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The Lead

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.
               

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...

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...

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...

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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. 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Nanotechnology battles malaria parasites

December 10, 2014 8:04 am | News | Comments

Malaria parasites invade human red blood cells, which they bring to burst and infect others. Researchers at the University of Basel and the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute called nano imitations of host cell membranes have developed that deceive and trick the pathogen. This could lead to novel therapeutic and vaccine strategies against malaria and other infectious diseases.

Contact lens merges plastics and active electronics via 3-D printing

December 10, 2014 7:56 am | News | Comments

As part of a project demonstrating new 3-D printing techniques, Princeton researchers have embedded tiny light-emitting diodes into a standard contact lens, allowing the device to project beams of colored light. The lens is not designed for actual use, though. Instead, the team created the device to demonstrate the ability to 3-D print electronics into complex shapes and materials.

Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene

December 10, 2014 7:50 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rice University have created flexible, patterned sheets of multilayer graphene from a cheap polymer by burning it with a computer-controlled laser. The process works in air at room temperature and eliminates the need for hot furnaces and controlled environments, and it makes graphene that may be suitable for electronics or energy storage.

The gold standard

December 9, 2014 5:37 pm | News | Comments

Precious elements such as platinum work well as catalysts in chemical reactions, but require large amounts of metal and can be expensive. However, computational modeling below the nanoscale level may allow researchers to design more efficient and affordable catalysts from gold.

Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane

December 9, 2014 5:29 pm | News | Comments

Off the West Coast of the United States, methane gas is trapped in frozen layers below the seafloor. New research from the University of Washington shows that water at intermediate depths is warming enough to cause these carbon deposits to melt, releasing methane into the sediments and surrounding water.

Moving toward a cheaper, better catalyst for hydrogen production

December 9, 2014 5:23 pm | News | Comments

Hydrogen could be an important source of clean energy, and the cleanest way to produce hydrogen gas is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. But the catalyst currently used to facilitate this water-splitting reaction is platinum. And that’s a problem.

Metal test could help diagnose breast cancer early

December 9, 2014 5:19 pm | News | Comments

It may be possible to develop a simple blood test that, by detecting changes in the zinc in our bodies, could help to diagnose breast cancer early.                                 

Hunting for dark matter in a gold mine

December 9, 2014 8:24 am | News | Comments

The Homestake Mine, a played-out gold mine in Lead, S.D., that has been converted into a warren of underground chambers housing physics experiments that need to be shielded from cosmic radiation. One of these experiments is the Lux detector, designed to detect WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles). 

Researchers show commonalities in how different glassy materials fail

December 9, 2014 7:59 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have now shown an important commonality that seems to extend through the range of glassy materials. They have demonstrated that the scaling between a glassy material’s stiffness and strength remains unchanged, implying a constant critical strain that these materials can withstand before catastrophic failure.

Purdue, GE collaborate on advanced manufacturing

December 5, 2014 8:32 am | by Judith Barra Austin, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. announced that GE Global Research will invest up to $10 million in a five-year partnership focused on R&D in advanced manufacturing. The GE/Purdue Partnership in Research and Innovation in Advanced Manufacturing will push a new era in manufacturing, promoting technologies that enable the digitization, decentralization and democratization of manufacturing to lower cost, improve speed and drive innovation.

Engineer readies for rapid discovery of metallic glasses

November 4, 2014 9:22 am | by Rase McCry, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. engineer Jan Schroers will lead a three-year, $1.2 million project intended to dramatically accelerate the pace of discovering and characterizing bulk metallic glasses (BMGs), a versatile type of pliable glass that’s stronger than steel. The grant will enable Schroers’ team to screen more than 3,000 potential BMG alloys in a week, a vast improvement over traditional methods.

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