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New metamaterial lens focuses radio waves

November 14, 2012 7:44 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have fabricated a 3D, lightweight metamaterial lens that focuses radio waves with extreme precision. The concave lens exhibits a property called negative refraction, bending electromagnetic waves in exactly the opposite sense from which a normal concave lens would work.


Computer memory could increase fivefold with self-assembly

November 13, 2012 7:39 pm | Comments

Engineers in Texas have adopted the nanoscale fabrication technique of directed self-assembly to increase the surface storage density of hard disk drives. The method, which relies on block copolymers, is able to organize magnetic dots into patterns far finer than existing methods. And it does so without risking the integrity of the magnetic fields.   


Atom-scale imaging unlocks exact structure of glass

November 13, 2012 7:21 pm | Comments

Despite its great importance to industries like semiconductors, glass has remained something of a mystery, at least with respect to the precise position of atoms that make up its structure. Researchers in Germany have recently analyzed the atomic structure of amorphous silica, and are the first to have imaged the network of silicon and oxygen atoms—the main components of glass—in a silica film.


Injectable sponge delivers drugs, cells, and structure

November 13, 2012 3:47 pm | Comments

Bioengineers at Harvard University have developed a gel-based sponge that can be molded to any shape, loaded with drugs or stem cells, compressed to a fraction of its size, and delivered via injection. Once inside the body, it pops back to its original shape and gradually releases its cargo, before safely degrading.


ESnet rolls out world's fastest science network

November 13, 2012 3:26 pm | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's ESnet (Energy Sciences Network) is now operating the world's fastest science network, serving the entire national laboratory system, its supercomputing centers, and its major scientific instruments at 100 gigabits per second, 10 times faster than its previous generation network.


Parker Hannifin buys PGI International, no terms

November 13, 2012 2:41 pm | by The Associated Press | Comments

Parker Hannifin Corp., which makes industrial hoses, airplane wheels and other products, said Tuesday that it has acquired PGI International for an undisclosed sum. Houston-based PGI International designs and manufactures specialized, high-pressure flow control components and systems for oil and...


Scientists develop single-cell imaging method to watch cell clock

November 13, 2012 11:55 am | Comments

A new way to visualize single-cell activity in living zebrafish embryos has allowed scientists to clarify how cells line up in the right place at the right time to receive signals about the next phase of their life. The findings increase understanding of cyclical behaviors in all types of cells at many developmental stages.


Games may help train analysts to overcome bias

November 13, 2012 10:52 am | Comments

Analytic exercises conducted by researchers at Raytheon that used scenario-based games showed that some of the participants displayed anchoring and confirmation biases as they tried to determine responsibility and motivations for insurgent attacks in the scenario. This game-playing approach may help intelligence analysts identify biases that can cloud decision-making and problem-solving during life or death situations.


Scientists unravel the mystery of marine methane oxidation

November 13, 2012 10:39 am | Comments

Vast amounts of methane are stored under the ocean floor, and anaerobic oxidation of methane coupled to sulfate respiration prevents the release of this gas. Though discovered decades ago, the mechanism for how microorganisms performed this reaction has remained a mystery. According to recent findings, a single microorganism can do this on its own, and does not need to be carried out in collaboration with a bacterium as previously thought.


Rust and water are used to store solar energy as hydrogen

November 13, 2012 9:44 am | Comments

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) tandem solar cells offer a way to produce hydrogen directly from water. But efforts to produce an efficient cell have only resulted in extremely expensive prototypes. Researchers in Switzerland have recently developed a PEC, however, that is made from inexpensive materials and achieves up to 16% efficiency.


Physicists build first noiseless single photon amplifier

November 13, 2012 9:24 am | Comments

Quantum information is useful but very fragile and normal amplification techniques destroy it by introducing too much noise, affecting the quantum state. Physicists in Australia and China have recently demonstrated the first device capable of amplifying the information in a single particle of light without adding noise. The breakthrough marks the first time the information stored in a single photon has been amplified.


Jellyfish-inspired device could enable better patient monitoring

November 13, 2012 8:36 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Scientists have been working on microfluidic devices that can isolate circulating tumor cells, but most of these have two major limitations: It takes too long to process a sufficient amount of blood, and there is no good way to extract cancer cells for analysis after their capture. To help overcome these limitations, a research team has developed a microfluidic device inspired by the tentacles of jellyfish.


BOSS uses quasars to probe dark energy in early universe

November 13, 2012 7:51 am | Comments

By collecting tens of thousands of quasar spectra, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) has measured the large-scale structure of the early universe for the first time. Like backlights in the fog, the quasars illuminate clouds of hydrogen gas along the line of sight. No other technique can reach back over 10 billion years to probe structure at a time when the expansion of the universe was still decelerating and dark energy was yet to turn on.


Scientists find better way to obtain abundant biomass

November 12, 2012 5:01 pm | Comments

After cellulose, xylan is the most abundant biomass material on Earth. But this potential source of stored solar energy for the production of biofuels is still hindered by the difficulty of extracting it from plant cell walls. Joint BioEnergy Institute have made progress in this area by identifying a gene in rice plants whose suppression improves both the extraction of xylan and the overall release of the sugars needed to make biofuels.


'Strain tuning' reveals promise in nanoscale manufacturing

November 12, 2012 3:22 pm | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have reported progress in fabricating advanced materials at the nanoscale. The spontaneous self-assembly of nanostructures composed of multiple elements paves the way toward materials that could improve a range of energy-efficient technologies and data storage devices.



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