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The Lead

High-temperature plasmonics eyed for solar, computer innovation

April 18, 2014 8:09 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New plasmonic metamaterials that operate at high temperatures could radically improve solar cell performance and bring advanced computer data storage technology that uses heat to record information on a magnetic disk. The materials could make it possible to harness clouds of electrons called surface plasmons to manipulate and control light.

A few “problem wells” source of greenhouse gas

April 15, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point...

Study to measure gravity’s effects on plant cells in space

April 11, 2014 7:53 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. experiment that will test how plant cells sense and respond to different levels...

Landscape “transition zones” may influence where tornadoes strike

April 7, 2014 5:53 pm | News | Comments

An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana...

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Phage “cocktail” wipes out 99% of E. coli in meat, spinach

April 1, 2014 3:24 pm | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteriophages are viruses that target and kill bacteria. Recent research at Purdue Univ. shows that treating food products with select bacteriophages could significantly reduce concentrations of E. coli. The study demonstrated that an injection of bacteriophages nearly eradicated a toxin-producing strain of E. coli in contaminated spinach and ground beef, in some cases decreasing E. coli concentrations by about 99%.

Nanotube coating helps shrink mass spectrometers

March 25, 2014 11:52 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Nanotechnology is advancing tools likened to Star Trek's "tricorder" that perform on-the-spot chemical analysis for a range of applications including medical testing, explosives detection and food safety. Researchers found that when paper used to collect a sample was coated with carbon nanotubes, the voltage required was 1,000 times reduced, the signal was sharpened and the equipment was able to capture far more delicate molecules.

Smartphone to become smarter with “deep learning” innovation

March 19, 2014 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are working to enable smartphones and other mobile devices to understand and immediately identify objects in a camera's field of view, overlaying lines of text that describe items in the environment. The innovation could find applications in "augmented reality" technologies like Google Glass, facial recognition systems and robotic cars that drive themselves.

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Discovery could yield more efficient plants for biofuels

March 18, 2014 8:16 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Genetically modifying a key protein complex in plants could lead to improved crops for the production of cellulosic biofuels, a Purdue Univ. study says. The researchers generated a mutant Arabidopsis plant whose cell walls can be converted easily into fermentable sugars, but doesn't display the stunted growth patterns of similar mutants.

Ultracold molecules promising for quantum computing, simulation

March 13, 2014 7:49 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a new type of "ultracold" molecule, using lasers to cool atoms nearly to absolute zero and then gluing them together, a technology that might be applied to quantum computing, precise sensors and advanced simulations. Physicists are using lasers to achieve such extreme cooling, reducing the temperature to nearly absolute zero, or -273 C (-459 F)—the lowest temperature possible in the universe.

Long non-coding RNAs help genes get out of the starting block faster

February 21, 2014 7:43 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Yeast can quickly adapt to changes in its environment with the help of molecules known as long non-coding RNAs, a Purdue Univ. study shows. The team of researchers found that long non-coding RNAs prepare metabolic genes to be activated swiftly when baker's yeast needs to switch its source of energy from glucose to an alternative sugar, galactose.

Laser tool speeds up detection of Salmonella in food products

February 14, 2014 7:38 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | Videos | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have developed a laser sensor that can identify Salmonella bacteria grown from food samples about three times faster than conventional detection methods. Known as BARDOT, the machine scans bacteria colonies and generates a distinct black and white "fingerprint" by which they can be identified. BARDOT takes less than 24 hrs to pinpoint Salmonella.

Findings point to potential treatment for virus causing childhood illnesses

January 30, 2014 7:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a potential treatment for a viral infection that causes potentially fatal brain swelling and paralysis in children. The findings also point to possible treatments for related viruses including those that cause common cold symptoms. The virus, called enterovirus 71 (EV71), causes yearly outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease in Southeast Asian countries, including China and Malaysia.

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Research could bring new devices that control heat flow

January 28, 2014 8:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers are proposing a new technology that might control the flow of heat the way electronic devices control electrical current, an advance that could have applications in a diverse range of fields from electronics to textiles. The concept uses tiny triangular structures to control phonons, quantum-mechanical phenomena that describe how vibrations travel through a material's crystal structure.

Inverse opal structure improves thin-film solar cells

January 13, 2014 3:59 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to increase the efficiency of thin-film solar cells, a technology that could bring low-cost solar energy. The approach uses 3-D photonic crystals to absorb more sunlight than conventional thin-film cells. The synthetic crystals possess a structure called an inverse opal to make use of and enhance properties found in the gemstones to reflect, diffract and bend incoming sunlight.

Plants use “unusual” microbial-like pathway to make essential amino acid

January 8, 2014 3:55 pm | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have discovered a microbial-like pathway in plants that produces phenylalanine. Plants mainly synthesize phenylalanine through a chain of chemical reactions that converts the organic acid arogenate to phenylalanine. But Purdue researchers demonstrated that plants also use an alternative pathway found in most microorganisms to make phenylalanine from phenylpyruvate.

