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Building a nanolaser using a single atomic sheet

March 25, 2015 12:33 pm | by Jennifer Langston, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Univ. of Washington scientists have built a new nanometer-sized laser that is energy efficient, easy to build and compatible with existing electronics. Lasers play essential roles in countless technologies, from medical therapies to metal cutters to electronic gadgets. But to meet modern needs in computation, communications, imaging and sensing, scientists are striving to create ever-smaller laser systems that also consume less energy.

Manufacturing process could yield better solar cells, faster chips

March 25, 2015 10:57 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | Videos | Comments

Computer chips, solar cells and other electronic devices have traditionally been based on silicon, the most famous of the semiconductors, that special class of materials whose unique electronic properties can be manipulated to turn electricity on and off the way faucets control the flow of water. There are other semiconductors. Gallium arsenide is one such material and it has certain technical advantages over silicon.

Researchers find promising new biomarkers for concussion

March 25, 2015 10:50 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

By looking at the molecular aftermath of concussion in an unusual way, a team of researchers at Brown Univ. and the Lifespan health system has developed a candidate panel of blood biomarkers that can accurately signal mild traumatic brain injury within hours using standard, widely available lab arrays. The results appear in the Journal of Neurotrauma.

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Carbon nanotube fibers make superior links to brain

March 25, 2015 10:33 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Carbon nanotube fibers invented at Rice Univ. may provide a way to communicate directly with the brain. The fibers have proven superior to metal electrodes for deep brain stimulation and to read signals from a neuronal network. Because they provide a two-way connection, they show promise for treating patients with neurological disorders while monitoring the real-time response of neural circuits in areas that control movement and mood.

Best look yet at “warm dense matter” at cores of giant planets

March 25, 2015 8:30 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In an experiment at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, scientists precisely measured the temperature and structure of aluminum as it transitions into a superhot, highly compressed concoction known as “warm dense matter.” Warm dense matter is the stuff believed to be at the cores of giant gas planets in our solar system and some of the newly observed “exoplanets” that orbit distant suns.

Turn the light on

March 25, 2015 8:06 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Videos | Comments

In the on-going search for a better understanding of how the brain and central nervous system develop, a potentially powerful new tool could soon be available. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have discovered a light-sensitive opsin protein that plays a surprising and possibly critical role in neuron maturation and circuit formation.

“Virtual nose” may reduce simulator sickness in video games

March 25, 2015 7:50 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Virtual reality games often cause simulator sickness, but new research findings point to a potential strategy to ease the affliction. Various physiological systems govern the onset of simulator sickness: a person's overall sense of touch and position, or the somatosensory system; liquid-filled tubes in the ear called the vestibular system; and the oculumotor system, or muscles that control eye movements.

New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

March 25, 2015 7:41 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

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Artificial hand responds to sensitively thanks to muscles made from smart metal wires

March 24, 2015 3:52 pm | by Saarland University | News | Comments

Engineers have taken a leaf out of nature's book by equipping an artificial hand with muscles made from shape-memory wire. The new technology enables the fabrication of flexible and lightweight robot hands for industrial applications and novel prosthetic devices. 

Physicists solve low-temperature magnetic mystery

March 24, 2015 3:44 pm | by University of Connecticut | News | Comments

Researchers have made an experimental breakthrough in explaining a rare property of an exotic magnetic material, potentially opening a path to a host of new technologies.

Milk may be good for your brain

March 24, 2015 10:30 am | by University of Kansas Medical Center | News | Comments

New research conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center has found a correlation between milk consumption and the levels of a naturally-occurring antioxidant called glutathione in the brain in older, healthy adults.

Searching for traces in the atmosphere

March 24, 2015 10:27 am | by SWISS FEDERAL LABORATORIES FOR MATERIALS SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (EMPA) | News | Comments

The latest generation of halogenated coolants is a big step forward: these substances decay more quickly in the atmosphere hence their lifetimes are considerably shorter. That is why they do not add nearly as much to the greenhouse gas effect as their stable predecessors. 

Building shape inspires new material discovery

March 24, 2015 10:20 am | by Australian National University | News | Comments

Physicists inspired by the radical shape of a Canberra building have created a new type of material which enables scientists to put a perfect bend in light. The creation of a so-called topological insulator could transform the telecommunications industry's drive to build an improved computer chip using light.

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Research suggest solar system may have once harbored super-Earths

March 23, 2015 4:22 pm | by Kimm Fesenmaier, Caltech | News | Comments

Long before Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars formed, it seems that the inner solar system may have harbored a number of super-Earths, planets larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune. If so, those planets are long gone, broken up and fallen into the sun billions of years ago largely due to a great inward-and-then-outward journey that Jupiter made early in the solar system's history.

