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The Lead

Microscopic organism plays big role in ocean carbon cycling

April 24, 2014 4:44 pm | News | Comments

It’s broadly understood that the world’s oceans play a crucial role in the global-scale cycling and exchange of carbon between Earth’s ecosystems and atmosphere. Now scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of these processes. The discovery involves “recycling” bacteria that play an important role in regulating the ocean’s storage of carbon dioxide.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists

April 24, 2014 4:22 pm | by Anzar Abbas, Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

New research shows that cells are more resilient...

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters

April 24, 2014 1:50 pm | by Barbara Vonarburg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Counterfeit or adulterated olive oil has been a...

Scientists find new point of attack on HIV for vaccine development

April 24, 2014 12:45 pm | News | Comments

A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute working with the International AIDS...

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Animal study suggests some astronauts are at risk for cognitive impairment

April 24, 2014 11:57 am | News | Comments

Johns Hopkins Univ. scientists report that rats exposed to high-energy particles, simulating conditions astronauts would face on a long-term deep space mission, show lapses in attention and slower reaction times, even when the radiation exposure is in extremely low dose ranges.

Double-duty electrolyte enables new chemistry for longer-lived batteries

April 24, 2014 11:44 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new and unconventional battery chemistry aimed at producing batteries that last longer than previously thought possible. In a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, ORNL researchers challenged a long-held assumption that a battery’s three main components can play only one role in the device.

Did you know? More than 100 universities have won R&D 100 Awards

April 24, 2014 9:33 am | by Paul Livingstone, Senior Editor | News | Comments

The R&D 100 Awards recognizes the best in industrial technology and research, but not all our winners are corporations. Many award-winning technologies emerge from college, universities, institutions and non-profit research organizations. Academic laboratories have in recent years enhanced their ability to generate innovative products, and winning entries are an increasingly common sight, more than three dozen in the past 10 years.

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Probing the sound of a quantum dot

April 24, 2014 8:23 am | by Verity Leatherdale, Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

Physicists at the Univ. of Sydney have discovered a method of using microwaves to probe the sounds of a quantum dot, a promising platform for building a quantum computer. A quantum dot consists of a small number of electrons trapped in zero dimensions inside a solid.

New ultrasound device may add in detecting risk for heart attack, stroke

April 24, 2014 8:16 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed an ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke. At issue is the plaque that builds up in arteries as we age. Some types of plaque are deemed “vulnerable,” meaning that they are more likely to detach from the artery wall and cause heart attack or stroke.

Chameleon crystals could make active camouflage possible

April 24, 2014 8:04 am | by Kate McAlpine, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

The ability to control crystals with light and chemistry could lead to chameleon-style color-changing camouflage for vehicle bodies and other surfaces. Univ. of Michigan researchers discovered a template-free method for growing shaped crystals that allows for changeable structures that could appear as different colors and patterns.

Atomic switcheroo explains origins of thin-film solar cell mystery

April 24, 2014 7:55 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Treating cadmium-telluride (CdTe) solar cell materials with cadmium-chloride improves their efficiency, but researchers have not fully understood why. Now, an atomic-scale examination of the thin-film solar cells led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory has answered this decades-long debate about the materials’ photovoltaic efficiency increase after treatment.

Superconducting qubit array points the way to quantum computers

April 24, 2014 7:46 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

A fully functional quantum computer is one of the holy grails of physics. Unlike conventional computers, the quantum version uses qubits (quantum bits), which make direct use of the multiple states of quantum phenomena. When realized, a quantum computer will be millions of times more powerful at certain computations than today’s supercomputers.

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Study: Gene therapy may boost cochlear implants

April 24, 2014 7:45 am | by Lauran Neergaard, AP Medical Writer | News | Comments

Australian researchers are trying a novel way to boost the power of cochlear implants: They used the technology to beam gene therapy into the ears of deaf animals and found the combination improved hearing. The approach reported Wednesday isn't ready for human testing, but it's part of growing research into ways to let users of cochlear implants experience richer, more normal sound.

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal

April 24, 2014 7:36 am | News | Comments

Combining theory and numerical simulations, researchers have resolved an enduring question in the theory of glasses by showing that their energy landscapes are far rougher than previously believed. The new model, which shows that molecules in glassy materials settle into a fractal hierarchy of states, unites mathematics, theory and several formerly disparate properties of glasses.

U.K.’s lead in physics healthy, but insecure

April 23, 2014 11:36 am | News | Comments

Newly published research shows that, when the quality of the U.K.’s scientific output is compared with that of its leading international competitor nations, the U.K.’s lead in physics comes despite a lack of investment relative to other scientific disciplines, such as the life sciences.

The science of champagne fizz

April 23, 2014 11:18 am | News | Comments

The importance of fizz, more technically known as effervescence, in sparkling wines and champagnes is not to be underestimated—it contributes to the complete sensory experience of a glass, or flute, of fine bubbly. A scientist has now closely examined the factors that affect these bubbles, and he has come up with an estimate of just how many are in each glass.

