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Many plastics labeled “biodegradable” don’t break down as expected

March 18, 2015 1:43 pm | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Plastic products advertised as biodegradable have recently emerged, but they sound almost too good to be true. Scientists have now found out that, at least for now, consumers have good reason to doubt these claims. In a new study appearing in Environmental Science & Technology, plastics designed to degrade didn’t break down any faster than their more conventional counterparts.

New optical materials break digital connectivity barriers

March 18, 2015 12:03 pm | by George Hunka, Tel Aviv Univ. | News | Comments

From computers, tablets and smartphones to cars, homes and public transportation, our world is more digitally connected every day. The technology required to support the exchange of massive quantities of data is critical. That's why scientists and engineers are intent on developing faster computing units capable of supporting much larger amounts of data transfer and data processing.

Improved method for coating gold nanorods

March 18, 2015 11:55 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have fine-tuned a technique for coating gold nanorods with silica shells, allowing engineers to create large quantities of the nanorods and giving them more control over the thickness of the shell. Gold nanorods are being investigated for use in a wide variety of biomedical applications, and this advance paves the way for more stable gold nanorods and for chemically functionalizing the surface of the shells.

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Cool process to make better graphene

March 18, 2015 8:05 am | by Ker Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A new technique invented at Caltech to produce graphene at room temperature could help pave the way for commercially feasible graphene-based solar cells and LEDs, large-panel displays and flexible electronics. With the new technique, researchers can grow large sheets of electronic-grade graphene in much less time and at much lower temperatures.

A call to change recycling standards as 3D printing expands

March 17, 2015 4:31 pm | by Allison Mills, Michigan Technological Univ. | News | Comments

The 3D printing revolution has changed the way we think about plastics. Everything from children’s toys to office supplies to high-value laboratory equipment can be printed. The potential savings of producing goods at the household- and lab-scale is remarkable, especially when producers use old prints and recycle them.

Textured rubber that grips slick, icy surfaces

March 17, 2015 4:08 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Winter storms dumped records amounts of snow on the East Coast this February, leaving treacherous, icy sidewalks and roads in their wake. Now researchers from Canada are developing new methods to mass-produce a material that may help pedestrians get a better grip on slippery surfaces. The material, which is made up of glass fibers embedded in a compliant rubber, could one day be used in the soles of slip-resistant winter boots.

A better way of scrubbing carbon dioxide

March 17, 2015 12:46 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A means by which the removal of carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants might one day be done far more efficiently and at far lower costs than today has been discovered by a team of researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. By appending a diamine molecule to the sponge-like solid materials known as MOFs, the researchers were able to more than triple the carbon dioxide-scrubbing capacity of the MOFs.

Graphene membrane could lead to better fuel cells, water filters

March 17, 2015 12:32 pm | by Walt Miss, Penn State Univ. | Videos | Comments

An atomically thin membrane with microscopically small holes may prove to be the basis for future hydrogen fuel cells, water filtering and desalination membranes, according to a group of 15 theorists and experimentalists. The team tested the possibility of using graphene as a separation membrane in water and found that naturally occurring defects allowed hydrogen protons to cross the barrier at unprecedented speeds.

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Nanospheres cooled with light to explore the limits of quantum physics

March 17, 2015 10:19 am | by Univ. College London | News | Comments

A team of scientists at Univ. College London has developed a new technology which could one day create quantum phenomena in objects far larger than any achieved so far. The team successfully suspended glass particles 400 nm across in a vacuum using an electric field, then used lasers to cool them to within a few degrees of absolute zero. These are the key prerequisites for making an object behave according to quantum principles.

Clean energy future

March 17, 2015 8:16 am | by Deborah Smith, Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Univ. of New South Wales Australia scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of the clean energy fuel, hydrogen. The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly.

New insights into radiation damage evolution

March 16, 2015 3:02 pm | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Two reports from Los Alamos National Laboratory in Scientific Reports are helping crack the code of how certain materials respond in the highly damaging radiation environments within a nuclear reactor. The goal of these efforts is to understand at an atomistic level just how materials develop defects during irradiation, and how those defects evolve to determine the ultimate fate of the material.

A better method for making perovskite solar cells

March 16, 2015 2:33 pm | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Research led by a Brown Univ. graduate student has revealed a new way to make light-absorbing perovskite films for use in solar cells. The new method involves a room-temperature solvent bath to create perovskite crystals, rather than the blast of heat used in current crystallization methods.

