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Nanomaterials inspired by bird feathers

May 13, 2015 12:24 pm | by Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Inspired by the way iridescent bird feathers play with light, scientists have created thin films of material in a wide range of pure colors with hues determined by physical structure rather than pigments. Structural color arises from the interaction of light with materials that have patterns on a minute scale, which bend and reflect light to amplify some wavelengths and dampen others.

Water was plentiful in early universe

May 13, 2015 12:17 pm | by American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

Astronomers have held that water was a relative latecomer to the universe. They believed any element heavier than helium had to have been formed in the cores of stars and not by the Big Bang itself. Since the earliest stars would have taken some time to form, mature and die, it was presumed that it took billions of years for oxygen atoms to disperse throughout the universe and attach to hydrogen to produce the first interstellar "water".

Nano-policing pollution

May 13, 2015 11:27 am | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

Pollutants emitted by factories and car exhausts affect humans who breathe in these harmful gases and also aggravate climate change up in the atmosphere. Being able to detect such emissions is a critically needed measure. New research has developed an efficient way to improve methods for detecting polluting emissions using a sensor at the nanoscale.

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Artificial photosynthesis: New, stable photocathode with potential

May 13, 2015 9:14 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Many of us are familiar with electrolytic splitting of water from their school days: If you hold two electrodes into an aqueous electrolyte and apply a sufficient voltage, gas bubbles of hydrogen and oxygen are formed. If this voltage is generated by sunlight in a solar cell, then you could store solar energy by generating hydrogen gas. This is because hydrogen is a versatile medium of storing and using "chemical energy".

Health benefits of used coffee grounds

May 13, 2015 8:57 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Coffee has gone from dietary foe to friend in recent years, partly due to the revelation that it’s rich in antioxidants. Now even spent coffee-grounds are gaining attention for being chock-full of these compounds, which have potential health benefits. In the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers explain how to extract antioxidants from the grounds. They then determined just how concentrated the antioxidants are.

A new way to manufacture nanofibers

May 13, 2015 8:51 am | by James Hataway, Univ. of Georgia | Videos | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Georgia have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials.

Materials crystallize with surprising properties

May 13, 2015 8:20 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Think about your favorite toys as a child. Did they light up or make funny noises when you touched them? Maybe they changed shape or texture. In ACS Central Science, researchers report a new material that combines many of these characteristics. Beyond being fun, these materials, called organic “supercooled” liquids, may be useful for optical storage systems and biomedical sensors.

Probing secrets of the universe inside a metal box

May 13, 2015 8:13 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The Standard Model of particle physics, sometimes called "The Theory of Almost Everything," is the best set of equations to date that describes the universe's fundamental particles and how they interact. Yet the theory has holes.

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Controlling swarms of robots with a finger

May 13, 2015 8:05 am | by Jason Maderer, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

Using a smart tablet and a red beam of light, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have created a system that allows people to control a fleet of robots with the swipe of a finger. A person taps the tablet to control where the beam of light appears on a floor. The swarm robots then roll toward the illumination, constantly communicating with each other and deciding how to evenly cover the lit area.

Using microbial communities to assess environmental contamination

May 13, 2015 7:58 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

First there were canaries in coal mines, now there are microbes at nuclear waste sites, oil spills and other contaminated environments. A multi-institutional team of more than 30 scientists has found that statistical analysis of DNA from natural microbial communities can be used to accurately identify environmental contaminants and serve as quantitative geochemical biosensors.

A metal composite that will float your boat

May 13, 2015 7:50 am | by Kathleen Hamilton, New York Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a new metal matrix composite that is so light that it can float on water. A boat made of such lightweight composites will not sink despite damage to its structure. The new material also promises to improve automotive fuel economy because it combines light weight with heat resistance.

Preparing weather forecasts for planets beyond our solar system

May 13, 2015 7:42 am | by Sean Bettam, Univ. of Toronto | News | Comments

"Cloudy for the morning, turning to clear with scorching heat in the afternoon." While this might describe a typical late-summer day in many places on Earth, it may also apply to planets outside our solar system, according to a new study by an international team of astrophysicists.

Molecular switch that promotes heart cell maturation discovered

May 13, 2015 7:34 am | by Michael McCarthy, Univ. of Washington Health Services | News | Comments

A molecular switch that seems to be essential for embryonic heart cells to grow into more mature, adult-like heart cells has been discovered. The discovery should help scientist better understand how human hearts mature. Of particular interest to stem cell and regenerative medicine researchers, the finding may lead to laboratory methods to create heart cells that function more like those found in adult hearts.

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The dark side of star clusters

May 13, 2015 7:26 am | by ESO | News | Comments

Globular star clusters are huge balls of thousands of stars that orbit most galaxies. They are among the oldest known stellar systems in the universe and have survived through almost the entire span of galaxy growth and evolution.

Teams performed parallel measurements of the Soret coefficient of the same mixtures containing three different liquids in space, where gravitational effects are dramatically reduced.

