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A better look at the chemistry of interfaces

December 2, 2014 4:41 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have combined key features of two highly acclaimed x-ray spectroscopy techniques into a new technique that offers sub-nanometer resolution of every chemical element to be found at heterogeneous interfaces, such as those in batteries and fuel cells. This new technique is called SWAPPS for Standing Wave Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide used for energy storage products

December 2, 2014 4:28 pm | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Chemists and engineers at Oregon State Univ. have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products. This innovation in nanotechnology won’t soak up enough carbon to solve global warming, but it will provide a low-cost way to make nanoporous graphene for use in supercapacitors.

Lengthening the life of high-capacity silicon electrodes in rechargeable lithium batteries

December 2, 2014 4:14 pm | by Mary Beckman, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new study will help researchers create longer-lasting, higher-capacity lithium rechargeable batteries, which are commonly used in consumer electronics. In a study published in ACS Nano, researchers showed how a coating that makes high-capacity silicon electrodes more durable could lead to a replacement for lower-capacity graphite electrodes.

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White House claims progress in Ebola fight

December 2, 2014 2:03 pm | by By Jim Kuhnhenn - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The White House says the Obama administration is making strides in the fight against Ebola, citing an expanded hospital network and testing capacity at home and gains confronting the deadly disease in West Africa. To sustain that, President Barack Obama was prodding Congress Tuesday to approve his request for $6.2 billion in emergency spending against the outbreak.

Chemists fabricate novel rewritable paper

December 2, 2014 12:44 pm | by Iqbal Pittalwala, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

First developed in China in about the year A.D. 150, paper has many uses, the most common being for writing and printing upon. Indeed, the development and spread of civilization owes much to paper’s use as writing material. According to some surveys, 90% of all information in businesses today is retained on paper, even though the bulk of this printed paper is discarded after just one-time use.

First pictures of baby nanotubes

December 2, 2014 11:18 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Single-walled carbon nanotubes are loaded with desirable properties. In particular, the ability to conduct electricity at high rates of speed makes them attractive for use as nanoscale transistors. But this and other properties are largely dependent on their structure, and their structure is determined when the nanotube is just beginning to form.

Detecting defects in solar cells

December 2, 2014 11:06 am | by National Physical Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have developed a new method for detecting defects in solar cells using a technique called compressed sensing. Solar panels are being rapidly deployed across the world as costs fall and the need for sustainable, low-carbon energy grows. Being able to effectively characterize solar cells is a key factor in quality control during manufacturing and understanding their long-term behavior.

Nutrition, safety key to consumer acceptance of nanotech

December 2, 2014 10:08 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

New research from North Carolina State Univ. and the Univ. of Minnesota shows the majority of consumers will accept the presence of nanotechnology or genetic modification (GM) technology in foods—but only if the technology enhances the nutrition or improves the safety of the food. The researchers conducted a nationally representative survey of 1,117 U.S. consumers.

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Software speeds detection of diseases, cancer treatment targets

December 2, 2014 10:03 am | by James E. Rickman, Communications Office, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Los Alamos National Laboratory has released an updated version of powerful bioinformatics software that is now capable of identifying DNA from viruses and all parts of the Tree of Life—putting diverse problems such as identifying pathogen-caused diseases, selection of therapeutic targets for cancer treatment and optimizing yields of algae farms within relatively easy reach for health care professionals, researchers and others.

Computational tools help identify microbes in complex environmental samples

December 2, 2014 9:52 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Microbes of interest to clinicians and environmental scientists rarely exist in isolation. Organisms essential to breaking down pollutants or causing illness live in complex communities, and separating one microbe from hundreds of companion species can be challenging for researchers seeking to understand environmental issues or disease processes.

Different species share a “genetic toolkit” for behavioral traits

December 2, 2014 8:44 am | by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

The house mouse, stickleback fish and honey bee appear to have little in common, but at the genetic level these creatures respond in strikingly similar ways to danger, researchers report. When any of these animals confronts an intruder, the researchers found, many of the same genes and brain gene networks gear up or down in response.

Sweet smell of success

December 2, 2014 8:37 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Two years ago, researchers at the Joint BioEnergy Institute engineered E. coli bacteria to convert glucose into significant quantities of methyl ketones, a class of chemical compounds primarily used for fragrances and flavors, but highly promising as clean, green and renewable blending agents for diesel fuel. Now, after further genetic modifications, they have managed to dramatically boost the E.coli’s methyl ketone production 160-fold.

