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Engineers discover neural rhythms drive physical movement

June 4, 2012 11:00 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

In a significant departure from earlier models, neural engineers and neuroscientists working at Stanford University have developed a new model for the brain activity underlying arm movements. Motor neurons do not represent external-world parameters as previously thought, but rather send a few basic rhythmic patterns down the spin to drive movement.

Underground search for neutrino properties unveils first results

June 4, 2012 10:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists studying neutrinos have found with the highest degree of sensitivity yet that these mysterious particles behave like other elementary particles at the quantum level. The results shed light on the mass and other properties of the neutrino and prove the effectiveness of a new instrument that will yield even greater discoveries in this area.

Psychologists aim to help computers understand you better

May 30, 2012 10:22 am | News | Comments

In a new paper, Stanford University researchers describe a mathematical model they created that helps predict pragmatic reasoning and may eventually lead to the manufacture of machines that can better understand inference, context, and social rules.

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Study cracks a secret of methanol production

May 25, 2012 4:59 am | News | Comments

Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, and Germany have figured out a key part of the industrial process for making methanol. It’s an important step toward improving the process—and eventually realizing the goal of turning a potent greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, into fuel.

Engineers use plasmonics to create an invisible photodetector

May 21, 2012 5:39 am | News | Comments

A team of engineers at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania has for the first time used plasmonic cloaking to create a device that can see without being seen—an invisible machine that detects light. It is the first example of what the researchers describe as a new class of devices that controls the flow of light at the nanoscale to produce both optical and electronic functions.

Internal atomic structure reveals key to pollution-fighting bacteria

May 16, 2012 11:54 am | News | Comments

Some remarkable types of bacteria have proven themselves capable of "consuming" toxic pollutants, organically diminishing environmental impact in a process called bioremediation. Enzymes within these bacteria can effectively alter the molecular structure of dangerous chemicals, but the underlying mechanisms and keys to future advances often remain unknown. Now, scientists Brookhaven National Laboratory have revealed a possible explanation for the superior function of one pollution-degrading enzyme.

Engineers tackle challenges of hypersonic flight

May 16, 2012 4:20 am | by Simon Firth, Stanford University | News | Comments

A multiyear collaboration among Stanford University engineering departments uses some of the world's fastest supercomputers to model the complexities of hypersonic flight. Someday, their work may lead to planes that fly at many times the speed of sound.

Graphite enters different states of matter in ultrafast experiment

May 15, 2012 8:37 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists have seen an X-ray-irradiated mineral go to two different states of matter in about 40 femtoseconds. Using the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) X-ray Free-Electron Laser (XFEL) at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University, Stefan Hau-Riege of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and colleagues heated graphite to induce a transition from solid to liquid and to warm-dense plasma.

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New nanostructure for batteries keeps going and going

May 10, 2012 8:00 am | News | Comments

For more than a decade, scientists have tried to improve lithium-based batteries by replacing the graphite in one terminal with silicon, which can store 10 times more charge. But after just a few charge/discharge cycles, the silicon structure would crack and crumble, rendering the battery useless. Now a team led by materials scientist has found a solution: a cleverly designed double-walled nanostructure that lasts more than 6,000 cycles, far more than needed by electric vehicles or mobile electronics.

Support for climate change action drops

May 9, 2012 10:22 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford University | News | Comments

Americans' support for government action on global warming remains high but has dropped during the past two years, according to a new survey by Stanford University researchers in collaboration with Ipsos Public Affairs. Political rhetoric and cooler-than-average weather appear to have influenced the shift, but economics doesn't appear to have played a role.

Study: Clean energy scale-up needs reality check

May 1, 2012 5:30 pm | by Mark Golden, Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University | News | Comments

In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two Stanford writers outline their visions in a pair of analyses.

Study: America's clean energy policies need a reality check

May 1, 2012 12:28 pm | by Mark Golden, Stanford University | News | Comments

In a post-Solyndra, budget-constrained world, the transition to a decarbonized energy system faces great hurdles. Overcoming these hurdles will require smarter and more focused policies. Two Stanford University writers outline their visions in a pair of high-profile analyses.

