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A new look at surface chemistry

June 18, 2015 8:24 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

For the first time in the long and vaunted history of scanning electron microscopy, the unique atomic structure at the surface of a material has been resolved. This landmark in scientific imaging was made possible by a new analytic technique developed by a multi-institutional team of researchers.

A simple yet clever way to boost chip speeds

June 18, 2015 8:08 am | by Tom Abate, Stanford Engineering | News | Comments

A typical computer chip includes millions of transistors connected with an extensive network of copper wires. Although chip wires are unimaginably short and thin compared with household wires, both have one thing in common: In each case, the copper is wrapped within a protective sheath. For years a material called tantalum nitride has formed a protective layer around chip wires.

Nanorobots swim through blood to deliver drugs

June 18, 2015 7:39 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

Someday, treating patients with nanorobots could become standard practice to deliver medicine specifically to parts of the body affected by disease. But merely injecting drug-loaded nanoparticles might not always be enough to get them where they need to go. Now scientists are reporting in Nano Letters the development of new nanoswimmers that can move easily through body fluids to their targets.

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Preventing fires in next-generation lithium batteries

June 17, 2015 1:00 pm | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

In a study that could improve the safety of next-generation batteries, researchers discovered that adding two chemicals to the electrolyte of a lithium metal battery prevents the formation of dendrites—"fingers" of lithium that pierce the barrier between the battery's halves, causing it to short out, overheat and sometimes burst into flame.

Researchers predicted existence of new quantum matter theoretically

June 17, 2015 12:00 pm | by Aalto Univ. | News | Comments

Aalto Univ. researchers have succeeded to predict, in theory, that superconducting surfaces can become topological superconductors when magnetic iron atoms are deposited on the surface in a regular pattern. They used the latest mathematical and physical models to predict the existence of a topological superconducting state on metallic superconducting surfaces and thin films.

Hooked on phonons

June 17, 2015 11:29 am | by NIST | News | Comments

An international research group led by scientists at NIST’s Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology has developed a method for measuring crystal vibrations in graphene. Understanding these vibrations is a critical step toward controlling future technologies based on graphene.

Battery uses light to produce power

June 17, 2015 9:10 am | by American Chemical Society | Videos | Comments

To move the world toward sustainability, scientists are continuing to explore and improve ways to tap the vast power of sunlight to make fuels and generate electricity. Now they have come up with a new way to use light—solar or artificial—to drive battery power safely. Their “photo battery,” reported in The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, uses light and titanium nitride for the anode.

Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

June 17, 2015 9:00 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has discovered traces of methane in Martian meteorites, a possible clue in the search for life on the Red Planet. The researchers examined samples from six meteorites of volcanic rock that originated on Mars. The meteorites contain gases in the same proportion and with the same isotopic composition as the Martian atmosphere.

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Heartbeat on a chip could improve pharmaceutical tests

June 17, 2015 7:57 am | by Gabe Cherry, Univ. of Michigan | Videos | Comments

A gravity-powered chip that can mimic a human heartbeat outside the body could advance pharmaceutical testing and open new possibilities in cell culture because it can mimic fundamental physical rhythms, according to the Univ. of Michigan researchers who developed it.

Cellulose from wood can be printed in 3-D

June 17, 2015 7:31 am | by Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

A group of researchers at Chalmers Univ. of Technology have managed to print and dry 3-D objects made entirely by cellulose, for the first time, with the help of a 3-D bioprinter. They also added carbon nanotubes to create electrically conductive material.

Leaving on a biofueled jet plane

June 16, 2015 7:55 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

The problem is simple to understand. Molecules of carbon and other greenhouse gases absorb heat. The more greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, the warmer the atmosphere becomes, exacerbating global climate change. Solving the problem is not so simple, especially with regards to aviation.

Theory turns to reality for nonlinear optical metamaterials

June 16, 2015 7:46 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Videos | Comments

A research team has realized one of the long-standing theoretical predictions in nonlinear optical metamaterials: creation of a nonlinear material that has opposite refractive indices at the fundamental and harmonic frequencies of light. Such a material, which doesn’t exist naturally, had been predicted for nearly a decade.

Small thunderstorms may cause massive cyclones on Saturn

June 16, 2015 7:34 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

For the last decade, astronomers have observed curious “hotspots” on Saturn’s poles. In 2008, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft beamed back close-up images of these hotspots, revealing them to be immense cyclones, each as wide as the Earth. Scientists estimate that Saturn’s cyclones may whip up 300 mph winds, and likely have been churning for years.

