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Chemists advance clear conductive films

August 7, 2012 11:36 am | News | Comments

Thin, conductive films are useful in displays and solar cells. A new solution-based chemistry developed at Brown University for making indium tin oxide films could allow engineers to employ a much simpler and cheaper manufacturing process.

Micron-scale swimming robot could deliver drugs using simple motion

August 7, 2012 6:52 am | News | Comments

When you're just a few microns long, swimming can be difficult. At that size scale, the viscosity of water is more like that of honey, and momentum can't be relied upon to maintain forward motion. Microorganisms, of course, have evolved ways to swim in spite of these challenges, but tiny robots haven't quite caught up, until now.

Evolutionary molecule identified by researchers

August 7, 2012 3:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Dundee have identified a molecule that could play a key role in how cells develop into the building blocks of life. The molecule, called cyclic-di-GMP, has been identified as being the signal which can induce differentiation into stalk cells.

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Extreme plasma theories put to the test

August 7, 2012 3:34 am | News | Comments

The first controlled studies of extremely hot, dense matter have overthrown the widely accepted 50-year-old model used to explain how ions influence each other's behavior in a dense plasma. The results should benefit a wide range of fields, from research aimed at tapping nuclear fusion as an energy source to understanding the inner workings of stars.

Study finds link between cell division and growth rate

August 6, 2012 4:32 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It's a longstanding question in biology: How do cells know when to progress through the cell cycle? In simple organisms such as yeast, cells divide once they reach a specific size. However, determining if this holds true for mammalian cells has been difficult, in part because there has been no good way to measure mammalian cell growth over time, until now.

Scientists find way to make disease-causing proteins vulnerable to drugs

July 27, 2012 5:15 am | News | Comments

One of the most daunting challenges facing pharmaceutical scientists today are "undruggable proteins"—the approximately 80% of proteins involved in human disease that do not interact with current drugs. Yale University researchers have identified a novel way to design drugs for these previously inaccessible proteins.

Unexpected ozone loss observed above United States

July 27, 2012 4:45 am | News | Comments

A team of Harvard University scientists announced the discovery of serious and wholly unexpected ozone loss over the United States in summer. The finding is startling because the complex atmospheric chemistry that destroys ozone has previously been thought to occur only at very cold temperatures over polar regions where there is very little threat to humans.

Deadly E. coli strain decoded

July 26, 2012 10:57 am | News | Comments

The secret to the deadly 2011 E. coli outbreak in Germany has been decoded, thanks to research conducted at Michigan State University. The deadliest E. coli outbreak ever was traced to a particularly virulent strain that researchers had never seen in an outbreak before. By focusing on the bacteria's biofilm, the researchers have devised a way to potentially tame the killer bacteria.

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Entropy can lead to order, paving the route to nanostructures

July 26, 2012 10:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers trying to herd tiny particles into useful ordered formations have found an unlikely ally: entropy, a tendency generally described as "disorder." Computer simulations by University of Michigan scientists and engineers show that the property can nudge particles to form organized structures. By analyzing the shapes of the particles beforehand, they can even predict what kinds of structures will form.

Need it, print it

July 26, 2012 7:01 am | News | Comments

Imagine being able to design a new aircraft engine part on a computer, and then being able to it. Not the design; the actual part. And not just a lightweight, nonfunctional model, but an actual working part to be installed in an engine. The University of Dayton Research Institute was awarded $3 million for the Ohio Third Frontier to provide specialized materials for use in additive manufacturing.

Robot mimics water striders' jumping abilities

July 26, 2012 5:39 am | News | Comments

The first bio-inspired microrobot capable of not just walking on water like the water strider, but continuously jumping up and down like a real water strider, now is a reality. Scientists have developed the agile microrobot, which could use its jumping ability to avoid obstacles on reconnaissance or other missions.

Newfound gene may help bacteria survive in extreme environments

July 26, 2012 4:22 am | News | Comments

In the days following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, methane-eating bacteria bloomed in the Gulf of Mexico, feasting on the methane that gushed, along with oil, from the damaged well. The sudden influx of microbes was a scientific curiosity: Prior to the oil spill, scientists had observed relatively few signs of methane-eating microbes in the area. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have discovered a bacterial gene that may explain this sudden influx of methane-eating bacteria.

Chemical makes blind mice see

July 25, 2012 10:02 am | News | Comments

A team of University of California, Berkeley scientists in collaboration with researchers at the University of Munich and University of Washington, in Seattle, has discovered a chemical that temporarily restores some vision to blind mice, and is working on an improved compound that may someday allow people with degenerative blindness to see again.

