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The Lead

Making lab-grown tissues stronger

October 31, 2014 8:54 am | by Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service | News | Comments

Lab-grown tissues could one day provide new treatments for injuries and damage to the joints, including articular cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Cartilage, for example, is a hard material that caps the ends of bones and allows joints to work smoothly. Univ. of California, Davis biomedical engineers, exploring ways to toughen up engineered cartilage and keep natural tissues strong outside the body, report new developments.

Lord of the microrings

October 31, 2014 8:39 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A significant breakthrough in laser technology has been reported by Lawrence Berkeley National...

Self-driving vehicles generate enthusiasm, concerns worldwide

October 31, 2014 8:22 am | by Bernie DeGroat, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Despite safety concerns about equipment failure, a majority of drivers on three continents have...

Raising cryptography’s standards

October 31, 2014 8:07 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most modern cryptographic schemes rely on computational complexity for their security. In...

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NIST “combs” atmosphere to measure greenhouse gases

October 30, 2014 8:36 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

By remotely "combing" the atmosphere with a custom laser-based instrument, researchers from NIST, in collaboration with researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have developed a new technique that can accurately measure—over a sizeable distance—amounts of several of the major "greenhouse" gases implicated in climate change.

Afingen uses precision method to enhance plants

October 30, 2014 8:17 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Imagine being able to precisely control specific tissues of a plant to enhance desired traits without affecting the plant’s overall function. Thus a rubber tree could be manipulated to produce more natural latex. Trees grown for wood could be made with higher lignin content, making for stronger yet lighter-weight lumber.

Harnessing error-prone chips

October 30, 2014 7:40 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

As transistors get smaller, they also grow less reliable. Increasing their operating voltage can help, but that means a corresponding increase in power consumption. With information technology consuming a steadily growing fraction of the world’s energy supplies, some researchers and hardware manufacturers are exploring the possibility of simply letting chips botch the occasional computation.

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With phased-array radar, electrical engineers aim to make car travel safer

October 29, 2014 12:55 pm | News | Comments

Electrical engineers from the Univ. of California, San Diego have developed hardware for a new generation of automotive radar systems designed to keep drivers, and the pedestrians around them they may not see, safe. Their project is part of an initiative led by Toyota Technical Center that won a 2014 R&D 100 Award for its “Automotive Phased Array Radar.”

Building the Next Generation of Raman

October 29, 2014 9:40 am | by Brian Davies, VP Marketing and Product Development, Chemical Analysis Div., Thermo Fisher Scientific | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

Given today’s widespread use of Raman spectroscopy, it can be hard to believe Raman was a highly specialized analytical technique for most of its history. The technique’s potential was recognized from the beginning: When Raman scattering was first observed in 1928, it was widely believed to be one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 20th century to date.

Supply rocket headed to space station explodes

October 28, 2014 9:28 pm | by Marcia Dunn - AP Aerospace Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

An unmanned commercial supply rocket bound for the International Space Station exploded moments after liftoff Tuesday evening, with debris falling in flames over the launch site in Virginia. No injuries were reported following the first catastrophic launch in NASA's commercial spaceflight effort.

Plasma switch to help GE upgrade the U.S. power grid

October 28, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

When researchers at General Electric Co. sought help in designing a plasma-based power switch, they turned to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which helped them develop a plasma-filled tube that would replace semiconductor switches used for changing direct current to alternating current. The proposed switch could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help to lower utility bills.

Boosting biogasoline production in microbes

October 28, 2014 8:53 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the on-going effort to develop advanced biofuels as a clean, green and sustainable source of liquid transportation fuels, researchers at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified microbial genes that can improve both the tolerance and the production of biogasoline in engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

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Dazzlingly sharp images on curved screens

October 27, 2014 12:54 pm | News | Comments

Projecting images on curved screens poses a dilemma. The sharper the image, the darker it is, even when using lasers and scanning mirrors. A novel optical approach involving the use of an array of microprojectors now brings brightness and sharpness together for the first time on screens of any curvature. It also allows an increase in projection rates by about 10,000 times.

How microbes build a powerful antibiotic

October 27, 2014 10:32 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Researchers report in Nature that they have made a breakthrough in understanding how a powerful antibiotic agent is made in nature. Their discovery solves a decades-old mystery, and opens up new avenues of research into thousands of similar molecules, many of which are likely to be medically useful. 

Remote Monitoring and Diagnostics to Improve ROI

October 27, 2014 10:19 am | by Andy Wight, Director, Service Product Portfolio, Global Services, AB Sciex | Articles | Comments

As a laboratory technician or director, knowing the current status of your instrument or sample runs is critical for your laboratory’s operations and productivity. Through the rapid increase in machine-to-machine connectivity, real-time instrument monitoring services designed to offer visibility and remote control of these instruments has become an enabler in cost savings, efficiency gains, revenue opportunities and competitive advantage.

Fraunhofer develops economical process for micro energy harvesting

October 27, 2014 9:52 am | News | Comments

The trend toward energy self-sufficient probes and ever smaller mobile electronics systems continues, and are used to monitor the status of the engines on airplanes, or for medical implants. They gather the energy they need for this from their immediate environment, such as vibrations. Fraunhofer Institute researchers have developed a process for the economical production of piezoelectric materials that supply this type of energy.

