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The Lead

Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

April 17, 2014 2:56 pm | by Alicia Chang, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

Detected by NASA's orbiting Kepler telescope, a newly found planet is the most Earth-like planet yet detected. Astronomers say the distant, rocky world is similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life. The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

New semiconductor holds promise for 2-D physics, electronics

March 21, 2014 7:54 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

From super-lubricants, to solar cells, to the fledgling technology of valleytronics, there is...

Making sense of big data

March 13, 2014 12:56 pm | by Wallace Ravven, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Ben Recht, a statistician and electrical engineer...

Scientists “herd” cells in new approach to tissue engineering

March 12, 2014 8:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Sometimes it only takes a quick jolt of electricity to get a swarm of cells moving in the right...

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Colored diamonds are a superconductor’s best friend

March 7, 2014 8:02 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

Flawed but colorful diamonds are among the most sensitive detectors of magnetic fields known today, allowing physicists to explore the minuscule magnetic fields in metals, exotic materials and even human tissue. A team of physicists have now shown that these diamond sensors can measure the tiny magnetic fields in high-temperature superconductors, providing a new tool to probe these much ballyhooed but poorly understood materials.

Tracking catalytic reactions in microreactors

February 21, 2014 11:08 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A pathway to more effective and efficient synthesis of pharmaceutical drugs and other flow reactor chemical products has been opened by a study in which, for the first time, the catalytic reactivity inside a microreactor was mapped in high resolution from start-to-finish. The results not only provided a better understanding of the chemistry behind the catalytic reactions, they also revealed opportunities for optimization.

Report: Offshoring, outsourcing a mixed bag for American jobs, wages

February 19, 2014 9:41 am | by Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

A new study by Univ. of California, Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers finds that the practices of outsourcing and offshoring jobs appear to have both positive and negative effects on American jobs and wages. The pilot study provides the first representative and internationally comparable evidence of the domestic and international sourcing practices of U.S. private and public sector organizations.

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How chronic stress leads to mental illness

February 12, 2014 8:05 am | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers have shown that chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that may explain why people suffering chronic stress are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life. Their findings could lead to new therapies to reduce the risk of developing mental illness after stressful events.

New insight into an emerging genome-editing tool

February 7, 2014 7:53 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers have produced the first detailed look at the 3-D structure of the Cas9 enzyme and how it partners with guide RNA to interact with target DNA. The results should enhance Cas9’s value and versatility as a genome-editing tool.

Puzzling question in bacterial immune system answered

January 30, 2014 8:04 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A central question has been answered regarding a protein that plays an essential role in the bacterial immune system and is fast becoming a valuable tool for genetic engineering. A team of researchers has determined how the bacterial enzyme known as Cas9, guided by RNA, is able to identify and degrade foreign DNA during viral infections, as well as induce site-specific genetic changes in animal and plant cells.

Seafloor carpet catches waves to generate energy

January 29, 2014 7:37 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

What do champion surfers who gathered at last week’s Mavericks Invitational have in common with a Univ. of California, Berkeley engineer? They all are looking to harness the power of big ocean waves. But the similarities end there. For assistant professor Reza Alam, an expert in wave mechanics, the seafloor “carpet” he is proposing will convert ocean waves into usable energy.

Turkeys inspire smartphone-capable early warning system for toxins

January 21, 2014 11:46 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Some may think of turkeys as good for just lunch meat and holiday meals, but bioengineers at the Univ. of California (UC), Berkeley saw inspiration in the big birds for a new type of biosensor that changes color when exposed to chemical vapors. This feature makes the sensors valuable detectors of toxins or airborne pathogens.

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E-whiskers: Researchers develop highly sensitive tactile sensors for robotics

January 21, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers in California have created tactile sensors from composite films of carbon nanotubes and silver nanoparticles similar to the highly sensitive whiskers of cats and rats. These new e-whiskers respond to pressure as slight as a single Pascal, about the pressure exerted on a table surface by a dollar bill.

Engineers create light-activated “curtains”

January 10, 2014 12:36 pm | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

A new development by researchers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, could lead to curtains and other materials that move in response to light, no batteries needed. Engineers have created a new light-reactive material made up of carbon nanotubes and plastic polycarbonate.

Suburban sprawl cancels carbon-footprint savings of dense urban cores

January 6, 2014 4:56 pm | by Robert Sanders, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

According to a new study by Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers, population-dense cities contribute less greenhouse-gas emissions per person than other areas of the country, but these cities’ extensive suburbs essentially wipe out the climate benefits. Suburbs account for about 50% of all household emissions in the United States.

