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The Lead

Fat molecules influence form, function of key photosynthesis protein

September 30, 2014 7:48 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A mysterious space within a protein critical to photosynthesis is filled with fat molecules that influence both the protein’s architecture and electrical properties, according to two recent studies. Researchers studied the atomic structure of, and electrical interactions within, the cytochrome bf complex, a protein complex central to the transport of electrons within membranes of a plant cell, a critical step in photosynthesis.

Researchers uncover structure of enzyme that makes plant cellulose

September 25, 2014 8:06 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have discovered the structure of the enzyme that...

Robotic fabric could bring “active clothing”, wearable robots

September 23, 2014 2:20 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

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Boosting global corn yields depends on improving nutrient balance

September 18, 2014 7:40 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Ensuring that corn absorbs the right balance of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium is crucial to increasing global yields, a Purdue and Kansas State Univ. study finds. A review of data from more than 150 studies from the U.S. and other regions showed that high yields were linked to production systems in which corn plants took up key nutrients at specific ratios.

Findings suggest how swimming cells form biofilms on surfaces

September 12, 2014 7:59 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

New research findings point toward future approaches to fighting bacterial biofilms that foul everything from implantable medical devices to industrial pipes and boat propellers. Bacteria secrete a mucus-like “extracellular polymeric substance” that forms biofilms, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive on surfaces.

Findings suggest how swimming cells form biofilms on surfaces

September 11, 2014 1:07 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Bacteria secrete a mucus-like “extracellular polymeric substance” that forms biofilms, allowing bacterial colonies to thrive on surfaces. Costs associated with biofilms affecting medical devices and industrial equipment amount to billions of dollars annually. New research reveals specifics about interactions that induce bacteria to swim close to surfaces and attach to biofilms. This may point to future approaches for fighting biofilms.

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Fingerprinting cell metabolism points toward study of obesity, diabetes

September 9, 2014 7:38 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to use a new imaging platform to map lipid metabolism in living cells, discovering specifically where cholesterol is stored and pointing toward further studies in obesity, diabetes and longevity. The imaging approach makes it possible to not only quantify the storage of cholesterol, but also the "desaturation" and oxidation of lipids, which may reduce the ability of cells to use insulin.

Robots unlikely to take big bites out of employment, expert says

September 2, 2014 11:59 am | by Steve Talley, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Advances in artificial intelligence and robotics mean that machines will soon be able to do many of the tasks of today's workers. But David Hummels, a professor of economics at Purdue Univ., says humans still have a unique advantage that machines may never be able to emulate: our ability to respond to other humans.

New analytical technology reveals nanomechanical surface traits

August 27, 2014 5:03 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discussed the merits of surface-stress influence on mechanical properties for decades. Now, a new research platform, called nanomechanical Raman spectroscopy and developed at Purdue Univ., uses a laser to measure the "nanomechanical" properties of tiny structures undergoing stress and heating.

Vision problems for older adults can dim life expectancy

August 26, 2014 11:28 am | by Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Older adults losing vision as they age are more likely to face an increased mortality risk, according to new research from Purdue Univ. The researchers analyzed data from the Salisbury Eye Evaluation study that tracked the vision health of 2,520 older adults, ages 65 to 84. The research was funded by the National Eye Institute.

Shale oil dividend could pay for smaller carbon footprint

August 19, 2014 8:16 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Unanticipated economic benefits from the shale oil and gas boom could help offset the costs of substantially reducing the U.S.'s carbon footprint, Purdue Univ. agricultural economists say. Wally Tyner and Farzad Taheripour estimate that shale technologies annually provide an extra $302 billion to the U.S. economy relative to 2007, a yearly "dividend" that could continue for at least the next two decades, Tyner said.

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Lunar-landing rocket research hits milestone with “hot-fire” test

August 13, 2014 8:00 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. student team has designed, built and tested a critical part of a new a rocket engine as part of a NASA project to develop spacecraft technologies needed to land on the moon, Mars and other cosmic venues. The students are making a central part of the new engine—called the thrust chamber or combustor—as part of NASA's Project Morpheus.

Cell signaling pathway linked to obesity, Type 2 diabetes

August 8, 2014 7:55 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. study shows that Notch signaling, a key biological pathway tied to development and cell communication, also plays an important role in the onset of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, a discovery that offers new targets for treatment. The research team found that blocking Notch signaling in the fat tissue of mice caused white fat cells to transform into a "leaner" type of fat known as beige fat.

Boosting neural pathway from gut to brain could play part in weight control

July 31, 2014 7:40 am | by Amy Patterson Neubert, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A Purdue Univ. study found an increase in sensory nerve fibers that send signals from the gut to the brain reduces the time spent eating a meal, which could help regulate body weight. The researchers studied a mouse model with a targeted knockout of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor gene that decreases levels of this nerve growth factor in the gastrointestinal tract.