Google exec sets records with leap from near-space

October 27, 2014 7:49 am | News | Comments

Google executive Alan Eustace broke the sound barrier and set several skydiving records over the southern New Mexico desert early Friday after taking a big leap from the edge of space. Eustace's supersonic jump was part of a project by Paragon Space Development Corp., which has been working secretly for years to develop a self-contained commercial spacesuit that would allow people to explore some 20 miles above the Earth's surface.

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Turning loss to gain

October 27, 2014 7:42 am | by Steven Schultz, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Lasers are so deeply integrated into modern technology that their basic operations would seem well understood. CD players, medical diagnostics and military surveillance all depend on lasers. Re-examining longstanding beliefs about the physics of these devices, Princeton Univ. engineers have now shown that carefully restricting the delivery of power to certain areas within a laser could boost its output by many orders of magnitude.

New home test shakes up colon cancer screening

October 26, 2014 12:27 pm | by Marilynn Marchione - AP Chief Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Starting Monday, millions of people who have avoided colon cancer screening can get a new home test that's noninvasive and doesn't require the icky preparation most other methods do. The test is the first to look for cancer-related DNA in stool. But deciding whether to get it is a more complex choice than ads for "the breakthrough test ... that's as easy as going to the bathroom" make it seem.

The Need for Speed

October 24, 2014 10:52 am | by Chris Bainter, U.S. National Sales Director and Ross Overstreet, Sr. Science Segment Engineer, FLIR, Goleta, Calif. | FLIR Systems, Inc. | Articles | Comments

Traditional forms of temperature measurement, such as thermocouples and spot pyrometers, often don’t offer the resolution or speed required to fully characterize high-speed thermal applications. This article explores the advantages of high-speed thermal measurement with infrared cameras.

Multiphysics Brings Vaccines to the Developing World

October 24, 2014 10:22 am | by Laura Bowen, COMSOL | COMSOL, Inc. | Articles | Comments

In many areas of the developing world, there’s limited access to electricity, and many places have never had any type of power infrastructure. This presents a challenge for aid workers and doctors. In the recent past, vaccines that needed to be stored at cold, relatively constant temperatures couldn’t be taken into the remote areas where they were needed most.

Evaluating powerful batteries for modular grid energy storage

October 24, 2014 8:31 am | by Stephanie Holinka, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Sandia National Laboratories has begun laboratory-based characterization of TransPower’s GridSaver, the largest grid energy storage system analyzed at Sandia’s Energy Storage Test Pad in Albuquerque. Sandia will evaluate the 1 MW, lithium-ion grid energy storage system for capacity, power, safety and reliability. The laboratory also will investigate the system’s frequency regulation.

Study reveals molecular structure of water at gold electrodes

October 24, 2014 8:19 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When a solid material is immersed in a liquid, the liquid immediately next to its surface differs from that of the bulk liquid at the molecular level. This interfacial layer is critical to our understanding of a diverse set of phenomena. When the solid surface is charged, it can drive further changes in the interfacial liquid. However, elucidating the molecular structure at the solid-liquid interface under these conditions is difficult.

Breaking the nano barrier

October 24, 2014 8:00 am | by New York Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at the New York Univ. Polytechnic School of Engineering have broken new ground in the development of proteins that form specialized fibers used in medicine and nanotechnology. For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, their work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale.

Synthetic biology on ordinary paper, results off the page

October 24, 2014 7:53 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | News | Comments

New achievements in synthetic biology, which will allow complex cellular recognition reactions to proceed outside of living cells, will dare scientists to dream big: There could one day be inexpensive, shippable and accurate test kits that use saliva or a drop of blood to identify specific disease or infection.

New 3-D display technology promises greater energy efficiency

October 23, 2014 1:11 pm | News | Comments

At first glance, the static, greyscale display created by a group of researchers in Hong Kong might not catch the eye of a thoughtful consumer in a market saturated with flashy, colorful electronics. But a closer look at the specs could change that: the ultra-thin LCD screen is capable of holding 3-D images without a power source, making it a compact, energy-efficient way to display visual information.

Researchers break the nano barrier to engineer the first protein microfiber

October 23, 2014 1:06 pm | News | Comments

For as long as scientists have been able to create new proteins that are capable of self-assembling into fibers, scientists’ work has taken place on the nanoscale. For the first time, this achievement has been realized on the microscale, a leap of magnitude in size that presents significant new opportunities for using engineered protein fibers.

NIST offers electronics industry two ways to snoop on self-organizing molecules

October 23, 2014 12:33 pm | News | Comments

A few short years ago, the idea of a practical manufacturing process based on getting molecules to organize themselves in useful nanoscale shapes seemed far-fetched. Recent work at NIST, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and IBM Almaden Research Center suggest this capability isn’t far off, however, by demonstrating self-assembly of thin films on a polymer template that creates precise rows just 10 nm wide.

An effective, cost-saving way to detect natural gas pipeline leaks

October 23, 2014 9:30 am | News | Comments

Major leaks from oil and gas pipelines have led to home evacuations, explosions, millions of dollars in lawsuit payouts and valuable natural resources escaping into the air, ground and water. But scientists say they have developed a new software-based method that finds leaks even when they’re small, which could help prevent serious incidents and save money for customers and industry.

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