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Optical device could enhance optical information processing, computers

April 7, 2014 7:45 am | by Jo Seltzer, Washington Univ., St. Louis | News | Comments

At St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, a section of the dome called the Whispering Gallery makes a whisper audible from the other side of the dome as a result of the way sound waves travel around the curved surface. Researchers at Washington Univ. in St. Louis have used the same phenomenon to build an optical device that may lead to new and more powerful computers that run faster and cooler.

Self-assembled silver superlattices create molecular machines

April 7, 2014 7:34 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A combined computational and experimental study of self-assembled silver-based structures known as superlattices has revealed an unusual and unexpected behavior: arrays of gear-like molecular-scale machines that rotate in unison when pressure is applied to them.

Experts decode germs' DNA to fight food poisoning

April 6, 2014 8:21 am | by Lauran Neergaard - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Chances are you've heard of mapping genes to diagnose rare diseases, predict your risk of cancer and tell your ancestry. But to uncover food poisonings? The nation's disease detectives are beginning a program to try to outsmart outbreaks by routinely decoding the DNA of potentially deadly bacteria and viruses.

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Algorithm can help robots determine orientation of objects

April 4, 2014 3:27 pm | News | Comments

Researchers are working on a new algorithm that could make re-identification much easier for computers by identifying the major orientations in 3-D scenes. The same algorithm could also simplify the problem of scene understanding, one of the central challenges in computer vision research.  

Obama signs cancer research bill in memory of girl

April 4, 2014 9:37 am | by Associated Press | News | Comments

A 10-year-old girl who died of brain cancer is leaving a legacy for other sick children in a new law signed by President Barack Obama. The legislation calls for eliminating taxpayer funding for political conventions and redirecting it to pediatric research at the National Institutes of Health.

Researchers probe the next generation of 2-D material

April 4, 2014 9:34 am | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

As the properties and applications of graphene continue to be explored in laboratories all over the world, a growing number of researchers are looking beyond the one-atom-thick layer of carbon for alternative materials that exhibit similarly captivating properties.

NIST launches new U.S. time standard

April 4, 2014 9:28 am | by NIST | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has officially launched a new atomic clock, called NIST-F2, to serve as a new U.S. civilian time and frequency standard, along with the current NIST-F1 standard.

Astronomers challenge current cosmological model

April 3, 2014 9:30 am | by Liverpool John Moores University | News | Comments

Astronomers are challenging the view that the currently preferred cosmological model of the Universe is correct. They are comparing recent measurements of the cosmic background radiation and galaxy clusters in two independent studies.            

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Americans used more energy in 2013

April 3, 2014 8:47 am | by Anne M. Stark, LLN | News | Comments

Americans used more renewable, fossil and even nuclear energy in 2013, according to the most recent energy flow charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.                                   

NASA cuts Russian ties, except on ISS

April 3, 2014 8:36 am | by Associated Press, Alicia Chang | News | Comments

After insisting that space relations wouldn't be altered by earthly politics, NASA announced it was severing ties with Russia except for the International Space Station. NASA employees can't travel to Russia or host visitors until further notice. They're also barred from emailing or holding teleconferences with their Russian counterparts because of Russia's actions in Ukraine, according to a memo sent to workers.

Strain can alter materials’ properties

April 2, 2014 9:18 am | by David Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

In the ongoing search for new materials for fuel cells, batteries, photovoltaics, separation membranes, and electronic devices, one newer approach involves applying and managing stresses within known materials to give them dramatically different properties. 

Erasing a genetic mutation

March 31, 2014 9:15 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Using a new gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single genetic mutation. The findings offer the first evidence that this gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR, can reverse disease symptoms in living animals.

Flipping the switch on magnetism in strontium titanate

March 31, 2014 8:09 am | by Nancy Ambrosiano, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

Interest in oxide-based semiconductor electronics has exploded in recent years, fueled largely by the ability to grow atomically precise layers of various oxide materials. One of the most important materials in this burgeoning field is strontium titanate, a nominally nonmagnetic wide-bandgap semiconductor, and researchers have found a way to magnetize this material using light, an effect that persists for hours at a time.

