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Pervoskite solar tech shows quick energy returns

July 21, 2015 7:52 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

In the solar power research community, a new class of materials called perovskites is causing quite a buzz, as scientists search for technology that has a better “energy payback time” than the silicon-based solar panels currently dominating the market.  Now, a new study reports that perovskite modules are better than any commercially available solar technology when products are compared on the basis of energy payback time.

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Property of non-stick pans improves solar cell efficiency

July 21, 2015 7:45 am | by Scott Schrage, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | Comments

The same quality that buffers a raincoat against downpours or a pan against sticky foods can also boost the performance of solar cells, according to a new study from Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers. Published in Nature Communications, the study showed that constructing a type of organic solar cell on a "non-wetting" plastic surface made it 1.5 times more efficient at converting sunlight to electricity.

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Long-sought phenomenon finally detected

July 21, 2015 7:25 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Part of a 1929 prediction by physicist Hermann Weyl—of a kind of massless particle that features a singular point in its energy spectrum called the “Weyl point”—has finally been confirmed by direct observation for the first time, says an international team of physicists led by researchers at MIT. The finding could lead to new kinds of high-power single-mode lasers and other optical devices, the team says.

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Studies: Better sleep may be important for Alzheimer's risk

July 20, 2015 6:05 pm | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | Comments

To sleep, perchance to... ward off Alzheimer's? New research suggests poor sleep may increase people's risk of Alzheimer's disease, by spurring a brain-clogging gunk that in turn further interrupts shut-eye. Disrupted sleep may be one of the missing pieces in explaining how a hallmark of Alzheimer's, a sticky protein called beta-amyloid, starts its damage long before people have trouble with memory.

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Better DNA hair analysis for catching criminals

July 20, 2015 1:30 pm | by Univ. of Adelaide | Comments

A simple, lower-cost new method for DNA profiling of human hairs developed by the Univ. of Adelaide should improve opportunities to link criminals to serious crimes.

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Phytoplankton's future

July 20, 2015 1:00 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Oceans have absorbed up to 30% of human-made carbon dioxide around the world, storing dissolved carbon for hundreds of years.

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Uncovering the spread of bacteria in pneumonia

July 20, 2015 12:30 pm | by Sarah Plumridge, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

Scientists have discovered the role a toxin produced by a pneumonia-causing bacterium plays in the spread of infection from the lungs to the bloodstream in hospitalized patients.

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Major cyberattack targets UCLA hospital system

July 20, 2015 12:00 pm | by The Associated Press | Comments

A months-long cyberattack on the Univ. of California, Los Angeles hospital system put at risk the personal information for up to 4.5 million people, officials said Friday.

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Families affected by early alzheimer's seek better treatment

July 20, 2015 11:30 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | Comments

International scientists gathering in Washington for a conference this week express cautious optimism that they may finally be on the right track to fight Alzheimer's. 

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How clouds get their brightness

July 20, 2015 8:08 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Comments

How clouds form and how they help set the temperature of the earth are two of the big remaining questions in climate research. Now, a study of clouds over the world's remotest ocean shows that ocean life is responsible for up to half the cloud droplets that pop in and out of existence during summer.

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Giving solar fuel cell efficiency a boost

July 20, 2015 7:47 am | by Eindhoven Univ. of Technology | Comments

A solar cell that produces fuel rather than electricity. Researchers at Eindhoven Univ. of Technology and FOM Foundation present a very promising prototype of this in the journal Nature Communications. The material gallium phosphide enables their solar cell to produce the clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water.

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Metal foams capable of shielding x-rays, gamma rays

July 20, 2015 7:39 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Research from North Carolina State Univ. shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking x-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

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Bringing back the magic in metamaterials

July 20, 2015 7:31 am | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | Comments

A single drop of blood is teeming with microorganisms—imagine if we could see them, and even nanometer-sized viruses, with the naked eye. That’s a real possibility with what scientists call a “perfect lens.” The lens hasn’t been created yet, but it is a theoretical perfected optical lens made out of metamaterials, which are engineered to change the way the materials interact with light.

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Siting wind farms more quickly, cheaply

July 20, 2015 7:24 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

When a power company wants to build a new wind farm, it generally hires a consultant to make wind speed measurements at the proposed site for eight to 12 months. Those measurements are correlated with historical data and used to assess the site’s power-generation capacity.

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"Beautiful eye candy": Frozen plains in Pluto's heart

July 17, 2015 6:05 pm | by Marcia Dunn, AP Aerospace Writer, Associated Press | Comments

Vast frozen plains exist next door to Pluto's big, rugged mountains sculpted of ice, scientists said Friday, three days after humanity's first-ever flyby of the dwarf planet. The New Horizons spacecraft team revealed close-up photos of those plains, which they're already unofficially calling Sputnik Planum after the world's first man-made satellite.

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