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The Lead

QR codes engineered into cybersecurity protection

February 27, 2015 10:03 am | by Colin Poitras, UConn | News | Comments

QR, or quick response, codes have been used to convey information about everything from cereals to cars and new homes. But, Univ. of Connecticut researchers think the codes have a greater potential: protecting national security. Using advanced 3-D optical imaging and extremely low light photon counting encryption the team has taken a QR code and transformed it into a high-end cybersecurity application.

New filter could advance terahertz data transmission

February 27, 2015 9:53 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Univ. of Utah engineers have discovered a new approach for designing filters capable of...

Research signals big future for quantum radar

February 27, 2015 7:55 am | by David Garner, Univ. of York | News | Comments

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to...

Physicists find new form of quantum friction

February 26, 2015 11:40 am | by Ike Sweitlitz, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Physicists at Yale Univ. have observed a new form of quantum friction that could serve as a...

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Using “fuzzy logic” to optimize hybrid solar/battery systems

February 26, 2015 11:11 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

How did fuzzy logic help a group of researchers in Tunisia and Algeria create an ideal photovoltaic system that obeys the supply-and-demand principle and its delicate balance? In the Journal of Renewable & Sustainable Energy, the group describes a new sizing system of a solar array and a battery in a standalone photovoltaic system that is based on fuzzy logic.

Smartphones could tell consumers what's in food

February 26, 2015 9:09 am | by Mary Clare Jalonick, Associated Press | News | Comments

In the ever-complicated debate over labeling of genetically modified foods, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says he has an idea: use your smartphone. Vilsack told members of Congress on Wednesday that consumers could just use their phones to scan special bar codes or other symbols on food packages in the grocery store. All sorts of information could pop up, such as whether the food's ingredients include genetically modified organisms.

Optical nanoantennas set the stage for a NEMS lab-on-a-chip revolution

February 24, 2015 11:19 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Newly developed tiny antennas, likened to spotlights on the nanoscale, offer the potential to measure food safety, identify pollutants in the air and even quickly diagnose and treat cancer. The new antennas are cubic in shape. They do a better job than previous spherical ones at directing an ultra-narrow beam of light where it is needed, with little or no loss due to heating and scattering.

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Computational Model Reveals the Importance of Transitional Dynamics of “Memory Molecule” in Memory Formation

February 24, 2015 9:01 am | by Glen C. Rains | Articles | Comments

The dynamics of a molecule abundant in the synapse, Ca2+/Calmodulin dependent kinase type II (CaMKII), known as the “memory molecule”, are important in memory formation. Synapses are junctions connecting neurons and there’s increasing evidence they store memory when neurons are stimulated by the environment.

Fever alarm armband

February 23, 2015 11:28 am | by Univ. of Tokyo | News | Comments

Univ. of Tokyo researchers have developed a "fever alarm armband," a flexible, self-powered wearable device that sounds an alarm in case of high body temperature. The flexible organic components developed for this device are well-suited to wearable devices that continuously monitor vital signs including temperature and heart rate for applications in health care settings.

Radio chip for the Internet of things

February 23, 2015 7:46 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, the big theme was the “Internet of things”: the idea that everything in the human environment could be equipped with sensors and processors that can exchange data, helping with maintenance and the coordination of tasks. Realizing that vision, however, requires transmitters that are powerful enough to broadcast to devices dozens of yards away but energy-efficient enough to last for months.

Turning smartphones into personal, real-time pollution monitors

February 20, 2015 8:48 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As urban residents know, air quality is a big deal. When local pollution levels go up, the associated health risks also increase, especially for children and seniors. But air pollution varies widely over the course of a day and by location, even within the same city. Now scientists, reporting in Environmental Science & Technology, have used smartphone and sensing technology to better pinpoint where and when pollution is at its worst.

Fibers made by transforming materials

February 20, 2015 8:26 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Scientists have known how to draw thin fibers from bulk materials for decades. But a new approach to that old method, developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, could lead to a whole new way of making high-quality fiber-based electronic devices. The idea grew out of a long-term research effort to develop multifunctional fibers that incorporate different materials into a single long functional strand.

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Tool helps boost wireless channel frequencies, capacity

February 20, 2015 8:16 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Smartphones and tablets are everywhere, which is great for communications but a growing burden on wireless channels. Forecasted huge increases in mobile data traffic call for exponentially more channel capacity. Boosting bandwidth and capacity could speed downloads, improve service quality and enable new applications like the Internet of Things connecting a multitude of devices.

Perfect colors, captured with ultra-thin lens

February 20, 2015 7:50 am | by Caroline Perry, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Most lenses are, by definition, curved. After all, they are named for their resemblance to lentils, and a glass lens made flat is just a window with no special powers. But a new type of lens created at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences turns conventional optics on its head.

Engineers Measure Tsunami's Impact on Columbia River

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Engineers have completed one of the most precise evaluations yet about the impact of a major tsunami event on the Columbia River. They found what forces are most important in controlling water flow and what areas might be inundated.

Liability Laws in the Age of Self-driving Cars

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by Inside Science News Service, Joel Shurkin | News | Comments

Ninety percent of automobile accidents involve human error. If scientists succeed in producing computer-driven cars, responsibility may shift to programming errors. In that case, who sues whom? Who is liable?

HTTP Gets an Update

February 19, 2015 2:00 pm | by The Conversation, Peter Maynard | News | Comments

Hypertext Transfer Protocol, HTTP, is a key component of the World Wide Web. It is the communications layer through which web browsers request web pages from web servers and with which web servers respond with the contents of the page. Like much of the internet it’s been around for decades, but a recent announcement reveals that HTTP/2, the first major update in 15 years, is about to arrive.  

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Smarter multicore chips

February 18, 2015 7:33 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Computer chips’ clocks have stopped getting faster. To keep delivering performance improvements, chipmakers are instead giving chips more processing units, or cores, which can execute computations in parallel. But the ways in which a chip carves up computations can make a big difference to performance.

Building a more versatile frequency comb

February 17, 2015 7:25 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Frequency combs are the rulers of light. By counting a wavelength's many oscillations, they measure distance and time with extraordinary precision and speed. Since the discovery of optical frequency combs in the 1990s, many applications in metrology, spectroscopy and frequency synthesis have emerged.

Researchers develop algorithm to make simulation of ultra-fast processes possible

February 17, 2015 7:17 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When electronic states in materials are excited during dynamic processes, interesting phenomena such as electrical charge transfer can take place on quadrillionth-of-a-second, or femtosecond, timescales. Numerical simulations in real time provide the best way to study these processes, but such simulations can be extremely expensive.

Fiber-optic monitoring tools could help industry unlock geothermal energy

February 17, 2015 12:43 pm | by Scott Gordon, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison geoscientists and engineers are working with industry partners and the U.S. Dept. of Energy to develop a highly detailed monitoring system for geothermal wells. Man-made geothermal systems that emulate natural ones could, by some conservative estimates, produce a total of 100 gigawatts of cost-competitive electricity over the next 50 years.

THERMal analysis aids in energy efficiency

February 17, 2015 10:08 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

It’s a well-known fact that labs consume four times more energy per square foot than a typical office building. And while ventilation and plug loads account for much of this energy use, proper design and detailing of building envelopes can have a significant impact on the energy demands of lab buildings.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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