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Metals used in high-tech products face future supply risks

March 25, 2015 11:08 am | by Kevin Dennehy, Yale Univ. | Comments

In a new paper, a team of Yale Univ. researchers assesses the “criticality” of all 62 metals on the Periodic Table of Elements, providing key insights into which materials might become more difficult to find in the coming decades, which ones will exact the highest environmental costs and which ones simply cannot be replaced as components of vital technologies.

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Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

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Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

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Food additive could serve as safer antifreeze

March 25, 2015 8:36 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

The sweet taste and smell of antifreeze tempts children and animals to drink the poisonous substance, resulting in thousands of accidental poisonings in the U.S. every year. But today researchers will describe a new, nontoxic product based on a common food additive that could address this health issue and help the environment at the same time.

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Computer simulation improves offshore drill rig safety

March 25, 2015 8:23 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | Comments

Los Alamos National Laboratory mechanical and thermal engineering researchers’ efforts to solve the complex problem of how ocean currents affect the infrastructure of floating oilrigs and their computational fluid dynamics numerical simulations received recognition from ANSYS Inc.

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Battery boost

March 25, 2015 8:14 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in portable electronics such as cell phones and notebook PCs. They’re also gaining popularity in electric vehicles, where their compact, lightweight build and high-energy storage potential offers a more efficient and environmentally safe alternative to nickel metal hydride and lead-acid batteries traditionally used in vehicles.

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Snake robots learn to turn by following real sidewinders’ lead

March 25, 2015 7:59 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon Univ. (CMU) who develop snake-like robots have picked up a few tricks from real sidewinder rattlesnakes on how to make rapid and even sharp turns with their undulating, modular device. Working with colleagues at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Zoo Atlanta, they have analyzed the motions of sidewinders and tested their observations on CMU’s snake robots.

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“Virtual nose” may reduce simulator sickness in video games

March 25, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Virtual reality games often cause simulator sickness, but new research findings point to a potential strategy to ease the affliction. Various physiological systems govern the onset of simulator sickness: a person's overall sense of touch and position, or the somatosensory system; liquid-filled tubes in the ear called the vestibular system; and the oculumotor system, or muscles that control eye movements.

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New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

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Artificial hand responds to sensitively thanks to muscles made from smart metal wires

March 24, 2015 3:52 pm | by Saarland University | Comments

Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. 

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Researchers identify 'tipping point' between quantum and classical worlds

March 24, 2015 3:50 pm | by Bar-Ilan University | Comments

Scientists have observed the point at which classical and quantum behavior converge. Using a fiber-based nonlinear process, the researchers were able to observe how, and under what conditions, "classical" physical behavior emerges from the quantum world.

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New technique paints tissue samples with light

March 24, 2015 3:48 pm | by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Comments

One infrared scan can give pathologists a window into the structures and molecules inside tissues and cells, enabling fast and broad diagnostic assessments, thanks to an imaging technique developed by University of Illinois researchers and clinical partners.

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Physicists solve low-temperature magnetic mystery

March 24, 2015 3:44 pm | by University of Connecticut | Comments

Researchers have made an experimental breakthrough in explaining a rare property of an exotic magnetic material, potentially opening a path to a host of new technologies.

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Tiny bio-robot is a germ suited-up with graphene quantum dots

March 24, 2015 3:42 pm | by University of Illinois at Chicago | Comments

As nanotechnology makes possible a world of machines too tiny to see, researchers are finding ways to combine living organisms with nonliving machinery to solve a variety of problems. Like other first-generation bio-robots, the new nanobot engineered at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a far cry from Robocop. It's a robotic germ.

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Automation offers big solution to big data in astronomy

March 24, 2015 3:40 pm | by University of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

In a study, a team of scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed a new, faster approach to analyze all the data that will come out of the new, super-advanced Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a radio telescope planned for Africa and Australia that will have an unprecedented ability to deliver data on the location and properties of stars, galaxies and giant clouds of hydrogen gas.

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