If you’ve run out of drinking water during a lakeside camping trip, there’s a simple solution: Break off a branch from the nearest pine tree, peel away the bark and slowly pour lake water through the stick. The improvised filter should trap any bacteria, producing fresh, uncontaminated water. In fact, a team has discovered that this low-tech filtration system can produce up to 4 L of drinking water a day.
Cornell Univ. researchers have recently led what is probably the most comprehensive study to date of block copolymer nanoparticle self-assembly processes. The work is important, because using polymers to self-assemble inorganic nanoparticles into porous structures could revolutionize electronics.
For scientists to determine if a cell is functioning properly, they often must destroy it with ionizing radiation, which is used in x-ray fluorescence microscopy to provide detail that conventional microscopes can’t match. To address this, Argonne National Laboratory researchers created the R&D 100 Award-winning Bionanoprobe, which freezes cells to “see” at greater detail without damaging the sample.
JILA physicists used an ultrafast laser and help from German theorists to discover a new semiconductor quasiparticle, a handful of smaller particles that briefly condense into a liquid-like droplet. Quasiparticles are composites of smaller particles that can be created inside solid materials and act together in a predictable way.
Visual acuity is sharpest for rats and mice when the animals are looking down. Researchers have found that rodents can learn tasks in a fourth to a sixth of the usual number of repetitions when visual stimuli are projected onto the floor of the maze rather than onto the walls.
The annual ritual of visiting a doctor’s office or health clinic to receive a flu shot may soon be outdated, thanks to the findings of a new study. The research, which involved nearly 100 people recruited in the metropolitan Atlanta area, found that test subjects could successfully apply a prototype vaccine patch to themselves.
Collaborative work by physicists has successfully "weighed" the mass of the electron 13 times more precisely than the best previous effort. The result, which could have an impact on our understanding of fundamental physical laws, was achieved using a method that could determine the presence of a mosquito on a jumbo jet just by weighing the airplane.
Standing in a full-body scanner at an airport isn’t fun, and the process adds time and stress to a journey. It also raises privacy concerns. But researchers now report making several key advances in terahertz wave sensor technology to create a more precise and direct method for using these waves to detect explosives from greater distances.
At a recent two-day meeting, the Food and Drug Administration heard from supporters and opponents of a provocative new technique meant to prevent children from inheriting debilitating diseases. The method creates babies from the DNA of three people, and the agency is considering whether to greenlight testing in women who have defective genes.
Laboratory success doesn’t always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State Univ. scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality. The environmental photobioreactor (ePBR) system is the world’s first standard algae growing platform, one that simulates dynamic natural environments.
Using an inexpensive 3-D printer, biomedical engineers have developed a custom-fitted, implantable device with embedded sensors that could transform treatment and prediction of cardiac disorders. An international team has created a 3-D elastic membrane made of a soft, flexible, silicon material that is precisely shaped to match the heart’s epicardium, or the outer layer of the wall of the heart.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has joined forces with two other national laboratories—Oak Ridge and Argonne—to deliver next-generation supercomputers able to perform up to 200 peak petaflops, about 10 times faster than today's most powerful high-performance computing (HPC) systems.
After having recently discovered a new way to propagate multiple beams of light through a single strand of optical fiber, engineers at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee now have found that their novel fiber architecture can transmit images with a quality that is comparable or better than the current commercial endoscopy imaging fibers.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a superabsorbing design that may significantly improve the light absorption efficiency of thin-film solar cells and drive down manufacturing costs. The superabsorbing design could decrease the thickness of the semiconductor materials used in thin-film solar cells by more than one order of magnitude without compromising the capability of solar light absorption.
A Chinese-U.S. research team is exploring the use of metamaterials to create devices that manipulate sound in versatile and unprecedented ways. In a recently published paper, the team reports a simple design for a device, called an acoustic field rotator, which can twist wave fronts inside it so that they appear to be propagating from another direction.
It has long been known that free, ionic silver particles can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms. Yet we a lack of detailed knowledge about the doses required to trigger a response and how the organisms deal with the stress. To learn more about the cellular processes, scientists in Switzerland subjected algae to a range of silver concentrations. The results are reassuring, but the presence of other stressors could compound the problem.
Associated with unhappy visits to the dentist, “cavity” means something else in the science of optics. An arrangement of mirrors that allows beams of light to circulate in closed paths, or cavities, help us build laser and optical fibers. Now, a research team pushed the concept further by developing an optical “nanocavity” that boosts the amount of light that ultrathin semiconductors absorb.
Every second, your computer must process billions of computational steps to produce even the simplest outputs. Imagine if every one of those steps could be made just a tiny bit more efficient. A Northeastern Univ. team has developed a series of novel devices that do just that. The team combined their expertise to unearth a physical phenomenon that could usher in a new wave of highly efficient electronics.
The physical implementation of a full-scale universal quantum computer remains an extraordinary challenge for physicists, mainly because existing approaches lose their “quantum-ness” as they are scaled up. At the Joint Quantum Institute, a new modular architecture is being explored that offers scalability to large numbers of qubits, and its components have been tested and are available.
While taking in the scenery during long road trips, passengers also may be taking in potentially harmful ultrafine particles (UFPs) that come into the car through outdoor air vents. Closing the vents reduces UFPs, but causes exhaled carbon dioxide to build up. Now, scientists have developed a high-efficiency cabin air filter that could reduce UFP exposure by 93% and keep carbon dioxide levels low.
Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with scientists at Northwestern Univ. are the first to grow graphene on silver which, until now, posed a major challenge to many in the field. Part of the issue has to do with the properties of silver, the other involves the process by which graphene is grown.
Mottronics is a term seemingly destined to become familiar to aficionados of electronic gadgets. Named for the Nobel laureate Nevill Francis Mott, Mottronics involve materials that can be induced to transition between electrically conductive and insulating phases. If these phase transitions can be controlled, Mott materials hold promise for future transistors and memories that feature higher energy efficiencies and faster switching speeds.
Although liquid water covers a majority of Earth's surface, scientists are still searching for planets outside of our solar system that contain water. Researchers have used a new technique to analyze the gaseous atmospheres of such extrasolar planets and have made the first detection of water in the atmosphere of the Jupiter-mass planet orbiting the nearby star tau Boötis.
Women with estrogen-responsive breast cancer who consume soy protein supplements containing isoflavones to alleviate the side effects of menopause may be accelerating progression of their cancer, changing it from a treatable subtype to a more aggressive, less treatable form of the disease, new research suggests.
Researchers have devised a way of making tiny holes of controllable size in sheets of graphene, a development that could lead to ultra-thin filters for improved desalination or water purification. The team of researchers succeeded in creating subnanoscale pores in a sheet of the one-atom-thick material, which is one of the strongest materials known.