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Every atom counts in graphene formation

September 4, 2012 9:37 am | News | Comments

Like tiny ships finding port in a storm, carbon atoms dock with the greater island of graphene in a predictable manner. But until recent research by scientists at Rice University, nobody had the tools to make that kind of prediction.

Spinach power gets a major boost

September 4, 2012 9:17 am | News | Comments

Spinach power has just gotten a big boost. An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Vanderbilt University have developed a way to combine the photosynthetic protein that converts light into electrochemical energy in spinach with silicon, the material used in solar cells, in a fashion that produces substantially more electrical current than has been reported by previous "biohybrid" solar cells.

Research reveals contrasting consequences of a warmer Earth

September 4, 2012 5:45 am | News | Comments

A new study, by scientists from the Universities of York, Glasgow, and Leeds, involving analysis of fossil and geological records going back 540 million years, suggests that biodiversity on Earth generally increases as the planet warms. But the research says that the increase in biodiversity depends on the evolution of new species over millions of years, and is normally accompanied by extinctions of existing species.

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Showing the way to improved water-splitting catalysts

September 4, 2012 5:05 am | News | Comments

Scientists and engineers are working to find a way to power the planet using solar-powered fuel cells. Such green systems would split water during daylight hours, generating hydrogen that could then be stored and used later to produce water and electricity. But robust catalysts are needed to drive the water-splitting reaction. Chemists at Caltech have determined the dominant mechanism for cobalt catalysts, a cheaper alternative to platinum catalysts.

'Magic carpet' could help prevent falls

September 4, 2012 4:10 am | News | Comments

A "magic carpet" which can immediately detect when someone has fallen and can help to predict mobility problems has been demonstrated by University of Manchester scientists. Plastic optical fibers, laid on the underlay of a carpet, can bend when anyone treads on it and map, in real time, their walking patterns.

Making Web applications more efficient

September 4, 2012 3:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most major Websites maintain huge databases. Almost any transaction on a shopping site, travel site, or social networking site require multiple database queries, which can slow response time. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that automatically streamlines Websites' database access patterns, making the sites up to three times as fast.

Researchers develop new, less-expensive nanolithography technique

August 31, 2012 4:05 am | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new nanolithography technique that is less expensive than other approaches and can be used to create technologies with biomedical applications. The new technique relies on cantilevers, which are 150-micron long silicon strips.

Physicists measure photonic interactions at the atomic level

August 31, 2012 3:28 am | News | Comments

By measuring the unique properties of light on the scale of a single atom, researchers from Duke University and Imperial College London believe that they have characterized the limits of metal's ability in devices that enhance light.

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A one-way street for spinning atoms

August 30, 2012 12:01 pm | News | Comments

Elementary particle have a property called "spin" that can be thought of as rotation around their axes. In work reported this week in Physical Review Letters , Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicists have imposed a stringent set of traffic rules on atomic particles in a gas: Those spinning clockwise can move in only one direction, while those spinning counterclockwise can move only in the other direction.

New record in quantum communications

August 30, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers from the Australian National University have taken a quantum leap towards developing the next generation of super-fast networks needed to drive future computers. The team has developed a technique that allows for quantum information to travel at higher bandwidth using a beam of light and the phenomenon called entanglement.

Researchers engineer light-activated skeletal muscle

August 30, 2012 3:47 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many robotic designs take nature as their muse: sticking to walls like geckos, swimming through water like tuna, sprinting across terrain like cheetahs. Such designs borrow properties from nature, using engineered materials and hardware to mimic animals' behavior. Now, scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania are taking more than inspiration from nature—they're taking ingredients.

Nano machine shop shapes nanowires, ultrathin films

August 30, 2012 3:30 am | News | Comments

A new nano machine shop that shapes nanowires and ultrathin films could represent a future manufacturing method for tiny structures with potentially revolutionary properties. Purdue University researchers used their technique to stamp nano- and microgears; form tiny circular shapes out of graphene; and change the shape of silver nanowires.

A new use for atomically engineered gold

August 29, 2012 9:09 am | News | Comments

A University of Central Florida assistant professor has developed a new material using nanotechnology, which could help keep pilots and sensitive equipment safe from destructive lasers. Working with gold nanoparticles and studying their properties when they are shrunk into a small size regime called nanoclusters, the team found that nanoclusters developed by adding atoms in a sequential manner could provide interesting optical properties.

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Soaking up the sun

August 29, 2012 8:50 am | News | Comments

Solar panels, like those commonly perched atop house roofs or in sun-drenched fields, quietly harvesting the sun's radiant energy, are one of the standard-bearers of the green energy movement. But could they be better—more efficient, durable, and affordable? That's what engineers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania are trying to find out, with the aid of a little nanotechnology and a lot of mathematical modeling.

