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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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Explanation proposed for puzzling electron heat loss in fusion plasmas

August 3, 2015 4:12 pm | by Raphael Rosen, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory | Comments

Creating controlled fusion energy entails many challenges, but one of the most basic is heating plasma to extremely high temperatures and then maintaining those temperatures. Now a team has proposed an explanation for why the hot plasma within fusion facilities called tokamaks sometimes fails to reach the required temperature, even as researchers pump beams of fast-moving neutral atoms into the plasma in an effort to make it hotter.


Artificial blood vessels become resistant to thrombosis

August 3, 2015 2:15 pm | by Dmitry Malkov, ITMO Univ. | Comments

Scientists from ITMO Univ. developed artificial blood vessels that are not susceptible to blood clot formation. The achievement was made possible by a new generation of drug-containing coating applied to the inner surface of the vessel. Surgery, associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemia, often require the implantation of vascular grafts.


Vaccine with virus-like nanoparticles is an effective treatment for RSV

August 3, 2015 1:15 pm | by LaTina Emerson, Georgia State Univ. | Comments

A vaccine containing virus-like nanoparticles, or microscopic, genetically engineered particles, is an effective treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to researchers at Georgia State Univ. Their findings, published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, suggest this vaccine induces long-term protection against RSV and could be a novel treatment option for this disease. There is no licensed RSV vaccine.


Better together: Graphene-nanotube hybrid switches

August 3, 2015 12:00 pm | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | Comments

Graphene has been called a wonder material, capable of performing great and unusual material acrobatics. Boron nitride nanotubes are no slackers in the materials realm either, and can be engineered for physical and biological applications. However, on their own, these materials are terrible for use in the electronics world.


Scientists curve nanoparticle sheets into complex forms

August 3, 2015 8:05 am | by Carla Reiter, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists have been making nanoparticles for more than two decades in 2-D sheets, 3-D crystals and random clusters. But they have never been able to get a sheet of nanoparticles to curve or fold into a complex 3-D structure. Now researchers from the Univ. of Chicago, the Univ. of Missouri and Argonne National Laboratory have found a simple way to do exactly that.


New insight on how crystals form

August 3, 2015 7:58 am | by Mary Beckman, PNNL | Comments

Scientists have long worked to understand how crystals grow into complex shapes. Crystals are important in materials from skeletons and shells to soils and semiconductor materials, but much is unknown about how they form. Now, an international group of researchers has shown how nature uses a variety of pathways to grow crystals that go beyond the classical, one-atom-at-a-time route.


New design brings world’s first solar battery to performance milestone

August 3, 2015 7:46 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | Comments

After debuting the world's first solar air battery last fall, researchers at The Ohio State Univ. have now reached a new milestone. In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report that their patent-pending design, which combines a solar cell and a battery into a single device, now achieves a 20% energy savings over traditional lithium-iodine batteries.


Why tumors need respiration

August 3, 2015 7:38 am | by Jessa Gamble, MIT News Correspondent | Comments

Mitochondria are well known for their role as powerhouses in our cells, using respiration to release the energy in the food we eat and trapping that energy in the molecule adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. In two companion papers published in Cell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers reveal why proliferating cells require mitochondrial respiration.


Experimental Ebola vaccine could stop virus in West Africa

July 31, 2015 2:45 pm | by Maria Cheng, AP Medical Writer, Associated Press | Comments

An experimental Ebola vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea seems to work and might help shut down the waning epidemic in West Africa, according to interim results from a study published Friday. There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, which has so far killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since the world's biggest outbreak began in the forest region of Guinea last year.


A novel electrode for optoelectronics

July 31, 2015 1:55 pm | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy | Comments

The electrodes for connections on the "sunny side" of a solar cell need to be not just electrically conductive, but transparent as well. As a result, electrodes are currently made either by using thin strips of silver in the form of a coarse-meshed grid squeegeed onto a surface, or by applying a transparent layer of electrically conductive indium tin oxide (ITO) compound.


Self-assembling, biomimetic membranes may aid water filtration

July 31, 2015 12:55 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

A synthetic membrane that self-assembles and is easily produced may lead to better gas separation, water purification, drug delivery and DNA recognition, according to an international team of researchers. This biomimetic membrane is composed of lipids and protein-appended molecules that form water channels that transfer water at the rate of natural membranes, and self-assembles into 2-D structures with parallel channels.


Quantum matter stuck in unrest

July 31, 2015 12:15 pm | by Ludwig Maximilian Univ. of Munich | Comments

What happens if one mixes cold and hot water? After some initial dynamics, one is left with lukewarm water, the system has thermalized to a new thermal equilibrium. This is true not only when we pour cold milk into our hot coffee, but it is also what happens for almost all interacting systems we know in nature.


Plasmonic material could bring ultra-fast all-optical communications

July 31, 2015 11:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Researchers have created a new "plasmonic oxide material" that could make possible devices for optical communications that are at least 10 times faster than conventional technologies. In optical communications, laser pulses are used to transmit information along fiber-optic cables for telephone service, the Internet and cable television.


The challenge of mining rare-earth materials outside China

July 31, 2015 7:54 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Five years ago, the cost of rare-earth materials that are critical for today’s electronics went through the roof. An export quota set by China, which mines most of the world’s rare earths, caused the price run-up. Though short-lived, the occurrence spurred calls for developing mines outside China, but whether others can challenge the country’s dominance remains to be seen.


Electric fields signal “no flies zone”

July 31, 2015 7:46 am | by Steven Williams, Univ. of Southampton | Comments

A new piece of research led by the Univ. of Southampton has found that the behavior of fruit flies, which are commonly used in laboratory experiments, is altered by electric fields. The research indicates that the wings of the insects are disturbed by static electric fields, leading to changes in avoidance behavior and the neurochemical balance of their brains.



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