New technique could bring quality-control tool for nanocomposites

March 23, 2015 4:10 pm | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Layered nanocomposites containing tiny structures mixed into a polymer matrix are gaining commercial use, but their complex nature can hide defects that affect performance. Now researchers have developed a system capable of detecting such defects using a "Kelvin probe" scanning method with an atomic force microscope. The ability to look below the surface of nanocomposites represents a potential new quality-control tool for industry. 

Catching and releasing tiny molecules

March 23, 2015 1:47 pm | by Paul Karoff, Harvard Univ. | News | Comments

Employing an ingenious microfluidic design that combines chemical and mechanical properties, a team of Harvard Univ. scientists has demonstrated a new way of detecting and extracting biomolecules from fluid mixtures. The approach requires fewer steps, uses less energy, and achieves better performance than several techniques currently in use and could lead to better technologies for medical diagnostics and chemical purification.

Genomewide screen of learning in zebrafish identifies enzyme important in neural circuit

March 23, 2015 11:37 am | by Karen Kreeger, Univ. of Pennsylvania | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Pennsylvania describe the first set of genes important in learning in a zebrafish model in Neuron. Using in-depth analysis of one of the genes, the team has revealed an important signaling pathway. According to the researchers, the proteins in this pathway could provide new insights into the development of novel pharmacological targets.

Have researchers discovered the sound of stars?

March 23, 2015 10:32 am | by David Garner, Senior Press Officer, Univ. of York | News | Comments

A chance discovery by a team of researchers, including a Univ. of York scientist, has provided experimental evidence that stars may generate sound. The study of fluids in motion goes back to the Egyptians, so it isn’t often that new discoveries are made. However when examining the interaction of an ultra-intense laser with a plasma target, the team observed something unexpected.

Even at a molecular level, taking it slow helps to cope with stress

March 23, 2015 10:08 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley, scientists have identified a new molecular pathway critical to aging, and confirmed that the process can be manipulated to help make old blood like new again. The researchers found that blood stem cells’ ability to repair damage caused by inappropriate protein folding in the mitochondria, a cell’s energy station, is critical to their survival and regenerative capacity.

New membranes deliver clean water more efficiently

March 23, 2015 8:31 am | by Univ. of Melbourne | News | Comments

Researchers from the Melbourne School of Engineering at the Univ. of Melbourne, in conjunction with CSIRO, have developed new membranes or microfilters that will result in clean water in a much more energy-efficient manner. Published in Advanced Materials, the new membranes will supply clean water for use in desalination and water purification applications.

Squid-inspired invisibility stickers to protect soldiers

March 23, 2015 8:21 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

Squid are the ultimate camouflage artists, blending almost flawlessly with their backgrounds so that unsuspecting prey can't detect them. Using a protein that's key to this process, scientists have designed "invisibility stickers" that could one day help soldiers disguise themselves, even when sought by enemies with tough-to-fool infrared cameras.

Twisted light increases efficiency of quantum cryptography systems

March 23, 2015 8:03 am | by Leonor Sierra, Univ. of Rochester | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester and their collaborators have developed a way to transfer 2.05 bits per photon by using “twisted light.” This remarkable achievement is possible because the researchers used the orbital angular momentum of the photons to encode information, rather than the more commonly used polarization of light.

Processing tech converts packing peanuts to battery components

March 23, 2015 7:53 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to convert waste packing peanuts into high-performance carbon electrodes for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that outperform conventional graphite electrodes, representing an environmentally friendly approach to reuse the waste.

FDA approves genetically engineered potatoes, apples

March 20, 2015 2:06 pm | by Mary Clare Jalonick And Keith Ridler, Associated Press | News | Comments

Potatoes that won't bruise and apples that won't brown are a step closer to U.S. grocery store aisles. The federal Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the genetically engineered foods, saying they are "as safe and nutritious as their conventional counterparts."

Self-powered sensors that communicate could warn of bridge, building defects

March 20, 2015 10:28 am | by Tom Oswald, Media Communications, Michigan State Univ. | News | Comments

Imagine a bridge or a dam that could sense a structural defect before it happens, diagnose what the problem will be and alert the authorities before something bad happens. Three Michigan State Univ. researchers are developing a new technology known as substrate computing. This will allow sensing, communication and diagnostic computing, all within the substrate of a structure, using energy harvested from the structure itself.

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