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The Lead

Fundamental observation of spin-controlled electrical conduction in metals

July 7, 2015 8:00 am | by Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research | News | Comments

Modern magnetic memories, such as hard drives installed in almost every computer, can store a very large amount of information thanks to very tiny, nanoscale magnetic sensors used for memory readout. The operation of these magnetic sensors, called the spin-valves, is based on the effect of giant magnetoresistance (GMR), for which its inventors Albert Fert and Peter Gruenberg were awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2007.

Killer sea snail a target for new drugs

July 7, 2015 7:00 am | by Gemma Ward, The Univ. of Queensland | News | Comments

Univ. of Queensland pain treatment researchers have discovered thousands of new peptide toxins...

Ion channel mechanics yield insights into optogenetics experiments

July 6, 2015 4:50 pm | by Tim Stephens, UC Santa Cruz | News | Comments

Optogenetics techniques, which allow scientists to map and control nerve cells using light...

Autonomous taxis would deliver significant environmental, economic benefits

July 6, 2015 3:30 pm | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Imagine a fleet of driverless taxis roaming your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your...

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Perennial biofuel crops’ water consumption similar to corn

July 6, 2015 3:08 pm | by Layne Cameron, Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

Converting large tracts of the Midwest’s marginal farming land to perennial biofuel crops carries with it some key unknowns, including how it could affect the balance of water between rainfall, evaporation and movement of soil water to groundwater. In humid climates such as the U.S. Midwest, evaporation returns more than half of the annual precipitation to the atmosphere.

Surfing a wake of light

July 6, 2015 12:30 pm | by Leah Burrows | News | Comments

When a duck paddles across a pond or a supersonic plane flies through the sky, it leaves a wake in its path. Wakes occur whenever something is traveling through a medium faster than the waves it creates—in the duck's case water waves, in the plane's case shock waves, otherwise known as sonic booms.

Learning from biology to accelerate discovery

July 6, 2015 11:30 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

A spider's web is one of the most intricate constructions in nature, but its precious silk has more than one use. Silk threads can be used as draglines, guidelines, anchors, pheromonal trails, nest lining or even food. And each use requires a slightly different type of silk, optimized for its function.

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Universe’s hidden supermassive black holes revealed

July 6, 2015 10:45 am | by Leighton Kitson, Durham Univ. | News | Comments

Astronomers have found evidence for a large population of hidden supermassive black holes in the universe. Using NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) satellite observatory, the team of international scientists detected the high-energy x-rays from five supermassive black holes previously clouded from direct view by dust and gas.

Bioprinted “play dough” capable of cell and protein transfer

July 6, 2015 9:51 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a new technique allowing the bioprinting at ambient temperatures of a strong paste similar to play dough capable of incorporating protein-releasing microspheres. The scientists demonstrated the bioprinted material, in the form of a microparticle paste capable of being injected via a syringe, could sustain stresses and strains similar to cancellous bone.

New tech using silver may hold key to electronics advances

July 6, 2015 9:40 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers at Oregon State Univ. have invented a way to fabricate silver, a highly conductive metal, for printed electronics that are produced at room temperature. There may be broad applications in microelectronics, sensors, energy devices, low emissivity coatings and even transparent displays. A patent has been applied for on the technology, which is now available for further commercial development.

Seahorse tails could inspire new generation of robots

July 6, 2015 8:56 am | by Paul Alongi, Clemson Univ. | Videos | Comments

Inspiration for the next big technological breakthrough in robotics, defense systems and biomedicine could come from a seahorse’s tail, according to a new study reported in Science. The research centers on the curious shape of seahorse tails and was led by Clemson Univ.’s Michael M. Porter, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering.

Why the BRCA gene resists cancer treatment

July 6, 2015 8:48 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. researchers have discovered why a key molecular assistant is crucial to the function of the BRCA2 gene, which in some mutant forms can lead to ovarian and breast cancer in as many as six in 10 women. The findings suggest how biochemists might be able to decrease drug resistance to existing therapies that target this form of cancer, the authors report in Molecular Cell.

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Better memory with faster lasers

July 6, 2015 8:37 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

DVDs and Blu-ray disks contain phase-change materials that morph from one atomic state to another after being struck with pulses of laser light, with data "recorded" in those two atomic states. Using ultrafast laser pulses that speed up the data recording process, Caltech researchers adopted a novel technique to visualize directly in four dimensions the changing atomic configurations of the materials undergoing the phase changes.

Discovery of nanotubes offers new clues about cell-to-cell communication

July 6, 2015 8:27 am | by Ian Demsky, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

When it comes to communicating with each other, some cells may be more "old school" than was previously thought. Certain types of stem cells use microscopic, thread-like nanotubes to communicate with neighboring cells, like a landline phone connection, rather than sending a broadcast signal, researchers have discovered.

Gas sensors promise advances in Earth science

July 6, 2015 8:19 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. has been awarded a $1 million grant by the W.M. Keck Foundation to develop gas-releasing microbial sensors for the study of soil and marine life. The grant is in support of the work of biogeochemist Caroline Masiello, biochemist Jonathan Silberg, microbiologist George Bennett, synthetic biologist Matthew Bennett and graduate student Shelly Cheng.

Chemists design quantum dot spectrometer

July 6, 2015 8:09 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Instruments that measure the properties of light, known as spectrometers, are widely used in physical, chemical and biological research. These devices are usually too large to be portable, but Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists have now shown they can create spectrometers small enough to fit inside a smartphone camera, using tiny semiconductor nanoparticles called quantum dots.