Most of Earth’s carbon may be hidden in planet’s inner core

December 2, 2014 8:24 am | by Jim Erickson, University of Michigan | News | Comments

As much as two-thirds of Earth's carbon may be hidden in the inner core, making it the planet's largest carbon reservoir, according to a new model that even its backers acknowledge is "provocative and speculative." In a recent paper, Univ. of Michigan researchers and their colleagues suggest that iron carbide, Fe7C3, provides a good match for the density and sound velocities of Earth's inner core under the relevant conditions.

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Exploring cells in 3-D

December 2, 2014 8:12 am | by The Scripps Research Institute | News | Comments

Researchers can now explore viruses, bacteria and components of the human body in more detail than ever before with software developed at The Scripps Research Institute. In a study published online in Nature Methods, the researchers demonstrated how the software, called cellPACK, can be used to model viruses such as HIV.

Losing air

December 2, 2014 8:01 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Today’s atmosphere likely bears little trace of its primordial self: Geochemical evidence suggests that Earth’s atmosphere may have been completely obliterated at least twice since its formation more than 4 billion years ago. However, it’s unclear what interplanetary forces could have driven such a dramatic loss.

NTSB points to battery defect in Boeing 787 fire

December 1, 2014 3:01 pm | by By Joan Lowy - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A short circuit likely due to a manufacturing defect in a Boeing 787 airliner battery caused a fire last year that grounded the planes for more than three months, federal accident investigators said Monday. They also faulted the plane's maker and the Federal Aviation Administration for designing and approving a battery design that didn't protect against such a failure.

Computer equal to or better than humans at cataloging science

December 1, 2014 2:46 pm | by David Tennebaum, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat chess wizard Garry Kasparov. This year, a computer system developed at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison equaled or bested scientists at the complex task of extracting data from scientific publications and placing it in a database that catalogs the results of tens of thousands of individual studies.

Research shows way to design digital metamaterials

December 1, 2014 2:39 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | Videos | Comments

Metamaterials, precisely designed composite materials that have properties not found in natural ones, could be used to make light-bending invisibility cloaks, flat lenses and other otherwise impossible devices. Figuring out the necessary composition and internal structure to create these unusual effects is a challenge but new research from the Univ. of Pennsylvania presents a way of simplifying things.

Protein predicts response to new immunotherapy drug

December 1, 2014 11:00 am | by Vicky Agnew, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The presence of an immune-suppressing protein in non-cancerous immune cells may predict how patients with different types of cancer respond to treatment, a multi-center phase I study using an investigational immune therapy drug has found. The trial included patients with melanoma or cancers of the lung, kidney, colon, GI tract, or head and neck, whose tumors were evaluated for PD-L1 expression by a novel assay.

“Superomniphobic” texture capable of repelling all liquids

December 1, 2014 10:45 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A pair of researchers from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has created the first surface texture that can repel all liquids, no matter what material the surface is made of. Because its design relies only on the physical attributes of the texture, the texture could have industrial or biomedical applications.

High-tech mirror to beam heat away from buildings into space

December 1, 2014 10:24 am | by Chris Cesare, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. engineers have invented a revolutionary coating material that can help cool buildings, even on sunny days, by radiating heat away from the buildings and sending it directly into space. The heart of the invention is an ultra-thin, multi-layered material that deals with light, both invisible and visible, in a new way.

Engineers make sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip

December 1, 2014 10:08 am | by Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

During a thunderstorm, we all know it’s common to hear thunder after we see the lightning. That’s because sound travels much slower (768 mph) than light (670,000,000 mph). Now, Univ. of Minnesota engineering researchers have developed a chip on which both sound wave and light wave are generated and confined together so that the sound can very efficiently control the light.

Seeking answers from a mysterious parasite

December 1, 2014 9:48 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite often spread by cats. Most people who are infected in Europe or North America show no symptoms at all, and only a few suffer from encephalitis or ocular toxoplasmosis, which can cause blindness. However, in South America, toxoplasmosis is associated with much more severe symptoms.

Copper on the brain at rest

December 1, 2014 8:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In recent years it has been established that copper plays an essential role in the health of the human brain. Improper copper oxidation has been linked to several neurological disorders. Copper has also been identified as a critical ingredient in the enzymes that activate the brain’s neurotransmitters in response to stimuli. Now, a new study has shown that proper copper levels are also essential to the health of the brain at rest.

New technique could harvest more of the sun’s energy

December 1, 2014 8:32 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped. A new technology epresents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.

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