A new breakthrough battery, one that has significantly higher energy, lasts longer and is cheaper and safer, will likely be impossible without a new material discovery. And a new material discovery could take years, if not decades, since trial and error has been the best available approach.
Nowhere is the adage "form follows function" more true than in the folded chain of amino acids that makes up a single protein macromolecule. But proteins are very sensitive to errors in their genetic blueprints. One single-letter DNA "misspelling" (called a point mutation) can alter a protein's structure or electric charge distribution enough to render it ineffective or even deleterious.
A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice Univ. The inexpensive, highly porous material may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.
More American homes could be powered by the Earth's natural underground heat with a new, nontoxic and potentially recyclable liquid that is expected to use half as much water as other fluids used to tap into otherwise unreachable geothermal hot spots. The fluid might be a boon to a new approach to geothermal power called enhanced geothermal systems.
Translational research is a paradigm for research designed to enable innovative thinking by leveraging the benefits of collaboration. First emerging in the mid-1990s in reference to cancer studies spanning basic science, over the past two decades the definition has broadened and evolved.
If the Rice Univ. freshman engineering design team Comfortably Numb has it their way, children will be less fearful and feel less pain when they go to the doctor’s office for a shot. The trio of freshmen has created a device to ease the pain of an injection. Their device numbs the skin prior to a shot by producing a rapid chemical reaction to cool the patient’s skin.
A Columbia Engineering research team has invented a prototype video camera that is the first to be fully self-powered: It can produce an image each second, indefinitely, of a well-lit indoor scene. They designed a pixel that can not only measure incident light but also convert the incident light into electric power.
A newly developed spectroscopy method is helping to clarify the poorly understood molecular process by which an anti-HIV drug induces lethal mutations in the virus’ genetic material. The findings from the Univ. of Chicago and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could bolster efforts to develop the next generation of anti-viral treatments.
NIST researchers have demonstrated the most precise method yet to measure the structural configuration of monoclonal antibodies, an important factor in determining the safety and efficacy of these biomolecules as medicines. Monoclonal antibodies are proteins manufactured in the laboratory that can target specific disease cells or antigens (proteins that trigger an immune reaction) for removal from the body.
Rice Univ. researchers have determined that two walls are better than one when turning carbon nanotubes into materials like strong, conductive fibers or transistors. Rice materials scientist Enrique Barrera and his colleagues used atomic-level models of double-walled nanotubes to see how they might be tuned for applications that require particular properties.
Imagine having your MRI results sent directly to your phone, with no concern over the security of your private health data. Or knowing your financial information was safe on a server halfway around the world. Or sending highly sensitive business correspondence, without worrying that it would fall into the wrong hands.
Electrical charges not only move through wires, they also travel along lengths of DNA, the molecule of life. The property is known as charge transport. In a new study appearing in Nature Chemistry, researchers explore the ways in which electrical charges move along DNA bases affixed to a pair of electrodes.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has teamed up with a telescope on the ground to find a remote gas planet about 13,000 light-years away, making it one of the most distant planets known. The discovery demonstrates that Spitzer can be used to help solve the puzzle of how planets are distributed throughout our flat, spiral-shaped Milky Way galaxy. Are they concentrated heavily in its central hub, or more evenly spread throughout its suburbs?
Additive manufacturing has been called a game changer. But new games require new instructions, and the manuals for a growing assortment of methods for building parts and products layer-by-layer, collectively known as "3D printing", still are works in progress. Manufacturing researchers at NIST have scoped out the missing sections in current guidelines for powder bed fusion, the chief method for "printing" metal parts.
More than 50 years ago, when the laser was a mere five years old, laser physicists dreamed of the development of an x-ray laser to expand the frontier of knowledge. The concept goes back to the mid-1960s, when scientists realized that laser beams amplified with ions would have much shorter wavelengths than beams amplified with gas.
The human immune system is poised to spring into action at the first sign of a foreign invader, but it often fails to eliminate tumors that arise from the body’s own cells. Cancer biologists hope to harness that untapped power using an approach known as cancer immunotherapy. Orchestrating a successful immune attack against tumors has proven difficult so far, until now.
Composite materials used in aircraft wings and fuselages are typically manufactured in large, industrial-sized ovens: Multiple polymer layers are blasted with temperatures up to 750 F, and solidified to form a solid, resilient material. Using this approach, considerable energy is required first to heat the oven, then the gas around it, and finally the actual composite.
Few among us may know what magnetic domains are, but we make use of them daily when we email files, post images or download music or video to our personal devices. Now a team of researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has found a new way of manipulating the walls that define these magnetic domains and the results could one day revolutionize the electronics industry.
Researchers have demonstrated a promising new way to increase the effectiveness of radiation in killing cancer cells. The approach involves gold nanoparticles tethered to acid-seeking compounds called pHLIPs. The pHLIPs (pH low-insertion peptides) home in on high acidity of malignant cells, delivering their nanoparticle passengers straight to the cells’ doorsteps.
With its thick, hazy atmosphere and surface rivers, mountains, lakes and dunes, Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is one of the most Earth-like places in the solar system. As the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft examines Titan over many years, its discoveries bring new mysteries. One of those involves the seemingly wind-created sand dunes spotted by Cassini near the moon’s equator, and the contrary winds just above.
Flexibility is critical when considering the future of science, research and lab environments. However, research needs down the road are difficult to predict, and flexibility is hard to define. Yet, reducing a facility’s flexibility may mean the loss of spare engineering capacities/infrastructures, services planning and space for anticipated growth and fit-out.
If you're designing a new computer, you want it to solve problems as fast as possible. Just how fast is possible is an open question when it comes to quantum computers, but physicists at NIST have narrowed the theoretical limits for where that "speed limit" is. The research implies that quantum processors will work more slowly than some research has suggested.
A Univ. of New South Wales-led research team has encoded quantum information in silicon using simple electrical pulses for the first time, bringing the construction of affordable large-scale quantum computers one step closer to reality. The team has successfully realized a new control method for future quantum computers.
Scientists have measured the subatomic intricacies of an exotic phenomenon first predicted more than 60 years ago. This so-called van Vleck magnetism is the key to harnessing the quantum quirks of topological insulators, and could lead to unprecedented electronics.
When a missile or meteor strikes the earth, the havoc above ground is obvious, but the details of what happens below ground are harder to see. Duke Univ. physicists have developed techniques that enable them to simulate high-speed impacts in artificial soil and sand in the lab, and then watch what happens underground close-up, in super slow motion.