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Scientists solve long-standing plant biochemistry mystery

September 20, 2011 4:37 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered how an enzyme "knows" where to insert a double bond when desaturating plant fatty acids. Understanding the mechanism—which relies on a single amino acid far from the enzyme's active site—solves a 40-year mystery of how these enzymes exert such location-specific control.

Escaping legacy IT systems

September 20, 2011 4:18 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a sophisticated computer model of a corporate information infrastructure, which could help IT managers predict the effects of changes to their networks. In a study funded by Ford Motor Co., the researchers compared their model’s predictions to data supplied by Ford and found that, on average, its estimates of response times for queries sent to company servers were within 5 to 13% of the real times.

Grain of salt helps electrolysis cells make hydrogen

September 19, 2011 1:08 pm | News | Comments

A grain of salt or two may be all that microbial electrolysis cells need to produce hydrogen from wastewater or organic byproducts, without adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere or using grid electricity, according to Penn State engineers.

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Black hole, star collisions may illuminate universe's dark side

September 19, 2011 9:57 am | News | Comments

Scientists looking to capture evidence of dark matter may find a helpful tool in the recent work of researchers from Princeton University and New York University. The team unveiled a ready-made method for detecting the collision of stars with an elusive type of black hole that is on the short list of objects believed to make up dark matter.

Brightest gamma ray on Earth

September 19, 2011 9:31 am | News | Comments

The University of Strathclyde has produced the brightest gamma ray ever. The gamma ray is more than a thousand billion times more brilliant than the sun and could open up new possibilities for medicine.

New method could lead to better hydrogen storage

September 19, 2011 9:03 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Hydrogen has long been considered a promising alternative to fossil fuels for powering cars, trucks, and even homes. But one major obstacle has been finding lightweight, robust, and inexpensive ways of storing the gas. New research by a team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and several other institutions analyzes the performance of a class of materials considered a promising candidate for such storage.

Gamers crack enzyme puzzle, make AIDS breakthrough

September 19, 2011 9:02 am | News | Comments

Players of the video game Foldit, a protein modeling program, have unlocked the structure of CASP9, which is involved in the virus that cause simian AIDS. The breakthrough has eluded laboratory scientists for more than a decade.

Tiny wires a step towards photonic chip

September 19, 2011 6:44 am | News | Comments

Australian researchers have engineered one of the world's smallest ever nanowires for the next generation of telecommunication technology, bringing them one step closer to the creation of a 'photonic chip' which would lead to a faster, more sustainable Internet.

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Why carbon nanotubes spell trouble for cells

September 19, 2011 6:27 am | News | Comments

Carbon nanotubes and other long nanomaterials can spell trouble for cells. The reason: Cells mistake them for spheres and try to engulf them. Once they start, cells cannot reverse course, and complete ingestion never occurs. Researchers at Brown University detail for the first time how cells interact with carbon nanotubes, gold nanowires, and asbestos fibers.

Research improves performance of next-generation solar cell technology

September 19, 2011 6:00 am | by Liam Mitchell | News | Comments

Researchers from the University of Toronto, King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, and Pennsylvania State University have created the most efficient colloidal quantum dot (CQD) solar cell ever.

A new way to go from nanoparticles to supraparticles

September 19, 2011 5:40 am | News | Comments

Controlling the behavior of nanoparticles can be just as difficult trying to wrangle a group of teenagers. However, a new study involving Argonne National Laboratory has given scientists insight into how tweaking a nanoparticle’s attractive electronic qualities can lead to the creation of ordered uniform "supraparticles."

Purdue technology used in first fluorescence-guided ovarian cancer surgery

September 19, 2011 5:17 am | News | Comments

The first fluorescence-guided surgery on an ovarian cancer patient was performed using a cancer cell "homing device" and imaging agent created by a Purdue University researcher. The surgery was one of 10 performed as part of the first phase of a clinical trial to evaluate a new technology to aid surgeons in the removal of malignant tissue from ovarian cancer patients.

Obama signs patent reform legislation

September 16, 2011 11:12 am | by Darlene Superville, Associated Press | News | Comments

President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a major overhaul of the U.S. patent system, a measure designed to ease the way for inventors to bring their products to market. Passed in a rare display of congressional bipartisanship, the America Invents Act is the first significant change in patent law since 1952. It has been hailed as a milestone that would spur innovation and create jobs.

