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Biochar alters water flow to improve sand, clay

September 25, 2014 8:00 am | by David Ruth, Rice Univ. | Comments

As more gardeners and farmers add ground charcoal, or biochar, to soil to both boost crop yields and counter global climate change, a new study by researchers at Rice Univ. and Colorado College could help settle the debate about one of biochar’s biggest benefits: the seemingly contradictory ability to make clay soils drain faster and sandy soils drain slower.

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Chemists recruit anthrax to deliver cancer drugs

September 25, 2014 7:49 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Bacillus anthracis bacteria have very efficient machinery for injecting toxic proteins into cells, leading to the potentially deadly infection known as anthrax. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers has now hijacked that delivery system for a different purpose: administering cancer drugs.

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Researchers develop simple, one-step method to synthesize nanoparticles

September 24, 2014 12:01 pm | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory have introduced a new one-step process using, for the first time in these types of syntheses, potassium superoxide to rapidly form oxide nanoparticles from simple salt solutions in water. An important advantage of this method is the capability of creating bulk quantities of these materials, more than 10 g in a single step.

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2-D materials’ crystalline defects key to new properties

September 24, 2014 11:13 am | Comments

using an aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscope, researchers have recently understood how defects in 2-D crystals such as tungsten disulphide can move, or dislocate, to other locations in the material. Understanding how atoms "glide" and "climb" on the surface of 2-D crystals may pave the way for researchers to develop materials with unusual or unique characteristics.

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Wind energy proposal would light Los Angeles homes

September 24, 2014 10:59 am | by Michael R. Blood and Mead Gruver, Associated Press | Comments

Finding an economical way to store renewable energy from wind or the sun has proved challenging. An alliance of four companies say they have found an answer and are proposing an $8 billion power project that would start with turbines on a huge wind farm in Wyoming and end with enough electricity for over 1 million households in Southern California. The key link is an underground energy storage site carved out of a massive salt formation.

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Nanotechnology leads to better, cheaper LEDs for phones and lighting

September 24, 2014 10:57 am | by John Sullivan, Princeton Univ. | Comments

Princeton Univ. researchers have developed a new method to increase the power and clarity of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Using a new nanoscale structure made from flexible carbon-based sheet, the researchers increased the brightness and efficiency of LEDs made of organic materials by 57%.

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Tonsil stem cells could someday help repair liver damage without surgery

September 24, 2014 10:56 am | Comments

The liver provides critical functions, such as ridding the body of toxins, but its failure can be deadly, and there are few options for fixing it. A promising alternative in development is transplanting liver cells made using adult stem cells, but the only source identified until now has been bone marrow. Recently, scientists identified another, more convenient, source of adult stem cells that could be used for this purpose:tonsils.

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Low-cost, “green” transistor heralds advance in flexible electronics

September 24, 2014 10:02 am | Comments

As tech company LG demonstrated this summer with the unveiling of its 18-in flexible screen, the next generation of roll-up displays is tantalizingly close. Researchers are now reporting a new, inexpensive and simple way to make transparent, flexible transistors that could help bring roll-up smartphones with see-through displays and other bendable gadgets to consumers in just a few years.

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Island to get first German drone delivery service

September 24, 2014 9:49 am | Comments

Deutsche Post DHL says it is starting Germany's first drone package delivery service, a test program transporting medicine to a pharmacy on a North Sea island. The company said the quad-rotor "DHL Paketkopter 2.0" will begin daily flights Friday, bringing a maximum load of 1.2 kg of medicine to the German island of Juist.

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When a doughnut becomes an apple

September 24, 2014 9:46 am | by Barbara Vonarburg, ETH Zurich | Comments

In experiments using graphene, researchers in Switzerland have been able to demonstrate a phenomenon predicted by a Russian physicist more than 50 years ago. The observation of the Lifshitz transition, which describes a change in topology, depended on the creation of a double-layer graphene sample of unprecedented quality.

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New solar cells serve free lunch

September 24, 2014 9:07 am | by Poncie Rutsch, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology | Comments

A common complaints about solar power is that solar panels are still too expensive. Efforts at making them more efficient or longer-lasting have been limited. A new method developed in Okinawa could solve the expense problem: A hybrid form of deposition is being used to create perovskite solar cells from a mixture of inexpensive organic and inorganic raw materials, eliminating the need for expensive crystallized silicon.

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Mission accomplished: India joins Mars explorers

September 24, 2014 8:58 am | by Katy Daigle, Associated Press | Comments

India triumphed in its first interplanetary mission, placing a satellite into orbit around Mars on Wednesday and catapulting the country into an elite club of deep-space explorers. In scenes broadcast live on Indian TV, scientists broke into wild cheers as the orbiter's engines completed 24 min of burn time to maneuver the spacecraft into its designated place around the red planet.

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Study: Solar energy-driven process quickly reclaims tailings ponds

September 24, 2014 8:52 am | Comments

Cleaning up oil sands tailings has just gotten a lot greener thanks to a novel technique developed by Univ. of Alberta civil engineering professors that uses solar energy to accelerate tailings pond reclamation efforts by industry. Instead of using ultraviolet lamps as a light source to treat the water affected by oil sands processes, sunlight alone treats just as efficiently but at a much lower cost.

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Antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish prevent both freezing and melting

September 24, 2014 8:48 am | Comments

Antarctic fish that manufacture their own "antifreeze" proteins to survive in the icy Southern Ocean also suffer an unfortunate side effect: The protein-bound ice crystals that accumulate inside their bodies resist melting even when temperatures warm. Ice that doesn't melt at its normal melting point is referred to as "superheated”, and the phenomenon was an unexpected discovery by scientists in Oregon and Illinois.

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Nuclear spins control electrical currents

September 23, 2014 2:47 pm | by Katherine Kornei | Comments

An international team of physicists has shown that information stored in the nuclear spins of hydrogen isotopes in an organic light-emitting diode (LED) or organic LED can be read out by measuring the electrical current through the device. Unlike previous schemes that only work at ultracold temperatures, this is the first to operate at room temperature, and could be used to create extremely dense and highly energy-efficient memory devices.

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