Nanotech gets boost from nanowire decorations

April 27, 2012 5:59 am | News | Comments

Engineers at Stanford University have found a novel method for decorating nanowires with chains of tiny particles to increase their electrical and catalytic performance. The new technique is simpler, faster, and provide greater control than earlier methods and could lead to better batteries, solar cells, and catalysts.

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Climate change may create price volatility in the corn market

April 23, 2012 12:21 pm | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment | News | Comments

In a study from Stanford University and Purdue University, researchers have shown for the first time that climate change may force the U.S. corn belt to move north in the next 10 years, escaping devastating heat waves. In turn, this will bring substantial price swings to the corn market, adversely affecting industries like food and biofuels.

Engineers create piezoelectric graphene

April 3, 2012 9:42 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

By depositing atoms on one side of a grid of graphene, researchers at Stanford University have engineered piezoelectricity into a nanoscale material for the first time. Twist it and it generates electricity. The implications could yield a dramatic degree of control in nanotechnology.

Discovery provides a boost to nanotechnology

March 27, 2012 5:40 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

After five decades of debate, Stanford University engineers determine how collective electron oscillations, called plasmons, behave in individual metal particles as small as just a few nanometers in diameter. This knowledge may open up new avenues in nanotechnology ranging from solar catalysis to biomedical therapeutics.

Engineers enlist weather model to optimize offshore wind plan

March 20, 2012 7:02 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

Using a sophisticated weather model, environmental engineers at Stanford University have defined optimal placement of a grid of four wind farms off the United States East Coast. The model successfully balances production at times of peak demand and significantly reduces costly spikes and zero-power events.

Molecular graphene heralds new era of 'designer electrons'

March 14, 2012 10:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the first-ever system of "designer electrons"—exotic variants of ordinary electrons with tunable properties that may ultimately lead to new types of materials and devices.

Silicon Valley poised to play role as Japan restructures power industry

March 8, 2012 9:09 am | by Brooke Donald, Stanford University | News | Comments

As cities and towns rebuild after last year's devastating tsunami and earthquake in northeastern Japan, there is a potentially huge demand for the green technology and new information technology now being created in laboratories at Stanford University and start ups across Silicon Valley.

Exotic material shows promise as flexible, transparent electrode

March 7, 2012 9:05 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists with roots at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University has shown that ultrathin sheets of an exotic material, called topological insulators, remain transparent and highly conductive even after being deeply flexed 1,000 times and folded and creased like a piece of paper.

X-rays reveal how soil bacteria carry out surprising chemistry

March 5, 2012 6:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers working at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have used powerful X-rays to help decipher how certain natural antibiotics defy a longstanding set of chemical rules—a mechanism that has baffled organic chemists for decades.

Fab team scales up production of dark matter detectors

February 28, 2012 4:43 am | News | Comments

It's one thing to design and build a brand-new piece of technology, to test it and tune it until it works just right. It's an entirely different matter to take that one-of-a-kind instrument and mass produce it. But that's essentially what the fabrication team for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search did.

Engineers create wireless, self-propelled medical device

February 23, 2012 4:47 am | by Andrew Myers, Stanford University | News | Comments

For 50 years, scientists searched for the secret to making tiny implantable devices that could travel through the bloodstream. Engineers at Stanford University have demonstrated such a device. Powered without wires or batteries, it can propel itself through the bloodstream and is small enough to fit through blood vessels.

Research initiative will study best approaches for quantum memories

February 16, 2012 4:49 am | News | Comments

The United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research has awarded $8.5 million to a consortium of seven U.S. universities that will work together to determine the best approach for generating quantum memories based on interaction between light and matter. The team will consider three different approaches for creating entangled quantum memories that could facilitate the long-distance transmission of secure information.

More environmental rules needed for shale gas

February 6, 2012 10:22 am | by Mark Golden, Stanford University | News | Comments

Obama's new rule is only one step toward ensuring the safety of hydraulic fracturing, the booming technology that offers economic and environmental benefits, according to Stanford University geophysicist and DOE adviser Mark Zoback.

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