Could insulin pills prevent diabetes? Big study seeks answer

July 3, 2015 2:04 am | by By Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

For decades, insulin shots have been a life-saving diabetes treatment. Now scientists have raised an unusual question. What if insulin in pills could prevent the disease?  They're testing that idea in children and adults in a big study funded by the National Institutes of Health. To qualify, subjects must have lab tests that show they're at risk for developing Type 1 diabetes.

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FDA clears drug for leading form of cystic fibrosis

July 2, 2015 2:05 pm | by Matthew Perrone, AP Health Writer, Associated Press | News | Comments

Federal health officials have approved a new combination drug for the most common form of cystic fibrosis, the debilitating inherited disease that causes internal mucus buildup, lung infections and early death. The Food and Drug Administration cleared the twice-a-day pill from Vertex Pharmaceuticals for a variation of cystic fibrosis that affects about 8,500 people in the U.S. who are 12 years and older.

quantum computer

Quantum teleportation? Producing spin-entangled electrons

July 2, 2015 11:11 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

Researchers have successfully produced pairs of spin-entangled electrons and demonstrated that they remain entangled even when they are separated from one another on a chip. This research could contribute to creation of futuristic quantum networks operating using quantum teleportation, which could allow information contained in qubits to be shared between many elements on chip, a key requirement to scale up quantum computer power.

Controlling liquids at micro and nano scales

July 2, 2015 10:47 am | by Northumbria University | News | Comments

From targeted drug delivery to the self-assembly of nano robots, new research is using super-sized atoms to reveal the behavior of liquids in microscopic channels. Using the already established “lab on a chip” device, which can perform complex laboratory functions in a tiny space, the team has unveiled how fluids behave under extreme confinement by using micron-sized particles known as colloids to act as oversized atoms.

This experiment involved the injection of 4.2 tons of CO2 into to a site 11 meters below the sea bed, and overlying water-column 15 meters in depth in Ardmucknish Bay, West Scotlan. Courtesy of Henrik Stahl, SAMS

World first: Carbon capture and storage safety investigated

July 2, 2015 10:39 am | by National Oceanography Centre | News | Comments

A significant step has been made for potential Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) deployment, with the publication of the results from the world's first experiment into the realistic simulation of the potential environmental impact of a submarine CO2 leakage. The research found that, for a leak of this scale, the environmental impact was limited; restricted to a small area and with a quick recovery of both the marine chemistry and biology.

Structure of the cadmium chloride nanocrystal

Engineering the world’s smallest nanocrystal

July 2, 2015 10:24 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

In the natural world, proteins use the process of biomineralization to incorporate metallic elements into tissues, using it to create diverse materials such as seashells, teeth, and bones. However, the way proteins actually do this is not well understood. Now, scientists have used an artificially designed protein to create a cadmium chloride nanocrystal—the smallest crystal reported so far—sandwiched between two copies of the protein.

Magnetic skyrmions

Evidence for stable room-temperature skyrmions found

July 2, 2015 10:17 am | by RIKEN | News | Comments

Researchers have identified a class of materials that displays clear evidence for stable skyrmions at room temperature and above, paving the way for the development of useful spintronics devices. Magnetic skyrmions are tiny, nanometer-sized magnetic-spin vortices that emerge in magnetic materials. Because they are so small, they could potentially be used as extremely dense memory devices.

Study: Targeted LEDs could provide efficient lighting for plants grown in space

July 2, 2015 8:54 am | by Purdue University | News | Comments

A Purdue University study shows that targeting plants with red and blue LEDs provides energy-efficient lighting in contained environments, a finding that could advance the development of crop-growth modules for space exploration.

Improving insulation materials, down to wetting crossed fibres

July 2, 2015 8:52 am | by Springer | News | Comments

Sandcastles are a prime example of how adding a small amount of liquid to a granular material changes its characteristics. But understanding the effect of a liquid wetting randomly oriented fibers in a fibrous medium remains a mystery. Now, scientists have demonstrated that the spreading of the liquid is controlled by three key parameters: the amount of liquid on the fibers, the fibres’ orientation and the minimum distance between them. 

Implantable 'artificial pancreas' could help diabetes patients control their blood sugar

July 2, 2015 8:48 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Scientists are reporting the development of an implantable "artificial pancreas" that continuously measures a person's blood sugar, or glucose, level and can automatically release insulin as needed.

Ultra-stable JILA microscopy technique tracks tiny objects for hours

July 2, 2015 8:44 am | by NIST | News | Comments

​JILA researchers have designed a microscope instrument so stable that it can accurately measure the 3D movement of individual molecules over many hours--hundreds of times longer than the current limit measured in seconds.

Team develops new storage cell for solar energy storage, nighttime conversion

July 2, 2015 8:41 am | by UT Arlington | News | Comments

A University of Texas at Arlington materials science and engineering team has developed a new energy cell that can store large-scale solar energy even when it's dark. The innovation is an advancement over the most common solar energy systems that rely on using sunlight immediately as a power source. 

We're not alone, but the universe may be less crowded than we think

July 2, 2015 8:38 am | by Michigan State University | News | Comments

Over the years, the Hubble Space Telescope has allowed astronomers to look deep into the universe. There may be far fewer galaxies further out in the universe then might be expected, according to a new study led by Michigan State University.

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