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Microscopic rake doubles efficiency of low-cost solar cells

August 13, 2015 6:00 pm | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Researchers from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have developed a manufacturing technique that could double the electricity output of inexpensive solar cells by using a microscopic rake when applying light-harvesting polymers. When commercialized, this advance could help make polymer solar cells an economically attractive alternative to those made with much more expensive silicon-crystal wafers.


Insight into obscure transition uncovered by x-rays

August 13, 2015 5:00 pm | by Tona Kunz, Argonne National Laboratory | Comments

The list of potential mechanisms that underlie an unusual metal-insulator transition has been narrowed by a team of scientists using a combination of x-ray techniques. This transition has ramifications for material design for electronics and sensors.


The pressure is on

August 13, 2015 4:00 pm | by Leo Williams, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Comments

Question: What do you get when you take two surfaces roughly the size of a celery seed and crush them together with a load of 15 tons? Answer: You get pressures approaching those inside planets, allowing you to distort nearly any material beyond recognition. Researchers have developed technology to squeeze materials with a million times the pressure of the earth’s atmosphere while studying them with neutrons.


Cosmic mystery deepens with discovery of ultra-high-energy neutrino

August 13, 2015 1:45 pm | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Evidence of a fourth ultra-high-energy neutrino has been detected by the South Pole-based IceCube experiment. The event was found by researchers as part of a new search for astrophysical muon neutrinos. The researchers’ main analysis objective was to confirm previous IceCube measurements of other astrophysical neutrinos.


Nicotine-eating bacteria could help smokers kick the habit

August 13, 2015 12:30 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Most people who smoke cigarettes know it’s bad for their health, but quitting is notoriously difficult. To make it easier, scientists are taking a brand-new approach. They are turning to bacteria that thrive on nicotine, the addictive component in tobacco. In the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they report successful tests on a bacterial enzyme that breaks down nicotine and could potentially dull its effects in humans.


Toward smarter selection of therapy for psychiatric disorders

August 13, 2015 10:45 am | by Elizabeth Dougherty | McGovern Institute for Brain Research | Comments

For patients with social anxiety disorder (SAD), current behavioral and pharmaceutical treatments work about half the time. After weeks of investment in therapy, about half of patients will likely still suffer with symptoms of anxiety, and have little choice but to try again with something else. This trial-and-error process is time-consuming and expensive, and some patients eventually just give up.


Photoredox catalyst unlocks new pathways for nickel chemistry

August 13, 2015 7:20 am | by Tien Nguyen, Princeton Univ. | Comments

Using a light-activated catalyst, researchers have unlocked a new pathway in nickel chemistry to construct carbon-oxygen (C-O) bonds that would be highly valuable to pharmaceutical and agrochemical industries.


Meds from plant with Legionnaires' bacteria are safe

August 12, 2015 6:09 pm | by Emery P. Dalesio, Associated Press | Comments

GlaxoSmithKline is assuring the safety of medications produced at a pharmaceutical plant that was closed after the discovery of the bacteria that causes potentially fatal Legionnaires' disease. The London-based drugmaker said Wednesday it expects within three days it will reopen the manufacturing plant in Zebulon, about 25 miles east of Raleigh.


Researchers pioneer use of capsules to save materials

August 12, 2015 4:00 pm | by Jonathan Mingle, MIT News correspondent | Comments

Chemists working in a variety of industries and fields typically go through a laborious process to measure and mix reagents for each reaction they perform. And many of the common reagents they use sit for months or years on shelves in laboratories, where they can react with oxygen and water in the atmosphere, rendering them useless.


Quantum computing advance locates neutral atoms

August 12, 2015 3:30 pm | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

For any computer, being able to manipulate information is essential, but for quantum computing, singling out one data location without influencing any of the surrounding locations is difficult. Now, a team of Penn State Univ. physicists has a method for addressing individual neutral atoms without changing surrounding atoms.


Researchers reveal new electron ring formations

August 12, 2015 1:30 pm | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | Comments

Laser wakefield acceleration, a process where electron acceleration is driven by high-powered lasers, is well-known for being able to produce high-energy beams of electrons in tabletop-scale distances. However, in recent experiments, a team of scientists revealed new, never-before-seen electron ring formations in addition to the typically observed beams.


Microresonators could bring optical sensors, communications

August 12, 2015 11:40 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Researchers have solved a key obstacle in creating the underlying technology for miniature optical sensors to detect chemicals and biological compounds, high-precision spectroscopy, ultra-stable microwave sources and optical communications systems that transmit greater volumes of information with better quality.


Better estimates of worldwide mercury pollution

August 12, 2015 7:51 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

Once mercury is emitted into the atmosphere from the smokestacks of power plants, the pollutant has a complicated trajectory; even after it settles onto land and sinks into oceans, mercury can be re-emitted back into the atmosphere repeatedly. This so-called “grasshopper effect” keeps the highly toxic substance circulating as “legacy emissions” that, combined with new smokestack emissions, can extend the environmental effects of mercury.


CMR induced in pure lanthanum manganite

August 12, 2015 7:39 am | by Carnegie Institute | Comments

Colossal magnetoresistance is a property with practical applications in a wide array of electronic tools including magnetic sensors and magnetic RAM. New research from a team has successfully used high-pressure conditions to induce colossal magnetoresistance, for the first time, in a pure sample of a compound called lanthanum manganite, LaMnO3.


Sustainability matters even in complex networks

August 12, 2015 7:30 am | by Thea Singer, Northeastern Univ. | Comments

You’re dri­ving down the highway in your Honda Civic. You press the pedal to the metal and the speedometer flips to 90 as you torque into the fast lane. How much effort have you, and the car, expended? No, this is not a pop quiz in a physics class.



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