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New manufacturing methods needed for “soft” machines, robots

June 19, 2014 7:52 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a technique that might be used to produce "soft machines" made of elastic materials and liquid metals for potential applications in robotics, medical devices and consumer electronics. Such an elastic technology could make possible robots that have sensory skin and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

Breakthrough provides picture of underground water

June 18, 2014 10:52 am | by Rob Jordan, Stanford Woods Institute for the Evironment | News | Comments

Superman isn't the only one who can see through solid surfaces. In a development that could revolutionize the management of precious groundwater around the world, Stanford Univ. researchers have pioneered the use of satellites to accurately measure levels of water stored hundreds of feet below ground.

Analytic technique offers arson investigators faster, more accurate results

June 18, 2014 9:04 am | by James Burrus, NIST | News | Comments

A research group at NIST has demonstrated a new method for detecting ignitable liquids that could change the way arson fires are investigated. The new process for analyzing debris for traces of fire accelerants is faster and more accurate than conventional methods and produces less waste.

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Taking pictures with protons

June 18, 2014 8:27 am | by Kevin Roark, Los Alamos National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new facility for using protons to take microscopic images has been commissioned at the ring accelerator of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany. Protons, like neutrons, are the building blocks of atomic nuclei. Similar to x-rays, they can be used to radiograph objects, generating images of them. Protons are able to penetrate hot dense matter that can't be examined with light or x-rays.

Few, if any, big impact craters remain to be discovered on Earth

June 18, 2014 8:02 am | by Elizabeth K. Gardner, Purdue Univ. | News | Comments

It’s likely that most of the large impact craters on Earth have already been discovered and that others have been erased, according to a new calculation by a pair of Purdue Univ. graduate students. Although it's known that natural processes erase craters fairly quickly from the Earth's surface, this model was the first to quantify how many craters have likely been erased.

Dynamic spectroscopy duo

June 17, 2014 1:34 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

From allowing our eyes to see, to enabling green plants to harvest energy from the sun, photochemical reactions are ubiquitous and critical to nature. Photochemical reactions also play essential roles in high technology. Using photochemical reactions to our best advantage requires a deep understanding of the interplay between the electrons and atomic nuclei within a molecular system after that system has been excited by light.

NIST technique could make sub-wavelength images at radio frequencies

June 17, 2014 11:14 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Imaging and mapping of electric fields at radio frequencies (RF) currently requires the use of metallic structures such as dipoles, probes and reference antennas. To make such measurements efficiently, the size of these structures needs to be on the order of the wavelength of the RF fields to be mapped. This poses practical limitations on the smallest features that can be measured.

Scientists’ discoveries could help neutralize chemical weapons

June 16, 2014 2:32 pm | by Amy Blakely, Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Tennessee (UT) are a step closer to creating a prophylactic drug that would neutralize the deadly effects of the chemical weapons used in Syria and elsewhere. Jeremy Smith, UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair and an expert in computational biology, is part of the team that is trying to engineer enzymes—called bioscavengers—so they work more efficiently against chemical weapons.

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Researchers develop efficient approach to manufacture 3-D metal parts

June 16, 2014 2:12 pm | by Kenneth Ma, LLNL | News | Comments

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have developed a new and more efficient approach to a challenging problem in additive manufacturing—using selective laser melting, namely, the selection of appropriate process parameters that result in parts with desired properties.

Trapping light: A long lifetime in a very small place

June 16, 2014 2:03 pm | by Leonor Sierra, Univ. of Rochester | News | Comments

Physicists at the Univ. of Rochester have created a silicon nanocavity that allows light to be trapped longer than in other similarly sized optical cavities. An innovative design approach, which mimics evolutionary biology, allowed them to achieve a 10-fold improvement on the performance of previous nanocavities.

Researchers develop fuel cells for increased airplane efficiency

June 16, 2014 1:52 pm | by Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture | News | Comments

Washington State Univ. researchers have developed the first fuel cell that can directly convert fuels, such as jet fuel or gasoline, to electricity, providing a dramatically more energy-efficient way to create electric power for planes or cars. About 10 years ago, the researchers began developing a solid-oxide fuel cell to provide electrical power on commercial airplanes.

Precision physics of antiatoms

June 16, 2014 7:58 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Hydrogen is a neutral atom. Its single electron orbits a single proton, and the net effect is no electrical charge. But what about hydrogen’s antimatter counterpart, antihydrogen? Made of a positron that orbits an antiproton, the antihydrogen atom should be neutral too. Various results have indicated as much, but because the charge of antiatoms is difficult to measure, it has remained an open question.

