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The Lead

Slinky lookalike “hyperlens” helps us see tiny objects

May 22, 2015 10:27 am | by Cory Nealon, Univ. at Buffalo | News | Comments

It looks like a Slinky suspended in motion. Yet this photonics advancement, called a metamaterial hyperlens, doesn’t climb down stairs. Instead, it improves our ability to see tiny objects. The hyperlens may someday help detect some of the most lethal forms of cancer.

Robot masters new skills through trial-and-error

May 22, 2015 10:04 am | by Sarah Yang, Univ. of California, Berkeley | Videos | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley researchers have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn...

Physicists develop efficient method of signal transmission from nanocomponents

May 22, 2015 9:44 am | by Univ. of Basel | News | Comments

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of...

Watching a protein “quake”

May 22, 2015 8:06 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists, for the first time, have precisely measured a protein’s natural “knee-jerk” reaction...

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Freshly squeezed vaccines

May 22, 2015 7:23 am | by Kevin Leonardi, Koch Institute | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have shown that they can use a microfluidic cell-squeezing device to introduce specific antigens inside the immune system’s B cells, providing a new approach to developing and implementing antigen-presenting cell vaccines.

Hubble observes one-of-a-kind star nicknamed “Nasty”

May 21, 2015 3:52 pm | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | News | Comments

Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have uncovered surprising new clues about a hefty, rapidly aging star whose behavior has never been seen before in our Milky Way galaxy. In fact, the star is so weird that astronomers have nicknamed it "Nasty 1," a play on its catalog name of NaSt1. The star may represent a brief transitory stage in the evolution of extremely massive stars.

Mission possible: This device will self-destruct when heated

May 21, 2015 3:06 pm | by Liz Ahlberg, Physical Sciences Editor, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign | Videos | Comments

Where do electronics go when they die? Most devices are laid to eternal rest in landfills. But what if they just dissolved away, or broke down to their molecular components so that the material could be recycled? Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed heat-triggered self-destructing electronic devices, a step toward greatly reducing electronic waste and boosting sustainability in device manufacturing.

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Finding the fluffiest galaxies

May 21, 2015 11:34 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

A fluffy galaxy is hard to find, but that didn’t stop a Yale Univ. astronomer and an international research team from identifying the fluffiest galaxies in the universe. These “ultra-diffuse” galaxies are located about 300 million light years from Earth, in the Coma cluster of galaxies. What makes them fluffy? It is this: Although they are as wide as our own Milky Way galaxy, they harbor only 1% as many stars.

Survey on academic diversity shows little progress

May 21, 2015 10:49 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Despite efforts over decades to diversify the ranks of university faculty, only 4% of chemistry professorships at 50 leading U.S. colleges and universities are held by underrepresented minorities. That key finding and others related to diversity in academia came from a new survey conducted by a program called Open Chemistry Collaborative in Diversity Equity (OXIDE) in partnership with Chemical & Engineering News.

New class of magnets could energize the world

May 21, 2015 10:30 am | by Temple Univ. | News | Comments

A new class of magnets that expand their volume when placed in a magnetic field and generate negligible amounts of wasteful heat during energy harvesting, has been discovered by researchers at Temple Univ. and the Univ. of Maryland. This transformative breakthrough has the potential to not only displace existing technologies but create altogether new applications due to the unusual combination of magnetic properties.

Technology could change future wireless communications

May 21, 2015 10:22 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Radio systems, such as mobile phones and wireless Internet connections, have become an integral part of modern life. However, today's devices use twice as much of the radio spectrum as is necessary. New technology is being developed that could fundamentally change radio design and could increase data rates and network capacity, reduce power consumption, create cheaper devices and enable global roaming.

Designing microwave devices from scratch

May 21, 2015 10:03 am | by Umea Univ. | News | Comments

For decades, the fundamental design of microwave devices, such as antennas for mobile communication and waveguides used in radars, has essentially relied on the inventiveness of a professional designer. Computer simulations are usually used only in final design stages to fine-tune details in the design.

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Shape-shifting plastic

May 21, 2015 8:18 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Not all plastics are created equal. Malleable thermoplastics can be easily melted and reused in products such as food containers. Other plastics, called thermosets, are essentially stuck in their final form because of cross-linking chemical bonds that give them their strength for applications such as golf balls and car tires.

Defects can “Hulk-up” materials

May 21, 2015 8:09 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In the story of the Marvel Universe superhero known as the Hulk, exposure to gamma radiation transforms scientist Bruce Banner into a far more powerful version of himself. In a study at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, exposure to alpha-particle radiation has been shown to transform certain thermoelectric materials into far more powerful versions of themselves.

Astronomers observe supernova colliding with its companion star

May 21, 2015 7:51 am | by Allie Akmal, Caltech | News | Comments

Type Ia supernovae, one of the most dazzling phenomena in the universe, are produced when small dense stars called white dwarfs explode with ferocious intensity. At their peak, these supernovae can outshine an entire galaxy. Although thousands of supernovae of this kind were found in the last decades, the process by which a white dwarf becomes one has been unclear.

