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Solid-state proteins maximize the intensity of fluorescent-protein-based lasers

December 8, 2014 4:03 pm | by Massachusetts General Hospital | News | Comments

The same research team that developed the first laser based on a living cell has shown that use of fluorescent proteins in a solid form rather than in solution greatly increases the intensity of light produced, an accomplishment that takes advantage of natural protein structures surrounding the light-emitting portions of the protein molecules.

Detecting gases wirelessly, cheaply

December 8, 2014 3:54 pm | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses.

Is natural gas a “bridge” to a hotter future?

December 8, 2014 3:47 pm | by Carnegie Institute | News | Comments

Natural gas power plants produce substantial amounts of gases that lead to global warming. Replacing old coal-fired power plants with new natural gas plants could cause climate damage to increase over the next decades, unless their methane leakage rates are very low and the new power plants are very efficient.

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New semiconductor could change face of consumer electronics

December 8, 2014 9:54 am | by David Stauth, Oregon State Univ. | News | Comments

Materials first developed at Oregon State Univ. more than a decade ago with an eye toward making “transparent” transistors may be about to shake up the field of consumer electronics; and the first uses are not even based on the transparent capability of the materials. In the continued work and in collaboration with private industry, certain transparent transistor materials are now gaining some of their first commercial applications.

Study: Early warning signals of abrupt climate change

December 8, 2014 9:47 am | by Univ. of Exeter | News | Comments

A new study by researchers at the Univ. of Exeter has found early warning signals of a reorganization of the Atlantic oceans’ circulation which could have a profound impact on the global climate system. The researchused a simulation from a highly complex model to analyze the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, an important component of the Earth’s climate system.

Computers that teach by example

December 8, 2014 8:49 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Computers are good at identifying patterns in huge data sets. Humans, by contrast, are good at inferring patterns from just a few examples. In a recent paper, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers present a new system that bridges these two ways of processing information, so that humans and computers can collaborate to make better decisions.

Uniform nanowire arrays for science, manufacturing

December 8, 2014 8:36 am | by Kris Bertness, NIST | News | Comments

Defect-free nanowires with diameters in the range of 100 nm hold significant promise for numerous in-demand applications. That promise can't be realized, however, unless the wires can be fabricated in large uniform arrays using methods compatible with high-volume manufacture. To date, that has not been possible for arbitrary spacings in ultra-high vacuum growth.

Researchers set world record in solar energy efficiency

December 8, 2014 8:27 am | by Univ. of New South Wales | News | Comments

Univ. of New South Wales' solar researchers have converted over 40% of the sunlight hitting a solar system into electricity, the highest efficiency ever reported. The world-beating efficiency was achieved in outdoor tests in Sydney, before being independently confirmed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory at their outdoor test facility in the U.S.

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Physics mystery shows path to quantum transistors

December 8, 2014 8:01 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

An odd, iridescent material that's puzzled physicists for decades turns out to be an exotic state of matter that could open a new path to next-generation electronics. Physicists at the Univ. of Michigan have discovered or confirmed several properties of the compound samarium hexaboride that raise hopes for finding the silicon of the quantum era. They say their results also close the case of how to classify the material.

Nanoparticle allows low-cost creation of 3-D nanostructures

December 8, 2014 7:51 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have developed a new lithography technique that uses nanoscale spheres to create 3-D structures with biomedical, electronic and photonic applications. The new technique is significantly less expensive than conventional methods and does not rely on stacking 2-D patterns to create 3-D structures.

Unusual electronic state found in new class of superconductors

December 8, 2014 7:41 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

A team of scientists has discovered an unusual form of electronic order in a new family of unconventional superconductors. The findingestablishes an unexpected connection between this new group of titanium-oxypnictide superconductors and the more familiar cuprates and iron-pnictides, providing scientists with a whole new family of materials from which they can gain deeper insights into the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity.

Yale joins with leader in 3-D organ printing to transform transplants

December 5, 2014 10:28 am | by Ziba Kashef, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers at Yale Univ. have joined forces with a leading 3-D biology company, Organovo, to develop 3-D printed tissues for transplant research. As the number of donors for vital tissue and organ transplants decreases worldwide and the demand for transplants increases, 3-D bioprinting technology offers a solution to a long-standing and growing problem.

Wireless brain sensor could unchain neuroscience from cables

December 5, 2014 10:19 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

In a study in Neuron, scientists describe a new high data-rate, low-power wireless brain sensor. The technology is designed to enable neuroscience research that cannot be accomplished with current sensors that tether subjects with cabled connections. Experiments in the paper confirm that new capability.

