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The device holds a key advantage over traditional surgical tools by way of its ability to quickly transform from a bending, flexible instrument into a stiff and rigid one. Courtesy of Tommaso Ranzani

Octopus arm inspires future surgical tool

May 19, 2015 11:08 am | by Institute of Physics | Comments

A robotic arm that can bend, stretch and squeeze through cluttered environments has been created by a group of researchers from Italy. Inspired by the eight arms of an octopus, the device has been specifically designed for surgical operations to enable surgeons to easily access remote, confined regions of the body and, once there, manipulate soft organs without damaging them.

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Researchers join the hunt for “elusive” gravitational waves

May 19, 2015 10:55 am | by Cardiff University | Comments

An international project to find the first direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves, will be officially inaugurated on May 19, 2015. Researchers at Cardiff University will use a powerful supercomputer to comb through data from two gravitational wave detectors now being brought online and will search, with unprecedented accuracy, for the first ever direct evidence of the existence of gravitational waves later this year.

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Electricity generation and distribution infrastructure in the Western United States must be “climate-proofed” to diminish the risk of future power shortages, according to research by two Arizona State University engineers.  Expected increases in extreme h

U.S. West's power grid must be prepared for effects of climate change

May 19, 2015 10:43 am | by Arizona State University | Comments

Electricity generation and distribution infrastructure in the Western United States must be “climate-proofed” to diminish the risk of future power shortages, according to research by two Arizona State University engineers. Expected increases in extreme heat and drought events will bring changes in precipitation, air and water temperatures, air density and humidity.

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These scanning electron microscope images show the graphene ink after it was deposited and dried (a) and after it was compressed (b). Compression makes the graphene nanoflakes more dense, which improves the electrical conductivity of the laminate. Courtes

Wearable wireless devices: Low cost radio frequency antenna printed with graphene ink

May 19, 2015 10:34 am | by American Institute of Physics | Comments

Scientists have moved graphene—the incredibly strong and conductive single-atom-thick sheet of carbon—a significant step along the path from lab bench novelty to commercially viable material for new electronic applications. Researchers have printed a radio frequency antenna using compressed graphene ink.

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Electricity generating nano-wizards: Quantum dots are an ideal nanolab

May 19, 2015 10:20 am | by Springer | Comments

Just as alchemists always dreamed of turning common metal into gold, their 19th century physicist counterparts dreamed of efficiently turning heat into electricity, a field called thermoelectrics. Such scientists had long known that, in conducting materials, the flow of energy in the form of heat is accompanied by a flow of electrons.

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Laser technique for self-assembly of nanostructures

May 19, 2015 8:38 am | by Swinburne Univ. of Technology | Comments

Researchers from Swinburne Univ. of Technology and the Univ. of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).

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Study backs seaweed’s carbon capture potential

May 19, 2015 8:30 am | by Univ. of Technology, Sydney | Comments

There are great hopes for the potential of coastal plants and seaweeds to store carbon and help counter the effects of climate change and a new study is backing that potential. Scientists have carried out the first investigation of how a diverse range of coastal plants and seaweed can contribute to "blue carbon" stocks, the carbon in leaves, sediments and roots that's naturally captured, or sequestered, by plants in coastal habitats.

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Artificial enzymes to reduce carbon dioxide emissions

May 19, 2015 8:14 am | by Univ. of Nottingham Malaysia Campus | Comments

Enzymes are biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions, such as the conversion of gaseous carbon dioxide into carbonates. Carbonates are the basic component of coral reefs, mollusc shells and kidney stones. Although naturally occurring enzymes would be ideal for converting human-generated carbon dioxide emissions into carbonates, they are generally incapable of coping with the extreme conditions of industrial plants.

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A foundation for quantum computing

May 19, 2015 8:01 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.

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Designing better medical implants

May 19, 2015 7:51 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection.

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Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps

May 18, 2015 12:50 pm | by Aalto Univ. | Comments

Researchers have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1% on nanostructured silicon solar cells as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. An almost 4% absolute increase to their previous record is achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures by Atomic Layer Deposition, and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.

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Future for warming U.S.: Not just the heat but the humanity

May 18, 2015 12:11 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | Comments

The combination of global warming and shifting population means that by mid-century, there will be a huge increase in the number of Americans sweating through days that are extremely hot, a new study says. People are migrating into areas—especially in the South—where the heat is likely to increase more, said the authors of a study published Monday by Nature Climate Change.

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Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs

May 18, 2015 11:22 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Comments

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

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Computing at the speed of light

May 18, 2015 11:14 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | Comments

Engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines. The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons.

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How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

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