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Nanoengineering boosts efficiency of materials

May 30, 2013 12:51 pm | News | Comments

High-performance thermoelectric materials that convert waste heat to electricity could one day be a source of more sustainable power. But they need to be a lot more efficient before they could be effective on a broad scale in places like power plants or military bases, researchers say. A University of Michigan researcher has taken a step toward that goal.

U.S. health care: Does more spending yield better health?

May 23, 2013 8:20 am | News | Comments

Health care spending is much higher for older Americans than for younger adults and children, on average, and analysts have said that increasing spending leads to longer life expectancy. But new research from the University of Michigan indicates that aging populations could view things differently.

Researchers find potential brain switch for new behavior

May 21, 2013 12:49 pm | News | Comments

You're standing near an airport luggage carousel and your bag emerges on the conveyor belt, prompting you to spring into action. How does your brain make the shift from passively waiting to taking action when your bag appears? A new study from investigators at the University of Michigan and Eli Lilly may reveal the brain's "switch" for new behavior.

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A new laser paradigm: An electrically injected polariton laser

May 16, 2013 9:45 am | News | Comments

Engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have demonstrated a paradigm-shifting "polariton" laser that's fueled not by light, but by electricity. Polaritons are particles that are part light, and part matter. The new device requires at least 1,000 times less energy to operate, compared with a conventional laser.

Fracking brings economic boost, but risks raise concerns

May 14, 2013 2:42 pm | News | Comments

Most Michigan and Pennsylvania residents say fracking is good for the economy, but have concerns about chemicals used and other environmental risks, according to a University of Michigan survey. Fracking is the common term for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground through encased wells at high pressure to create and expand fractures in the shale rock.

Nano-breakthrough: Solving the case of the herringbone crystal

May 13, 2013 7:54 am | News | Comments

Leading nanoscientists created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals, but they were left with a mystery: Why did some sets of crystals arrange themselves in an alternating, herringbone style? To find out, they turned to experts in computer simulation at the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Exotic atoms hold clues to unsolved physics puzzle

May 9, 2013 7:47 am | News | Comments

An international team of physicists has found the first direct evidence of pear-shaped nuclei in exotic atoms. The findings could advance the search for a new fundamental force in nature that could explain why the Big Bang created more matter than antimatter—a pivotal imbalance in the history of everything.

Divide and define: Clues to understanding how stem cells produce different cells

May 6, 2013 3:46 pm | News | Comments

The human body contains trillions of cells, all derived from a single cell. That single cell contains all the genetic information needed to develop into a human, and passes identical copies of that information to each new cell as it divides into the many diverse types of cells. If each cell is genetically identical, however, how does it grow to be a skin, blood, nerve, bone, or other type of cell?

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Improving materials that convert heat to electricity and vice-versa

May 6, 2013 7:50 am | News | Comments

Thermoelectric materials can be used to turn waste heat into electricity or to provide refrigeration without any liquid coolants, and a research team from the University of Michigan has found a way to nearly double the efficiency of a particular class of them that's made with organic semiconductors.

Decoded: Molecular messages that tell cancer to spread

May 2, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

Cancer cells are wily, well-traveled adversaries, constantly side-stepping treatments to stop their spread. But, for the first time, scientists at the University of Michigan have decoded the molecular chatter that ramps certain cancer cells into overdrive and can cause tumors to metastasize throughout the body.

Air pollution linked to hardening of arteries

April 25, 2013 11:03 am | News | Comments

Long-term exposure to air pollution may be linked to heart attacks and strokes by speeding up atherosclerosis, or "hardening of the arteries," according to a University of Michigan public health researcher and colleagues from across the U.S.

Fossil shells, new geochemical technique provide clues to ancient climate cooling

April 23, 2013 9:41 am | News | Comments

Using a new laboratory geochemical technique to analyze heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen in fossil snail shells, scientists have gained insights into an abrupt climate shift that transformed the planet nearly 34 million years ago. At that time, the Earth switched from a warm and high-carbon dioxide "greenhouse" state to the lower-carbon dioxide, variable climate of the modern "icehouse" world.

New software could alleviate wireless traffic

April 12, 2013 7:53 am | News | Comments

The explosive popularity of wireless devices is increasingly clogging the airwaves, resulting in dropped calls, wasted bandwidth, and botched connections. New software, called GapSense, being developed at the University of Michigan works like a stoplight to control the traffic and dramatically reduce interference.

