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Sunlight generates hydrogen in new porous silicon

April 10, 2014 11:20 am | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

Porous silicon manufactured in a bottom up procedure using solar energy can be used to generate hydrogen from water, according to a team of Penn State Univ. mechanical engineers, who also see applications for batteries, biosensors and optical electronics as outlets for this new material.

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Tiny particles may pose big risk

April 10, 2014 11:05 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Thousands of consumer products contain nanoparticles added by manufacturers to improve texture, kill microbes or enhance shelf life, among other purposes. However, several studies have shown that some of these engineered nanoparticles can be toxic to cells. A new study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that certain nanoparticles can also harm DNA.

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Promising agents burst through superbug defenses to fight antibiotic resistance

April 10, 2014 9:02 am | Comments

In the fight against “superbugs,” scientists have discovered a class of agents that can make some of the most notorious strains vulnerable to the same antibiotics that they once handily shrugged off. Recently discovered metallopolymers, when paired with the same antibiotics MRSA normally dispatches with ease, helped evade the bacteria’s defensive enzymes and destroyed its protective walls, causing the bacteria to burst.

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Scientists discover way to make ethanol without corn, other plants

April 10, 2014 9:00 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have found a new, highly efficient way to produce liquid ethanol from carbon monoxide gas. This promising discovery could provide an eco-friendly alternative to conventional ethanol production from corn and other crops, say the scientists. Their results are published online in Nature.

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New technology unwraps mummies' ancient mysteries

April 10, 2014 8:58 am | by Jill Lawless, Associated Press | Comments

Our fascination with mummies never gets old. Now the British Museum is using the latest technology to unwrap their ancient mysteries. Scientists at the museum have used CT scans and sophisticated imaging software to go beneath the bandages, revealing skin, bones, preserved internal organs, and in one case a brain-scooping rod left inside a skull by embalmers. The findings go on display next month in an exhibition.

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Electromagnetically induced transparency in a silicon nitride optomechanical crystal

April 10, 2014 8:45 am | Comments

Researchers from the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology have observed electromagnetically induced transparency at room temperature and atmospheric pressure in a silicon nitride optomechanical system. This work highlights the potential of silicon nitride as a material for producing integrated devices in which mechanical vibrations can be used to manipulate and modify optical signals.

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Scientists firm up origin of cold-adapted yeasts that make cold beer

April 10, 2014 8:35 am | by Terry Devitt, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

As one of the most widely consumed and commercially important beverages on the planet, one would expect the experts to know everything there is to know about lager beer. But it was just a few years ago that scientists identified the South American yeast that somehow hitched a ride to Bavaria and combined with the domesticated Old World yeast used for millennia to make ale and bread to form the hybrid that makes lager or cold stored beer.

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Emerging research suggests a new paradigm for “unconventional superconductors”

April 10, 2014 8:25 am | Comments

An international team of scientists has reported the first experimental observation of the quantum critical point (QCP) in the extensively studied “unconventional superconductor” TiSe2, finding that it does not reside as predicted within the superconducting dome of the phase diagram, but rather at a full GPa higher in pressure.

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The motion of the medium matters for self-assembling particles

April 10, 2014 8:16 am | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Comments

By attaching short sequences of single-stranded DNA to nanoscale building blocks, researchers can design structures that can effectively build themselves. The building blocks that are meant to connect have complementary DNA sequences on their surfaces, ensuring only the correct pieces bind together as they jostle into one another while suspended in a test tube.

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Synthetic collagen promotes natural clotting

April 10, 2014 8:04 am | Comments

Synthetic collagen invented at Rice Univ. may help wounds heal by directing the natural clotting of blood. The material, KOD, mimics natural collagen, a fibrous protein that binds cells together into organs and tissues. It could improve upon commercial sponges or therapies based on naturally derived porcine or bovine-derived collagen now used to aid healing during or after surgery.

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New “switch” could power quantum computing

April 10, 2014 7:54 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | Comments

Using a laser to place individual rubidium atoms near the surface of a lattice of light, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Univ. have developed a new method for connecting particles—one that could help in the development of powerful quantum computing systems.

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Noses, made in Britain: UK touts lab-grown organs

April 9, 2014 3:12 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer | Comments

In a north London hospital, scientists are growing noses, ears and blood vessels in a bold attempt to make body parts in the laboratory. It's far from the only laboratory in the world that is growing organs for potential transplant. But the London work was showcased this week hints at the availability of more types of body parts, including what would be the world's first nose made partly from stem cells.

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Recycling astronaut urine for energy and drinking water

April 9, 2014 3:09 pm | Comments

On the less glamorous side of space exploration, there’s the more practical problem of waste: in particular, what to do with astronaut pee. But rather than ejecting it into space, scientists are developing a new technique that can turn this waste burden into a boon by converting it into fuel and much-needed drinking water.

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Oak Ridge study pegs fuel economy costs of common practices

April 9, 2014 3:07 pm | Comments

People who pack their cars and drive like Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s “Vacation” pay a steep penalty when it comes to fuel economy, according to a report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Researchers tested vehicles at a variety of speeds with different configurations of load and tire inflation. While the findings were not unexpected, they serve as a reminder of how drivers can save money by taking simple measures.

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A first principles approach to creating new materials

April 9, 2014 3:02 pm | by Marlene Cimons, National Science Foundation | Comments

Traditionally, scientists discover new materials, and then probe them to understand their properties. Theoretical materials physicist Craig Fennie does it in reverse. He creates new materials by employing a "first principles" approach based on quantum mechanics, in which he builds materials atom by atom, starting with mathematical models, in order to gain the needed physical properties.

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