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Pixel-engineered electronics have growth potential

September 29, 2014 | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

A little change in temperature makes a big difference for growing a new generation of hybrid atomic-layer structures, according to scientists. Rice Univ. scientists led the first single-step growth of self-assembled hybrid layers made of two elements that can either be side by side and one-atom thick or stacked atop each other. The structure’s final form can be tuned by changing the growth temperature.

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Automated sorting through metagenomes

September 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Microbes have an amazing ability to feed on plant biomass and convert it into other chemical products. Tapping into this talent has the potential to revolutionize energy, medicine, environmental remediation and many other fields. The success of this effort hinges in part on metagenomics, the emerging technology that enables researchers to read all the individual genomes of a sample microbial community at once.

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Researchers develop transparent nanoscintillators for radiation detection

September 30, 2014 7:56 am | by Traci Peterson, Univ. of Texas at Arlington | Comments

A Univ. of Texas at Arlington research team says recently identified radiation detection properties of a light-emitting nanostructure built in their lab could open doors for homeland security and medical advances. In a paper to be published in Optics Letters, the team describes a new method to fabricate transparent nanoscintillators by heating nanoparticles composed of lanthanum, yttrium and oxygen until a transparent ceramic is formed.

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Fat molecules influence form, function of key photosynthesis protein

September 30, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | Comments

A mysterious space within a protein critical to photosynthesis is filled with fat molecules that influence both the protein’s architecture and electrical properties, according to two recent studies. Researchers studied the atomic structure of, and electrical interactions within, the cytochrome bf complex, a protein complex central to the transport of electrons within membranes of a plant cell, a critical step in photosynthesis.

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High-speed drug screen

September 30, 2014 7:37 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology engineers have devised a way to rapidly test hundreds of different drug-delivery vehicles in living animals, making it easier to discover promising new ways to deliver a class of drugs called biologics, which includes antibodies, peptides, RNA and DNA, to human patients.

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Scientists identify the signature of aging in the brain

September 29, 2014 12:58 pm | Comments

How the brain ages is still largely an open question because this organ is mostly insulated from direct contact with other systems in the body. In recent research, scientists in Israel found evidence of a unique “signature” that may be the “missing link” between cognitive decline and aging. The scientists believe that this discovery may lead, in the future, to treatments that can slow or reverse cognitive decline in older people.

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Biologists find early sign of cancer

September 29, 2014 11:10 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Years before they show any other signs of disease, pancreatic cancer patients have very high levels of certain amino acids in their bloodstream, according to a new study. This finding, which suggests that muscle tissue is broken down in the disease’s earliest stages, could offer new insights into developing early diagnostics for pancreatic cancer, which kills about 40,000 Americans every year.

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Simulations reveal an unusual death for ancient stars

September 29, 2014 11:01 am | by Linda Vu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Certain primordial stars—those between 55,000 and 56,000 times the mass of our sun, or solar masses—may have died unusually. In death, these objects—among the universe’s first-generation of stars—would have exploded as supernovae and burned completely, leaving no remnant black hole behind.

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Tech-friendly cities struggle with new biz rules

September 29, 2014 9:12 am | by Philip Marcelo, Associated Press | Comments

A renowned technology hub that is home to some of the country's top universities, Boston is emerging as an unlikely battleground for web-based businesses like Airbnb and Uber, with some saying more regulations are needed to prevent the upstarts from disrupting more established industries. Cities like Boston have been wrestling with the same questions and developing solutions ranging from outright bans to minimum safety requirements.

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Unlocking enzyme synthesis of rare sugars to create drugs with fewer side effects

September 29, 2014 8:57 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

An Oak Ridge National Laboratory team has unlocked the enzymatic synthesis process of rare sugars, which are useful in developing drugs with low side effects. In a recently published paper, the team reported the pioneering use of neutron and x-ray crystallography and HPC to study how the enzyme D-xylose isomerase, or XI, can cause a biochemical reaction in natural sugar to produce rare sugars.

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Green light for clever algae

September 29, 2014 8:46 am | by Meike Drießen, Ruhr Univ. Bochum | Comments

Cryptophytes, complex single-cell algae that make up a lot of the ocean's phytoplankton, have, in the course of evolution, adapted their light-harvesting mechanisms to their environment and have thus become capable of utilizing green light. Researchers in Germany have recently been the first ones to reveal similarities and differences in the assembly of this light-harvesting machinery compared to cyanobacteria and red algae.

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New molecule found in space connotes life origins

September 29, 2014 8:43 am | by Blaine Friedlander, Cornell Univ. | Comments

Hunting from a distance of 27,000 light years, astronomers have discovered an unusual carbon-based molecule—one with a branched structure—contained within a giant gas cloud in interstellar space. Like finding a molecular needle in a cosmic haystack, astronomers have detected radio waves emitted by isopropyl cyanide. The discovery suggests that the complex molecules needed for life may have their origins in interstellar space.

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New technology may lead to prolonged power in mobile devices

September 29, 2014 8:40 am | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use. This technology  taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

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Goodyear aims to use rice husk byproduct in tires

September 28, 2014 10:36 am | by Mark Gillispie - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

One of the world's biggest tire manufacturers is taking another step toward more environmentally friendly production by incorporating a byproduct created by the burning of rice husks into a material used in high-end tires. Akron-based Goodyear is embracing a technology that converts the ash that remains from burned rice husks into silica, which has been used in tire production for two decades.

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Multi-spectra “glasses” aid studies of light elements with SEMs

September 26, 2014 11:16 am | Comments

Scanning electron microscopes can determine chemical compositions with the help of energy dispersive spectrometers. However, lighter elements like carbon emit secondary fluorescence in an energy range insufficiently resolved by these instruments. Physicists have developed a potential solution to this problem by adding reflection zone plate optics to a specialized spectrometer that delivers high resolution from 50 to 1,120 eV.

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Thomson Reuters predicts 2014 Nobel laureates

September 26, 2014 10:38 am | Comments

Having accurately forecast 35 Nobel Prize winners since its inception in 2002, the annual Thomson Reuters Citation Laureates study mines scientific research citations to identify the most influential researchers in the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine and economics. This year’s forecast includes scientists who discovered the organic light-emitting diode, advanced pain management, and uncovered genetic predisposition to disease.

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