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New material coating technology mimics nature’s Lotus effect

April 22, 2014 8:34 am | Comments

Of late, engineers have been paying more and more attention to nature’s efficiencies, such as the Lotus effect, which describes the way the Lotus plant uses hydrophobic surfaces to survive in muddy swamps. A researcher at Virginia Tech has developed a simpler two-step application process to create a superhydrophobic copper surface that leverages the Lotus effect.

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Today’s Antarctic region once as hot as California, Florida

April 22, 2014 8:20 am | by Eric Gershon, Yale Univ. | Comments

Parts of ancient Antarctica were as warm as today’s California coast, and polar regions of the southern Pacific Ocean registered 21st-century Florida heat, according to scientists using a new way to measure past temperatures. The findings underscore the potential for increased warmth at Earth’s poles and the associated risk of melting polar ice and rising sea levels, the researchers said.

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“Upside-down planet” reveals new method for studying binary star systems

April 22, 2014 8:12 am | by Peter Kelley, News and Information, Univ. of Washington | Comments

What looked at first like an upside-down planet has instead revealed a new method for studying binary star systems, discovered by a Univ. of Washington (UW) student astronomer. Working with UW astronomer Eric Agol, doctoral student Ethan Kruse has confirmed the first “self-lensing” binary star system: one in which the mass of the closer star can be measured by how powerfully it magnifies light from its more distant companion star.

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Researchers demonstrate first size-based chromatography technique for the study of living cells

April 22, 2014 7:58 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Using nanodot technology, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have demonstrated the first size-based form of chromatography that can be used to study the membranes of living cells. This unique physical approach to probing cellular membrane structures can reveal information critical to whether a cell lives or dies, remains normal or turns cancerous, that can’t be obtained through conventional microscopy.

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Tracking oxygen in the body

April 22, 2014 7:34 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Unlike healthy cells, cancer cells thrive when deprived of oxygen. Tumors in low-oxygen environments tend to be more resistant to therapy and spread more aggressively to other parts of the body. Measuring tumors’ oxygen levels could help doctors make decisions about treatments, but there’s currently no way to make such measurements. However, a new sensor developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could change that.

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Scientists successfully use krypton to accurately date ancient Antarctic ice

April 21, 2014 3:22 pm | Comments

A team of scientists has successfully identified the age of 120,000-year-old Antarctic ice using radiometric krypton dating, a new technique that may allow them to locate and date ice that is more than a million years old. Unlike the well-known dating isotope carbon-14, krypton is a noble gas that does not interact chemically and is much more stable, allowing more accurate dating of ice.

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Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

April 21, 2014 3:12 pm | Comments

The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research teams across the world, but now a team of Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst inventors describe a new, more versatile version of their invention, Geckskin, that can adhere strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko's feet.

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Physicist creates new nanoparticle for cancer therapy

April 21, 2014 3:06 pm | Comments

Physicist Wei Chen at Univ. of Texas at Arlington’s Center for Security Advances Via Applied Nanotechnology was testing a copper-cysteamine complex created in his laboratory when he discovered unexplained decreases in its luminescence, or light emitting power, over a time-lapse exposure to x-rays. Further testing work revealed that the “Cu-Cy” nanoparticles, when combined with x-ray exposure, significantly slowed tumor growth in studies.

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Under some LED bulbs whites aren’t “whiter than white”

April 21, 2014 12:03 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different degrees of whites may all look the same, according to experts in lighting.

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Study casts doubt on climate benefit of biofuels from corn residue

April 21, 2014 11:53 am | by Leslie Reed, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | Comments

Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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New research method produces large volumes of high-quality graphene

April 21, 2014 8:45 am | Comments

Researchers in Ireland have used a simple method for transforming flakes of graphite into defect-free graphene using commercially available tools, such as high-shear mixers.  They demonstrated that the process could be scaled up to produce hundreds of liters or more, and they have partnered with Thomas Swan Ltd. to develop two new graphene-based products for the marketplace.

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Nanoreporters tell ‘sour’ oil from ‘sweet’

April 21, 2014 8:38 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Scientists at Rice Univ. have created a nanoscale detector that checks for and reports on the presence of hydrogen sulfide in crude oil and natural gas while they’re still in the ground. The nanoreporter is based on nanometer-sized carbon material developed by a consortium of Rice labs led by chemist James Tour, R&D’s 2013 Scientist of the Year.  

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Unlocking a mystery of human disease in space

April 21, 2014 7:45 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | Comments

Huntington's disease is a grim diagnosis. A hereditary disorder with debilitating physical and cognitive symptoms, the disease usually robs adult patients of their ability to walk, balance and speak. More than 15 years ago, researchers revealed the disorder's likely cause—an abnormal version of the protein huntingtin; however, the mutant protein's mechanism is poorly understood, and the disease remains untreatable.

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Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

April 21, 2014 4:21 am | by Jennifer Agiesta - Associated Press - Associated Press | Comments

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they express bigger doubts as concepts that scientists consider to be truths get further from our own experiences and the present time, an Associated Press-GfK poll found. Americans have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

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Easter morning delivery for space station

April 20, 2014 8:20 am | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | Comments

Space station astronauts got a special Easter treat: a cargo ship full of supplies. The shipment arrived Sunday morning via a Dragon, versus a bunny. The SpaceX company's cargo ship, Dragon, spent two days chasing the International Space Station following its launch from Cape Canaveral. Astronauts used a robot arm to capture the capsule 260 miles above Egypt.

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