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How Hep C survives immune system attacks

May 27, 2015 9:48 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Warring armies use a variety of tactics as they struggle to gain the upper hand. Among their tricks is to attack with a decoy force that occupies the defenders while an unseen force launches a separate attack that the defenders fail to notice. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that the Hepatitis C virus may employ similar tactics to distract the body's natural defenses.

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Squeezed quantum cats

May 27, 2015 8:15 am | by Oliver Morsch, ETH Zurich | Comments

Quantum physics is full of fascinating phenomena. For example, the cat from the famous thought experiment by the physicist Erwin Schrodinger. The cat can be dead and alive at once, since its life depends on the quantum mechanically determined state of a radioactively decaying atom which, in turn, releases toxic gas into the cat's cage. As long as one hasn't measured the state of the atom, one knows nothing about the cat's health either.

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Chip makes testing for antibiotic-resistant bacteria faster, easier

May 27, 2015 8:06 am | by RJ Taylor, Univ. of Toronto | Comments

We live in fear of superbugs: infectious bacteria that don't respond to treatment by antibiotics, and can turn a routine hospital stay into a nightmare. A 2015 Health Canada report estimates that superbugs have already cost Canadians $1 billion, and are a "serious and growing issue." Each year two million people in the U.S. contract antibiotic-resistant infections, and at least 23,000 people die as a direct result.

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A new kind of wood chip

May 27, 2015 7:57 am | by John Steeno, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | Comments

Portable electronics are discarded at an alarming rate in consumers' pursuit of the next best electronic gadget. In an effort to alleviate the environmental burden of electronic devices, a team of Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has collaborated with researchers in the Madison-based U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Products Laboratory to develop a surprising solution: a semiconductor chip made almost entirely of wood.

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Seeing the action

May 27, 2015 7:47 am | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

Cells are biological wonders. Throughout billions of years of existence on Earth, these tiny units of life have evolved to collaborate at the smallest levels in promoting, preserving and protecting the organism they comprise. Among these functions is the transport of lipids and other biomacromolecules between cells via membrane adhesion and fusion.

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Chip placed under skin provides precise medicine

May 27, 2015 7:39 am | by EPFL | Comments

The future of medicine lies in ever greater precision, not only when it comes to diagnosis but also drug dosage. The blood work that medical staff rely on is generally a snapshot indicative of the moment the blood is drawn before it undergoes hours, or even days, of analysis. Several EPFL laboratories are working on devices allowing constant analysis over as long a period as possible.

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Linking superconductivity and structure

May 27, 2015 7:31 am | by Carnegie Institution | Comments

Superconductivity is a rare physical state in which matter is able to conduct electricity without any resistance. It can only be found in certain materials, and even then it can only be achieved under controlled conditions of low temperatures and high pressures. New research from the Carnegie Institution hones in on the structural changes underlying superconductivity in iron arsenide compounds.

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Researchers find “decoder ring” powers in microRNA

May 26, 2015 12:07 pm | by New York Univ. | Comments

MicroRNA can serve as a "decoder ring" for understanding complex biological processes, a team of New York Univ. chemists has found. Their study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, points to a new method for decrypting the biological functions of enzymes and identifying those that drive diseases.

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Glancing at greenery can boost concentration levels

May 26, 2015 11:20 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | Comments

A Univ. of Melbourne study shows that glancing at a grassy green roof for only 40 sec markedly boosts concentration. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, gave 150 students a boring, attention-sapping task. The students were asked to press a key as a series of numbers repeatedly flashed on a computer screen, unless that number was three.

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New technique speeds nanoMRI imaging

May 26, 2015 11:11 am | by American Institute of Physics | Comments

NanoMRI is a scanning technique that produces nondestructive, high-resolution 3-D images of nanoscale objects, and it promises to become a powerful tool for researchers and companies exploring the shape and function of biological materials such as viruses and cells in much the same way as clinical MRI today enables investigation of whole tissues in the human body.

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One step closer to a single-molecule device

May 26, 2015 10:57 am | by Columbia Univ. | Comments

Under the direction of Latha Venkataraman, associate professor of applied physics at Columbia Engineering, researchers have designed a new technique to create a single-molecule diode, and, in doing so, they have developed molecular diodes that perform 50 times better than all prior designs. Venkataraman's group is the first to develop a single-molecule diode that may have real-world technological applications for nanoscale devices.

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Anti-pollution rules have uncertain effects

May 26, 2015 10:38 am | by Indiana Univ. | Comments

Air pollution regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are estimated to save thousands of lives annually. A new study by researchers at Indiana Univ. says these estimates are more uncertain than commonly believed. Researchers analyzed the costs and expected lifesavings of nine regulations issued between 2011 and 2013. The bulk of these regulations require national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants.

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Fine-tuned molecular orientation is key to more efficient solar cells

May 26, 2015 10:19 am | by RIKEN | Comments

Polymer solar cells are a hot area of research due to both their strong future potential and the significant challenges they pose. It is believed that thanks to lower production costs, they could become a viable alternative to conventional solar cells with silicon substrates when they achieve a power conversion efficiency of between 10 and 15%.

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New way to prevent diabetes-associated blindness

May 26, 2015 8:04 am | by Shawna Williams, Johns Hopkins Univ. | Comments

Reporting on their study with lab-grown human cells, researchers at The Johns Hopkins Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland say that blocking a second blood vessel growth protein, along with one that is already well-known, could offer a new way to treat and prevent a blinding eye disease caused by diabetes.

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Engineering phase changes in nanoparticle arrays

May 26, 2015 7:56 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have just taken a big step toward the goal of engineering dynamic nanomaterials whose structure and associated properties can be switched on demand. In a paper appearing in Nature Materials, they describe a way to selectively rearrange the nanoparticles in 3-D arrays to produce different configurations, or phases, from the same nanocomponents.

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