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Fingertip-size microscope has potential for studying the brain

September 16, 2011 10:13 am | News | Comments

A readily portable miniature microscope weighing less than 2 g and tiny enough to balance on your fingertip has been developed by Stanford University researchers. The scope is designed to see fluorescent markers, such as dyes, commonly used by medical and biological researchers studying the brains of mice.

Robots coming to aircraft assembly

September 16, 2011 9:29 am | News | Comments

Up to now, aircraft have been put together in huge assembly cells, but building the necessary facilities is expensive and time consuming. That is why Fraunhofer researchers have come up with a flexible assembly line concept that features robots working in the same way they do in automotive production.

Carbon nanoparticles break barriers

September 16, 2011 8:22 am | News | Comments

A study by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examines the effects of carbon nanoparticles on living cells. This work is among the first to study concentrations of these tiny particles that are low enough to mimic the actual exposure of an ordinary individual.

Installed cost of solar photovoltaic systems in U.S. declines

September 16, 2011 7:29 am | News | Comments

The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2010 and into the first half of 2011, according to the latest edition of an annual PV cost tracking report released by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Green light for marine renewables?

September 16, 2011 6:01 am | News | Comments

Farms of 'underwater windmills' could affect how sand moves around our coastal seas, affecting beaches, sand banks, and ultimately the risk of flooding, according to Bangor University oceanographer Simon Neill. Writing in Planet Earth , Neill explains how tidal energy farms are like roadworks.

Engineers invent a magnetic fluid pump with no moving parts

September 16, 2011 5:52 am | News | Comments

Used in Hollywood and the advertising industry to create exotic special effects, ferrofluids are seemingly magical materials that are both liquid and magnetic at once. In a study, a team from Yale University, with colleagues from the University of Georgia and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, demonstrated for the first time an approach that allows ferrofluids to be pumped by magnetic fields alone.

Laboratory simplifies manufacture of semiconducting bilayer graphene

September 16, 2011 5:36 am | News | Comments

By heating metal to make graphene, Rice University researchers may warm the hearts of high-tech electronics manufacturers. The lab of Rice chemist James Tour published two papers that advance the science of making high-quality, bilayer graphene. They show how to grow it on a functional substrate by first having it diffuse into a layer of nickel.

Researchers create nanoscale gold coating with largest-ever superlattice

September 16, 2011 5:19 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a new method for creating a layer of gold nanoparticles that measures only billionths of a meter thick. These self-assembling gold coatings with features measuring less than 10 nm could hold important implications for nanoelectronics manufacturing.

Forces within molecules can strengthen extra-long carbon-carbon bonds

September 16, 2011 5:07 am | by Mike Ross | News | Comments

The strength of a chemical bond between atoms is the fundamental basis for a molecule's stability and reactivity. Tuning the strength and accessibility of the bond can dramatically change a molecule's properties. New research by a team from two European universities and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory shows that attractive forces between other parts of a molecule can make a stretched bond joining two carbon atoms much more stable than expected.

Argonne patents technology that increases safety of Li-ion batteries

September 16, 2011 4:25 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory have patented a new, extremely stable, 4-V redox shuttle molecule that provides overcharge protection for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries containing lithium-iron-phosphate-based cathodes across hundreds of charging cycles.

Organic solar cell breakthrough

September 15, 2011 10:44 am | News | Comments

National Physical Laboratory scientists have achieved a significant breakthrough in the metrology of organic photovoltaics. The research demonstrated a new type of atomic force microscopy that can 'see' down into a working organic photovoltaic cell and relate its 3D nanoscale structure to its performance.

Decoding the proteins behind drug-resistant superbugs

September 15, 2011 8:30 am | News | Comments

Penicillin and its descendants once ruled supreme over bacteria. Then the bugs got stronger, and hospitals have reported bacterial infections so virulent that even powerful antibiotics held in reserve for these cases don't work. To create the next line of defense against the most drug-resistant pathogens, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory and Texas A&M University have decoded the structure of a protein that confers drug resistance against our best antibiotics.

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