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Venus flytrap inspires development of folding “snap” geometry

August 21, 2015 3:00 pm | by Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst | Comments

Inspired by natural "snapping" systems like Venus flytrap leaves and hummingbird beaks, a team led by physicist Christian Santangelo at the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst has developed a way to use curved creases to give thin curved shells a fast, programmable snapping motion. The new technique avoids the need for complicated materials and fabrication methods when creating structures with fast dynamics.

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Engineers improving safety, reliability of batteries

August 21, 2015 2:00 pm | by The Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville | Comments

The next big step forward in the quest for sustainable, more efficient energy is tantalizingly within reach thanks to research being led by Univ. of Tennessee’s Joshua Sangoro. Sangoro, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, heads a group devoted to the study of soft materials.

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Medical, biofuel advances possible with new gene regulation tool

August 21, 2015 1:00 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

Recent work by Los Alamos National Laboratory experimental and theoretical biologists describes a new method of controlling gene expression. The key is a tunable switch made from a small non-coding RNA molecule that could have value for medical and even biofuel production purposes.

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Micro-hydropower electricity generation could save water industry millions

August 21, 2015 12:00 pm | by Bangor Univ. | Comments

New research findings from Bangor Univ. and Trinity College Dublin have highlighted the potential for further cost savings from micro-hydropower. Savings of up to an additional £1m a year in Wales alone could help keep water bills down. The water industry consumes a vast amount of energy due to the need to treat, pump and distribute water and wastewater around the country.

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X-ray duo’s research helps launch human trial for treatment of arsenic poisoning

August 21, 2015 11:30 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Graham George and Ingrid Pickering, a husband and wife x-ray research team, have worked for decades to understand how contaminants in water and soil are taken up by the body and affect human health. Much of that research has taken place at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, where both are former staff scientists.

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Carbon number crunching

August 21, 2015 9:30 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

A booming economy and population led China to emerge in 2006 as the global leader in fossil-fuel carbon emissions, a distinction it still maintains. But exactly how much carbon China releases has been a topic of debate, with recent estimates varying by as much as 15%.

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Physicist tests theories of dark energy by mimicking the vacuum of space

August 21, 2015 8:30 am | by Katherine Kornei, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | Comments

Besides the atoms that make up our bodies and all of the objects we encounter in everyday life, the universe also contains mysterious dark matter and dark energy. The latter, which causes galaxies to accelerate away from one another, constitutes the majority of the universe’s energy and mass.

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Making hydrogen fuel from water and visible light highly efficient

August 21, 2015 7:23 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | Comments

Mimicking photosynthesis is not easy. The bottleneck of artificial photosynthesis is visible light, because converting it into other forms of energy is not efficient. Researchers at Michigan Technological Univ. have found a way to solve this issue, leading to an efficient technique to produce hydrogen fuel.

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Turning oily soil into fertile ground

August 20, 2015 10:00 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists are cleaning soil contaminated by oil spills in a way that saves energy and reclaims the soil’s fertility. They use a process known as pyrolysis, which involves heating contaminated soils in the absence of oxygen. This approach is much better for the environment than standard incineration techniques for fast remediation, said Rice environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez.

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Laser-burned graphene gains metallic powers

August 20, 2015 9:00 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. chemists who developed a unique form of graphene have found a way to embed metallic nanoparticles that turn the material into a useful catalyst for fuel cells and other applications. Laser-induced graphene, created by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour last year, is a flexible film with a surface of porous graphene made by exposing a common plastic known as polyimide to a commercial laser-scribing beam.

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Structure identified of tumor-suppressing protein

August 20, 2015 8:00 pm | by Joceyln Duffy, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Comments

An international group of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon Univ. physicists Mathias Lösche and Frank Heinrich have established the structure of an important tumor-suppressing protein, PTEN. Their findings provide new insights into how the protein regulates cell growth and how mutations in the gene that encodes the protein can lead to cancer.

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Electrospray solves longstanding problem in Langmuir-Blodgett assembly

August 20, 2015 7:00 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

In the 1930s, Irving Langmuir and his colleague Katharine Blodgett were working long days in the General Electric Company’s research laboratory. Together, they discovered that by spreading molecules with volatile organic solvents on the surface of water, they could create a one-molecule-thick film and use it as an anti-reflective coating for glass.

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A new femtosecond laser for industry

August 20, 2015 6:00 pm | by Univ. of Warsaw | Comments

A team at the Univ. of Warsaw, Faculty of Physics has created a laser capable of generating ultra-short pulses of light even under extremely difficult external conditions. This unique combination of precision and resilience is due to the fact that the whole process of generating femtosecond laser pulses takes place within a specially selected optical fiber.

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New data from Antarctic detector firms up cosmic neutrino sighting

August 20, 2015 5:00 pm | by Terry Devitt, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Researchers using the IceCube Neutrino Observatory have sorted through the billions of subatomic particles that zip through its frozen cubic-kilometer-sized detector each year to gather powerful new evidence in support of 2013 observations confirming the existence of cosmic neutrinos.

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New, stable 2-D materials

August 20, 2015 4:00 pm | by Daniel Cochlin, Univ. of Manchester | Comments

Dozens of new 2-D materials similar to graphene are now available, thanks to research from Univ. of Manchester scientists. These 2-D crystals are capable of delivering designer materials with revolutionary new properties. The problem has been that the vast majority of these atomically thin 2-D crystals are unstable in air, so react and decompose before their properties can be determined and their potential applications investigated.

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