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Silicon-carbon electrodes snap, swell, don't pop

March 14, 2012 11:20 am | News | Comments

A study that examines a new type of silicon-carbon nanocomposite electrode reveals details of how they function and how repeated use could wear them down. The study also provides clues to why this material performs better than silicon alone.

Researchers send wireless message using elusive particles

March 14, 2012 11:05 am | News | Comments

A group of scientists led by researchers from the University of Rochester and North Carolina State University have, for the first time, sent a message using a beam of neutrinos—nearly massless particles that travel at almost the speed of light. The message was sent through 240 m of stone and said simply, "Neutrino."

Silk fibers kill anthrax, microbes in minutes

March 14, 2012 10:51 am | News | Comments

A simple, inexpensive dip-and-dry treatment can convert ordinary silk into a fabric that kills disease causing bacteria in minutes. This killer silk has the potential for use as make-shift curtains and other protective coating to protect homes and other buildings in the event of a terrorist attack with anthrax.


Molecular graphene heralds new era of 'designer electrons'

March 14, 2012 10:36 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have created the first-ever system of "designer electrons"—exotic variants of ordinary electrons with tunable properties that may ultimately lead to new types of materials and devices.

Scientists produce eye structures from human blood-derived stem cells

March 14, 2012 10:17 am | News | Comments

For the first time, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have made early retina structures containing proliferating neuroretinal progenitor cells using induced pluripotent stem cells derived from human blood. The retina structures showed the capacity to form layers of cells which possess the machinery that could allow them to communicate information.

Continuous drug manufacturing offers speed, lower costs

March 14, 2012 9:57 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Traditional drug manufacturing is a time-consuming process. Active pharmaceutical ingredients are synthesized in a chemical manufacturing plant and then shipped to another site, where they are converted into giant batches of pills. Including transport time between manufacturing plants, each batch can take weeks or months to produce. However, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Novartis launched a research effort to transform those procedures.

LCLS offers new method for examining membrane proteins

March 14, 2012 7:05 am | News | Comments

Experiments at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory's Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have shown a promising new way to collect data on membrane proteins, which serve as gateways in and out of cells. Researchers embedded tiny protein crystals in an oily paste that mimics the supportive environment of the cell membrane, and then hit them with a powerful X-ray laser to determine the protein's structure.

GM, NASA jointly developing robotic gloves for human use

March 14, 2012 6:27 am | News | Comments

General Motors (GM) and NASA are jointly developing a robotic glove that automotive workers and astronauts can wear to help do their respective jobs better while potentially reducing the risk of repetitive stress injuries.


Algae species explored for both biofuel source and pollution control

March 14, 2012 5:57 am | News | Comments

The tiny, plant-like Heterosigma akashiwo is too small to see with the naked eye, but the microscopic algae may pack a big environmental punch. University of Delaware researchers are studying whether the species can neutralize harmful smokestack emissions—and also serve as a source of eco-friendly biofuel.

All-inorganic nanocrystals boost infrared emission

March 14, 2012 5:27 am | News | Comments

New chemistry has been developed to integrate lead chalcogenide nanocrystals into continuous inorganic matrices of chalcogenide glasses. Inorganic capping, rather than conventional organic capping ligands, allows simple and low-temperature encapsulation of these nanocrystals into solution-cast infrared-transparent amorphous As 2 S 3 chalcogenide matrices.

Breakthrough promises to speed research in cancer epigenetics

March 14, 2012 4:50 am | News | Comments

Cancer is usually attributed to faulty genes, but growing evidence from the field of cancer epigenetics indicates a key role for the gene "silencing" proteins that stably turn genes off inside the cell nucleus. A new study from Rice University and Baylor College of Medicine promises to speed research in the field by rapidly identifying the genes that epigenetic proteins can target for silencing.

Guiding robot planes with hand gestures

March 14, 2012 4:00 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Aircraft-carrier crew use a set of standard hand gestures to guide planes on the carrier deck. But as robot planes are increasingly used for routine air missions, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on a system that would enable them to follow the same types of gestures.

Barrier to faster graphene devices identified, suppressed

March 13, 2012 12:23 pm | News | Comments

These days, graphene is the rock star of materials science, but it has an Achilles heel: It is exceptionally sensitive to its electrical environment. A team of Vanderbilt University physicists report that they have nailed down the source of the interference inhibiting the rapid flow of electrons through graphene-based devices and found a way to suppress it, allowing them to achieve record levels of room-temperature electron mobility.