Nanoscale composites improve MRI

June 16, 2014 7:31 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Submicroscopic particles that contain even smaller particles of iron oxide could make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) a far more powerful tool to detect and fight disease. Scientists at Rice Uni. led an international team of researchers in creating composite particles that can be injected into patients and guided by magnetic fields.

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If global warming is real, why was it so cold and snowy last winter?

June 13, 2014 10:23 am | by Greta Guest, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

More Americans view global warming by what they see outside their windows and not scientific evidence, according to a Univ. of Michigan survey. While a majority of Americans still believe that global warming is occurring, the cold and snowy winter of 2014 created more disbelievers, according to the National Surveys on Energy and Environment.

Crossing the goal line: New tech tracks football in 3-D space

June 13, 2014 9:15 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Referees may soon have a new way of determining whether a football team has scored a touchdown or gotten a first down. Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. and Carnegie Mellon Univ., in collaboration with Disney Research, have developed a system that can track a football in 3-D space using low-frequency magnetic fields.

Forging new ground in oil forensics

June 13, 2014 7:30 am | News | Comments

Years after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, oil continues to wash ashore as oil-soaked “sand patties,” persists in salt marshes abutting the Gulf of Mexico, and questions remain about how much oil has been deposited on the seafloor. Scientists have developed a unique way to fingerprint oil, even after most of it has degraded, and to assess how it changes over time.

Physicians use Goggle Glass to teach surgery abroad

June 12, 2014 9:21 am | by Rachel Champeau, University of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Imagine watching a procedure performed live through the eyes of the surgeon. That’s exactly what surgical leaders in the U.S. were able to do while overseeing surgeons training in Paraguay and Brazil with the help of UCLA doctors and Google Glass. UCLA surgeon Dr. David Chen and surgical resident Dr. Justin Wagner have made it their mission to teach hernia surgery around the world and are harnessing the latest technologies to help.

A key step toward a safer strep vaccine

June 12, 2014 8:17 am | News | Comments

An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego School of Medicine, have identified the genes encoding a molecule that famously defines Group A Streptococcus (strep), a pathogenic bacterial species responsible for more than 700 million infections worldwide each year.

Mining data archives yields haul of “red nuggets”

June 12, 2014 8:09 am | by David A. Aguilar, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics | News | Comments

The world of astronomy has changed. An astronomer used to have to travel to a remote location and endure long, cold nights, patiently guiding a telescope to collect precious photons of light. Now, a proliferation of online archives allows astronomers to make discoveries from the comfort of their own offices.

Manipulating and detecting ultra-high-frequency sound waves

June 12, 2014 7:59 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

An advance has been achieved towards next-generation ultrasonic imaging with potentially 1,000 times higher resolution than today’s medical ultrasounds. Researchers with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated a technique for producing, detecting and controlling ultra-high-frequency sound waves at the nanometer scale.

Research universities form technology consortium to share content

June 12, 2014 7:37 am | by Kim Broekuizen, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

Four major U.S. research universities have formed a technology consortium to improve the way in which educational content is shared across universities and ultimately delivered to students. Unizin will provide a common digital infrastructure that will allow member universities to work together to strengthen their traditional missions of education and research using the most innovative technology available today.

A new solution for storing hydrogen fuel

June 11, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

Turning the “hydrogen economy” concept into a reality, even on a small scale, has been a bumpy road, but scientists are developing a novel way to store hydrogen to smooth out the long-awaited transition away from fossil fuels. Their report on a new solid, stable material that can pack in a large amount of hydrogen that can be used as a fuel appears in Chemistry of Materials.

DNA-lined nanoparticles form switchable thin films on liquid surface

June 11, 2014 8:22 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists seeking ways to engineer the assembly of tiny particles measuring just billionths of a meter have achieved a new first: the formation of a single layer of nanoparticles on a liquid surface where the properties of the layer can be easily switched. Understanding the assembly of such nanostructured thin films could lead to the design of new kinds of membranes with a variable mechanical response for a wide range of applications.

Producing hyperpolarized xenon gas on a microfluidic chip

June 11, 2014 8:11 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

While big machines were once the stuff that scientific dreams are made of, analytical spectroscopy instrumentation has trended to smaller products that are portable, affordable and fit into locations far removed from a standard laboratory, such as the back of an ambulance or inside a chemical reactor.

Improvements in image-detection applications on the horizon

June 11, 2014 7:56 am | by Mike Janes, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories, along with collaborators from Rice Univ. and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, are developing new terahertz detectors based on carbon nanotubes that could lead to significant improvements in medical imaging, airport passenger screening, food inspection and other applications.

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