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Spring cleaning in your brain: Stem cell research shows how important it is

April 11, 2013 2:30 am | News | Comments

Deep inside your brain, a legion of stem cells lies ready to turn into new brain and nerve cells whenever and wherever you need them most. But what happens to the garbage within cells that keeps them in a stem-cell state. Years of mouse research has allowed researchers at the University of Michigan to discover how autophagy keeps neural stem cells ready to replace damaged brain and nerve cells.

Researchers invent better single-photon emitter for quantum cryptography

April 9, 2013 6:31 pm | News | Comments

In a development that could make the advanced form of secure communications known as quantum cryptography more practical, University of Michigan researchers have demonstrated a simpler, more efficient single-photon emitter that can be made using traditional semiconductor processing techniques.

Building better blood vessels could advance tissue engineering

April 5, 2013 8:00 am | News | Comments

One of the major obstacles to growing new organs—replacement hearts, lungs, and kidneys—is the difficulty researchers face in building blood vessels that keep the tissues alive, but new findings from the University of Michigan could help overcome this roadblock.

Light may recast copper as chemical industry "holy grail"

March 29, 2013 8:50 am | News | Comments

Wouldn't it be convenient if you could reverse the rusting of your car by shining a bright light on it? It turns out that this concept works for undoing oxidation on copper nanoparticles, and it could lead to an environmentally friendly production process for an important industrial chemical, University of Michigan engineers have discovered.

Better than X-rays: A more powerful terahertz imaging system

March 28, 2013 8:47 am | News | Comments

Low-energy terahertz radiation could potentially enable doctors to see deep into tissues without the damaging effects of X-rays, or allow security guards to identify chemicals in a package without opening it. But it's been difficult for engineers to make powerful enough systems to accomplish these promising applications. Now an electrical engineering research team at the University of Michigan has developed a laser-powered terahertz source and detector system that transmits with 50 times more power and receives with 30 times more sensitivity than existing technologies.

Paint-on plastic electronics

March 25, 2013 7:51 am | News | Comments

Semiconducting polymers are an unruly bunch, but University of Michigan engineers have developed a new method for getting them in line that could pave the way for cheaper, greener, "paint-on" plastic electronics.

Common test may overestimate mercury exposure from dental fillings

March 21, 2013 8:16 am | News | Comments

A common test used to determine mercury exposure from dental amalgam fillings may significantly overestimate the amount of the toxic metal released from fillings, according to University of Michigan researchers. Scientists agree that dental amalgam fillings slowly release mercury vapor into the mouth. But both the amount of mercury released and the question of whether this exposure presents a significant health risk remain controversial.

Lessons from cockroaches could inform robotics

February 22, 2013 1:12 pm | News | Comments

Running cockroaches start to recover from being shoved sideways before their dawdling nervous system kicks in to tell their legs what to do, researchers have found. These new insights on how biological systems stabilize could one day help engineers design steadier robots and improve doctors' understanding of human gait abnormalities.

Water on the moon: It's been there all along

February 19, 2013 8:10 am | News | Comments

Traces of water have been detected within the crystalline structure of mineral samples from the lunar highland upper crust obtained during the Apollo missions, according to a University of Michigan researcher and his colleagues. The lunar highlands are thought to represent the original crust, crystallized from a magma ocean on a mostly molten early moon. The new findings indicate that the early moon was wet and that water there was not substantially lost during the moon's formation.

Sunlight stimulates release of climate-warming gas from melting Arctic permafrost

February 11, 2013 3:37 pm | News | Comments

Ancient carbon trapped in Arctic permafrost is extremely sensitive to sunlight and, if exposed to the surface when long-frozen soils melt and collapse, can release climate-warming carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere much faster than previously thought.

Old drug may point way to new treatments for diabetes, obesity

February 11, 2013 8:25 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Michigan's Life Sciences Institute have found that amlexanox, an off-patent drug currently prescribed for the treatment of asthma and other uses, also reverses obesity, diabetes, and fatty liver in mice.

Study: Popular drug-carrying nanoparticles get trapped in bloodstream

February 6, 2013 12:05 pm | News | Comments

Many medically minded researchers are in hot pursuit of designs that will allow drug-carrying nanoparticles to navigate tissues and the interiors of cells, but University of Michigan engineers have discovered that these particles have another hurdle to overcome: escaping the bloodstream. According to their work, the immune system can't get rid of some of the promising drug carriers quickly.

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