When scientists found electrical current flowing where it shouldn't be—at the place where two insulating materials meet—it set off a frenzy of research that turned up more weird properties and the hope of creating a new class of electronics. Now scientists have mapped those currents in microscopic detail and found another surprise: Rather than flowing uniformly, the currents are stronger in some places than others.
DNA is the blueprint for life. Could it also become the template for making a new generation of computer chips based not on silicon, but on an experimental material known as graphene? That’s the theory behind a process that Stanford Univ. chemical engineering prof. Zhenan Bao has revealed.
Induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, are a hot commodity right now in biology. The cells, which are created when non-stem cells are reprogrammed to resemble embryonic stem cells, have many potential uses in therapy and drug development. They're usually created by using a virus to add just four genes to the cell to be reprogrammed. However, a molecular understanding of the transformation process is largely lacking.
Why can’t global leaders agree on a broad, effective climate change pact? More than 20 years after they began, international negotiations based on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have resulted in only one legally binding treaty. That agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, has not been ratified by the U.S., historically the world’s largest carbon emitter.
When it comes to improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries, no part should be overlooked; not even the glue that binds materials together in the cathode, researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have found. Tweaking that material, which binds lithium sulfide and carbon particles together, created a cathode that lasted five times longer than earlier designs.
In an advance that will help scientists design and engineer proteins, a team including researchers from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. has found a way to identify how protein molecules flex into specific atomic arrangements required to catalyze chemical reactions essential for life.
Scientists have spent decades trying to build flexible plastic solar cells efficient enough to compete with conventional cells made of silicon. To boost performance, research groups have tried creating new plastic materials that enhance the flow of electricity through the solar cell. Recently, scientists discovered that disorder at the molecular level actually improves the polymers' performance.
Researchers have made the first direct images of electrical currents flowing along the edges of a topological insulator. In these strange solid-state materials, currents flow only along the edges of a sample while avoiding the interior. Using an exquisitely sensitive detector they built, the team was able to sense the weak magnetic fields generated by the edge currents and tell exactly where the currents were flowing.
Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have used finely tuned x-rays at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource to pin down the source of a mysterious magnetism that appears when two materials are sandwiched together. Why is this mysterious? Neither material shows a hint of magnetism on its own.
On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake occurred 43 miles off the shore of Japan. It generated an unexpectedly massive tsunami that washed over eastern Japan roughly 30 minutes later. Scientists at Stanford University have identified key acoustic characteristics of this quake that indicated it would cause a large tsunami.
Researchers at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. have created a new device, smaller than a grain of rice, that could streamline optical data communications. It can directly identify the wavelength of light that hits it, and should scale down to the even tinier dimensions needed for multichannel optical data receivers on future generations of computer chips.
Stanford Univ. scientists have dramatically improved the performance of lithium-ion batteries by creating novel electrodes made of silicon and conducting polymer hydrogel, a spongy material similar to that used in contact lenses and other household products. The scientists developed a new technique for producing low-cost, silicon-based batteries with potential applications for a wide range of electrical devices.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford Univ. researchers have developed a new printing process for organic thin-film electronics that results in films of strikingly higher quality. The printing process called FLUENCE—fluid-enhanced crystal engineering—results in thin films capable of conducting electricity 10 times more efficiently than those created using conventional methods.
Stanford University scientists have developed an advanced zinc-air battery with higher catalytic activity and durability than similar batteries made with costly platinum and iridium catalysts. The results could lead to the development of a low-cost alternative to conventional lithium-ion batteries widely used today.
Researchers at Columbia University and Stanford University have developed a computational method that enables scientists to visualize and interpret "high-dimensional" data produced by single-cell measurement technologies such as mass cytometry. A sophisticated algorithm converts difficult-to-interpret data into visual representations similar to two-dimensional "scatter plots".
The massive ball of iron sitting at the center of Earth is not quite as "rock-solid" as has been thought, say two Stanford University mineral physicists. By conducting experiments that simulate the immense pressures deep in the planet's interior, the researchers determined that iron in Earth's inner core is only about 40% as strong as previous studies estimated.
Among its many talents, silver is an antibiotic. Titanium dioxide is known to glom on to certain heavy metals and pollutants. Other materials do the same for salt. In recent years, environmental engineers have sought to disinfect, depollute, and desalinate contaminated water using nanoscale particles of these active materials. Engineers call them nanoscavengers.
Engineers combine layers of flexible materials into pressure sensors to create a wearable heart monitor thinner than a dollar bill. The skin-like device could one day provide doctors with a safer way to check the condition of a patient's heart.
Like spreading a thin layer of butter on toast, Cornell University scientists have helped develop a novel process of spreading extremely thin organic transistors, and used synchrotron X-rays to watch how the films crystallize. The coating procedure, called solution shearing, is like the buttering of a slice of toast.
Stanford University School of Medicine scientists have succeeded in transforming skin cells directly into oligodendrocyte precursor cells, the cells that wrap nerve cells in the insulating myelin sheaths that help nerve signals propagate. The research was done in mice and rats, but if the approach also works with human cells, it could eventually lead to cell therapies for a variety of diseases of the nervous system.
At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption. Stanford University law professor Hank Greely has recently identified the ethical landmines of this new concept of de-extinction.
The construction of the photovoltaic power industry since 2000 has required an enormous amount of energy, mostly from fossil fuels. The good news is that the clean electricity from all the installed solar panels has likely just surpassed the energy going into the industry's continued growth, Stanford University researchers find.
Using laser light to read and write magnetic data by quickly flipping tiny magnetic domains could help keep pace with the demand for faster computing devices. Now experiments with SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser have given scientists their first detailed look at how light controls the first trillionth of a second of this process, known as all-optical magnetic switching.
Engineers at Stanford have developed a prototype single-fiber endoscope that improves the resolution of these much-sought-after instruments fourfold over existing designs. This so-called micro-endoscope can resolve objects just 2.5 micrometers in size and could lead to an era of needle-thin, minimally invasive endoscopes able to view features out of reach of today’s instruments.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a group of progenitor cells in the inner ear that can become the sensory hair cells and adjacent supporting cells that enable hearing. Studying these progenitor cells could someday lead to discoveries that help millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss due to damaged or impaired sensory hair cells.