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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.

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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.

Cutting carbon emissions could have indirect effects on hunger

June 11, 2015 9:05 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As many of the world’s nations prepare and implement plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, researchers say another critical factor needs to be considered. A new study has found for the first time that efforts to keep global temperatures in check will likely lead to more people going hungry. That risk, they say, doesn’t negate the need for mitigation but highlights the importance of comprehensive policies.

Research reveals how computer chips could beat the heat

June 11, 2015 8:07 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

The heat that builds up in the shuttling of current in electronics is an important obstacle to packing more computing power into ever-smaller devices: Excess heat can cause them to fail or sap their efficiency. Now, x-ray studies have, for the first time, observed an exotic property that could warp the electronic structure of a material in a way that reduces heat buildup and improves performance in ever-smaller computer components.

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Common antibiotic may be the answer to multidrug-resistant bacterial infections

June 11, 2015 7:44 am | by Heather Buschman, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Contrary to current medical dogma, researchers at Univ. of California, San Diego report the common antibiotic azithromycin kills many multidrug-resistant bacteria very effectively. The researchers believe the finding could prompt an immediate review of the current standard of care for patients with certain so-called “superbug” infections.

Surfaces get smooth or bumpy on demand

June 11, 2015 7:24 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology team has developed a way of making soft materials, using a 3-D printer, with surface textures that can then be modified at will to be perfectly smooth, or ridged or bumpy, or even to have complex patterns that could be used to guide fluids.

More Than Just a Pretty Face

June 10, 2015 11:30 am | by Tim Studt | Articles | Comments

The developers of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) describe their project as “a new and liberating lab typology that promotes collaboration and medical discovery, attracting the best researchers from around the world.” With design by global design and consulting firm Woods Bagot, SAHMRI was the first project completed within the new South Australian Health and Biomedical Precinct.

Toward “green” paper-thin, flexible electronics

June 10, 2015 9:15 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

The rapid evolution of gadgets has brought us an impressive array of “smart” products from phones to tablets, and now watches and glasses. But they still haven’t broken free from their rigid form. Now scientists are reporting a new step toward bendable electronics. They have developed the first light-emitting, transparent and flexible paper out of environmentally friendly materials via a simple, suction-filtration method.

2015 Laboratory of the Year Vital Stats

June 10, 2015 8:32 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Introducing the 2015 Laboratory of the Year winners.

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Improving energy storage with a cue from nature

June 10, 2015 8:01 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Materials melt faster when the lines of heat spread through the cold material like the branches of a tree. And the melting rate can be steadily increased by allowing the tree architecture to freely evolve over time. The finding could improve phase-change energy storage systems, and could play an important role in ensuring a smooth flow of energy from renewable sources like the wind and sun.

“Nano-raspberries” could bear fruit in fuel cells

June 10, 2015 7:50 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Researchers at NIST have developed a fast, simple process for making platinum "nano-raspberries", microscopic clusters of nanoscale particles of the precious metal. The berry-like shape is significant because it has a high surface area, which is helpful in the design of catalysts. Even better news for industrial chemists: the researchers figured out when and why the berry clusters clump into larger bunches of "nano-grapes."

Scientists create ultracold molecules

June 10, 2015 7:21 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

The air around us is a chaotic superhighway of molecules whizzing through space and constantly colliding with each other at speeds of hundreds of miles per hour. Such erratic molecular behavior is normal at ambient temperatures. But scientists have long suspected that if temperatures were to plunge to near absolute zero, molecules would come to a screeching halt, ceasing their individual chaotic motion and behaving as one collective body.

Martian glass: Window into possible past life?

June 9, 2015 10:20 am | News | Comments

Researchers from Brown University have used satellite data to detect deposits of glass within impact craters on Mars. Though formed in the searing heat of a violent impact, the glasses just might provide a delicate window into the possibility of past life on the Red Planet.

State-by-state plan to convert US to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050

June 9, 2015 10:14 am | News | Comments

One potential way to combat ongoing climate change, eliminate air pollution mortality, create jobs and stabilize energy prices involves converting the world's entire energy infrastructure to run on clean, renewable energy.

Engineers develop a computer that operates on water droplets

June 9, 2015 9:49 am | News | Comments

Computers and water typically don't mix, but in Manu Prakash's lab, the two are one and the same. Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Stanford, and his students have built a synchronous computer that operates using the unique physics of moving water droplets.

Minecraft can declutter the robotic mind

June 9, 2015 9:35 am | by Brown University | News | Comments

Researchers from Brown University are developing a new algorithm to help robots better plan their actions in complex environments. It’s designed to help robots be more useful in the real world, but it’s being developed with the help of a virtual world — that of the video game Minecraft.

A Sustainable Environment

June 8, 2015 1:30 pm | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

On September 19, 2014, the Smithsonian Institution opened the doors of its greenest building to date: The Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory on the campus of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC) in Edgewater, Md. Designed to be the first LEED-Platinum building for the institution, the Mathias Lab demonstrates a renewed commitment by the Smithsonian and the U.S. Congress to invest in crucial environmental research.

Futuristic components on silicon chips

June 8, 2015 11:09 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

A team of IBM researchers has developed a relatively simple, robust and versatile process for growing crystals made from compound semiconductor materials that will allow them be integrated onto silicon wafers. This is an important step toward making future computer chips that will allow integrated circuits to continue shrinking in size and cost even as they increase in performance.

Moving sector walls on the nano scale

June 8, 2015 10:35 am | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Most magnetic materials have a structure that is somewhat more complicated than a commercially available domestic magnet: They not only have a north and south pole, but a variety of sectors, often only a few nanometers in size, in each of which the magnetic axis points in a different direction. These sectors are referred to as domains.

Microscope technique could speed identification of deadly bacteria

June 8, 2015 9:32 am | by The Optical Society | News | Comments

A new way of rapidly identifying bacteria, which requires a slight modification to a simple microscope, may change the way doctors approach treatment for patients who develop potentially deadly infections and may also help the food industry screen against contamination with harmful pathogens, according to researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST).

A Window To Containment Facility Design

June 8, 2015 9:24 am | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Articles | Comments

Can a high containment lab have windows? Can the traditional model of a high containment lab be turned inside out? Can a high containment facility offer better life quality? The answer to all these questions is yes. Home to three international reference labs for 10 exotic viral diseases of livestock, The Pirbright Institute focuses on virology and, specifically, animal health, including zoonotic diseases.

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