Researchers show potential benefits of pinewood char as synthetic fuel source

December 18, 2013 1:23 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. have successfully tested the conversion of large particles of pinewood char in a gasification process, a step necessary for the mass production of synthetic liquid fuel from recalcitrant biomass. The results stemmed from a series of experiments using a new facility at Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories aimed at learning precisely how biomass is broken down in reactors called gasifiers.

“Approximate computing” improves efficiency, saves energy

December 18, 2013 8:16 am | News | Comments

Researchers are developing computers capable of "approximate computing" to perform calculations good enough for certain tasks that don't require perfect accuracy, potentially doubling efficiency and reducing energy consumption. Purdue researchers have developed a range of hardware techniques to demonstrate approximate computing, showing a potential for improvements in energy efficiency.

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DNA motor “walks” along nanotube, transports tiny particle

December 17, 2013 2:45 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a new type of molecular motor made of DNA and demonstrated its potential by using it to transport a nanoparticle along the length of a carbon nanotube. The design was inspired by natural biological motors that have evolved to perform specific tasks critical to the function of cells.

Timing is everything in new nanotechnology for medicine, security and research

December 16, 2013 9:40 am | by Elizabeth Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists working to advance imaging useful to medicine and security are capitalizing on the same phenomenon behind the lingering "ghost" image that appeared on old television screens. A team of researchers has created a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers, adding a new dimension of time to color and brightness in optical detection technology.

New findings reveal protein structure in rubella virus

December 10, 2013 11:21 am | News | Comments

Researchers have determined the structure of the rubella virus capsid protein, which is central to the virus's ability to assemble into an infectious particle and to infect humans. Although a successful vaccine is available to protect against rubella virus infection, the discovery could aid efforts to develop vaccines and antiviral drugs to treat related infections.

New hologram technology created with tiny nanoantennas

November 15, 2013 7:55 am | News | Comments

Researchers have created tiny holograms using a metasurface capable of the ultra-efficient control of light, representing a potential new technology for advanced sensors, high-resolution displays and information processing. The metasurface, thousands of V-shaped nanoantennas formed into an ultra-thin gold foil, could make possible optical switches small enough to be integrated into computer chips for information processing.

Biometrics researchers see world without passwords

November 12, 2013 12:50 pm | News | Comments

Iris scans, fingerprint scans, facial and voice recognition are tools that improve security while making our lives easier, says Stephen Elliott, director of international biometric research at Purdue Univ. His basement lab is a place where emerging biometric technologies are tested for weaknesses before they can go mainstream.

Researchers manipulate virus to create possible new cancer treatment

November 11, 2013 3:01 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have successfully eliminated the native infection preferences of a Sindbis virus engineered to target and kill cancer cells, a milestone in the manipulation of this promising viral vector. The achievement also demonstrates the ability to use methods of manipulation previously only applied to proteins.

Innovation kills waterborne microorganisms, produces safer drinking water

October 24, 2013 8:56 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. have developed prototypes of a water disinfection system to take advantage of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, which is plentiful in many areas where clean water is lacking. Their water disinfection system pumps water through a UV-transparent pipe placed on a parabolic reflector, effectively magnifying the effect of UV radiation, which damages microorganism DNA.

Project aims to mass-produce nanopetals for sensor, batteries

October 22, 2013 8:28 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. are developing a method to mass-produce a new type of nanomaterial for advanced sensors and batteries, with an eye toward manufacturing in the Midwest. Research findings indicate the material shows promise as a sensor for detecting glucose in the saliva or tears and for "supercapacitors" that could make possible fast-charging, high-performance batteries.

Optical technology helps surgeons see cancer tissue

October 22, 2013 8:21 am | News | Comments

OnTarget Laboratories LLC has teamed with partners in academia to test a novel optical imaging technology developed at Purdue Univ. that could help surgeons see cancer tissue during surgery. The technology is based on the over-expression of specific receptors on solid cancerous tumors and enables illumination of the tumor tissue during surgery.

Asteroid expert says surveillance is key to survival

October 21, 2013 8:07 am | News | Comments

For the threat of meteor strikes large or small, early detection is key, and evacuation may be the only defense needed within the next 1,000 years, according to an asteroid impact expert. The best investment in asteroid defense is not in weapons to deflect them, but in telescopes and surveys to find them.

Device speeds concentration step in food-pathogen detection

October 14, 2013 1:39 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a system that concentrates foodborne salmonella and other pathogens faster than conventional methods by using hollow thread-like fibers that filter out the cells. The machine, called a continuous cell concentration device, could make it possible to routinely analyze food or water samples to screen for pathogens within a single work shift at food processing plants.

Cell-detection system promising for medical research, diagnostics

October 3, 2013 8:33 am | News | Comments

Researchers are developing a system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient's blood, an advance that could help medical doctors diagnose cancer earlier than now possible and monitor how well a patient is responding to therapy.

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