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Researchers uncover what makes superalloys super

January 20, 2014 6:38 pm | News | Comments

Turbine manufacturers have employed special nickel-based high-performance “superalloys” for decades as a way to guarantee turbines maintain their chemical and mechanical properties almost to their melting point. New research shows in detail how new phases in a nickel-based alloy form and evolve during heat treatment, providing clues to how these high-performance alloys could be improved.

Microscopic fountain pen to be used as a chemical sensor

January 15, 2014 12:39 pm | News | Comments

The atomic force microscope (AFM) uses a fine-tipped probe to scan surfaces at the atomic scale. But soon, thanks to efforts by scientists in The Netherlands, the AFM will soon be augmented with a new type chemical sensor, one that resembles a microscopic fountain pen. A hollow AFM cantilever acts as the pen, delivering droplets of mercury at the tip, which acts as a chemical sensor.

Scientists discover clue in the case of the missing silver

January 3, 2014 9:59 am | by Shannon Palus, Idaho National Laboratory | News | Comments

Tristructural-isotopic (TRISO) fuel particles are viewed as a safer, more efficient next-generation nuclear fuel. A jawbreaker-like combination of different layers act to contain radioactive byproducts within the fuel. However, sometimes the silver bits inside break loose and get out. Researchers working at Idaho National Laboratory have recently discovered where this silver is going, and hope to learn why.

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Imaging technology could unlock mysteries of a childhood disease

December 30, 2013 12:29 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

By the time they’re two, most children have had respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and suffered symptoms no worse than a bad cold. But for some children, RSV can lead to pneumonia and bronchitis. A new imaging technique for studying the structure of the RSV virion and the activity of RSV in living cells could help researchers unlock the secrets of the virus.

Batteries as they are meant to be seen

December 27, 2013 10:12 am | News | Comments

Life science researchers regularly use transmission electron microscopy to study wet environments. Now, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory who are studying batteries have used the method to have applied it successfully to microscopically view electrodes while they are bathed in wet electrolytes, mimicking realistic conditions inside actual batteries.

Diamonds in Earth’s oldest zircons are nothing but laboratory contamination

December 19, 2013 7:21 pm | by Iqbal Pittalwala, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

In 2007 and 2008, two research papers reported in the journal Nature that a suite of zircons from the Jack Hills included diamonds, requiring a radical revision of early Earth history. The papers posited that the diamonds formed, somehow, before the oldest zircons, or more than 4.3 billion years ago. A research team now claims the oldest “diamonds” on the Earth are simply fragments of polishing compound.

Researchers show potential benefits of pinewood char as synthetic fuel source

December 18, 2013 1:23 pm | News | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. have successfully tested the conversion of large particles of pinewood char in a gasification process, a step necessary for the mass production of synthetic liquid fuel from recalcitrant biomass. The results stemmed from a series of experiments using a new facility at Purdue's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories aimed at learning precisely how biomass is broken down in reactors called gasifiers.

Scanning Electron Microscope

December 17, 2013 2:59 pm | Product Releases | Comments

At M&M 2013, Indianapolis, ZEISS launched the next generation EVO scanning electron microscope (SEM) series for material and life science applications. Improvements in the SEM’s workflow automation, beam deceleration technology, and HD BSE detector can reduce a workflow from more than 400 steps to just 15.

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Nanometer-scale friction: High energy losses observed in charge density waves

December 16, 2013 2:43 pm | News | Comments

An international research team, including researchers at the Univ. of Basel in Switzerland was able to observe a strong energy loss caused by friction effects in the vicinity of charge density waves. This could have practical significance for the control of friction at the nanometer level.

Smithsonian, Olympus team up on new science education effort

December 10, 2013 10:47 am | News | Comments

Q?rius (pronounced “Curious”) is a new hub of scientific activity and education based at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The product of a partnership between Olympus and the Smithsonian, the 10,000-square-foot experiential learning center will be equipped with dozens of microscopes and imaging systems that will enable museum visitors more than 6,000 bones, minerals, and fossils.

New tool assesses the impact of toxic agents in cells

December 10, 2013 9:21 am | News | Comments

By using optical techniques, researchers in Switzerland are now able to measure the concentration of the oxidizing substances produced by a damaged cell. This new biosensing technique for toxic agents also offers a new way to know more about the mechanisms of oxidative stress.

Scientists offer new insights on controlling nanoparticle stability

December 10, 2013 8:58 am | News | Comments

Univ. of Oregon chemists studying the structure of ligand-stabilized gold nanoparticles have captured fundamental new insights about their stability. The information, they say, could help to maintain a desired, integral property in nanoparticles used in electronic devices, where stability is important.

