The race to make computer components smaller and faster and use less power is pushing the limits of the properties of electrons in a material. Photonic systems could eventually replace electronic ones, but the fundamentals of computation, mixing two inputs into a single output, currently require too much space and power when done with light.
Rice Univ. scientists have invented a novel cathode that may make cheap, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells practical. The Rice laboratory of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.
The largest solar power plant of its type in the world isn't producing as much energy as planned. One of the reasons is as basic as it gets: The sun isn't shining as much as expected. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System opened in February, with operators saying it would produce enough electricity to power a city of 140,000 people.
Silicon is the second-most-abundant element in the Earth's crust. When purified, it takes on a diamond structure, which is essential to modern electronic devices—carbon is to biology as silicon is to technology. A team of Carnegie scientists has synthesized an entirely new form of silicon, one that promises even greater future applications.
Researchers from the Univ. of Cambridge have developed artificial muscles which can learn and recall specific movements, the first time that motion control and memory have been combined in a synthetic material. The muscles, made from smooth plastic, could eventually be used in a applications where mimicking the movement of natural muscle would be an advantage, such as robotics, aerospace, exoskeletons and biomedical applications.
Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have discovered that a chemical compound commonly found in coffee may help prevent some of the damaging effects of obesity. In a recently published paper published, scientists found that chlorogenic acid, or CGA, significantly reduced insulin resistance and accumulation of fat in the livers of mice who were fed a high-fat diet.
Physicists at Australian National Univ. have engineered a spiral laser beam and used it to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons. The ability to control polariton flows in this way could aid the development of completely novel technology to link conventional electronics with new laser and fiber-based technologies.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed an efficient method to measure residual stress in metal parts produced by powder-bed fusion additive manufacturing. This 3-D printing process produces metal parts layer by layer using a high-energy laser beam to fuse metal powder particles.
A large study of gay brothers adds to evidence that genes influence men's chances of being homosexual, but the results aren't strong enough to prove it. Some scientists believe several genes might affect sexual orientation. Researchers who led the new study of nearly 800 gay brothers say their results bolster previous evidence pointing to genes on the X chromosome.
Recovery of feeling can gradually improve for years after a hand transplant, suggests a small study that points to changes in the brain, not just the new hand, as a reason. Research presented at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience sheds light on how the brain processes the sense of touch, and adapts when it goes awry. The work could offer clues to rehabilitation after stroke, brain injury, maybe one day even spinal cord injury.
Researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed a more efficient way to turn methanol into useful chemicals, such as liquid fuels, and that would also reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Methanol, which is a product of natural gas, is well-known as a common “feedstock” chemical.
Researchers at the Univ. of Southampton have demonstrated how glass can be manipulated to create electronic devices that will be smaller, faster and consume less power. The researchhas the potential to allow faster, more efficient electronic devices; further shrinking the size of our phones, tablets and computers and reducing their energy consumption by turning waste heat into power.
For the first time, scientists have vividly mapped the shapes and textures of high-order modes of Brownian motions—in this case, the collective macroscopic movement of molecules in microdisk resonators—researchers at Case Western Reserve Univ. report. To do this, they used a record-setting scanning optical interferometry technique.
From a mechanical perspective, granular materials are stuck between a rock and a fluid place, with behavior resembling neither a solid nor a liquid. Think of sand through an hourglass: As grains funnel through, they appear to flow like water, but once deposited, they form a relatively stable mound, much like a solid.
Millions of people with stents that prop open clogged heart arteries may need anti-clotting drugs much longer than the one year doctors recommend now. A large study found that continuing for another 18 months lowers the risk of heart attacks, clots and other problems. Even quitting after 30 months made a heart attack more likely, raising a question of when it's ever safe to stop.