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Ancient rocks show life on Earth 3.2 billion years ago

February 17, 2015 9:13 am | by Hannah Hickey, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

A spark from a lightning bolt, interstellar dust or a subsea volcano could have triggered the very first life on Earth. But what happened next? Life can exist without oxygen; but without plentiful nitrogen to build genes, life on the early Earth would have been scarce. The ability to use atmospheric nitrogen to support more widespread life was thought to have appeared roughly 2 billion years ago.

The future of electronics could lie in material from the past

February 17, 2015 8:31 am | by Pam Frost Gorder, The Ohio State Univ. | News | Comments

The future of electronics could lie in a material from its past, as researchers from The Ohio State Univ. work to turn germanium, the material of 1940s transistors, into a potential replacement for silicon. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting, Asst. Prof. of Chemistry Joshua Goldberger reported progress in developing a form of germanium called germanane.

Researchers synthesize material for efficient plasmonic devices in mid-infrared range

February 17, 2015 8:14 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

A research team led by North Carolina State Univ. has identified and synthesized a material that can be used to create efficient plasmonic devices that respond to light in the mid-infrared (IR) range. This is the first time anyone has demonstrated a material that performs efficiently in response to this light range, and it has applications in fields ranging from high-speed computers, to solar energy to biomedical devices.

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Satellite images reveal ocean acidification from space

February 17, 2015 8:09 am | by Jo Bowler, Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

Pioneering techniques that use satellites to monitor ocean acidification are set to revolutionize the way that marine biologists and climate scientists study the ocean. This new approach, published in Environmental Science and Technology, offers remote monitoring of large swathes of inaccessible ocean from satellites that orbit the Earth some 700 km above our heads.

UV light sensor for improved fire detection

February 17, 2015 8:02 am | by Amy Sutton, Univ. of Surrey | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute manipulated zinc oxide, producing nanowires from this readily available material to create an ultraviolet (UV) light detector that is 10,000 times more sensitive to UV light than a traditional zinc oxide detector. Currently, photoelectric smoke sensors detect larger smoke particles found in dense smoke, but are not as sensitive to small particles of smoke.

Promise and Limitations of Lab Automation Systems in R&D

February 13, 2015 3:56 pm | by Tim Studt, Editor-in-Chief | News | Comments

Lab automation systems are used in R&D laboratories for a wide range of operational applications and purposes. According to a recent reader survey performed by the editors of R&D Magazine in late-2014, the top three applications include to improve the accuracy of lab operations (selected by 61% of the readers), to improve lab productivity (58%) and to ensure the reliability of the lab operations (48%).

New self-stretching material developed

February 13, 2015 2:23 pm | by Peter Iglinski, Univ. of Rochester | News | Comments

Although most materials slightly expand when heated, there is a new class of rubber-like material that not only self-stretches upon cooling; it reverts back to its original shape when heated, all without physical manipulation. The material is like a shape-memory polymer because it can be switched between two different shapes.

First glimpse of a chemical bond being born

February 13, 2015 1:49 pm | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have used an x-ray laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place.

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How iron feels the heat

February 13, 2015 1:34 pm | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

As you heat up a piece of iron, the arrangement of the iron atoms changes several times before melting. This unusual behavior is one reason why steel, in which iron plays a starring role, is so sturdy and ubiquitous in everything from teapots to skyscrapers. But the details of just how and why iron takes on so many different forms have remained a mystery.

Getting in shape

February 13, 2015 1:25 pm | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

New research from the Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit at OIST looks at how to create various non-spherical particles by releasing droplets of molten wax into a cool liquid bath. The physics behind this research shows how a range of non-spherical shapes can be produced and replicated with many possible industrial applications.

3-D Printing Blasts Off, Explodes Into the Future

February 13, 2015 1:15 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

In 2013, battle lines were drawn. Two stark competitors were looking to speed repairs and cut costs on parts for gas turbines. First to the drawing board was GE, who started using 3-D printing technology at its Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y., to produce more than 85,000 fuel nozzles for its anticipated LEAP engine technology.

Sustaining a Laboratory Environment

February 13, 2015 1:00 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

The design of laboratories for sustainable construction and operation has become a major driver in the A/E/C industry over the past 10 to 15 years. Most large academic, government and corporate laboratory clients are looking for sustainable design approaches at a minimum, and third-party certification, such as LEED, in many cases.

