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The Lead

NASA awards $30M grant to Penn State

January 13, 2015 1:17 pm | by Patricia Craig, Penn State Univ. | News | Comments

Penn State Univ. will lead a five-year, $30 million mission to improve quantification of present-day carbon-related greenhouse gas sources and sinks. An improved understanding of these gases will advance our ability to predict and manage future climate change.

Airplanes go hybrid-electric

December 23, 2014 11:08 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, in association with Boeing, have successfully...

Trapping light with a twister

December 23, 2014 10:55 am | News | Comments

Researchers at MIT who succeeded last year in creating a material that could trap light and stop...

New technique reveals immune cell motion through variety of tissues

December 22, 2014 10:47 am | News | Comments

Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are the immune system’s all-terrain vehicles. The cells...

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Scientists reveal breakthrough in optical fiber communications

December 22, 2014 10:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Southampton have revealed a breakthrough in optical fiber communications. Academics have collaborated to develop an approach that enables direct modulation of laser currents to be used to generate highly advanced modulation format signals.

The VuePod: Powerful enough for a gamer, made for an engineer

December 22, 2014 10:37 am | News | Comments

On the massive screen, images are controlled by a Wii remote that interacts with a Kinnect-like Bluetooth device (called SmartTrack), while 3D glasses worn by the user create dizzying added dimensions. This real-life, computer-powered mega TV is not for gaming. It’s for engineering.

New technology makes 3-D tissues, maybe organs in the future

December 22, 2014 10:34 am | Videos | Comments

A new instrument could someday build replacement human organs the way electronics are assembled today: with precise picking and placing of parts. In this case, the parts are not resistors and capacitors, but 3-D microtissues containing thousands to millions of living cells that need a constant stream of fluid to bring them nutrients and to remove waste. The new device is called “BioP3” for pick, place, and perfuse.

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Lost memories might be able to be restored

December 22, 2014 10:01 am | News | Comments

New UCLA research indicates that lost memories can be restored. The findings offer some hope for patients in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. For decades, most neuroscientists have believed that memories are stored at the synapsesm which are destroyed by Alzheimer’s disease. The new study provides evidence contradicting the idea that long-term memory is stored at synapses.

221 new species described in 2014

December 22, 2014 9:58 am | News | Comments

In 2014, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added a whopping 221 new plant and animal species to our family tree, enriching our understanding of Earth's complex web of life and strengthening our ability to make informed conservation decisions.

In one aspect of vision, computers catch up to primate brain

December 19, 2014 2:13 pm | News | Comments

For decades, neuroscientists have been trying to design computer networks that can mimic visual skills such as recognizing objects, which the human brain does very accurately and quickly.            

Creating the fastest outdoor wireless internet connection

December 19, 2014 1:46 pm | News | Comments

Lancaster University engineers are to head up a European team working on the world’s first W-band wireless system, heralding the arrival of cost effective, high speed internet everywhere, every time.          

Spider's web weaves way to advanced networks and displays

December 19, 2014 8:26 am | News | Comments

The next generation of light-manipulating networks may take their lead from designs inspired by spiders and leaves, according to a new report from two Boston College physicists and colleagues at South China Normal University.               

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Research aims to improve rechargeable batteries by focusing on graphene oxide paper

December 19, 2014 8:19 am | News | Comments

A Kansas State University engineering team has discovered some of graphene oxide's important properties that can improve sodium- and lithium-ion flexible batteries.                               

Tailor-made cancer treatments? New cell culture technique paves the way

December 19, 2014 8:15 am | News | Comments

In a development that could lead to a deeper understanding of cancer and better early-stage treatment of the disease, University of Michigan researchers have devised a reliable way to grow a certain type of cancer cells from patients outside the body for study.

Rice study fuels hope for natural gas cars

December 19, 2014 8:11 am | News | Comments

Cars that run on natural gas are touted as efficient and environmentally friendly, but getting enough gas onboard to make them practical is a hurdle. A new study led by researchers at Rice University promises to help.                    

Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst

December 19, 2014 8:08 am | News | Comments

Hydrogen fuel is a promising source of clean energy that can be produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The reaction is difficult but achievable with the help of a catalyst. However, current catalysts lack the efficiency required for water splitting to be commercially competitive. Recently, however, scientists have identified one such catalyst, iron-doped nickel oxide.

Researchers glimpse pathway of sunlight to electricity

December 19, 2014 8:02 am | News | Comments

Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material. 

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Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough

December 19, 2014 7:57 am | News | Comments

A team at Cornell University has made a breakthrough in that direction with a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory device. Equivalent to one computer bit, it exhibits the holy grail of next-generation nonvolatile memory: magnetic switchability, in two steps, with nothing but an electric field.

Landmark discovery in gold nanorod instability

December 18, 2014 3:14 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have discovered an instability in gold nanoparticles that is critical for their application in future technology. Gold nanorods are important building blocks for future applications in solar cells, cancer therapy and optical circuitry.

Website highlights renewable energy resources

December 18, 2014 3:11 pm | News | Comments

A team from the University of Arizona and eight Southwestern electric utility companies has built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the region’s electricity grid.                         

New theory could yield more reliable communication protocols

December 12, 2014 7:54 am | News | Comments

Researchers have begun to describe theoretical limits on the degree of imprecision that communicating computers can tolerate, with very real implications for the design of communication protocols.                                   

Scientists measure speedy electrons in silicon

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

An international team of physicists and chemists based at UC Berkeley has, for the first time, taken snapshots of this ephemeral event using attosecond pulses of soft X-ray light lasting only a few billionths of a billionth of a second.                             

Nanoshaping method points to future manufacturing technology

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | News | Comments

A new method that creates large-area patterns of three-dimensional nanoshapes from metal sheets represents a potential manufacturing system to inexpensively mass produce innovations such as "plasmonic metamaterials" for advanced technologies.

3-D maps reveal the genome's origami code

December 12, 2014 7:00 am | Videos | Comments

In a triumph for cell biology, researchers have assembled the first high-resolution, 3-D maps of entire folded genomes and found a structural basis for gene regulation -- a kind of "genomic origami" that allows the same genome to produce different types of cells. 

Baby steps toward molecular robots

December 11, 2014 8:32 am | News | Comments

A walking molecule, so small that it cannot be observed directly with a microscope, has been recorded taking its first nanometer-sized steps. It's the first time that anyone has shown in real time that such a tiny object – termed a "small molecule walker" – has taken a series of steps.

Meniscus regenerated with 3-D-printed implant

December 11, 2014 8:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers have devised a way to replace the knee’s protective lining, called the meniscus, using a personalized 3D-printed implant, or scaffold, infused with human growth factors that prompt the body to regenerate the lining on its own. The therapy, successfully tested in sheep, could provide the first effective and long-lasting repair of damaged menisci.

‘High-entropy’ alloy is as light as aluminum, as strong as titanium alloys

December 11, 2014 8:09 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new “high-entropy” metal alloy that has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other existing metal material. High-entropy alloys are materials that consist of five or more metals in approximately equal amounts. 

New way to plug 'leaky' light cavities

December 11, 2014 8:07 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have demonstrated a new and more efficient way to trap light, using a phenomenon called bound states in the continuum (BIC) that was first proposed in the early days of quantum wave mechanics.

New form of ice could explore avenues for energy production and storage

December 11, 2014 8:01 am | News | Comments

The discovery of a new form of ice could lead to an improved understanding of our planet’s geology, potentially helping to unlock new solutions in the production, transportation and storage of energy. Ice XVI, the least dense of all known forms of ice, has a highly symmetric cage-like structure that can trap gaseous molecules to form compounds known as clathrates or gas hydrates.

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