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Microscopy system delivers real-time view of battery electrochemistry

February 19, 2014 3:17 pm | News | Comments

Using a new microscopy method, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) can image and measure electrochemical processes in batteries in real time and at nanoscale resolution. Scientists at ORNL used a miniature electrochemical liquid cell that is placed in a transmission electron microscope to study an enigmatic phenomenon in lithium-ion batteries called the solid electrolyte interphase.

Using holograms to improve electronic devices

February 19, 2014 3:02 pm | by Sean Nealon, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

A team of researchers has demonstrated a new type of holographic memory device that could provide unprecedented data storage capacity and data processing capabilities in electronic devices. The new type of memory device uses spin waves, a collective oscillation of spins in magnetic materials, instead of the optical beams.

Report: Federal support enabled 22 major technology advances

February 19, 2014 9:52 am | by Information Technology and Innovation Foundation | News | Comments

A new report examines 22 cases of successful U.S. innovation in which the development of key foundational technologies stemmed at least in part from federal investment in research and development (R&D). The cases cover technologies developed across a wide range of fields over the past half century, from information and communications technology, energy and health care to transportation, agriculture and mathematics.

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Report: Offshoring, outsourcing a mixed bag for American jobs, wages

February 19, 2014 9:41 am | by Kathleen Maclay, Media Relations, Univ. of California, Berkeley | News | Comments

A new study by Univ. of California, Berkeley and Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers finds that the practices of outsourcing and offshoring jobs appear to have both positive and negative effects on American jobs and wages. The pilot study provides the first representative and internationally comparable evidence of the domestic and international sourcing practices of U.S. private and public sector organizations.

An essential step toward printing living tissues

February 19, 2014 9:29 am | News | Comments

A new bioprinting method developed at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. creates intricately patterned 3-D tissue constructs with multiple types of cells and tiny blood vessels. The work represents a major step toward a longstanding goal of tissue engineers: creating human tissue constructs realistic enough to test drug safety and effectiveness.

Solar-induced hybrid fuel cell produces electricity directly from biomass

February 19, 2014 7:45 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Although low-temperature fuel cells powered by methanol or hydrogen have been well studied, existing low-temperature fuel cell technologies can’t directly use biomass as a fuel because of the lack of an effective catalyst system for polymeric materials. Now, researchers have developed a new type of low-temperature fuel cell that directly converts biomass to electricity with assistance from a catalyst activated by solar or thermal energy.

Smarter caching

February 19, 2014 7:32 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Computer chips keep getting faster because transistors keep getting smaller. But the chips themselves are as big as ever, so data moving around the chip, and between chips and main memory, has to travel just as far. As transistors get faster, the cost of moving data becomes, proportionally, a more severe limitation. So far, chip designers have circumvented that limitation through the use of “caches”.

How Laboratory Space is Changing

February 18, 2014 1:49 pm | by Bill Harris, Principal, Regional Practice Leader for Science and Technology, Perkins+Will | Articles | Comments

A generation ago, wet laboratory space would’ve included fixed casework, dense with laboratory benches, storage cabinets and equipment, but hardly any space or capacity to hold a meeting or accommodate change. Today, laboratory space design reflects an evolution in both the methods of research and the way that scientists work—individually and with their colleagues. 

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Artificial leaf jumps developmental hurdle

February 18, 2014 11:00 am | News | Comments

In a recent early online edition of Nature Chemistry, Arizona State Univ. scientists, along with colleagues at Argonne National Laboratory, have reported advances toward perfecting a functional artificial leaf. Designing an artificial leaf that uses solar energy to convert water cheaply and efficiently into hydrogen and oxygen is one of the goals of BISfuel.

A battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon

February 18, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon through rivers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. The battery, a cylinder just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, is certainly not the world's smallest battery, as engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair. 

Test could predict which teen boys get depression

February 18, 2014 8:09 am | by Maria Cheng - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

A saliva test for teenage boys with mild symptoms of depression could help identify those who will later develop major depression, a new study says. Researchers measured the stress hormone cortisol in teenage boys and found that ones with high levels coupled with mild depression symptoms were up to 14 times more likely to suffer clinical depression later in life than those with low or normal cortisol levels.

Hitchhiking vaccines boost immunity

February 18, 2014 8:04 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many vaccines consist of a killed or disabled version of a virus. However, for certain diseases, this type of vaccine is ineffective, or just too risky. An alternative, safer approach is a vaccine made of small fragments of proteins produced by a disease-causing virus or bacterium. This has worked for some diseases, but in many cases these vaccines don’t provoke a strong enough response. Until now.

Study: America's natural gas system is leaky and in need of a fix

February 14, 2014 8:05 am | by Mark Golden, Stanford Univ. | News | Comments

The first thorough comparison of evidence for natural gas system leaks confirms that organizations including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have underestimated U.S. methane emissions generally, as well as those from the natural gas industry specifically.

