recent years, a certain class of proteins has challenged researchers’ conventional notion that proteins have a static and well-defined structure. It’s thought that mutations in these proteins, known as intrinsically disordered proteins, are associated with neurodegenerative changes, cardiovascular disorders and diseases like cancer.

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New spin on Saturn’s peculiar rotation

March 26, 2015 8:41 am | by Tel Aviv Univ. | Comments

Tracking the rotation speed of solid planets, like the Earth and Mars, is a relatively simple task: Just measure the time it takes for a surface feature to roll into view again. But giant gas planets Jupiter and Saturn are more problematic for planetary scientists, as they both lack measurable solid surfaces and are covered by thick layers of clouds, foiling direct visual measurements by space probes.

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A new kind of light bulb

March 26, 2015 8:25 am | by Univ. of Southern California | Comments

How many researchers does it take to change a light bulb? And how many lives could they save by changing it? The answer to both questions is larger than you might expect. In the developing world, light bulbs might as well be insect magnets. The light they emit, particularly the blue wavelengths of LED lights, is attractive to a range of insects, drawing them out from the night and straight to people's homes.

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Novel plastic could spur new green energy applications, artificial muscles

March 26, 2015 8:11 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

A plastic used in filters and tubing has an unusual trait: It can produce electricity when pulled or pressed. This ability has been used in small ways, but now researchers are coaxing fibers of the material to make even more electricity for a wider range of applications from green energy to "artificial muscles."

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Copper atoms bring a potential new battery material to life

March 26, 2015 8:03 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are an important component of modern technology, powering phones, laptops, tablets and other portable devices when they are not plugged in. They even power electric vehicles. But to make batteries that last longer, provide more power, and are more energy efficient, scientists must find battery materials that perform better than those currently in use.

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Desalination with nanoporous graphene membrane

March 26, 2015 7:53 am | by Dawn Levy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Less than 1% of Earth’s water is drinkable. Removing salt and other minerals from our biggest available source of water, seawater, may help satisfy a growing global population thirsty for fresh water for drinking, farming, transportation, heating, cooling and industry. But desalination is an energy-intensive process, which concerns those wanting to expand its application.

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Thousands of atoms entangled with a single photon

March 26, 2015 7:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Physicists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Belgrade have developed a new technique that can successfully entangle 3,000 atoms using only a single photon. The results represent the largest number of particles that have ever been mutually entangled experimentally.

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