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Single-photon transmitter could enable new quantum devices

July 25, 2012 9:45 am | News | Comments

In theory, quantum computers should be able to perform certain kinds of complex calculations much faster than conventional computers, and quantum-based communication could be invulnerable to eavesdropping. But producing quantum components for real-world devices has proved to be fraught with daunting challenges. Now, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University has achieved a crucial long-term goal of such efforts.

Researchers create artificial mother of pearl

July 25, 2012 6:53 am | News | Comments

Mimicking the way mother of pearl, also called nacre, is created in nature, scientists have, for the first time, synthesized the strong, iridescent coating found on the inside of some mollusks. By recreating the biological steps that form nacre in mollusks, the scientists were able to manufacture a material which has a similar structure, mechanical behavior, and optical appearance of that found in nature.

Engineers study physics of avalanches

July 25, 2012 3:32 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell University | News | Comments

Snow avalanches, a real threat in countries from Switzerland to Afghanistan, are fundamentally a physics problem: What are the physical laws that govern how they start, grow, and move, and can theoretical modeling help predict them? Cornell University researchers have uncovered some clues.

GPS can now measure ice melt

July 24, 2012 8:07 am | News | Comments

Researchers have found a way to use GPS to measure short-term changes in the rate of ice loss on Greenland—and reveal a surprising link between the ice and the atmosphere above it. The study hints at the potential for GPS to detect many consequences of climate change, including ice loss, the uplift of bedrock, changes in air pressure—and perhaps even sea level rise.

Engineers are designing, building mechanical ray

July 24, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

Batoid rays, such as stingrays and manta rays, are among nature's most elegant swimmers. They are fast, highly maneuverable, graceful, energy efficient, can cruise, bird-like, for long distances in the deep, open ocean, and rest on the sea bottom. A team from the University of Virginia and other universities is trying to emulate the seemingly effortless, but powerful, swimming motions of rays by engineering their own ray-like machine modeled on nature.

New proteins inhibit HIV infection in cell cultures

July 24, 2012 4:00 am | News | Comments

Yale University Cancer Center scientists have developed a new class of proteins that inhibit HIV infection in cell cultures and may open the way to new strategies for treating and preventing infection by the virus that causes AIDS.

Microneedles help target therapeutics to the back of the eye

July 23, 2012 9:33 am | News | Comments

Thanks to tiny microneedles, eye doctors may soon have a better way to treat diseases such as macular degeneration that affect tissues in the back of the eye. For the first time, researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University have demonstrated that microneedles less than a millimeter in length can deliver drug molecules and particles to the eye in an animal model.

Researchers seek to improve drought-resistance of biofuels grasses

July 23, 2012 9:18 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a five-year, $12.1 million grant to a multi-institutional effort to develop drought-resistant grasses for use in biofuels. The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis will lead the initiative with researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Minnesota, and Washington State University.

New model of disease contagion ranks U.S. airports by spreading influence

July 23, 2012 7:27 am | by Denise Brehm, Civil and Environmental Engineering | News | Comments

While epidemiologists and scientists who study complex network systems are working to create mathematical models that describe the worldwide spread of disease, to date these models have focused on the final stages of epidemics, examining the locations that ultimately develop the highest infection rates. But a new study shifts the focus to the first few days of an epidemic, determining how likely the 40 largest U.S. airports are to influence the spread of a contagious disease originating in their home cities.

Fool's gold found to regulate oxygen

July 23, 2012 5:51 am | News | Comments

As sulfur cycles through Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land, it undergoes chemical changes that are often coupled to changes in other such elements as carbon and oxygen. Although this affects the concentration of free oxygen, sulfur has traditionally been portrayed as a secondary factor in regulating atmospheric oxygen, with most of the heavy lifting done by carbon. However, new findings suggest that sulfur's role may have been underestimated.

Researchers achieve first violet nonpolar vertical-cavity laser technology

July 23, 2012 5:36 am | News | Comments

In a leap forward for laser technology, a team at University of California, Santa Barbara has developed the first violet nonpolar vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) based on m-plane gallium nitride semiconductors. This recent discovery is an achievement in VCSEL technology that opens doors for higher optical efficiency lasers at greatly reduced manufacturing costs for a variety of applications.

Printed photonic crystal mirrors shrink on-chip lasers down to size

July 23, 2012 4:14 am | News | Comments

Electrical engineers at The University of Texas at Arlington and at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have devised a new laser for on-chip optical connections that could give computers a huge boost in speed and energy efficiency.

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