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The Lead

Biofuel Struggles with Economics and the Environment

April 17, 2015 2:31 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Immediately following the passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, much research interest focused on the development of bio-based renewable energy sources (biofuels). EISA mandated increased production and use of biofuels for the long term. There also appeared to be substantial long-term government support for the implementation of a biofuel-based industry.

Science Connect: Positive Energy: Sustaining a Great Lab Environment

April 17, 2015 1:33 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver...

Science Connect: Next-Generation Engineering Facilities

April 17, 2015 1:29 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

In the past decade, the expansion of research focus areas in engineering has undergone a...

New lab technique reveals structure, function of proteins critical in DNA repair

April 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

By combining two highly innovative experimental techniques, scientists at the Univ. of Illinois...

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A blueprint for clearing the skies of space debris

April 17, 2015 9:47 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

An international team of scientists have put forward a blueprint for a purely space-based system to solve the growing problem of space debris. The proposal combines a super-wide field-of-view telescope and a recently developed high-efficiency laser system, the CAN laser that will be used to track space debris and remove it from orbit.

Instrument prompts researchers to rethink how Mercury formed

April 17, 2015 7:51 am | by Stephen Wampler, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A versatile instrument developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and riding on the first spacecraft to ever orbit Mercury is causing researchers to rethink their theories on the planet’s formation. Known as the Gamma-Ray Spectrometer, or GRS, the instrument is part of a suite of seven instruments onboard NASA’s Mercury MESSENGER spacecraft.

Thumbnail track pad

April 17, 2015 7:36 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers are developing a new wearable device that turns the user’s thumbnail into a miniature wireless track pad. They envision that the technology could let users control wireless devices when their hands are full: answering the phone while cooking, for instance. It could also augment other interfaces, allowing someone texting on a cellphone, say, to toggle between symbol sets without interrupting his or her typing.

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Lab Utilities Help Promote Science

April 16, 2015 3:47 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Compared to industrial and residential construction, labs are expensive as they are highly complex in nature. The end goal to constructing a functional lab is to provide valuable research results. At the heart of a lab is the research conducted and, as a result, lab owners can’t compromise research efforts by overlooking key aspects of the workspace—such as safety, comfort and sustainability.

Controlling Vibration

April 16, 2015 3:10 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Much equipment used in nanotech, physical and biological sciences can’t function properly if subjected to vibrations that exceed small threshold values. As a result, lab designers are faced with the challenge of developing designs where vibration disturbances are within acceptable limits to further science.

DMMs Just Got Easier to Use

April 16, 2015 2:31 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

At my home workstation, I have an old Fluke handheld digital multimeter (DMM) in its classic orange case, along with a very old analog voltage ohm-meter (VOM) in its similarly classic boxy black plastic case. Both of these instruments sit on a shelf below my laser printer and see constant temperatures and environments all year long.

3D-Printed Optic Breakthroughs

April 16, 2015 2:20 pm | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

Just a few years ago, many researchers working in alternative manufacturing methods believed the basic layering technologies integral to 3D printing limited the capability of this technique to build quality optical devices and lenses. But, as rapidly evolving as these techniques are, and as broad ranging as the applications it’s infiltrating, this limitation has been surmounted by a number of research groups around the world.

Patents forecast technological change

April 16, 2015 12:20 pm | by MIT News Office | News | Comments

How fast is online learning evolving? Are wind turbines a promising investment? And how long before a cheap hoverboard makes it to market? Attempting to answer such questions requires knowing something about the rate at which a technology is improving. Now engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have devised a formula for estimating how fast a technology is advancing, based on information gleaned from relevant patents.

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Science Connect: The Translational Approach

April 15, 2015 4:37 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Translational research is a paradigm for research designed to enable innovative thinking by leveraging the benefits of collaboration. First emerging in the mid-1990s in reference to cancer studies spanning basic science, over the past two decades the definition has broadened and evolved.

Making injections less painful

April 15, 2015 10:45 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

If the Rice Univ. freshman engineering design team Comfortably Numb has it their way, children will be less fearful and feel less pain when they go to the doctor’s office for a shot. The trio of freshmen has created a device to ease the pain of an injection. Their device numbs the skin prior to a shot by producing a rapid chemical reaction to cool the patient’s skin.

A camera that powers itself

April 15, 2015 10:03 am | by Holy Evarts, Columbia Univ. School of Engineering and Applied Science | News | Comments

A Columbia Engineering research team has invented a prototype video camera that is the first to be fully self-powered: It can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power.