Superior Resolution for the Biological World

February 13, 2015 12:47 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Traditional fluorescence microscopy has suffered from the resolution limits imposed by diffraction and the finite wavelength of light. Classical resolution is typically limited to about 200 nm in xy. Due to the nanoscale architecture of many biological structures, researchers developed super-resolution techniques, starting in the 1990s, to overcome this classical resolution limit in light microscopy.

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Giving Design Power to Everyone

February 13, 2015 12:01 pm | by Tim Studt, Editor-in-Chief | Articles | Comments

Multiphysics software has become the simulation tool for designing and optimizing new products. This software can quickly provide designers with multiple options for critical product designs across a range of environmental, physical and chemical operating conditions. Recently introduced multiphysics software enhancements also allow simplified use of these simulation tools across a broader range of users.

Six Tips to Use When Calibrating Your pH Meter

February 13, 2015 11:50 am | by Hanna Instruments | Articles | Comments

Reliable pH measurements are essential to a variety of processes and industries. From agriculture, to wastewater and plating, to food processing, measuring pH is a crucial step in determining the efficiency of a process or quality of a product. Vital steps in achieving accurate pH results include calibrating a pH meter and ensuring the electrode is working properly.

Mismatched twin stars spotted in the delivery room

February 13, 2015 11:24 am | by Christine Pulliam, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | News | Comments

The majority of stars in our galaxy come in pairs. In particular, the most massive stars usually have a companion. These fraternal twins tend to be somewhat equal partners when it comes to mass; but not always. In a quest to find mismatched star pairs known as extreme mass-ratio binaries, astronomers have discovered a new class of binary stars. One star is fully formed while the other is still in its infancy.

See here now

February 13, 2015 11:14 am | by Lionel Pousaz, EPFL | News | Comments

An estimated 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. Age-related macular degeneration alone is the leading cause of blindness among older adults in the Western world. However, Eric Tremblay from EPFL in Switzerland unveiled a new prototype of his telescopic contact lens, giving hope for better, stronger vision.

Better catalysts, made-to-order

February 13, 2015 11:03 am | by Joe Rojas-Burke, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Most of our medicine, plastics and synthetic fibers wouldn't exist without catalysts. And yet chemists don't fully understand how most catalysts work, and developing new catalysts often still depends on laborious trial-and-error. But in a new study, chemists captured enough data on the crucial steps in a reaction to accurately predict the structures of the most efficient catalysts.

Global rainfall satellites require massive overhaul

February 13, 2015 10:43 am | by Melissa Osgood, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Circling hundreds of miles above Earth, weather satellites are working round-the-clock to provide rainfall data that are key to a complex system of global flood prediction. A new Cornell Univ. study warns that the existing system of space-based rainfall observation satellites requires a serious overhaul.

Silver-glass sandwich structure acts as inexpensive color filter

February 13, 2015 10:37 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

The engineering world just became even more colorful. Northwestern Univ. researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.

Correlations of quantum particles help in distinguishing physical processes

February 13, 2015 10:29 am | by Univ. of Strathclyde | News | Comments

Communication security and metrology could be enhanced through a study of the role of quantum correlations in the distinguishability of physical processes, by researchers at the Univs. of Strathclyde and Waterloo. The study involved analyzing the impact of quantum steering.

Making a better wound dressing

February 13, 2015 10:18 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

With a low price tag and mild flavor, tilapia has become a staple dinnertime fish for many Americans. Now it could have another use: helping to heal our wounds. In ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, scientists have shown that a protein found in this fish can promote skin repair in rats without an immune reaction, suggesting possible future use for human patients.

Researchers glimpse distortions in atomic structure of materials

February 13, 2015 10:10 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. are using a technique they developed to observe minute distortions in the atomic structure of complex materials, shedding light on what causes these distortions and opening the door to studies on how such atomic-scale variations can influence a material's properties.

Carbon release from ocean helped end the ice age

February 13, 2015 9:20 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

New techniques are allowing scientists to understand how carbon dioxide, released from the deep ocean, helped to end the last ice age and create our current climate. An international team studied the shells of ancient marine organisms that lived in surface waters of the southern Atlantic and eastern equatorial Pacific oceans thousands of years ago.

Exotic states materialize with supercomputers

February 13, 2015 9:03 am | by Jorge Salazar, TACC | News | Comments

Scientists used supercomputers to find a new class of materials that possess an exotic state of matter known as the quantum spin Hall effect. The researchers published their results in Science in December 2014, where they propose a new type of transistor made from these materials. The team calculated the electronic structures of the materials using the Stampede and Lonestar supercomputers of the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

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