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Plant debris decomposition tied to manganese

September 29, 2015 12:00 pm | by Anne M Stark, LLNL | Comments

The decomposition of plant debris (litter) is a fundamental process that regulates the release of nutrients for plant growth and the formation of soil organic matter in forest ecosystems. A strong correlation has previously been observed between litter manganese (Mn) content and decomposition rates across a variety of forest ecosystems. However, the mechanisms underlying Mn's role in litter decomposition were not well understood.


Smaller is better for nanotube analysis

September 29, 2015 11:00 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

In a great example of “less is more,” Rice Univ. scientists have developed a powerful method to analyze carbon nanotubes in solution. The researchers’ variance spectroscopy technique zooms in on small regions in dilute nanotube solutions to take quick spectral snapshots.


Unique self-assembling material could lead to artificial arteries

September 29, 2015 7:56 am | by Will Hoyles, Public Relations Manager, Queen Mary Univ. of London | Comments

Researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London have developed a way of assembling organic molecules into complex tubular tissue-like structures without the use of molds or techniques like 3-D printing. The study, which appears in Nature Chemistry, describes how peptides and proteins can be used to create materials that exhibit dynamic behaviors found in biological tissues like growth, morphogenesis and healing.


A light touch

September 29, 2015 7:48 am | by Byron Spice, Carnegie Mellon Univ. | Comments

Optical sensors may be uniquely suited for use in robotic hands, according to Carnegie Mellon Univ. researchers who have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with multiple embedded fiber optic sensors. They also have created a new type of stretchable optical sensor.


Goods manufactured in China aren’t good for the environment

September 29, 2015 7:44 am | by Brian Bell, Univ. of California, Irvine | Comments

In a study published in Nature Climate Change, scientists from three universities show that products made in China are associated with significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions than the same products made elsewhere.


A new single-molecule tool to observe enzymes at work

September 29, 2015 7:37 am | by James Urton, Univ. of Washington | Comments

A team of scientists at the Univ. of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins. Their approach provides a new platform to view and record these nanoscale interactions in real time.


Researchers create first entropy-stabilized complex oxide alloys

September 29, 2015 7:29 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and Duke Univ. have created the first entropy-stabilized alloy that incorporates oxides—and demonstrated conclusively that the crystalline structure of the material can be determined by disorder at the atomic scale rather than chemical bonding.


Milestone single-biomolecule imaging technique

September 28, 2015 3:00 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | Comments

Knowing the detailed shape of biomolecules such as proteins is essential for biological studies and drug discovery. Modern structural biology relies on techniques such as NMR, x-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy to discover the tiny structural details of biomolecules. All these methods, however, require averaging over a large number of molecules and thus structural details of an individual biomolecule are often lost.


A natural light switch

September 28, 2015 2:00 pm | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, working with colleagues in Spain, have discovered and mapped a light-sensing protein that uses vitamin B12 to perform key functions, including gene regulation. The result, derived from studying proteins from the bacterium Thermus thermophilus, involves at least two findings of broad interest.


How hunger neurons control bone mass

September 28, 2015 1:00 pm | by Karen N. Peart, Yale Univ. | Comments

In an advance that helps clarify the role of a cluster of neurons in the brain, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that these neurons not only control hunger and appetite, but also regulate bone mass.


Finding a way to boost efficiency of CIGS solar cells

September 28, 2015 12:00 pm | by Toyohashi Univ. of Technology | Comments

CIGS solar cells are compound thin-film solar cells and the most established alternative to silicon solar cells. Solar conversion efficiencies of over 20% have recently been achieved in CIGS solar cells. One of the factors known to strongly affect the conversion efficiency is the buffer layer. However, the structure of the buffer layer and its precise influence on the conversion efficiency have not been clarified.


Researchers discover new mechanism of proteins to block HIV

September 28, 2015 11:00 am | by Jeff Sossamon, Univ. of Missouri-Columbia | Comments

There is little doubt that the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is devastating. More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and more than 47,000 people are diagnosed annually. Now, Univ. of Missouri researchers have made a discovery in how specialized proteins can inhibit the virus, opening the door for progress in the fight against HIV and for the production of advanced therapeutics to combat the disease.


Road to supercapacitors for scrap tires

September 28, 2015 10:00 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Some of the 300 million tires discarded each year in the U.S. alone could be used in supercapacitors for vehicles and the electric grid using a technology developed at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Drexel Univ.


A different type of 2-D semiconductor

September 28, 2015 7:51 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

To the growing list of 2-D semiconductors, such as graphene, boron nitride and molybdenum disulfide, whose unique electronic properties make them potential successors to silicon in future devices, you can now add hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites. However, unlike the other contenders, which are covalent semiconductors, these 2-D hybrid perovskites are ionic materials, which gives them special properties of their own.


Proposed standards for triboelectric nanogenerators could facilitate comparisons

September 28, 2015 7:43 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

More than 60 research groups worldwide are now developing variations of the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which converts ambient mechanical energy into electricity for powering wearable electronics, sensor networks, implantable medical devices and other small systems.



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