Device captures rare circulating tumor cell clusters

May 21, 2015 7:41 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

The latest version of a microfluidic device for capturing rare circulating tumor cells is the first designed specifically to capture clusters of two or more cells, rather than single cells. The new device, called the Cluster-Chip, was developed by the same Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team that created previous microchip-based devices.

How to make continuous rolls of graphene

May 21, 2015 7:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Graphene is a material with a host of potential applications, including in flexible light sources, solar panels that could be integrated into windows and membranes to desalinate and purify water. But all these possible uses face the same big hurdle: the need for a scalable and cost-effective method for continuous manufacturing of graphene films.

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Printing 3-D graphene structures for tissue engineering

May 20, 2015 8:15 am | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Ever since single-layer graphene burst onto the science scene in 2004, the possibilities for the promising material have seemed nearly endless. With its high electrical conductivity, ability to store energy, and ultra-strong and lightweight structure, graphene has potential for many applications in electronics, energy, the environment and even medicine.

Cancer drugs may hold key to treating Down syndrome

May 20, 2015 7:51 am | by Ian Demsky, Univ. of Michigan | Videos | Comments

A class of FDA-approved cancer drugs may be able to prevent problems with brain cell development associated with disorders including Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome, researchers at the Univ. of Michigan Life Sciences Institute have found. The researchers' proof-of-concept study using fruit fly models of brain dysfunction was published in eLife.

Seashell strength inspires stress tests

May 20, 2015 7:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Mollusks got it right. They have soft innards, but their complex exteriors are engineered to protect them in harsh conditions. Engineers at the Indian Institute of Science and Rice Univ. are beginning to understand why. By modeling the average mollusk’s mobile habitat, they are learning how shells stand up to extraordinary pressures at the bottom of the sea.

Taking control of light emission

May 20, 2015 7:31 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers have found a way to couple the properties of different 2-D materials to provide an exceptional degree of control over light waves. They say this has the potential to lead to new kinds of light detection, thermal management systems and high-resolution imaging devices.

Laser technique for self-assembly of nanostructures

May 19, 2015 8:38 am | by Swinburne Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers from Swinburne Univ. of Technology and the Univ. of Science and Technology of China have developed a low-cost technique that holds promise for a range of scientific and technological applications. They have combined laser printing and capillary force to build complex, self-assembling microstructures using a technique called laser printing capillary-assisted self-assembly (LPCS).

Study backs seaweed’s carbon capture potential

May 19, 2015 8:30 am | by Univ. of Technology, Sydney | News | Comments

There are great hopes for the potential of coastal plants and seaweeds to store carbon and help counter the effects of climate change and a new study is backing that potential. Scientists have carried out the first investigation of how a diverse range of coastal plants and seaweed can contribute to "blue carbon" stocks, the carbon in leaves, sediments and roots that's naturally captured, or sequestered, by plants in coastal habitats.

Bats sonar secrets could make for better drones

May 19, 2015 8:21 am | by Virginia Tech | Videos | Comments

The U.S. Navy has found that it pays to listen to Rolf Mueller carry on about his bat research. From unmanned aerial systems to undersea communications, practical applications flow from the team headed by Mueller, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

A foundation for quantum computing

May 19, 2015 8:01 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Quantum computers are in theory capable of simulating the interactions of molecules at a level of detail far beyond the capabilities of even the largest supercomputers today. Such simulations could revolutionize chemistry, biology and materials science, but the development of quantum computers has been limited by the ability to increase the number of quantum bits, or qubits, that encode, store and access large amounts of data.

Designing better medical implants

May 19, 2015 7:51 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biomedical devices that can be implanted in the body for drug delivery, tissue engineering or sensing can help improve treatment for many diseases. However, such devices are often susceptible to attack by the immune system, which can render them useless. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has come up with a way to reduce that immune-system rejection.

Computing at the speed of light

May 18, 2015 11:14 am | by Vincent Horiuchi, Univ. of Utah | News | Comments

Engineers have taken a step forward in creating the next generation of computers and mobile devices capable of speeds millions of times faster than current machines. The Utah engineers have developed an ultracompact beamsplitter for dividing light waves into two separate channels of information. The device brings researchers closer to producing silicon photonic chips that compute and shuttle data with light instead of electrons.

How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

May 18, 2015 10:57 am | by Mark Shwartz, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

Stanford Univ. scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane. In a new study, the Stanford team demonstrates for the first time how methanogens obtain electrons from solid surfaces. The discovery could help scientists design electrodes for microbial "factories" that produce methane gas and other compounds sustainably.

New options for spintronic devices

May 18, 2015 10:46 am | by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin | News | Comments

Scientists from Paris and Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin have been able to switch ferromagnetic domains on and off with low voltage in a structure made of two different ferroic materials. The switching works slightly above room temperature. Their results, which are published online in Scientific Reports, might inspire future applications in low-power spintronics, for instance for fast and efficient data storage.

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