The decomposition of plant debris (litter) is a fundamental process that regulates the release of nutrients for plant growth and the formation of soil organic matter in forest ecosystems. A strong correlation has previously been observed between litter manganese (Mn) content and decomposition rates across a variety of forest ecosystems. However, the mechanisms underlying Mn's role in litter decomposition were not well understood.
In a great example of “less is more,” Rice Univ. scientists have developed a powerful method to analyze carbon nanotubes in solution. The researchers’ variance spectroscopy technique zooms in on small regions in dilute nanotube solutions to take quick spectral snapshots.
Researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London have developed a way of assembling organic molecules into complex tubular tissue-like structures without the use of molds or techniques like 3-D printing. The study, which appears in Nature Chemistry, describes how peptides and proteins can be used to create materials that exhibit dynamic behaviors found in biological tissues like growth, morphogenesis and healing.
Optical sensors may be uniquely suited for use in robotic hands, according to Carnegie Mellon Univ. researchers who have developed a three-fingered soft robotic hand with multiple embedded fiber optic sensors. They also have created a new type of stretchable optical sensor.
In a study published in Nature Climate Change, scientists from three universities show that products made in China are associated with significantly higher carbon dioxide emissions than the same products made elsewhere.
A team of scientists at the Univ. of Washington and the biotechnology company Illumina have created an innovative tool to directly detect the delicate, single-molecule interactions between DNA and enzymatic proteins. Their approach provides a new platform to view and record these nanoscale interactions in real time.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and Duke Univ. have created the first entropy-stabilized alloy that incorporates oxides—and demonstrated conclusively that the crystalline structure of the material can be determined by disorder at the atomic scale rather than chemical bonding.
Knowing the detailed shape of biomolecules such as proteins is essential for biological studies and drug discovery. Modern structural biology relies on techniques such as NMR, x-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy to discover the tiny structural details of biomolecules. All these methods, however, require averaging over a large number of molecules and thus structural details of an individual biomolecule are often lost.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists, working with colleagues in Spain, have discovered and mapped a light-sensing protein that uses vitamin B12 to perform key functions, including gene regulation. The result, derived from studying proteins from the bacterium Thermus thermophilus, involves at least two findings of broad interest.
In an advance that helps clarify the role of a cluster of neurons in the brain, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that these neurons not only control hunger and appetite, but also regulate bone mass.
CIGS solar cells are compound thin-film solar cells and the most established alternative to silicon solar cells. Solar conversion efficiencies of over 20% have recently been achieved in CIGS solar cells. One of the factors known to strongly affect the conversion efficiency is the buffer layer. However, the structure of the buffer layer and its precise influence on the conversion efficiency have not been clarified.
There is little doubt that the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is devastating. More than 1.2 million people in the U.S. are living with HIV, and more than 47,000 people are diagnosed annually. Now, Univ. of Missouri researchers have made a discovery in how specialized proteins can inhibit the virus, opening the door for progress in the fight against HIV and for the production of advanced therapeutics to combat the disease.
Some of the 300 million tires discarded each year in the U.S. alone could be used in supercapacitors for vehicles and the electric grid using a technology developed at the U.S. Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Drexel Univ.
To the growing list of 2-D semiconductors, such as graphene, boron nitride and molybdenum disulfide, whose unique electronic properties make them potential successors to silicon in future devices, you can now add hybrid organic-inorganic perovskites. However, unlike the other contenders, which are covalent semiconductors, these 2-D hybrid perovskites are ionic materials, which gives them special properties of their own.
More than 60 research groups worldwide are now developing variations of the triboelectric nanogenerator (TENG), which converts ambient mechanical energy into electricity for powering wearable electronics, sensor networks, implantable medical devices and other small systems.