Space lab to elucidate how liquid cocktails mix

May 12, 2015 11:24 am | by Springer | News | Comments

What does space experimentation have in common with liquid cocktails? Both help in understanding what happens when multiple fluids are mixed together and subjected to temperature change—a phenomenon ubiquitous in nature and industrial applications such as oil fluids contained in natural reservoirs. The latest experimental data performed in zero gravity on the International Space Station is now available.

Researchers have recovered europium from the liquid mixture with UV light instead of a solvent. (c) KU Leuven - CIT

Separating rare earth metals with UV light

May 12, 2015 11:12 am | by KU Leuven | News | Comments

Researchers from the KU Leuven Department of Chemical Engineering have discovered a method to separate two rare earth elements—europium and yttrium—with UV light instead of with traditional solvents. Their findings, which were published in Green Chemistry, offer new opportunities for the recycling of fluorescent lamps and low-energy light bulbs.

Pet robotics has come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the mid-90s. In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die.

Robot pets to rise in an overpopulated, tech-crazed world

May 12, 2015 11:04 am | by University of Melbourne | News | Comments

Robotic dogs are likely to replace the real thing in households worldwide in as little as a decade, as our infatuation with technology grows and more people migrate to high-density city living. University of Melbourne animal welfare researcher Dr. Jean-Loup Rault says the prospect of robopets and virtual pets is not as far-fetched as we may think.

Scientists have proposes a new family of materials whose topological state can be directly observed experimentally. Courtesy of SISSA

Topological insulators become a little less “elusive”

May 12, 2015 10:39 am | by Sissa Medialab | News | Comments

They are strange materials, insulators on the inside and conductors on the surface. They also have properties that make them excellent candidates for development of spintronics (”spin-­based electronics”) and, more in general, quantum computing. However, they are also elusive, as their properties are extremely difficult to observe. A study proposes a new family of materials whose topological state can be directly observed experimentally.

Tolou Shokuhfar and colleagues are developing techniques using 3D bioprinting to generate human tissue.

Bioprinting in 3D: Looks like candy, could regenerate nerve cells

May 12, 2015 10:23 am | by Michigan Technological University | News | Comments

The printer looks like a toaster oven with the front and sides removed. Its metal frame is built up around a stainless steel circle lit by an ultraviolet light. Stainless steel hydraulics and thin black tubes line the back edge, which lead to an inner, topside box made of red plastic. All together, the gray metal frame is small enough to fit on top of an old-fashioned school desk, but nothing about this 3D printer is old school.

Researchers in the University of Colorado Center for Neuroscience have developed an implantable microscope that will allow researchers to see deep into the brain and learn about small parts of the brain we've never been able to properly study.

Researchers create microscope allowing deep brain exploration

May 12, 2015 10:05 am | by David Kelly, University of Colorado | News | Comments

A team of neuroscientists and bioengineers a have created a miniature, fiber-optic microscope designed to peer deeply inside a living brain. The laser-scanning microscope, a prototype which will be further refined, uses fiber-optics and a tiny electrowetting lens. Compared to other small, focusing lenses, it’s fast and not sensitive to motion. This allows it to reliably focus on living tissue.

Magic wavelengths

May 12, 2015 8:36 am | by Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Rydberg atoms, atoms whose outermost electrons are highly excited but not ionized, might be just the thing for processing quantum information. These outsized atoms can be sustained for a long time in a quantum superposition condition and they can interact strongly with other such atoms, making them useful for devising the kind of logic gates needed to process information.

3-D microbattery suitable for large-scale on-chip integration

May 12, 2015 8:18 am | by Rick Kubetz, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

By combining 3-D holographic lithography and 2-D photolithography, researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a high-performance 3-D microbattery suitable for large-scale on-chip integration with microelectronic devices.

Healing plants inspire new compounds for psychiatric drugs

May 12, 2015 8:02 am | by Erin Spain, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Treatments used by traditional healers in Nigeria have inspired scientists at Northwestern Univ. to synthesize four new chemical compounds that could one day lead to better therapies for people with psychiatric disorders. In a recently published paper, the scientists detail how they created these natural compounds by completing the first total syntheses of two indole alkaloids: alstonine and serpentine.

Pattern recognition using magnonic holographic memory

May 12, 2015 7:55 am | by Sean Nealon, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

Researchers have successfully demonstrated pattern recognition using a magnonic holographic memory device, a development that could greatly improve speech and image recognition hardware. Pattern recognition focuses on finding patterns and regularities in data. The uniqueness of the demonstrated work is that the input patterns are encoded into the phases of the input spin waves.

Faster, smaller, more informative

May 12, 2015 7:37 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new technique invented at Massachusetts Institute of Technology can measure the relative positions of tiny particles as they flow through a fluidic channel, potentially offering an easy way to monitor the assembly of nanoparticles, or to study how mass is distributed within a cell. With further advancements, this technology has the potential to resolve the shape of objects in flow as small as viruses, the researchers say.

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