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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The same type of microwave oven technology that most people use to heat up leftover food has found an important application in the solar energy industry, providing a new way to make thin-film photovoltaic products with less energy. Engineers at Oregon State University have, for the first time, developed a way to use microwave heating in the synthesis of copper zinc tin sulfide, a promising solar cell compound.
When it comes to applications like standoff sensing the laser's strength is of the utmost importance. A stronger and purer beam means devices can sense danger more accurately from a greater distance, which translates into safer workers, soldiers, and police officers. Northwestern University researchers have developed a new resonator that creates the purest, brightest, and most powerful single-mode quantum cascade lasers yet at the 8 to 12 micron range.
Applied physicists at Harvard University have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without imparting the distortions of conventional lenses. At a mere 60 nm thick, the flat lens is essentially two-dimensional, yet its focusing power approaches the ultimate physical limit set by the laws of diffraction.
University of Sheffield researchers have shown, for the first time, that a method of storing nuclear waste normally used only for high level waste (HLW), could provide a safer, more efficient, and potentially cheaper, solution for the storage and ultimate disposal of intermediate level waste (ILW).
A nanoparticle developed at Rice University and tested in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine may bring great benefits to the emergency treatment of brain-injury victims, even those with mild injuries. Combined polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCC), already being tested to enhance cancer treatment, are also adept antioxidants. In animal studies, injections of PEG-HCC during initial treatment after an injury helped restore balance to the brain's vascular system.
Most metals are made of crystals. In many cases the material is made of tiny crystals packed closely together, rather than one large crystal. Indeed, for many purposes, making the crystals as small as possible provides significant advantages in performance, but such materials are often unstable. Now, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found a way to avoid that problem.
A multi-university research team led by North Carolina State University will be developing methods to create 2D materials capable of folding themselves into 3D objects when exposed to light. The effort, which is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is inspired by origami and has a broad range of potential applications.
Scientists at the University of Cambridge have produced hydrogen, a renewable energy source, from water using an inexpensive catalyst under industrially relevant conditions—using pH neutral water, surrounded by atmospheric oxygen, and at room temperature.
Researchers from Rice University unveiled a new multi-antenna technology that could help wireless providers keep pace with the voracious demands of data-hungry smartphones and tablets. The technology aims to dramatically increase network capacity by allowing cell towers to simultaneously beam signals to more than a dozen customers on the same frequency.
As the world's energy demands increase, Yale University researchers are examining alternative and sustainable power generation techniques. The researchers have published extensively on using engineered osmosis to address the growing demand for energy, and a recent paper in Nature examines three water-based methods for electricity generation and the challenges that must be met before they can be used for widespread application.
Physicists who study superconductivity strive to create a clean, perfect sample. But a Purdue University team that has mapped seemingly random, four-atom-wide dark lines of electrons on the surface of copper-oxygen based superconducting crystals has discovered that they exist throughout the crystal. The findings suggest the lines, which are “flaws”, could play a role in the material's superconductivity at much higher temperatures than others.
Graphene has been heralded for its strength and other novel characteristics, but one property in particular—its 2D nature—suggests that graphene its just the start of a wave of new 2D materials. The latest one, molybdenum disulfide, was first described just a year ago by researchers in Switzerland. In that year, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which struggled unsuccessfully to build circuits from graphene, succeeded in making a variety of electronic components from molybdenum disulfide. They say the material could help usher in radically new products.
Carnegie Institution for Science scientists are the first to discover the conditions under which nickel oxide can turn into an electricity-conducting metal. Nickel oxide is one of the first compounds to be studied for its electronic properties, but until now, scientists have not been able to induce a metallic state.
Engineering students and staff at the University of Birmingham have designed and built a prototype hydrogen-powered locomotive, the first of its kind to operate in the U.K. The narrow gauge locomotive is a hybrid design, combining a hydrogen fuel cell and lead acid batteries similar to the ones used in cars.
Research by Nosang Myung, a professor at the University of California, Riverside has enabled Riverside, Calif.-based Nano Engineered Applications Inc. to develop an "electronic nose" prototype that can detect small quantities of harmful airborne substances.
Researchers have developed a self-charging power cell that directly converts mechanical energy to chemical energy, storing the power until it is released as electrical current. By eliminating the need to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy for charging a battery, the new hybrid generator-storage cell uses mechanical energy more efficiently than systems using separate generators and batteries.
Researchers have created a new type of biosensor that can detect minute concentrations of glucose in saliva, tears, and urine, and might be manufactured at low cost because it does not require many processing steps to produce.
Past efforts to predict the structure of proteins have met with limited success. But now a scientific team in collaboration with investigators from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated that a computer modeling approach similar to one used to predict protein structures can accurately predict peptoid conformation as well.
University of Oregon chemists have identified a catalyst that could dramatically reduce the amount of waste made in the production of methyl methacrylate, a monomer used in the large-scale manufacturing of lightweight, shatter-resistant alternatives to glass such as Plexiglas.
A humble soil bacterium called Ralstonia eutropha has a natural tendency, whenever it is stressed, to stop growing and put all its energy into making complex carbon compounds. Now scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have taught this microbe a new trick: They've tinkered with its genes to persuade it to make fuel—specifically, a kind of alcohol called isobutanol that can be directly substituted for, or blended with, gasoline.