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The Lead

Blu-ray disc can be used to improve solar cell performance

November 25, 2014 8:23 pm | by Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Who knew Blu-ray discs were so useful? Already one of the best ways to store high-definition movies and television shows because of their high-density data storage, Blu-ray discs also improve the performance of solar cells, according to new research from Northwestern Univ.

Environmental “tipping points” key to predicting extinctions

November 25, 2014 11:35 am | by Tracey Peake, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have created a model that mimics how differently...

Breakthrough in flexible electronics enabled by inorganic-based laser lift-off

November 25, 2014 11:20 am | by The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) | News | Comments

Flexible electronics have been touted as the next generation in electronics in various areas,...

Wireless electronic implants stop staph

November 25, 2014 8:41 am | by Kim Thurier, Tufts Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Tufts Univ., in collaboration with a team at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-...

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LLNL, RAND partner to advance policy analysis through supercomputing

November 25, 2014 8:15 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the RAND Corporation will collaborate to expand the use of high-performance computing in decision analysis and policymaking. The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday, Nov. 21. The arrangement provides a vehicle for the two organizations to explore the use of policy analysis methodologies with supercomputing applications.

Device could make large biological circuits practical

November 25, 2014 7:59 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have made great progress in recent years in the design and creation of biological circuits: systems that, like electronic circuits, can take a number of different inputs and deliver a particular kind of output. But while individual components of such biological circuits can have precise and predictable responses, those outcomes become less predictable as more such elements are combined.

Improving technology used in digital memory

November 25, 2014 7:48 am | by Scott Schrage, University Communications, Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln | News | Comments

The improvements in random access memory (RAM) that have driven many advances of the digital age owe much to the innovative application of physics and chemistry at the atomic scale. Accordingly, a team led by Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers has employed a Nobel Prize-winning material and common household chemical to enhance the properties of a component primed for the next generation of high-speed, high-capacity RAM.

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Brain’s reaction to virtual reality

November 25, 2014 7:42 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Los Angeles neurophysicists have found that space-mapping neurons in the brain react differently to virtual reality than they do to real-world environments. Their findings could be significant for people who use virtual reality for gaming, military, commercial, scientific or other purposes.

Google's latest: A spoon that steadies tremors

November 25, 2014 4:00 am | by By Martha Mendoza - AP National Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Just in time for the holidays, Google is throwing its money, brain power and technology at the humble spoon. Of course these spoons (don't call them spoogles) are a bit more than your basic utensil: Using hundreds of algorithms, they allow people with essential tremors and Parkinson's disease to eat without spilling.

Unidentified country likely behind spying software

November 24, 2014 7:00 pm | by By Brandon Bailey - AP Technology Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Cyber-security researchers say they've identified a highly sophisticated computer hacking program that appears to have been used by an as-yet unidentified government to spy on banks, telecommunications companies, official agencies and other organizations around the world. The malicious software known as "Regin" is designed to collect data from its targets for periods of months or years.

Cell’s skeleton is never still

November 24, 2014 11:23 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

New computer models that show how microtubules age are the first to match experimental results and help explain the dynamic processes behind an essential component of every living cell, according to Rice Univ. scientists. The results could help scientists fine-tune medications that manipulate microtubules to treat cancer and other diseases. 

Terahertz device could strengthen security

November 24, 2014 11:12 am | by Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

We are all familiar with the hassles that accompany air travel. We shuffle through long lines, remove our shoes, and carry liquids in regulation-sized tubes. And even after all the effort, we still wonder if these procedures are making us any safer. Now a new type of security detection that uses terahertz radiation is looking to prove its promise.

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Researchers study impact of power prosthetic failures on amputees

November 24, 2014 8:43 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | Videos | Comments

Powered lower limb prosthetics hold promise for improving the mobility of amputees, but errors in the technology may also cause some users to stumble or fall. New research examines exactly what happens when these technologies fail, with the goal of developing a new generation of more robust powered prostheses.

Model evaluates where bioenergy crops grow best

November 24, 2014 7:59 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | News | Comments

Farmers interested in bioenergy crops now have a resource to help them determine which kind of bioenergy crop would grow best in their regions and what kind of harvest to expect. Researchers at the Univ. of Illinois have published a study identifying yield zones for three major bioenergy crops.

Overcoming limitations of magnetic storage

November 24, 2014 7:49 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Nano-Meta Technologies Inc. have shown how to overcome key limitations of a material that could enable the magnetic storage industry to achieve data-recording densities far beyond today's computers. The new technology could make it possible to record data on an unprecedented small scale using tiny "nanoantennas" and to increase the amount of data that can be stored on a standard magnetic disk by 10 to 100 times.

