Making hydrogen easily and cheaply is a dream goal for clean, sustainable energy. Bacteria have been doing exactly that for billions of years, and now chemists at the Univ. of California, Davis and Stanford Univ. are revealing how they do it, and perhaps opening ways to imitate them.
The effects of gravity are relevant when building houses or flying airplanes, but biologists have generally accepted that the average cell is too small for gravity to play a role in how it is built or behaves. A finding by Princeton Univ. researchers now shows gravity imposes a size constraint on cells. The results provide a novel reason why most animal cells are small and of similar size.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have succeeded in producing and measuring a coupling of photons and electrons on the surface of an unusual type of material called a topological insulator. This type of coupling had been predicted by theorists, but never observed.
Cancer researchers from Rice Univ. have deciphered the operating principles of a genetic switch that cancer cells use to decide when to metastasize and invade other parts of the body. The study found that the on-off switch’s dynamics also allows a third choice that lies somewhere between “on” and “off.” The extra setting both explains previously confusing experimental results and opens the door to new avenues of cancer treatment.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory researchers at the Advanced Light Source (ALS) have invented a new technique for studying the process by which certain errors in the genetic code are detected and repaired. The technique is based on a combination of hybrid nanomaterials and SAXS imaging at the ALS SIBYLS beamline.
Doctors now have convincing evidence that they put HIV into remission, hopefully for good, in a Mississippi baby born with the AIDS virus—a medical first that is prompting a new look at how hard and fast such cases should be treated. The case was reported earlier this year but some doctors were skeptical that the baby was really infected rather than testing positive because of exposure to virus in the mom's blood.
In remote regions of the world where electricity is hard to come by and scientific instruments are even scarcer, conducting medical tests at a doctor’s office or medical laboratory is rarely an option. Scientists are now reporting progress toward an inexpensive point-of-care, paper-based device to fill that void with no electronics required.
Researchers in electrical and computer engineering at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara have introduced and modeled an integrated circuit design scheme in which transistors and interconnects are monolithically patterned seamlessly on a sheet of graphene. The demonstration offers possibilities for ultra-energy-efficient, flexible and transparent electronics.
Researchers from North Carolina State Univ., the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Laser Zentrum Hannover have discovered that a naturally occurring compound can be incorporated into 3-D printing processes to create medical implants out of non-toxic polymers. The compound is riboflavin, which is better known as vitamin B2.
As microelectronics get smaller and smaller, one of the biggest challenges to packing a smartphone or tablet with maximum processing power and memory is the amount of heat generated by the tiny “switches” at the heart of the device. A complex metal-oxide film could help reduce the voltage required to switch electronic signals, and thus the excessive energy they require.
When it comes to designing extremely water-repellent surfaces, shape and size matter. That's the finding of a group of scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, who investigated the effects of differently shaped, nanoscale textures on a material's ability to force water droplets to roll off without wetting its surface.
Spraying a plant hormone on broccoli—already one of the planet’s most nutritious foods—boosts its cancer-fighting potential, and researchers say they have new insights on how that works. They published their findings, which could help scientists build an even better, more healthful broccoli.
Imagine giving a presentation to a roomful of important customers when suddenly the projector fails. You whip out your smartphone, beam your PowerPoint presentation onto the conference room screen and are back in business within seconds. This career-saving application and others like it are the promise of a new generation of ultra-small projectors.
Congress should minimally modify—and not, as petroleum-related interests have increasingly lobbied for, repeal—the Renewable Fuel Standard (RSF), the most comprehensive renewable energy policy in the U.S., according to a new paper from two Univ. of Illinois researchers. In the study, the researchers argue that RFS mandates merely ought to be adjusted to reflect current and predicted biofuel commercialization realities.
Walking is tricky business. And while most artificial feet and limbs do a pretty good job restoring mobility to people who have lost a leg, they have a ways to go before they equal the intricacy of a natural gait. As a result, over half of all amputees take a fall every year, compared to about one-third of people over 65. Researchers are taking a giant step toward solving the problem.
Scientists at Rice Univ. are enhancing the natural antioxidant properties of an element found in a car’s catalytic converter to make it useful for medical applications. The team created small, uniform spheres of cerium oxide and gave them a thin coating of fatty oleic acid to make them biocompatible.
Thomson Reuters announced its 2013 Top 100 Global Innovators this week, a list of the who’s who in innovation based on a series of proprietary patent metrics using its Derwent World Patents Index database. The 2013 honorees comprise many of the likely suspects: AT&T, Apple, Google, Ford, L’Oreal and Microsoft, as well as some that aren’t so likely: Alcatel Lucent, Blackberry and Ericsson.
The number of patents issued for renewable-energy technologies has risen sharply over the last decade, according to new research from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Santa Fe Institute. The study shows that investments in research and development, as well as in the growth of markets for these products, have helped to spur this dramatic growth in innovation.
A discovery at Rice Univ. aims to make vehicles that run on compressed natural gas more practical. It might also prolong the shelf life of bottled beer and soda. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour has enhanced a polymer material to make it far more impermeable to pressurized gas and far lighter than the metal in tanks now used to contain the gas.
A research team, led by the Univ. of California, Santa Cruz, developed a solar-microbial device that combines a microbial fuel cell (MFC) and a photoelectrochemical cell (PEC). In the MFC component, bacteria degrade organic matter in the wastewater, generating electricity. The biologically generated electricity is delivered to the PEC component to assist the solar-powered splitting of water that generates hydrogen and oxygen.
For many, music is a universal language that unites people when words cannot. But for those who use cochlear implants hearing music remains extremely challenging. Univ. of Washington scientists hope to change this. They have developed a new way of processing the signals in cochlear implants to help users hear music better.
Researchers have come one step closer to understanding unstable atomic nuclei. A team of researchers from RIKEN, the Univ. of Tokyo and other institutions in Japan and Italy has provided evidence for a new nuclear magic number in the unstable, radioactive calcium isotope 54Ca. In a study published in Nature, they show that 54Ca is the first known nucleus with 34 neutrons (N) where N = 34 is a magic number.
Terahertz radiation is gaining attention due to its many applications. Traditional methods of generating terahertz radiation, however, usually involve large and expensive instruments, some of which also require cryogenic cooling. A compact terahertz source operating at room temperature with high power has been a dream device in the terahertz community for decades. A team from Northwestern Univ. has now brought this dream closer to reality.
Carbyne will be the strongest of a new class of microscopic materials if and when anyone can make it in bulk. If they do, they’ll find carbyne nanorods or nanoropes have a host of remarkable and useful properties, as described in a paper by Rice Univ. theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his group.
Three U.S.-based scientists won the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing powerful computer models that others can use to understand complex chemical interactions and create new drugs. Research in the 1970s by Martin Karplus, Michael Levitt and Arieh Warshel has helped scientists develop programs that unveil chemical processes such as the purification of exhaust fume or photosynthesis, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.