Developing the cloak of invisibility would be wonderful, but sometimes simply making an object appear to be something else will do the trick, according to Penn State Univ. engineers. To do this, they employ what they call "illusion coatings," which are made of a thin flexible substrate with copper patterns designed to create the desired result. The metamaterial coatings can function normally while appearing as something else.
A unique method for delivering compounds that could positively impact the global battle against...
Research led by Penn State Univ. and Cornell Univ. physicists is studying "spintorque" in devices that combine a standard magnetic material with a new material known as a topological insulator. The new insulator, which is made of bismuth selenide and operates at room temperature, overcomes one of the key challenges to developing a spintronics technology based on spin-orbit coupling.
The "man in the moon" appeared when meteoroids struck the Earth-facing side of the moon creating large flat seas of basalt that we see as dark areas called maria. But no "face" exists on farside of the moon and now, Penn State Univ. astrophysicists think they know why.
The genesis of the Eva J. Pell Laboratory was driven by the need for high-containment lab space which, in 2006, was not available at Pennsylvania State Univ. (PSU). Numerous researchers were considering leaving the university as their research needs required a BSL-3 facility; and PSU’s leadership was determined not only to retain PIs who required these facilities, but also to emerge as a regional leader in infectious disease research.
Vanadium dioxide is called a "wacky oxide" because it transitions between a conducting metal and an insulating semiconductor and with the addition of heat or electrical current. A device created by Penn State engineers uses a thin film of vanadium oxide on a titanium dioxide substrate to create an oscillating switch that could form the basis of a computational device that uses a fraction of the energy necessary for today’s computers.
An important advance in understanding how clusters of stars like our sun are formed has been made by a team that includes seven astronomers at Penn State Univ. and two at other universities. Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared telescopes, the astronomers have shown that earlier theories about the process that creates star clusters in giant clouds of gas and dust cannot be correct.
Sprites are an optical phenomenon that occur above thunderstorms, about 37 to 56 miles above the Earth. Atmospheric sprites have been known for nearly a century, but their origins were a mystery. Now, a team of researchers has evidence that sprites form at plasma irregularities and may be useful in remote sensing of the lower ionosphere.
A specially formed material that can provide custom broadband absorption in the infrared can be identified and manufactured using "genetic algorithms," according to Penn State Univ. engineers, who say these metamaterials can shield objects from view by infrared sensors, protect instruments and be manufactured to cover a variety of wavelengths.
Brown dwarfs start their lives like stars, as collapsing balls of gas, but they lack the mass to burn nuclear fuel and radiate starlight. A "brown dwarf" star that appears to be the coldest of its kind—as frosty as Earth's North Pole—has been discovered by a Penn State Univ. astronomer to be just 7.2 light-years away, making it the fourth closest system to our Sun. The strange star is as frosty as Earth's North Pole.
For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent and fluorescent lighting, different degrees of whites may all look the same, according to experts in lighting.
Researchers in Pennsylvania and Texas have shown the ability to grow high quality, single-layer materials one on top of the other using chemical vapor deposition. This highly scalable technique, often used in the semiconductor industry, can produce materials with unique properties that could be applied to solar cells, ultracapacitors for energy storage, or advanced transistors for energy efficient electronics, among many other applications.
Porous silicon manufactured in a bottom up procedure using solar energy can be used to generate hydrogen from water, according to a team of Penn State Univ. mechanical engineers, who also see applications for batteries, biosensors and optical electronics as outlets for this new material.
Saliva-powered micro-sized microbial fuel cells can produce minute amounts of energy sufficient to run on-chip applications, according to an international team of engineers.
Easily manufactured, low-cost artificial cells manufactured using microprinting may one day serve as drug and gene delivery devices, according to engineers at Penn State Univ. who are creating large arrays of artificial cells. Made of lipids and proteins, these uniformly sized cells can either remain attached to the substrate on which they grow, or become separated and used as freely moving vessels.
Researchers have proved the feasibility of a new type of transistor that could enable fast and low-power computing devices for energy-constrained applications such as smart sensor networks and implantable medical electronics. Called a near broken-gap tunnel field effect transistor, the new device uses the quantum mechanical tunneling of electrons through an ultra-thin energy barrier to provide high current at low voltage.
Scientists at Penn State Univ. have developed a method that enables a more accurate prediction of how ribonucleic acid molecules (RNAs) fold within living cells, shedding new light on how plants, as well as other living organisms, respond to environmental conditions. The advance was made possible by the ability to analyze more than 10,000 RNA molecules in a single cell.
The presence of molecular hydrogen, in addition to carbon dioxide and water, could have created a greenhouse effect on Mars 3.8 billion years ago that pushed temperatures high enough to allow for liquid water. This is according to a team of researchers who believe this is the only way for giant canyons like Nanedi Valles could have formed.
Oxygen usually enters wine through the cork and interacts with metals, particularly iron, setting off a chain reaction that changes compounds that add often disagreeable tastes and smells to the drink. Penn State Univ. researchers have added chelation compounds that bind with metals to inhibit oxidation, or oxygen's ability to react with trace metals. These compounds, they found, were effective.
A research team including a Penn State chemical engineer was recently awarded a $3.9 million National Science Foundation grant to understand how blue-green algae convert nitrogen into oxygen. The objective is to learn how to "transplant" the nitrogen fixing capability of one species to another.
A new technology invented to automate the laborious process of preparing plant roots for phenotyping has morphed into a powerful tool for exploring the 3-D structure of small objects. Now, two former Penn State Univ. students have formed a startup company targeting agribusiness and horticultural research.
A wide range of biologically inspired materials may now be possible by combining protein studies, materials science and RNA sequencing, according to an international team of researchers. The researchers looked at proteins because they are the building blocks of biological materials and also often control sequencing, growth and self-assembly. RNA produced from the DNA in the cells is the template for biological proteins.
Global warming may further lessen the likelihood of the freak atmospheric steering currents that last year shoved Superstorm Sandy due west into New Jersey, a new study says. But the study's authors said the once-in-700-years path was only one factor in the $50 billion storm. They say other variables such as sea level rise and stronger storms will worsen with global warming and outweigh changes in steering currents predicted by models.
Most solar cells today are inorganic and made of crystalline silicon. These cells tend to be expensive, rigid and relatively inefficient when it comes to converting sunlight into electricity. Work by a team of chemical engineers at Penn State Univ. and Rice Univ. may lead to a new class of inexpensive organic solar cells, one that skips difficult-to-scale fullerene acceptors and relies on molecular self-assembly instead.
In complex crisis situations teams of experts must often make difficult decisions within a narrow time frame. However, voluminous amounts of information and the complexity of distributed cognition can hamper the quality and timeliness of decision-making by human teams and lead to catastrophic consequences. A Penn State Univ. team has devised a system that merges human and computer intelligence to support decision-making.
Bending light beams to your whim sounds like a job for a wizard or an a complex array of bulky mirrors, lenses and prisms, but a few tiny liquid bubbles may be all that is necessary to open the doors for next-generation, high-speed circuits and displays, according to Penn State researchers.
A new robot at the Univ. of Pennsylvania has a leg up on its predecessors now that researchers have outfitted it with jumping and climbing abilities—something that could make it particularly useful for such tricky propositions as military search missions or supply transport.
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