Raman: From the streets, to the lab and even your computer

November 12, 2013 9:24 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Thermo Fisher Scientific | Articles | Comments

Commercially available as instrumentation designed for macro-size sampling, Raman spectroscopy drew interest for providing information similar but complementary to infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy for chemical identification. In addition to chemical fingerprinting, the technique could provide molecular backbone information, materials morphology, sensitivity to symmetric bonds and the ability to analyze inorganic samples and components.

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New principle for self-assembly of patterned nanoparticles

November 7, 2013 11:47 am | News | Comments

Polymer scientists have recently published an article that describes a new principle for the self-assembly of patterned nanoparticles. This principle may have important implications for the fundamental understanding of such processes, as well as future technologies.

Rare new microbe found in two distant clean rooms

November 7, 2013 10:46 am | News | Comments

A rare, recently discovered microbe that survives on very little to eat has been found in two places on Earth: spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South America. Some other microbes have been discovered in a spacecraft clean room and found nowhere else, but none previously had been found in two different clean rooms and nowhere else.

Researchers discover important mechanism behind nanoparticle reactivity

November 4, 2013 7:59 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has used pioneering electron microscopy techniques to discover an important mechanism behind the reaction of metallic nanoparticles with the environment. Crucially, the research led by the Univ. of York, shows that oxidation of metals proceeds much more rapidly in nanoparticles than at the macroscopic scale.

Analyzing hundreds of cells in a few mouse-clicks

October 30, 2013 9:37 am | News | Comments

The increasingly powerful microscopes used in biomedical imaging provide biologists with 3-D images of hundreds of cells, and cells in these images are often layered on each other. Under these conditions, it is impossible for traditional computational methods to determine the cells' properties. Researchers have developed a virtual tool that can analyze dozens of images in just an hour. This works out to hundreds of cells.

Physicists provide new insights into coral skeleton formation

October 30, 2013 8:31 am | News | Comments

Researchers using transmission electron microscopy have examined the smallest building block of coral that can be identified: sphemlites. These studies have revealed three distinct regions whose formation could be directly correlated to the time of day. These findings could help scientists and environmentalists working to protect and conserve coral from the threats of acidification and rising water temperatures.

Watching the heartbeat of molecules

October 17, 2013 1:17 pm | News | Comments

A team of scientists in Europe have developed a new method of rapidly identifying different molecular species under a microscope. Their technique of coherent Raman spectro-imaging with two laser frequency combs takes a big step toward the holy grail of real-time label-free biomolecular imaging.

Tracking viral DNA in the cell

October 16, 2013 3:29 pm | News | Comments

Cell biologists and chemists in Switzerland have revealed how viral DNA moves in human cells. They have developed a new method to generate virus particles containing labeled viral DNA genomes, which has allowed them to visualize, for the first time, single viral genomes in the cytoplasm and the nucleus.

Glowing neurons reveal networked link between brain, whiskers

October 16, 2013 11:04 am | News | Comments

Human fingertips have several types of sensory neurons that are responsible for relaying touch signals to the central nervous system. Scientists have long believed these neurons followed a linear path to the brain with a "labeled-lines" structure. But new research on mouse whiskers reveals a surprise: At the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.

Newly discovered mechanism propels micromotors

October 15, 2013 2:48 pm | News | Comments

Micromachines operate under very different conditions than their macroscale cousins. The high surface-area-to-mass ratio of tiny motors means they require a constant driving force to keep them going. In the past, researchers have relied on asymmetric chemical reactions on the surface of the motors to supply the force. Researchers in Japan have now discovered, however, that two-sided materials aren't necessary to make micromotors move.

Scientists unravel widespread natural adhesion system

October 15, 2013 12:16 pm | News | Comments

During evolution, many plants and organisms have developed mushroom-shaped adhesive structures and organs that allow them to climb walls and grip surfaces. Through observations of these microstructures at speeds of up to 180,000 frames per second, scientists have discovered why the specific shape is advantageous for adhesion.

Numerical method trumps descriptive approach to classifying pollen grains

October 10, 2013 9:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a new quantitative method of identifying pollen grains that is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Since the invention of the light microscopes, the classification of pollen and spores has been a highly subjective venture for those who use these tiny particles to study vegetation in their field, palynology. However, the limitations have kept researchers from classifying pollen and spores beyond a general level.

Spinning-disk microscope offers window into a cell’s core

October 10, 2013 8:24 am | News | Comments

The microscopic technique, developed by researchers at Queen Mary Univ. of London, represents a major advance for cell biologists as it will allow them to investigate structures deep inside the cell, such as viruses, bacteria and parts of the nucleus in depth.

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