Climate change skepticism stems from recession

March 13, 2012 11:45 am | News | Comments

In recent years, the American public has grown increasingly skeptical of the existence of man-made climate change. Although pundits and scholars have suggested several reasons for this trend, a new study by the University of Connecticut shows that the recent Great Recession has been a major factor.

Biologists find potential drug that speeds cellular recycling

March 13, 2012 9:53 am | News | Comments

A University of Michigan cell biologist and his colleagues have identified a potential drug that speeds up trash removal from the cell's recycling center, the lysosome. The finding suggests a new way to treat rare inherited metabolic disorders and common neurodegenerative diseases.

Youngsters tapped to make computers smarter

March 13, 2012 5:57 am | News | Comments

People often wonder if computers make children smarter. Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley are asking the reverse question: Can children make computers smarter? And the answer appears to be 'yes.'

3D printer with nano precision

March 13, 2012 5:41 am | News | Comments

Printing 3D objects with incredibly fine details is now possible using two-photon lithography. With this technology, tiny structures on a nanometer scale can be fabricated. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now made a breakthrough in speeding up this printing technique: The high-precision 3D printer at TU Vienna is orders of magnitude faster than similar devices.

Butterfly molecule may aid nuclear waste clean up

March 13, 2012 4:59 am | News | Comments

University of Edinburgh scientists have produced a previously unseen uranium molecule, in a move that could improve clean up of nuclear waste. The distinctive butterfly-shaped compound is similar to radioactive molecules that scientists had proposed to be key components of nuclear waste.

Liquid-like copper ion material aids conversion of heat to electricity

March 13, 2012 4:32 am | News | Comments

Scientists from the Chinese Academy of Science's Shanghai Institute of Ceramics, in collaboration with scientists from Brookhaven National Laboratory, the University of Michigan, and the California Institute of Technology, have identified a new class of high-performance thermoelectric materials. In their study, liquid-like copper ions carry electric current around a solid selenium crystal lattice.

Diamond brightens the performance of electronic devices

March 13, 2012 4:13 am | News | Comments

While diamonds may be a girl's best friend, they're also well loved by scientists working to enhance the performance of electronic devices. Two new studies performed at Argonne National Laboratory have revealed a new pathway for materials scientists to use previously unexplored properties of nanocrystalline-diamond thin films.

Medical imaging technology helps researchers better understand fish senses

March 12, 2012 10:09 am | News | Comments

University of Rhode Island marine biologist Jacqueline Webb gets an occasional strange look when she brings fish to the Orthopedics Research Laboratory at Rhode Island Hospital. While the facility's microCT scanner is typically used to study bone density and diseases like osteoporosis, it is also providing new insights into the skull structure and sensory systems of fish.

Nerve gas litmus test could sense airborne chemical weapons

March 12, 2012 9:21 am | News | Comments

Nerve gases are colorless, odorless, tasteless, and deadly. While today's soldiers carry masks and other protective gear, they don't have reliable ways of knowing when they need them in time. That could change, thanks to a new litmus-like paper sensor made at the University of Michigan, which are designed to change color from blue to pink within 30 sec of exposure to trace amounts of nerve gas.

Touch of gold improves nanoparticle fuel-cell reactions

March 12, 2012 8:50 am | News | Comments

Chemists at Brown University have created a triple-headed metallic nanoparticle that reportedly performs better and lasts longer than any other nanoparticle catalyst studied in fuel-cell reactions. The key is the addition of gold: It yields a more uniform crystal structure while removing carbon monoxide from the reaction.

Catalysts for less

March 12, 2012 5:11 am | by Taylor McNeil, Tufts University | News | Comments

Scientists at Tufts University have found a way to create a selective hydrogenation catalyst by scattering single atoms of palladium onto a copper base. The catalyst requires less of the expensive metal, and the process is greener, too, offering potentially significant economic and environmental benefits.

Fiber laser points to woven 3D displays

March 12, 2012 4:31 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most light emitters, from candles to light bulbs to computer screens, look the same from any angle. But Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers report the development of a new light source—a fiber only a little thicker than a human hair—whose brightness can be controllably varied for different viewers.

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