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Researchers to use algae to clean up mine water

December 5, 2014 10:04 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

A groundbreaking research project by the GW4 Alliance aims to clean up water from a Cornish tin mine, using algae to harvest the precious heavy metals and produce biofuel at the same time. GW4 brings together the South West and Wales’ four leading, research-intensive universities: Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Atomic “mismatch” creates nano “dumbbells”

December 5, 2014 9:55 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like snowflakes, nanoparticles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. The geometry of a nanoparticle is often as influential as its chemical makeup in determining how it behaves, from its catalytic properties to its potential as a semiconductor component. Thanks to a new study, researchers are closer to understanding the process by which nanoparticles made of more than one material, called heterostructured nanoparticles, form.

Research paves way for nanomovies of biomolecules

December 5, 2014 9:42 am | by Joe Caspermeyer, Biodesign Institute | News | Comments

An international team of researchers have caught a light-sensitive biomolecule at work using an x-ray laser. Their new study proves that high speed x-ray lasers can capture the fast dynamics of biomolecules in ultra slow-motion, revealing subtle processes with unprecedented clarity.

Electric eels deliver Taser-like shocks

December 5, 2014 9:23 am | by Vanderbilt Univ. | Videos | Comments

The electric eel—the scaleless Amazonian fish that can deliver an electrical jolt strong enough to knock down a full-grown horse—possesses an electroshock system uncannily similar to a Taser. That’s the conclusion of a nine-month study of the way in which the electric eel uses high-voltage electrical discharges to locate and incapacitate its prey. 

Small engine packs a punch

December 5, 2014 8:15 am | by Rob Matheson, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Noise, excessive vibration and relative inefficiency are drawbacks of the piston-based internal combustion engines (ICE) that power today’s lawn and garden equipment, such as leaf blowers and lawn trimmers. But now Massachusetts Institute of Technology startup LiquidPiston has developed a rotary ICE that it says is significantly smaller, lighter and quieter, as well as 20% more fuel-efficient than the ICEs used in small-engine devices.

NIR Drills Into the Energy Industry

December 4, 2014 2:16 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

Hydrocarbon exploration by definition is the search by geologists or geophysicists for hydrocarbon deposits beneath the Earth’s surface, such as oil (petroleum) and natural gas. In such exploration, the oil and gas industry drills holes into the Earth’s surface to extract the petroleum or natural gas. However, such exploration is expensive, not to mention a high-risk operation.

Engineer applies robot control theory to improve prosthetic legs

December 4, 2014 11:18 am | by LaKisha Ladson, UT Dallas | News | Comments

A Univ. of Texas at Dallas professor applied robot control theory to enable powered prosthetics to dynamically respond to the wearer’s environment and help amputees walk. In recently published research, wearers of the robotic leg could walk on a moving treadmill almost as fast as an able-bodied person.

Traces of biological activity inside meteorite

December 4, 2014 10:57 am | by EPFL | Videos | Comments

Did Mars ever have life? Does it still? A meteorite from Mars has reignited the old debate. An international team that includes scientists from EPFL has published a paper in Meteoritics and Planetary Sciences, showing that Martian life is more probable than previously thought.

Smaller lidars could allow UAVs to conduct underwater scans

December 4, 2014 8:06 am | by Rick Robinson, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Bathymetric lidars are used today primarily to map coastal waters. At nearly 600 lbs, the systems are large and heavy, and they require costly, piloted aircraft to carry them. A team at the Georgia Tech Research Institute has designed a new approach that could lead to bathymetric lidars that are much smaller and more efficient than the current full-size systems.

Nanoparticle network could bring fast-charging batteries

December 4, 2014 7:46 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

A new electrode design for lithium-ion batteries has been shown to potentially reduce the charging time from hours to minutes by replacing the conventional graphite electrode with a network of tin-oxide nanoparticles. Batteries have two electrodes, called an anode and a cathode. The anodes in most of today's lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite.

Buckyballs enhance carbon capture

December 4, 2014 7:37 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have discovered an environmentally friendly carbon-capture method that could be equally adept at drawing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial flue gases and natural gas wells. The Rice laboratory of chemist Andrew Barron revealed in a proof-of-concept study that amine-rich compounds are highly effective at capturing the greenhouse gas when combined with carbon-60 molecules.

Laser sniffs out toxic gases from afar

December 3, 2014 4:45 pm | by Robin Anne Smith, Duke Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists have developed a way to sniff out tiny amounts of toxic gases from up to one kilometer away. The new technology can discriminate one type of gas from another with greater specificity than most remote sensors and under normal atmospheric pressure, something that wasn’t thought possible before.

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