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Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps

May 18, 2015 12:50 pm | by Aalto Univ. | Comments

Researchers have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1% on nanostructured silicon solar cells as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. An almost 4% absolute increase to their previous record is achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures by Atomic Layer Deposition, and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.

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Future for warming U.S.: Not just the heat but the humanity

May 18, 2015 12:11 pm | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer, Associated Press | Comments

The combination of global warming and shifting population means that by mid-century, there will be a huge increase in the number of Americans sweating through days that are extremely hot, a new study says. People are migrating into areas—especially in the South—where the heat is likely to increase more, said the authors of a study published Monday by Nature Climate Change.

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Discovery paves way for homebrewed drugs

May 18, 2015 11:22 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Comments

Fans of homebrewed beer and backyard distilleries already know how to employ yeast to convert sugar into alcohol. But a research team led by UC Berkeley bioengineers has gone much further by completing key steps needed to turn sugar-fed yeast into a microbial factory for producing morphine and potentially other drugs, including antibiotics and anti-cancer therapeutics.

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Computing at the speed of light

May 18, 2015 11:14 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | Comments

Engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines. The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons.

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How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

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New options for spintronic devices

May 18, 2015 10:46 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | Comments

Scientists from Paris and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have been able to switch ferromagnetic domains on and off with low voltage in a structure made of two different ferroic materials. The switching works slightly above room temperature. Their results, which are published online in Scientific Reports, might inspire future applications in low-power spintronics, for instance for fast and efficient data storage.

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New cost-effective, sustainable chemical catalysts

May 18, 2015 10:26 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | Comments

Yale Univ. chemists have helped develop a family of new chemical catalysts that are expected to lower the cost and boost the sustainability of the production of chemical compounds used by a number of industries. The new catalysts are based on palladium, a rare and expensive metal. Palladium catalysts are used to form an array of chemical compounds in pharmaceuticals, plastics, agrochemicals and many other industries.

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New link between ocean microbes, atmosphere uncovered

May 18, 2015 8:07 am | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Few things are more refreshing than the kiss of sea spray on your face. You may not realize it, but that cool, moist air influences our climate by affecting how clouds are formed and how sunlight is scattered over the oceans. In ACS Central Science, researchers demonstrate that microbes in seawater can control the chemistry of sea spray ejected into the atmosphere.

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Wearables may get boost from boron-infused graphene

May 18, 2015 7:51 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

A microsupercapacitor designed by scientists at Rice Univ. that may find its way into personal and even wearable electronics is getting an upgrade. The laser-induced graphene device benefits greatly when boron becomes part of the mix. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour uses commercial lasers to create thin, flexible supercapacitors by burning patterns into common polymers.

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Solving streptide from structure to biosynthesis

May 18, 2015 7:31 am | by Princeton Univ. | Comments

Bacteria speak to one another using peptide signals in a soundless language known as quorum sensing. In a step towards translating bacterial communications, researchers at Princeton Univ. have revealed the structure and biosynthesis of streptide, a peptide involved in the quorum sensing system common to many streptococci.

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Nanosponge-filled gel cleans up MRSA infections

May 18, 2015 7:23 am | by Univ. of California, San Diego | Comments

Nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA, without the use of antibiotics.

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Stem cell "Wild West" takes root amid lack of U.S. regulation

May 18, 2015 2:04 am | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | Comments

The liquid is dark red, a mixture of fat and blood, and Dr. Mark Berman pumps it out of the patient's backside. He treats it with a chemical, runs it through a processor and injects it into the woman's aching knees and elbows. The "soup," he says, is rich in shape-shifting stem cells: magic bullets that, according to some doctors, can be used to treat everything from Parkinson's disease to asthma to this patient's chronic osteoarthritis.

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The measured plasma pressure profile and the particle dynamics relating to the loss of axial momentum loss.

Towards high performance electrodeless electric propulsion in space

May 15, 2015 12:07 pm | by Tohoku University | Comments

A part of the performance degradation mechanism of the advanced, electrodeless, helicon plasma thruster with a magnetic nozzle, has been revealed. An electric propulsion device is a main engine, and a key piece of technology for space development and exploration. Charged particles are produced by electric discharge and accelerated. Thrust force is equivalent to the momentum exhausted by the device, and spacecraft can thus be propelled.

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Researchers used state of the art UV cameras and electron microscopes to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima in Mexico

Study attributes varying explosivity to gaseous state within volcanoes

May 15, 2015 12:01 pm | by Alan Williams, Plymouth University | Comments

The varying scale and force of certain volcanic eruptions are directly influenced by the distribution of gases within magma inside a volcano’s conduit, according to a new study. Using state-of-the-art equipment, including UV cameras and electron microscopes, researchers led a project to analyze the eruptive plumes and ash generated by Volcán de Colima, the most active volcano in the Americas.

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A high harmonic spectrometer © ETH Zurich

Physicists observe attosecond real-time restructuring of electron cloud in molecule

May 15, 2015 11:52 am | by Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology | Comments

The recombination of electron shells in molecules, taking just a few dozen attoseconds, can now be viewed “live,” thanks to a new method. To track processes taking virtually no time to happen, scientists used the pump-probe method. First, a molecule was impulsively oriented with one laser pulse. Then a second powerful, low-frequency laser pulse ionized the molecule, which generated high harmonic radiation.

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