New milestone could help magnets end era of computer transistors

November 20, 2013 9:48 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

New work by researchers at Univ. of California, Berkeley could soon transform the building blocks of modern electronics by making nanomagnetic switches a viable replacement for the conventional transistors found in all computers.

Taking a new look at carbon nanotubes

November 12, 2013 11:48 am | News | Comments

Despite their almost incomprehensibly small size, single-walled carbon nanotubes come in a plethora of different “species,” each with its own structure and unique combination of electronic and optical properties. Characterizing the structure and properties of an individual carbon nanotube has involved a lot of guesswork, until now.

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Diamond imperfections pave way to technology gold

November 5, 2013 7:52 am | News | Comments

From supersensitive detections of magnetic fields to quantum information processing, the key to a number of highly promising advanced technologies may lie in one of the most common defects in diamonds. Researchers have taken an important step towards unlocking this key with the first ever detailed look at critical ultra-fast processes in these diamond defects.

Physical cues help mature cells revert into embryonic-like stem cells

October 21, 2013 7:49 am | News | Comments

Bioengineers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley have shown that physical cues can replace certain chemicals when nudging mature cells back to a pluripotent stage, capable of becoming any cell type in the body. The researchers grew fibroblasts on surfaces with parallel grooves measuring 10 µm wide and 3 µm high.

UC Berkeley, Berkeley Lab announce Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute

October 4, 2013 11:14 am | News | Comments

The Kavli Foundation has endowed a new institute at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to explore the basic science of how to capture and channel energy on the molecular or nanoscale and use this information to discover new ways of generating energy for human use.

Clot busting simulations test potential stroke treatment

September 25, 2013 8:02 am | News | Comments

Researchers are using computer simulations to investigate how ultrasound and tiny bubbles injected into the bloodstream might break up blood clots, limiting the damage caused by a stroke in its first hours. Strokes are the most common cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and the third most common cause of death.

Virus Power

August 28, 2013 8:59 am | Award Winners

The worldwide market for portable electronic devices is quickly growing. These devices are predominantly battery-driven, and a challenge looms for maintaining, charging and disposing of these millions of batteries. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Bacteriophage Power Generator offers a potential alternative.

New theory points to “zombie vortices” as key step in star formation

August 21, 2013 7:47 am | News | Comments

A new theory by fluid dynamics experts at the Univ. of California, Berkeley, shows how “zombie vortices” help lead to the birth of a new star. In a recent report, a UC Berkeley-led team shows how variations in gas density lead to instability, which then generates the whirlpool-like vortices needed for stars to form.

Auto lubricant could rev up medical imaging

August 5, 2013 9:57 am | News | Comments

Engineers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley have built a device that could speed up medical imaging without breaking the bank. The key ingredient? An engine lubricant called molybdenum disulfide, or MoS2, which has been sold in auto parts shops for decades.

Solar energy could supply one-third of power in U.S. West

August 1, 2013 4:13 pm | News | Comments

Low-cost solar power could supply more than a third of all energy needs in the western U.S., if the nation can hit its targets for reducing the cost of solar energy, according to a new study by researchers at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. The researchers used a detailed computer model they developed of the west’s electric power grid to predict what will happen if the U.S. Dept. of Energy succeeds with its SunShot Initiative.

A step towards energy-efficient voltage control of magnetic devices

July 31, 2013 9:08 am | News | Comments

Researchers from NIST and the Univ. of California, Berkeley have discovered a way to create simultaneous images of both the magnetic and the electric domain structures in ferromagnetic/ferroelectric multilayer materials. By combining these two types of materials, it is possible to create low-power magnetic devices, including memory that can be controlled by electric fields instead of less energy-efficient magnetic fields.

Technology could bring high-end solar to the masses

July 25, 2013 8:19 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Researchers in California have demonstrated that indium phosphide, a III-V compound, can be grown on thin sheets of metal foil in a process that is faster and cheaper than traditional methods, yet still comparable in optoelectronic characteristics. Indium phosphide is among the high-performance solar converter, but has been up to 10 times as expensive as silicon to integrate in photovoltaic cells.

Paper-thin e-skin responds to touch

July 22, 2013 9:49 am | by Sarah Yang, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

A research team led by Ali Javey of the Univ. of California, Berkeley, has created the first user-interactive sensor network on flexible plastic. The new electronic skin, or e-skin, responds to touch by instantly lighting up. The more intense the pressure, the brighter the light it emits.

Study links vitamin D deficiency to accelerated bone aging

July 11, 2013 8:46 am | News | Comments

A team of scientists led by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Berkeley, have recently used a combination of Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and X-ray computed tomography at the Advanced Light Source to find that vitamin D deficiency speeds the aging process of bone and reduces its quality.

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