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Researchers uncover secrets of a mollusk’s bioceramic armor

March 31, 2014 7:43 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The shells of a sea creature, the mollusk Placuna placenta, are not only exceptionally tough, but also clear enough to read through. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have analyzed these shells to determine exactly why they are so resistant to penetration and damage; even though they are 99% calcite, a weak, brittle mineral.

Heat-conducting polymer cools hot electronic devices at 200 C

March 31, 2014 7:27 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Polymer materials are usually thermal insulators. But by harnessing an electropolymerization process to produce aligned arrays of polymer nanofibers, researchers have developed a thermal interface material able to conduct heat 20 times better than the original polymer. The modified material can reliably operate at temperatures of up to 200 C.

A new angle on controlling light

March 28, 2014 7:43 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Light waves can be defined by three fundamental characteristics: their color (or wavelength), polarization and direction. While it has long been possible to selectively filter light according to its color or polarization, selectivity based on the direction of propagation has remained elusive. Until now.

Robotic arm probes chemistry of 3-D objects by mass spectrometry

March 27, 2014 11:49 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

When life on Earth was first getting started, simple molecules bonded together into the precursors of modern genetic material. A catalyst would’ve been needed, but enzymes had not yet evolved. One theory is that the catalytic minerals on a meteorite’s surface could have jump-started life’s first chemical reactions. But scientists need a way to directly analyze these rough, irregularly shaped surfaces.

R&D Chat: Sustainability Built In

March 27, 2014 11:34 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Videos | Comments

What research lab doesn’t care about a good return on investment for their spending? The last five years has marked an increase in the level of scrutiny applied to projects to assure maximum ROI. The early design process demands greater economic analysis of lifecycle costs to reduce operating and energy costs and optimize environmental performance.

Engineered bacteria produce biofuel alternative for high-energy rocket fuel

March 27, 2014 8:17 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Researchers have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications. With improvements in process efficiency, the biofuel could supplement limited supplies of petroleum-based JP-10, and might also facilitate development of a new generation of more powerful engines.

Engineer builds instrument to study effects of genes, environment on plant traits

March 26, 2014 8:16 am | by Mike Krapfl, News Service, Iowa State Univ. | News | Comments

Let’s say plant scientists want to develop new lines of corn that will better tolerate long stretches of hot, dry weather. How can they precisely assess the performance of those new plants in different environmental conditions? Field tests can provide some answers. Greenhouse tests can provide some more. But how can plant scientists get a true picture of a plant’s growth and traits under a variety of controlled environmental conditions?

Scientists track 3-D nanoscale changes in rechargeable battery material during operation

March 26, 2014 8:03 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have made the first 3-D observations of how the structure of a lithium-ion battery anode evolves at the nanoscale in a real battery cell as it discharges and recharges. The details of this research, described in a paper published in Angewandte Chemie, could point to new ways to engineer battery materials to increase the capacity and lifetime of rechargeable batteries.

New technique for identifying gene-enhancers

March 25, 2014 11:28 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

An international team led by researchers has developed a new technique for identifying gene enhancers in the genomes of humans and other mammals. Called SIF-seq, for site-specific integration fluorescence-activated cell sorting followed by sequencing, this new technique complements existing genomic tools, such as ChIP-seq (chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing), and offers some additional benefits.

Robot builds on insights into Atlantic razor clam dynamics

March 25, 2014 11:10 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

The Atlantic razor clam uses very little energy to burrow into undersea soil at high speed. Now a detailed insight into how the animal digs has led to the development of a robotic clam that can perform the same trick. The device, known as “RoboClam,” could be used to dig itself into the ground to bury anchors or destroy underwater mines.

Lessons offered by emerging carbon trading markets

March 21, 2014 10:31 am | News | Comments

Although markets for trading carbon emission credits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions have stalled in U.S. federal policy-making, carbon markets are emerging at the state level within the U.S. and around the world, teaching us more about what does and doesn't work.

Key link between tumors and healthy tissue identified

March 21, 2014 8:43 am | by Bill Hathaway, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

The delicate balance between development of normal tissue and tumors depends in part upon a key molecular switch within cells, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in Science. Their findings reveal a potential mechanism used by cancer cells to recruit healthy cells to promote tumor growth and suggest new strategies to generate healthy tissue.

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