Discovery is key to metal wear in sliding parts

July 24, 2014 9:24 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a previously unknown mechanism for wear in metals: a swirling, fluid-like microscopic behavior in a solid piece of metal sliding over another. The findings could be used to improve the durability of metal parts in numerous applications.

Spinach could lead to alternative energy more powerful than Popeye

July 23, 2014 4:07 pm | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Spinach gave Popeye super strength, but it also holds the promise of a different power for a group of scientists: the ability to convert sunlight into a clean, efficient alternative fuel. Purdue Univ. physicists are part of an international group using spinach to study the proteins involved in photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert the sun’s energy into carbohydrates used to power cellular processes.

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New bridge design improves quake resistance, speeds construction

July 1, 2014 3:24 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new design for the framework of columns and beams that support bridges, called "bents," to improve performance for better resistance to earthquakes, less damage and faster on-site construction. The faster construction is achieved by pre-fabricating the columns and beams off-site and shipping them to the site, where they are erected and connected quickly.

Discovery Park center awarded grant to advance energy economy

June 23, 2014 7:47 am | by Phillip Fiorini, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research center at Purdue Univ.'s Discovery Park has been awarded a $12 million, four-year grant as part of a $100 million U.S. Dept. of Energy initiative to accelerate scientific breakthroughs needed to build the 21st century energy economy. The Purdue-led C3Bio will use the additional funding to advance methods for converting plant lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels and other bio-based products.

New manufacturing methods needed for “soft” machines, robots

June 19, 2014 7:52 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique that might be used to produce "soft machines" made of elastic materials and liquid metals for potential applications in robotics, medical devices and consumer electronics. Such an elastic technology could make possible robots that have sensory skin and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

Few, if any, big impact craters remain to be discovered on Earth

June 18, 2014 8:02 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

It’s likely that most of the large impact craters on Earth have already been discovered and that others have been erased, according to a new calculation by a pair of Purdue Univ. graduate students. Although it's known that natural processes erase craters fairly quickly from the Earth's surface, this model was the first to quantify how many craters have likely been erased.

Smartphone adapted to measure person’s gait, reduce falls

June 17, 2014 8:01 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to modify a smartphone so that it can be used to measure a person's walking gait to prevent falls in people with compromised balance, such as the elderly or those with Parkinson's disease. The innovation, being commercialized as SmartGait, is designed as a tool to aid health care officials in assessing a person's risk of falling and identifying ways to avoid injury.

Silicon alternatives key to future computers, consumer electronics

June 5, 2014 7:54 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers are reporting key milestones in developing new semiconductors to potentially replace silicon in future computer chips and for applications in flexible electronics.  Findings are detailed in three technical papers, including one focusing on a collaboration of researchers from Purdue Univ., Intel Corp. and SEMATECH. The team has demonstrated the potential promise of a 2-D semiconductor called molybdenum disulfide.

Simple sewing machine has high-tech role in future “soft” machines

June 3, 2014 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

The humble sewing machine could play a key role in creating "soft" robotics, wearable electronics and implantable medical systems made of elastic materials that are capable of extreme stretching. New stretchable technologies could lead to innovations including robots that have human-like sensory skin and synthetic muscles and flexible garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

System prints precise drug dosages tailored for patients

May 15, 2014 11:36 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have created a prototype system that uses a mathematical model to predict—and a portable inkjet technology to produce—precise medication dosages tailored for specific patients, an advance in personalized medicine that could improve drug effectiveness and reduce adverse reactions.

Corn dwarfed by temperature dip suitable for growing in caves, mines

May 13, 2014 7:23 am | News | Comments

A new study shows that lowering temperatures for two hours each day reduces the height of corn without affecting its seed yield. The technique could be used to grow crops in controlled-environment facilities in caves and former mines.

Advance brings “hyperbolic metamaterials” closer to reality

May 12, 2014 3:21 pm | News | Comments

Optical metamaterials harness clouds of electrons called surface plasmons to manipulate and control light. However, plasmonic devices often use gold or silver, which is incompatible with CMOS manufacturing processes. Purdue Univ. scientists have now developed an ultra-thin crystalline superlattice that instead uses metal-dielectrics. Applied using epitaxy, this “hyperbolic” film could greatly expand applications for metamaterials.

Luminescent nanocrystal tags, high-speed scanner enable rapid detection of pathogens

May 7, 2014 7:42 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A research team using tunable luminescent nanocrystals as tags to advance medical and security imaging have successfully applied them to high-speed scanning technology and detected multiple viruses within minutes. The research builds on the team's earlier success in developing a way to control the length of time light from a luminescent nanocrystal lingers.

Sketching on tablets promising for collaborative design, creativity

April 30, 2014 8:00 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Two new "cyberlearning" platforms allow non-artists to create illustrations rivaling the work of expert designers. The platforms sidestep a key creative barrier by eliminating the need for drawing skills in developing new designs. The platforms represent an important step toward replacing or augmenting the use of paper to create designs.

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