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Research reveals structure of key protein complex

February 13, 2014 1:04 pm | by Veronica Meade-Kelly, Broad Institute | News | Comments

Researchers have formed the first high-definition picture of the Cas9 complex, a key part of the CRISPR-Cas system used by scientists as a genome-editing tool to silence genes and probe the biology of cells. Their findingsare expected to help researchers refine and further engineer the tool to accelerate genomic research and bring the technology closer to use in the treatment of human genetic disease.

NIF experiments show initial gain in fusion fuel

February 12, 2014 1:28 pm | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

Ignition has long been considered the "holy grail" of inertial confinement fusion science. A key step along the path to ignition is to have "fuel gains" greater than unity, where the energy generated through fusion reactions exceeds the amount of energy deposited into the fusion fuel. Though ignition remains the ultimate goal, the milestone of achieving fuel gains greater than one has been reached for the first time ever on any facility.

Technology decodes more information from single photons

February 12, 2014 1:02 pm | News | Comments

It's not quite Star Trek communications—yet. But long-distance communications in space may be easier now that researchers have designed a clever detector array that can extract more information than usual from single particles of light. Described in a new paper, the NIST/JPL array-on-a-chip easily identifies the position of the exact detector in a multi-detector system that absorbs an incoming infrared light particle, or photon.

Report compiles quantitative information on S&E

February 12, 2014 12:00 pm | by National Science Foundation | News | Comments

Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI) is first and foremost a volume of record comprising the major high-quality quantitative data on the U.S. and international science and engineering enterprise. SEI is factual and policy neutral. It doesn’t offer policy options, and it doesn’t make policy recommendations.

Is natural gas a solution to mitigating climate change?

February 11, 2014 8:18 am | by Cynthia Eller, California Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Methane, a key greenhouse gas, has more than doubled in volume in Earth's atmosphere since 1750. Its increase is believed to be a leading contributor to climate change. But where is the methane coming from? Research by a California Institute of Technology atmospheric chemist suggests that losses of natural gas—our "cleanest" fossil fuel—into the atmosphere may be a larger source than previously recognized.

More Hope for a HIV-1 Vaccine

February 10, 2014 9:15 am | by Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor | Articles | Comments

On the eve of the 25th World AIDS Day (December 2014), President Barack Obama expressed hope to our nation, proclaiming that an “AIDS-free generation is within our reach.” During his speech, Obama expressed how our nation has made significant strides toward strengthening scientific investments, building effective HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs and bringing together public and private stakeholders.

Scientists use “voting”, “penalties” to overcome errors in quantum optimization

February 7, 2014 8:26 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Seeking a solution to decoherence, scientists have developed a strategy of linking quantum bits together into voting blocks, a strategy that significantly boosts their accuracy. In a recently published paper, the team found that their method results in at least a five-fold increase in the probability of reaching the correct answer when the processor solves the largest problems tested by the researcher, involving hundreds of qubits.

Theorists predict new forms of exotic insulating materials

February 7, 2014 8:02 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Topological insulators have been of great interest to physicists in recent years because of unusual properties that may provide insights into quantum physics. But most analysis of such materials has had to rely on highly simplified models. Now, a team of researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology has performed a more detailed analysis that hints at the existence of six new kinds of topological insulators.

Researchers improve process for manufacturing efficient solar cells

February 6, 2014 9:04 am | by Bill Kisliuk, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Working on the cutting edge of a newly emerging area of solar-cell research, Univ. of California, Los Angeles engineers have invented a new process for manufacturing highly efficient photovoltaic materials that shows promise for low-cost industrial production. The new process uses so-called perovskite materials, which in the past few years have significantly advanced scientists' efforts to create the next generation of solar cells.

Researchers find unambiguous evidence for coherent phonons in superlattices

February 6, 2014 8:39 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

We all learn in high school science about the dual nature of light—that it exists as both waves and quantum particles called photons. It’s this duality of light that enables the coherent transport of photons in lasers. Sound at the atomic-scale has the same dual nature, existing as both waves and quasi-particles known as phonons. Does this duality allow for phonon-based lasers?

Ballistic transport in graphene suggests new type of electronic device

February 6, 2014 8:20 am | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | News | Comments

Using electrons more like photons could provide the foundation for a new type of electronic device that would capitalize on the ability of graphene to carry electrons with almost no resistance even at room temperature—a property known as ballistic transport. Research reported that electrical resistance in nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene changes in discrete steps following quantum mechanical principles.

Materials database proves its mettle with new discoveries

February 4, 2014 10:34 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Trying to find new materials, to improve the performance of anything from microchips to car bodies, has always been a process of trial and error. Massachusetts Institute of Technology materials scientist Gerbrand Ceder likens it to setting out from Boston for California, with neither a map nor a navigation system—and on foot.

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