Building on-ramp to cloud computing

November 24, 2014 7:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. is preparing to offer its researchers who deal in “big data” the opportunity to compute in the cloud with fewer barriers. Rice is installing the Big Research Data Cloud (BiRD Cloud), which will allow for cloud bursting. That means data-intensive tasks can spill over into outside cloud-computing systems when necessary, essentially providing unlimited computing capacity.

Salinity matters when it comes to sea level changes

November 21, 2014 9:33 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Using ocean observations and a large suite of climate models, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientists have found that long-term salinity changes have a stronger influence on regional sea level changes than previously thought.

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2-D quantum materials for nanoelectronics

November 21, 2014 9:10 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have carried out a theoretical analysis showing that a family of 2-D materials exhibits exotic quantum properties that may enable a new type of nanoscale electronics. These materials are predicted to show a phenomenon called the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, and belong to a class of materials known as transition metal dichalcogenides, with layers a few atoms thick.

Technique allows ultrasound to penetrate bone, metal

November 21, 2014 8:53 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a technique that allows ultrasound to penetrate bone or metal, using customized structures that offset the distortion usually caused by these so-called “aberrating layers.” The researchers addressed this problem by designing customized metamaterial structures that take into account the acoustic properties of the aberrating layer and offsetting them.

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites

November 21, 2014 8:37 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Enzymes carry out fundamental biological processes such as photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation and respiration, with the help of clusters of metal atoms as "active" sites. But scientists lack basic information about their function because the states thought to be critical to their chemical abilities cannot be experimentally observed.

Discovery sheds light on nuclear reactor fuel behavior during a severe event

November 21, 2014 7:43 am | by Anglea Hardin, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new discovery about the atomic structure of uranium dioxide will help scientists select the best computational model to simulate severe nuclear reactor accidents. Using the Advanced Photon Source, a team of researchers found that the atomic structure of uranium dioxide (UO2) changes significantly when it melts.

Center Stage: The High Rollers of S&T Industry Honored at 2014 R&D 100 Awards

November 20, 2014 12:06 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Award Winners

The R&D 100 Awards have a 50+ year history of recognizing excellence in innovation, earning the name the “Oscars of Invention." And at the annual event, the high rollers of the science and technology industry were honored on stage for their innovative, high-tech products and processes that are, or will, make a difference in our everyday lives.

Novel polarizing filter transits more light

November 20, 2014 9:29 am | by Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Univ. of Utah engineers have developed a polarizing filter that allows in more light, leading the way for mobile device displays that last much longer on a single battery charge and cameras that can shoot in dim light. Polarizers are indispensable in digital photography and LCD displays, but they block enormous amounts of light, wasting energy and making it more difficult to photograph in low light.

New technology may speed up, build awareness of landslide risks

November 20, 2014 9:18 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers have created a new way to use lidar technology to identify and classify landslides on a landscape scale, which may revolutionize the understanding of landslides in the U.S. and reveal them to be far more common and hazardous than often understood. The new, non-subjective technology can analyze and classify the landslide risk in an area of 50 or more square miles in about 30 mins.

Paper electronics could make health care more accessible

November 20, 2014 9:02 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Flexible electronic sensors based on paper have the potential to cut the price of a wide range of medical tools, from helpful robots to diagnostic tests. Scientists have now developed a fast, low-cost way of making these sensors by directly printing conductive ink on paper.

Spiraling light, nanoparticles and insights into life’s structure

November 20, 2014 8:12 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

As hands come in left and right versions that are mirror images of each other, so do the amino acids and sugars within us. But unlike hands, only the left-oriented amino acids and the right-oriented sugars ever make into life as we know it. Scientists know the other varieties exist because when they synthesize these amino acids and sugars in a laboratory, roughly equal numbers of left- and right-facing arrangements form.

“Carpe Datem”: Seizing the Opportunities of Big Data to Drive Insight

November 19, 2014 2:05 pm | by Roger Schenck, Manager, Content Promotions, Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) | Articles | Comments

Carpe diem…seize the day. This Latin phrase, coined by the Roman poet Horace in 23 BC, is used often to encourage us to take full advantage of the opportunities each day provides. In modern times with seemingly limitless amounts of data on any conceivable subject available at our fingertips, organizations globally are developing strategies to leverage this growing data volume to enhance business success.

Computer model sets new precedent in drug discovery

November 19, 2014 8:52 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Videos | Comments

A major challenge faced by the pharmaceutical industry has been how to rationally design and select protein molecules to create effective biologic drug therapies while reducing unintended side effects—a challenge that has largely been addressed through costly guess–and–check experiments. Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. offer a new approach.

Black hole loses its appetite for gassy cloud

November 19, 2014 8:22 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

In a showdown of black hole versus G2—a cloud of gas and dust—it looks like G2 won. Recent research shows that G2 came within 30 billion km of the super-massive black hole at the center of our galaxy, yet managed to escape from the gravitational pull of the black hole.

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