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Solar excitement

October 2, 2015 1:00 pm | by MIT Dept. of Chemistry | Comments

Organic photovoltaic material offers great promise for solar energy. The semiconducting plastic is lightweight, flexible, relatively inexpensive and easy to make. The problem is that, unlike inorganic photovoltaic material, it is not very efficient or stable. But work by Adam Willard, an assistant professor in the Dept. of Chemistry at MIT, has the potential to change that.


Research says fusion reactors could become “economically viable”

October 2, 2015 12:00 pm | by Leighton Kitson, Durham Univ. | Comments

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, and policy makers should start planning to build them as a replacement for conventional nuclear power stations, according to new research.


A step toward clothing that guards against chemical warfare agents

October 2, 2015 10:00 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Recent reports of chemical weapons attacks in the Middle East underscore the urgent need for new ways to guard against their toxic effects. Toward that end, scientists report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces a new hydrogel coating that neutralizes both mustard gas and nerve agent VX. It could someday be applied to materials such as clothing and paint.


Fractals aid efforts to understand heat transport at nanoscale

October 2, 2015 8:11 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Researchers for the first time have applied a modern theory of heat transport in experiments with semiconductors used in computers and lasers, with implications for the design of devices that convert waste heat into electricity and the control of overheating in miniaturized and high–speed electronic components.


Printable electronics thanks to contactless liquid deposition

October 2, 2015 8:04 am | by Jochem Vreeman, Univ. of Twente | Comments

Scientists of research institute MESA+ of Twente Univ. have developed a technology for contactless deposition of liquids at nanoscale. In doing so, they make use of an electric field. Their technology will lead to new 3-D applications and can be of great value to, for example, cell research, nanolithography and printable electronics.


A necklace of fractional vortices

October 2, 2015 7:39 am | by Chalmers Univ. of Technology | Comments

Researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have arrived at how what is known as time-reversal symmetry can break in one class of superconducting material. The results have been published in Nature Physics.


EPA sets new ozone standard, disappointing all sides

October 1, 2015 6:01 pm | by Matthew Daly, Associated Press | Comments

The Obama administration on Thursday established stricter limits on the smog-causing pollution linked to asthma and respiratory illness, drawing swift condemnation from business leaders and Republicans who warned of damage to the economy.


Researchers: Carbon pledges lower warming forecast

October 1, 2015 1:30 pm | by The Associated Press | Comments

A climate research group says carbon emissions cuts pledged by governments could rein in global warming by up to 1 C (1.8 F) by 2100. On Thursday—the deadline for submitting pledges for a U.N. climate pact—the Climate Action Tracker group said if fully implemented, the emissions targets would result in 2.7 C (4.9 F) of warming compared to pre-industrial times.


Extending a battery’s lifetime with heat

October 1, 2015 1:00 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | Comments

Don't go sticking your electronic devices in a toaster oven just yet, but for a longer-lasting battery, you might someday heat them up when not in use. Over time, the electrodes inside a rechargeable battery cell can grow tiny, branch-like filaments called dendrites, causing short circuits that kill the battery or even ignite it in flames.


3-D printing techniques help surgeons carve new ears

October 1, 2015 12:00 pm | by Jennifer Langston, Univ. of Washington | Comments

When surgical residents need to practice a complicated procedure to fashion a new ear for children without one, they typically get a bar of soap, carrot or an apple. To treat children with a missing or under-developed ear, experienced surgeons harvest pieces of rib cartilage from the child and carve them into the framework of a new ear. They take only as much of that precious cartilage as they need.


Hydrogen for all seasons

October 1, 2015 11:00 am | by Ludwig-Maximilians-Univ. Munich | Comments

Chemists from Ludwig-Maximilians-Univ. in Munich have developed novel porous materials called "covalent organic frameworks," which provide a basis for the design of polymeric photocatalysts with tunable physical, chemical and electronic properties.


Resurrected proteins double their natural activity

October 1, 2015 10:00 am | by ITMO Univ. | Comments

Proteins play a large role in sustaining life functions. These molecules ensure that vital reactions, such as DNA replication or metabolism catalysis, are carried out within cells. When proteins die, the so-called process of denaturation takes place, which is accompanied by the unfolding of the native 3-D structure of the protein and hence the loss of its activity.


An accessible approach to making a mini-brain

October 1, 2015 8:11 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

If you need a working miniature brain—say for drug testing—a new paper describes how to build one with what the Brown Univ. authors say is relative ease and low expense. The little balls of brain aren’t performing any cogitation, but they produce electrical signals and form their own neural connections, making them readily producible testbeds for neuroscience research, the authors said.


Study reveals urban smoke absorbs sunlight, exacerbating climate warming

October 1, 2015 8:04 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

Cloaking urban areas and wildfire zones, tiny smoke particles suspended in the atmosphere have a sizeable effect on our climate. But the exact effect of many of these aerosols, such as how much sunlight they absorb, thus warming Earth, or reflecting back to space and so cooling Earth, is very uncertain.


More-flexible machine learning

October 1, 2015 7:43 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Machine learning, which is the basis for most commercial artificial-intelligence systems, is intrinsically probabilistic. An object-recognition algorithm asked to classify a particular image, for instance, might conclude that it has a 60% chance of depicting a dog, but a 30% chance of depicting a cat.



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