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Defects through the looking glass

September 3, 2015 12:10 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Nanoscale defects are enormously important in shaping the electrical, optical and mechanical properties of a material. For example, a defect may donate charge or scatter electrons moving from one point to another. However, observing individual defects in bulk insulators, a ubiquitous component to almost all devices, has remained elusive: it’s far easier to image the detailed electrical structure of conductors than insulators.


Metallic gels produce tunable light emission

September 3, 2015 9:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a family of materials that can emit light of precisely controlled colors and whose output can be tuned to respond to a wide variety of external conditions. The materials could find a variety of uses in detecting chemical and biological compounds, or mechanical and thermal conditions.


Blueberry extract could help fight gum disease

September 3, 2015 8:00 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Gum disease is a common condition among adults that occurs when bacteria form biofilms or plaques on teeth, and consequently the gums become inflamed. Some severe cases, called periodontitis, call for antibiotics. But now scientists have discovered that wild blueberry extract could help prevent dental plaque formation.


Silk bio-ink could help advance tissue engineering with 3-D printers

September 2, 2015 6:00 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Advances in 3-D printing have led to new ways to make bone and some other relatively simple body parts that can be implanted in patients. But finding an ideal bio-ink has stalled progress toward printing more complex tissues with versatile functions. Now scientists, reporting in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering, have developed a silk-based ink that could open up new possibilities toward that goal.


Radioactive contaminants found in coal ash

September 2, 2015 4:00 pm | by Duke Univ. | Comments

A new Duke Univ.-led study has revealed the presence of radioactive contaminants in coal ash from all three major U.S. coal-producing basins. The study found that levels of radioactivity in the ash were up to five times higher than in normal soil, and up to 10 times higher than in the parent coal itself because of the way combustion concentrates radioactivity.


Making fuel from light

September 2, 2015 3:00 pm | by Jo Napolitano, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

Refined by nature over a billion years, photosynthesis has given life to the planet, providing an environment suitable for the smallest, most primitive organism all the way to our own species. While scientists have been studying and mimicking the natural phenomenon in the laboratory for years, understanding how to replicate the chemical process behind it has largely remained a mystery, until now.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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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