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The Lead

Tiny wires could provide a big energy boost

July 7, 2015 | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Yarns of niobium nanowire can make supercapacitors to provide a surge of energy when it’s needed.

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Method opens pathway to new drugs and dyes

September 2, 2015 2:00 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have developed a practical method to synthesize chemical building blocks widely used in drug discovery research and in the manufacture drugs and dyes. The new method from the lab of Rice synthetic chemist K.C. Nicolaou was designed to enable the discovery and development of novel drugs to attack cancer cells and as an efficient way to create new molecular entities for biology and medicine.

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For 2-D boron, it’s all about that base

September 2, 2015 1:36 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have theoretically determined that the properties of atom-thick sheets of boron depend on where those atoms land. Calculation of the atom-by-atom energies involved in creating a sheet of boron revealed that the metal substrate—the surface upon which 2-D materials are grown in a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) furnace—would make all the difference.

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Intermittency is one of the problems affecting marine energy: sometimes there's a lot; other times, it's in short supply

Forecasting wave energy several hours in advance

September 2, 2015 10:39 am | by University of the Basque Country | Comments

Intermittency is one of the problems affecting renewable energies, including marine energy: sometimes there's a lot; other times it's in short supply. So, to properly manage sea energy and incorporate it into the mains, it is helpful to know when the waves are expected to be bringing sufficient power. Knowing how much energy the waves will be bringing within a few hours is as important as having available efficient prototypes.

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An image from an experiment in the quantum optics laboratory in Cambridge. Laser light was used to excite individual tiny, artificially constructed atoms known as quantum dots, to create “squeezed” single photons Courtesy of Mete Atature

Scientists squeeze light one particle at a time

September 2, 2015 10:29 am | by University of Cambridge | Comments

A team of scientists has successfully measured particles of light being “squeezed,” in an experiment that had been written off in physics textbooks as impossible to observe. Squeezing is a strange phenomenon of quantum physics. It creates a very specific form of light which is “low-noise” and is potentially useful in technology designed to pick up faint signals, such as the detection of gravitational waves.

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Researchers have replicated the surface chemistry found in the iridescent scales of the Morpho butterfly to create an innovative gas sensor. Courtesy of Pete Vukusic

Butterfly wings help break status quo in gas sensing

September 2, 2015 10:18 am | by University of Exeter | Comments

The unique properties found in the stunning iridescent wings of a tropical blue butterfly could hold the key to developing new highly selective gas detection sensors. Pioneering new research by a team of international scientists, including researchers from the University of Exeter, has replicated the surface chemistry found in the iridescent scales of the Morpho butterfly to create an innovative gas sensor.

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The add-on device, which is similar in look and feel to a protective phone case, makes use of a smart phone’s camera features to produce high-resolution images of objects 10 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair.

Technology transforms cell phone into high-powered microscope

September 2, 2015 10:07 am | by Texas A&M University | Comments

New technology that transforms a cell phone into a powerful, mobile microscope could significantly improve malaria diagnoses and treatment in developing countries that often lack the resources to address the life-threatening disease. The add-on device is similar in look and feel to a protective phone case and makes use of a smart phone’s camera features to produce high-resolution images.

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Waste coffee used as fuel storage

September 2, 2015 7:42 am | by Institute of Physics | Comments

Scientists have developed a simple process to treat waste coffee grounds to allow them to store methane. The simple soak and heating process develops a carbon capture material with the additional environmental benefits of recycling a waste product.

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Worse cyclones on the horizon

September 1, 2015 5:00 pm | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

“Grey swan” cyclones—extremely rare tropical storms that are impossible to anticipate from the historical record alone—will become more frequent in the next century for parts of Florida, Australia and cities along the Persian Gulf, according to a study published in Nature Climate Change.

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Studying the outliers

September 1, 2015 3:00 pm | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

Medical research has yet to discover an Alzheimer’s treatment that effectively slows the disease’s progression, but neuroscientists at Univ. of California, Santa Barbara may have uncovered a mechanism by which onset can be delayed by as much as 10 years.

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Tiny drops of early universe “perfect” fluid

September 1, 2015 1:00 pm | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) smashes large nuclei together at close to the speed of light to recreate the primordial soup of fundamental particles that existed in the very early universe. Experiments at RHIC have shown that this primordial soup, known as quark-gluon plasma, flows like a nearly friction free "perfect" liquid.

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Giant galaxy collision triggered “radio phoenix”

September 1, 2015 12:00 pm | by Anne Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

Astronomers have found evidence for a faded electron cloud “coming back to life,” much like the mythical phoenix, after two galaxy clusters collided. This “radio phoenix,” so-called because the high-energy electrons radiate primarily at radio frequencies, is found in Abell 1033. The system is located about 1.6 billion light-years from Earth.

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Possible new weapon against PTSD

September 1, 2015 11:00 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

About 8 million Americans suffer from nightmares and flashbacks to a traumatic event. This condition, known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), is particularly common among soldiers who have been in combat, though it can also be triggered by physical attack or natural disaster.

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Team observes x-ray phenomenon for first time

September 1, 2015 10:14 am | by Leslie Reed, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Communications | Comments

Using an enormous x-ray laser, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln physicist Matthias Fuchs and scientists from around the world beat formidable odds to observe one of the most fundamental interactions between x-rays and matter. The findings can aid future studies and may lead to novel new ways to diagnose matter in the future.

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Magnetic fields provide new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015 9:00 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

Electrical engineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power and more secure way to communicate information between wearable electronic devices, providing an improved alternative to existing wireless communication systems, researchers said.

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First global antineutrino emission map highlights Earth’s energy budget

September 1, 2015 8:00 am | by Univ. of Maryland | Comments

The neutrino and its antimatter cousin, the antineutrino, are the tiniest subatomic particles known to science. These particles are byproducts of nuclear reactions within stars, supernovae, black holes and human-made nuclear reactors. They also result from radioactive decay processes deep within the Earth, where radioactive heat and the heat left over from the planet's formation fuels plate tectonics, volcanoes and Earth's magnetic field.

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