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New catalyst could improve biofuels production

October 17, 2014 9:36 am | by Tina Hilding, Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture | Comments

Washington State Univ. (WSU) researchers have developed a new catalyst that could lead to making biofuels cheaply and more efficiently. The WSU researchers developed a mixture of two metals, iron along with a tiny amount of palladium, to serve as a catalyst to efficiently and cheaply remove oxygen.

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Scientists discover carbonate rocks are unrecognized methane sink

October 17, 2014 9:25 am | by Mark Floyd, Oregon State Univ. | Comments

Since the first undersea methane seep was discovered 30 years ago, scientists have meticulously analyzed and measured how microbes in the seafloor sediments consume the greenhouse gas methane as part of understanding how the Earth works. The sediment-based microbes form an important methane “sink,” preventing much of the chemical from reaching the atmosphere and contributing to greenhouse gas accumulation.

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Scientist invent new method for fabricating graphene nanoribbons

October 17, 2014 9:23 am | by Shaun Mason, UCLA | Comments

Graphene’s exotic properties can be tailored by cutting large sheets down to ribbons of specific lengths and edge configurations. But this “top-down” fabrication approach is not yet practical, because current lithographic techniques always produce defects. Now, scientists from the U.S. and Japan have discovered a new “bottom-up” self-assembly method for producing defect-free graphene nanoribbons with periodic zigzag-edge regions.

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Sound-powered chip to serve as medical device

October 17, 2014 9:18 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Comments

Medical researchers would like to plant tiny electronic devices deep inside our bodies to monitor biological processes and deliver pinpoint therapies to treat illness or relieve pain. But so far engineers have been unable to make such devices small and useful enough. Providing electric power to medical implants has been one stumbling block. Using wires or batteries to deliver power tends to make implants too big, too clumsy—or both.

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ORNL joins global fight against polio

October 17, 2014 8:36 am | by Christopher R. Samoray, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

The new Urban Dynamics Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to aid polio vaccination efforts in developing countries. Teams at the institute will apply big data analysis to population dynamics in Nigeria, allowing polio vaccination crews to better estimate the amount of vaccine needed and to target areas of priority, saving time and money in eradicating the disease.

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LLNL, UC Davis partner to personalize cancer medications

October 17, 2014 8:27 am | by Stephen P Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

Buoyed by several dramatic advances, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists think they can tackle biological science in a way that couldn't be done before. Over the past two years, LLNL researchers have expedited accelerator mass spectrometer sample preparation and analysis time from days to minutes and moved a complex scientific process requiring accelerator physicists into routine laboratory usage.

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What gives the sun its heat

October 17, 2014 8:01 am | by David A. Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | Comments

Why is the sun's million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the sun's surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. A team led by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is presenting new clues to the mystery of coronal heating using observations from the recently launched Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS).

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Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

October 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries are popular, but have limitations in energy density, lifetime and safety. One alternative is Mg-ion batteries. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory ran a series of computer simulations that suggest that performance bottlenecks experienced with Mg-ion batteries to date may not be so much related to the electrolyte itself, but to what happens at the interface between the electrolyte and electrodes.

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Superconducting circuits, simplified

October 17, 2014 7:49 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Comments

Computer chips with superconducting circuits would be 50 to 100 times as energy efficient as today’s chips, an attractive trait given the increasing power consumption of the massive data centers that power Internet sites. Superconducting chips also promise greater processing power: Superconducting circuits that use so-called Josephson junctions have been clocked at 770 GHz, or 500 times the speed of the chip in the iPhone 6.

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Rivers flow differently over gravel beds, study finds

October 16, 2014 11:00 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Univ. of Illinois | Comments

River beds, where flowing water meets silt, sand and gravel, are critical ecological zones. Yet how water flows in a river with a gravel bed is very different from the traditional model of a sandy river bed, according to a new study that compares their fluid dynamics. The findings establish new parameters for river modeling that better represent reality, with implications for field researchers and water resource managers.

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Getting to know super-Earths

October 16, 2014 10:56 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | Comments

The findings of NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft suggest that the most common exoplanets are those that are just a bit larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. These so-called super-Earths, which do not exist in our own solar system, have attracted the attention of astronomers, who have been trying to determine the composition of the closest of these planets. However, an unexpected barrier is blocking their progress.

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Computing with magnetic “tornadoes”

October 16, 2014 10:27 am | Comments

Magnetic materials store the vast majority of the 2.7 zettabytes of data that are currently held worldwide. In the interest of efficiency, scientists have begun to investigate whether magnetic materials can also be used to perform calculations. In a recent paper, researchers in the U.K. detail their plan to harness swirling “tornadoes” of magnetization in nanowires to perform logic functions. They plan to soon build prototypes.

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Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

October 16, 2014 10:18 am | Comments

As in Alice’s journey through the looking-glass to Wonderland, mirrors in the real world can sometimes behave in surprising and unexpected ways, including a new class of mirror that works like no other. Scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, a new type of mirror that forgoes a familiar shiny metallic surface and instead reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial.

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A simple and versatile way to build three-dimensional materials of the future

October 16, 2014 10:14 am | Comments

Researchers in Japan have developed a new yet simple technique called "diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly" to construct graphene into porous 3-D structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors. The new method borrowed a principle from polymer chemistry, known as interfacial complexation, to allow graphene oxide to form a stable composite layer with an oppositely charged polymer.

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Scientists synthesize a two-element atomic chain inside a carbon nanotube

October 16, 2014 10:05 am | Comments

Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology have synthesized an atomic chain in which two elements, cesium and iodine, are aligned alternately inside a carbon nanotube. Analyzed using electron microscopy and spectroscopy, the invention could shed light on the adsorption mechanisms of radioactive elements.

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