Nano-coated mesh could clean oil spills

April 15, 2015 9:24 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

Quantum cryptography at the speed of light

April 15, 2015 8:11 am | by Marit Mitchell, Senior Communications Office, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

Imagine having your MRI results sent directly to your phone, with no concern over the security of your private health data. Or knowing your financial information was safe on a server halfway around the world. Or sending highly sensitive business correspondence, without worrying that it would fall into the wrong hands.

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Report charts a research path for improving “printed” metal parts

April 14, 2015 12:05 pm | by NIST | News | Comments

Additive manufacturing has been called a game changer. But new games require new instructions, and the manuals for a growing assortment of methods for building parts and products layer-by-layer, collectively known as "3D printing", still are works in progress. Manufacturing researchers at NIST have scoped out the missing sections in current guidelines for powder bed fusion, the chief method for "printing" metal parts.

30 years and counting, the x-ray laser lives on

April 14, 2015 11:46 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

More than 50 years ago, when the laser was a mere five years old, laser physicists dreamed of the development of an x-ray laser to expand the frontier of knowledge. The concept goes back to the mid-1960s, when scientists realized that laser beams amplified with ions would have much shorter wavelengths than beams amplified with gas.

On the road to spin-orbitronics

April 14, 2015 7:55 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Few among us may know what magnetic domains are, but we make use of them daily when we email files, post images or download music or video to our personal devices. Now a team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found a new way of manipulating the walls that define these magnetic domains and the results could one day revolutionize the electronics industry.

Science Connect: Flexibility Built In

April 13, 2015 10:09 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Flexibility is critical when considering the future of science, research and lab environments. However, research needs down the road are difficult to predict, and flexibility is hard to define. Yet, reducing a facility’s flexibility may mean the loss of spare engineering capacities/infrastructures, services planning and space for anticipated growth and fit-out.

Graphics in reverse

April 13, 2015 9:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most recent advances in artificial intelligence are the result of machine learning, in which computers are turned loose on huge data sets to look for patterns. To make machine-learning applications easier to build, computer scientists have begun developing so-called probabilistic programming languages, which let researchers mix and match machine-learning techniques that have worked well in other contexts.

Electrical control of quantum bits in silicon paves the way to large quantum computers

April 13, 2015 8:20 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

A Univ. of New South Wales-led research team has encoded quantum information in silicon using simple electrical pulses for the first time, bringing the construction of affordable large-scale quantum computers one step closer to reality. The team has successfully realized a new control method for future quantum computers.

Scientists help build next-generation dark energy probe

April 13, 2015 7:54 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Univ. of Michigan scientists and students will build components of a giant camera that will map 30 million galaxies' worth of the universe in three dimensions. The camera is officially known as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, abbreviated DESI, and it's designed to help answer one of the most puzzling scientific questions of our time: Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating?

Material could boost batteries’ power, help power plants

April 13, 2015 7:43 am | by Paul Alongi, Clemson Univ. | News | Comments

You’re going to have to think very small to understand something that has the potential to be very big. A team of researchers developed a material that acts as a superhighway for ions. The material could make batteries more powerful, change how gaseous fuel is turned into liquid fuel and help power plants burn coal and natural gas more efficiently.

Researchers deliver large particles into cells at high speed

April 9, 2015 12:06 pm | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A new device developed by Univ. of California, Los Angeles, engineers and doctors may eventually help scientists study the development of disease, enable them to capture improved images of the inside of cells and lead to other improvements in medical and biological research.

Science Connect: The Evolving Lab Environment

April 9, 2015 11:01 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Videos | Comments

Science is evolving: It’s becoming more translational and multidisciplinary in nature. Just as science evolves, so do lab environments. Most lab environments are now designed to be more open and not just meant for one discipline—today, biologists may work next to chemists, or chemists work alongside physicists, and so on.

VEST helps deaf feel, understand speech

April 9, 2015 9:59 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A vest that allows the profoundly deaf to “feel” and understand speech is under development by engineering students and their mentors at Rice Univ. and Baylor College of Medicine. Under the direction of neuroscientist David Eagleman, Rice students are refining a vest with dozens of embedded actuators that vibrate in specific patterns to represent words. The vest responds to input from a phone app that isolates speech from ambient sound.

Emotionally inspired engineering: Emma Nelson tackles environmental issues with engineering

April 8, 2015 2:42 pm | by Julia Sklar, MIT | News | Comments

When MIT senior Emma Nelson was teaching engineering classes in China in 2013, a male student remarked of her as an instructor, “I thought we were supposed to meet engineers, not women.” As she stared out at the 100 college students before her, Nelson noticed there was just one female face looking back at her.

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