Building ultralow power wireless networks

August 29, 2012 4:16 am | News | Comments

Engineering researchers at the University of Arkansas have received funding from the National Science Foundation to create distortion-tolerant communications for wireless networks that use very little power. The research will improve wireless sensors deployed in remote areas where these systems must rely on batteries or energy-harvesting devices for power.

Biologists create first predictive computational model of gene networks

August 29, 2012 4:04 am | News | Comments

As an animal develops from an embryo, its cells take diverse paths, eventually forming different body parts. In order for each cell to know what to do during development, it follows a genetic blueprint, which consists of complex webs of interacting genes called gene regulatory networks. Biologists at the California Institute of Technology have spent the last decade or so detailing how these gene networks control development in sea-urchin embryos and, for the first time, have built a computational model of one of these networks.

'Frankenstein' programmers test a cybersecurity monster

August 28, 2012 12:34 pm | News | Comments

To catch a thief, you have to think like one. Computer scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas are trying to stay one step ahead of cyberattackers by creating their own monster. Their monster can cloak itself as it steals and reconfigures information in a computer program. In part because of the potentially destructive nature of their technology, creators have named this software system Frankenstein, after the monster-creating scientist in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus .

Oil spill cleanup: Smart filter can strain oil out of water

August 28, 2012 11:46 am | News | Comments

A smart filter with a shape-shifting surface, developed by University of Michigan researchers, can separate oil and water using gravity alone, an advancement that could be useful in cleaning up environmental oil spills, among other applications. The researchers created a filter coating that repels oil but attracts water, bucking conventional materials' properties.

Discovery of plant gene lays groundwork for improved biofuel processing

August 28, 2012 5:43 am | News | Comments

Since 2007, researchers at the BioEnergy Science Center have partnered to figure out how to break down plants so that they easily release the simple sugars that can be processed into biofuels. It's a breakthrough that could make biofuels cost competitive with gasoline. Now, University of Georgia researchers who are part of the team have taken an important step toward that goal by identifying a previously uncharacterized gene that plays a major role in cell wall development of Arabidopsis plants.

New imaging technique homes in on electrocatalysis of nanoparticles

August 28, 2012 5:20 am | News | Comments

By modifying the rate at which chemical reactions take place, nanoparticle catalysts fulfill myriad roles in industry, the biomedical arena, and everyday life. Finding new and more effective nanoparticle catalysts to perform applications in these areas has become vital. Now, a researcher at Arizona State University has found a clever way to measure catalytical reactions of single nanoparticles and multiple particles printed in arrays, which will help to characterize and improve existing nanoparticle catalysts.

New method helps researchers decode genomes

August 28, 2012 3:32 am | by Krishna Ramanujan, Cornell University | News | Comments

Although scientists sequenced the entire human genome more than 10 years ago, much work remains to understand what proteins all those genes code for. Now, a study describes a new approach that allows researchers to decode the genome by understanding where genes begin to encode for polypeptides, long chains of amino acids that make up proteins.

Scientists discover RNA phenomenon that challenges dogma

August 27, 2012 10:50 am | News | Comments

Some RNA molecules spend time in a restful state akin to hibernation rather than automatically carrying out their established job of delivering protein-building instructions in cells. This restful period appears to be a programmed step for RNA produced by certain types of genes. Protein production in cells is not as clear-cut as biology textbooks suggest, scientists say.

Stanford researchers discover the 'anternet'

August 27, 2012 4:27 am | News | Comments

A collaboration between a Stanford University ant biologist and a computer scientist has revealed that the behavior of harvester ant as they forage for food mirrors the protocols that control traffic on the Internet.

Weighing molecules one at a time

August 27, 2012 3:51 am | News | Comments

A team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology have made the first-ever mechanical device that can measure the mass of individual molecules one at a time. This new technology, the researchers say, will eventually help doctors diagnose diseases, enable biologists to study viruses and probe the molecular machinery of cells, and even allow scientists to better measure nanoparticles and air pollution.

Merging tissue and electronics

August 27, 2012 3:33 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

To control the 3D shape of engineered tissue, researchers grow cells on tiny, sponge-like scaffolds. These devices can be implanted into patients or used in the laboratory to study tissue responses to potential drugs. A team of researchers has now added a new element to tissue scaffolds: electronic sensors. These sensors could be used to monitor electrical activity in the tissue surrounding the scaffold, control drug release, or screen drug candidates for their effects on the beating of heart tissue.

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