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Trapping light with a twister

December 23, 2014 | Comments

Researchers at MIT who succeeded last year in creating a material that could trap light and stop it in its tracks have now developed a more fundamental understanding of the process.             

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Infrared imaging technique operates at high temperatures

January 23, 2015 4:19 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

From aerial surveillance to cancer detection, mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) radiation has a wide range of applications. And as the uses for high-sensitivity, high-resolution imaging continue to expand, MWIR sources are becoming more attractive. Currently, commercial technologies for MWIR detection can only operate at cryogenic temperatures in order to reduce thermal and electrical noise.

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Graphene edges can be tailor-made

January 23, 2015 3:27 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Theoretical physicists at Rice Univ. are living on the edge as they study the astounding properties of graphene. In a new study, they figure out how researchers can fracture graphene nanoribbons to get the edges they need for applications. New research shows it should be possible to control the edge properties of graphene nanoribbons by controlling the conditions under which the nanoribbons are pulled apart.

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Calculating the future of solar-fuel refineries

January 23, 2015 2:01 pm | by Scott Gordon, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

A team of Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has developed a new tool to help plot the future of solar fuels. In a paper recently published in Energy & Environmental Science, a team outlined a tool to help engineers better gauge the overall yield, efficiency and costs associated with scaling solar-fuel production processes up into large-scale refineries.

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Silver nanowires demonstrate unexpected self-healing mechanism

January 23, 2015 1:56 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | Comments

With its high electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide is one of the most widely used materials for touchscreens, plasma displays and flexible electronics. But its rapidly escalating price has forced the electronics industry to search for other alternatives. One potential and more cost-effective alternative is a film made with silver nanowires embedded in flexible polymers.

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Oranges versus orange juice: Which one might be better for your health?

January 23, 2015 10:47 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Many health advocates advise people to eat an orange and drink water rather than opt for a serving of sugary juice. But in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists report that the picture is not clear-cut. Although juice is indeed high in sugar, the scientists found that certain nutrients in orange juice might be easier for the body to absorb than when a person consumes them from unprocessed fruit.

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Arctic ice cap slides into the ocean

January 23, 2015 10:40 am | by Univ. of Leeds | Comments

Satellite images have revealed that a remote Arctic ice cap has thinned by more than 50 m since 2012 and that it’s now flowing 25 times faster. A team led by scientists from the Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) at the Univ. of Leeds combined observations from eight satellite missions, including Sentinel-1A and CryoSat, with results from regional climate models, to unravel the story of ice decline.

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Technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

January 23, 2015 10:33 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

A research team has developed a new technique for determining the role that a material’s structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next-generation solar power. The researchers have used the technique to determine that materials with a highly organized structure at the nanoscale are not more efficient at creating free electrons than poorly organized structures.

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Nanotechnology changes behavior of materials

January 23, 2015 9:52 am | by Julie Hail Flory, Washington Univ., St. Louis | Comments

One of the reasons solar cells are not used more widely is cost: The materials used to make them most efficient are expensive. Engineers are exploring ways to print solar cells from inks, but the devices don’t work as well. A team of engineers has developed a technique to increase the performance and electrical conductivity of thin films that make up these materials using nanotechnology.

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New technique for producing cheaper solar energy

January 23, 2015 9:41 am | by Jo Bowler, Univ. of Exeter | Comments

A team of experts from the Univ. of Exeter has examined new techniques for generating photovoltaic (PV) energy more cost efficiently. The global PV market has experienced rapid growth in recent years due to renewable energy targets and carbon dioxide emission controls. However, current, widely used commercial methods employed to generate PV energy, such as using silicon or thin-film-based technologies, are still expensive.

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Slowing down the speed of light traveling through air

January 23, 2015 9:30 am | by Univ. of Glasgow | Comments

Scientists have long known that the speed of light can be slowed slightly as it travels through materials such as water or glass. However, it has generally been thought impossible for particles of light, known as photons, to be slowed as they travel through free space, unimpeded by interactions with any materials.

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Research recreates planet formation, giant planets in the laboratory

January 23, 2015 9:14 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that determined planet formation and evolution processes. The experimentsreveal the unusual properties of silica under the extreme pressures and temperatures relevant to planetary formation and interior evolution.

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Trust your gut

January 23, 2015 9:01 am | by Laura Bailey, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

E. coli usually brings to mind food poisoning and beach closures, but researchers recently discovered a protein in E. coli that inhibits the accumulation of potentially toxic amyloids, a hallmark of diseases such as Parkinson's. Amyloids are formed by proteins that misfold and group together, and when amyloids assemble at the wrong place or time, they can damage brain tissue and cause cell death.

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“Predicted” zeolites may fuel efficient processes

January 23, 2015 8:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Scientists have identified synthetic materials that may purify ethanol more efficiently and greatly improve the separation of long-chain hydrocarbons in petroleum refining. The results show that predictive modeling of synthetic zeolites is highly effective and can help solve some of the most challenging problems facing industries that require efficient ways to separate or catalyze materials.

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Rare neurological disease shines light on health of essential nerve cells

January 23, 2015 8:35 am | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Ian Duncan is a Scotsman with the iron discipline and stamina of a competitive marathoner, triathlete and cross-country skier. As a neuroscientist at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, he’s applied his tenacity to a rare genetic disorder. Known as Pelizaeus Merzbacher disease or PMD, it’s a devastating neurological condition that, in its most severe form, kills infants weeks after birth.

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Exotic, gigantic molecules fit inside each other

January 23, 2015 8:25 am | by Steve Koppes, Univ. of Chicago | Comments

Univ. of Chicago scientists have experimentally observed, for the first time, a phenomenon in ultracold, three-atom molecules predicted by Russian theoretical physicist Vitaly Efimov in 1970. In this quantum phenomenon, called geometric scaling, the triatomic molecules fit inside one another like an infinitely large set of Russian nesting dolls.

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