Symmetry matters in graphene growth

March 16, 2015 2:23 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

What lies beneath growing islands of graphene is important to its properties, according to a new study led by Rice Univ. Scientists at Rice analyzed patterns of graphene grown in a furnace via chemical vapor deposition. They discovered that the geometric relationship between graphene and the substrate, the underlying material on which carbon assembles atom by atom, determines how the island shapes emerge.

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Nano piano’s lullaby could mean storage breakthrough

March 16, 2015 10:52 am | by William Bowman, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated the first-ever recording of optically encoded audio onto a non-magnetic plasmonic nanostructure, opening the door to multiple uses in informational processing and archival storage.

New technology may double radio frequency data capacity

March 13, 2015 3:34 pm | by Holy Evarts, Columbia Univ. School of Engineering and Applied Science | News | Comments

A team of Columbia Engineering researchers has invented a technology, full-duplex radio integrated circuits (ICs), that can be implemented in nanoscale CMOS to enable simultaneous transmission and reception at the same frequency in a wireless radio. Up to now, this has been thought to be impossible: transmitters and receivers either work at different times or at the same time but at different frequencies.

Researchers address mysteries behind anti-wear motor oil additive

March 13, 2015 1:41 pm | by Evan Lerner, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

The pistons in your car engine rub up against their cylinder walls thousands of times a minute; without lubrication in the form of motor oil, they and other parts of the engine would quickly wear away, causing engine failure. Motor oil contains chemical additives that extend how long engines can run without failure, but, despite decades of ubiquity, how such additives actually work to prevent this damage have remained a mystery.

Sweet nanoparticles target stroke

March 13, 2015 11:42 am | by Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology | News | Comments

Materials resulting from chemical bonding of glucosamine, a type of sugar, with fullerenes, kind of nanoparticles known as buckyballs, might help to reduce cell damage and inflammation occurring after stroke. A team from the Max Planck Institute in Germany has tested this on mice, opening the door to potential new drugs for the cerebrovascular accident.

Researchers discover new catalysts to generate renewable fuels

March 13, 2015 11:17 am | by Brita Bell, Communications Office, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

For the last seven years, Yale Univ. graduate student Staff Sheehan has been working on splitting water. Now, a paper published in Nature Communications reveals how one of the methods he and his team have uncovered for this process, using a specific iridium species as a water oxidation catalyst, could aid in the development of renewable fuels.

New way to measure superconducting fluctuations

March 13, 2015 8:27 am | by Louise Lerner, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

A study published by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory provides theoretical evidence for a new effect that may lead to a way of measuring the exact temperature at which superconductivity kicks in and shed light on the poorly understood properties of superconducting materials above this temperature.

Magnetic brain stimulation

March 13, 2015 7:54 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a method to stimulate brain tissue using external magnetic fields and injected magnetic nanoparticles: a technique allowing direct stimulation of neurons, which could be an effective treatment for a variety of neurological diseases, without the need for implants or external connections.

Researchers manipulate gold-coated nanoparticles with lasers

March 12, 2015 11:56 am | by Ludwig Maximillian Univ. of Munich | News | Comments

Tiny glass nanospheres coated on one side with a very fine gold film: Ludwig Maximillian Univ. of Munich scientists have shown that particles modified in this way can be moved about with high precision using laser beams, creating an optically controlled micro-elevator.

Engineers create chameleon-like artificial “skin”

March 12, 2015 11:39 am | by Jack Hanley, The Optical Society | News | Comments

Borrowing a trick from nature, engineers from the Univ. of California at Berkeley have created an incredibly thin, chameleon-like material that can be made to change color by simply applying a minute amount of force. This new material-of-many-colors offers intriguing possibilities for an entirely new class of display technologies, color-shifting camouflage and sensors.

Optical fibers light the way for brain-like computing

March 12, 2015 11:17 am | by Glenn Harris, Univ. of Southampton | News | Comments

Computers that function like the human brain could soon become a reality thanks to new research using optical fibers made of specialty glass. The research, published in Advanced Optical Materials, has the potential to allow faster and smarter optical computers capable of learning and evolving.

Graphene: A new tool for fighting cavities and gum disease?

March 12, 2015 10:07 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in the world. Now scientists have discovered that a material called graphene oxide is effective at eliminating these bacteria, some of which have developed antibiotic resistance. They report the findings in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.

Engineers solve mystery of dancing droplets

March 12, 2015 8:17 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

A puzzling observation, pursued through hundreds of experiments, has led Stanford Univ. researchers to a simple yet profound discovery: Under certain circumstances, droplets of fluid will move like performers in a dance choreographed by molecular physics.

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