Halving hydrogen

April 23, 2014 11:13 am | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like a hungry diner ripping open a dinner roll, a fuel cell catalyst that converts hydrogen into electricity must tear open a hydrogen molecule. Now researchers have captured a view of such a catalyst holding onto the two halves of its hydrogen feast. The view confirms previous hypotheses and provides insight into how to make the catalyst work better for alternative energy uses.

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SUNY college may partner with Solar Frontier on thin-film R&D, production

April 23, 2014 9:33 am | News | Comments

Solar Frontier and the State Univ. of New York College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering have signed a memorandum of understanding to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study for potential joint R&D and manufacturing of CIS thin-film modules in Buffalo, New York. This move is part of Solar Frontier’s plans to establish production bases for its proprietary technology outside of Japan, the company’s home market.

High-performance, low-cost ultracapacitors built with graphene and carbon nanotubes

April 23, 2014 9:25 am | News | Comments

By combining the powers of two single-atom-thick carbon structures, researchers at the George Washington Univ.'s Micro-propulsion and Nanotechnology Laboratory have created a new ultracapacitor that is both high performance and low cost. The device capitalizes on the synergy brought by mixing graphene flakes with single-walled carbon nanotubes, two carbon nanostructures with complementary properties.

Gold nanoparticles help target, quantify breast cancer gene segments in a living cell

April 23, 2014 8:59 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A team at Purdue Univ. has used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material known as BRCA1 messenger RNA splice variants, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these synthetic DNA “tails” in a cell can be determined in a living cell by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles.

Call for judges: 2014 R&D 100 Awards

April 23, 2014 8:52 am | News | Comments

Each year, the editors of R&D receive entries from organizations that have launched a new product in the previous calendar year. We rely on expert judges who volunteer their time and knowledge to help find best of the bunch, 100 in all. Many judges return year after year. If you are interested and have expertise in a science-related discipline, please contact us.

Like a hall of mirrors, nanostructures trap photons inside ultra-thin solar cells

April 23, 2014 8:13 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | News | Comments

In the quest to make sun power more competitive, researchers are designing ultra-thin solar cells that cut material costs. At the same time, they’re keeping these thin cells efficient by sculpting their surfaces with photovoltaic nanostructures that behave like a molecular hall of mirrors.

Rolls-Royce, collaborators study ways to strengthen titanium aircraft parts

April 23, 2014 8:01 am | by Glenn Roberts Jr., SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Rolls-Royce researchers came to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory earlier this month as part of a team testing titanium and titanium alloys such as those used in engine parts, landing gear and other aircraft components. While the Rolls-Royce brand is also associated with luxury cars, this separate company, Rolls-Royce PLC, is a major global manufacturer of aircraft engines that power over 30 types of commercial aircraft.

Study identifies enzymes that help fix cancer-causing DNA defects

April 23, 2014 7:47 am | by Natalie van Hoose, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Purdue Univ. researchers have identified an important enzyme pathway that helps prevent new cells from receiving too many or too few chromosomes, a condition that has been directly linked to cancer and other diseases. The team found that near the end of cell division, the enzyme Cdc14 activates Yen1, an enzyme that ensures any breaks in DNA are fully repaired before the parent cell distributes copies of the genome to daughter cells.

Study: New patenting guidelines are needed for biotechnology

April 23, 2014 7:34 am | News | Comments

Biotechnology scientists must be aware of the broad patent landscape and push for new patent and licensing guidelines, according to a new paper from Rice Univ.’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. The paper is based on the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics that naturally occurring genes are unpatentable.

Michigan man among first in U.S. to get "bionic eye"

April 23, 2014 3:20 am | by Mike Householder - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease as a teenager, Roger Pontz has been almost completely blind for years. Now, thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," he's regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat. The company which made the eye, Second Sight, won an R&D 100 Award in 2009 for its artificial retina device.

Ion collision physics change drastically for ultra-thin films

April 22, 2014 11:27 am | News | Comments

A bullet fired through a block of wood will slow down. In a similar way, ions are decelerated when they pass through a solid material: the thicker the material, the larger the energy loss will be. However, as recent experiments in Austria have shown, this picture breaks down in ultra-thin target materials, which only consist of a few layers of atoms.

Tesla delivers first China cars, plans expansion

April 22, 2014 11:19 am | by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

Tesla Motors Inc. delivered its first eight electric sedans to customers in China on Tuesday and CEO Elon Musk said the company will build a nationwide network of charging stations and service centers as fast as it can. Customers received the first Model S sedans this week at a brief ceremony at Tesla's office in a Beijing industrial park, also the site of its first Chinese charging station.

Did you know? The first modern computer family won an R&D 100 Award

April 22, 2014 9:33 am | by Paul Livingstone, Senior Editor | News | Comments

Early mainframe computers operated on custom-written software tailored specifically for the latest hardware. That practice changed when IBM launched the System 360 Computer, which won an R&D 100 Award in 1964. Microcode technology allowed IBM, for the first time, to separate architecture from implementation, giving customers the opportunity to start with a small system and upgrade as their needs increased without changing software.

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