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World’s thinnest light bulb

June 15, 2015 11:25 am | by Columbia Univ. | Videos | Comments

Led by Young Duck Kim, a postdoctoral research scientist in James Hone’s group at Columbia Engineering, a team of scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, an on-chip visible light source using graphene as a filament. They attached small strips of graphene to metal electrodes, suspended the strips above the substrate, and passed a current through the filaments to cause them to heat up.

Squid inspires camouflaging smart materials

June 15, 2015 10:31 am | by Univ. of Bristol | News | Comments

Researchers from the Univ. of Bristol have shown it is possible to create artificial skin that can be transformed at the flick of a switch to mimic one of nature's masters of camouflage, the squid. The research team has designed a smart materials system, inspired by biological chromatophores, which creates patterns that change and morph over time and mimic biological patterning.

Collecting lost light

June 15, 2015 10:15 am | by Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Optical fibers are hair-like threads of glass used to guide light. Fibers of exceptional purity have proved an excellent way of sending information over long distances and are the foundation of modern telecommunication systems. Transmission relies on what's called total internal reflection, wherein the light propagates by effectively bouncing back and forth off of the fiber's internal surface.

Low-cost, efficient nanostructures for fuel cells

June 15, 2015 9:42 am | by Matthew Chin, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

A team led by researchers at the Univ. of California, Los Angeles has developed nanostructures made from a compound of three metals that increases the efficiency and durability of fuel cells while lowering the cost to produce them. Their solution addresses vexing problems that have stalled the adoption of this technology.

New calculations to improve carbon dioxide monitoring from space

June 15, 2015 8:01 am | by Rebecca Caygill, Univ. College London | News | Comments

How light of different colors is absorbed by carbon dioxide can now be accurately predicted using new calculations developed by a Univ. College London (UCL)-led team of scientists. This will help climate scientists studying Earth's greenhouse gas emissions to better interpret data collected from satellites and ground stations measuring carbon dioxide.

Setting the circadian clock

June 15, 2015 7:46 am | by Kat J. McAlpine, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering | Videos | Comments

Often referred to as the "body clock", circadian rhythm controls what time of day people are most alert, hungry, tired or physically primed due to a complex biological process that is not unique to humans. Circadian rhythms, which oscillate over a roughly 24–hr cycle in adaptation to the Earth's rotation, have been observed in most living things on the planet, and are responsible for regulating many aspects of organisms' functions.

Grinding nanotubes to get nanoribbons

June 15, 2015 7:26 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A simple way to turn carbon nanotubes into valuable graphene nanoribbons may be to grind them, according to research led by Rice Univ. The trick, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan, is to mix two types of chemically modified nanotubes. When they come into contact during grinding, they react and unzip, a process that until now has depended largely on reactions in harsh chemical solutions.

Centimeter-long origami robot

June 15, 2015 7:18 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | Videos | Comments

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers presented a printable origami robot that folds itself up from a flat sheet of plastic when heated and measures about a centimeter from front to back. Weighing only a third of a gram, the robot can swim, climb an incline, traverse rough terrain and carry a load twice its weight.

A bright light for ultrafast snapshots of materials

June 11, 2015 4:46 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you want to understand how novel phases emerge in correlated materials you can obtain complete viewpoints by taking “snapshots” of underlying rapid electronic interactions. One way to do this is by delivering pulses of extremely short-wavelength UV light to a material and deriving information based on the energy and direction of travel of the emitted electrons.

The winner doesn't always take all

June 11, 2015 3:59 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have been able to only speculate as to why and how this strain diversity in the bacterium Myxococcus xanthus is maintained. One theory states that less competitive strains are retained in the population if they can occupy a niche of their own that the dominant bacteria cannot colonizes.

Longstanding problem put to rest

June 11, 2015 9:51 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Comparing the genomes of different species is the basis of a great deal of modern biology. DNA sequences that are conserved across species are likely to be functionally important, while variations between members of the same species can indicate different susceptibilities to disease. The basic algorithm for determining how much two sequences of symbols have in common is now more than 40 years old.

Synthetic immune organ produces antibodies

June 11, 2015 9:32 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Cornell Univ. engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism. The engineered organ has implications for everything from rapid production of immune therapies to new frontiers in cancer or infectious disease research.

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