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.
Working with a synthetic gene circuit designed to coax bacteria to grow in a predictable ring pattern, Duke Univ. scientists have revealed an underappreciated contributor to natural pattern formation: time. A series of experiments published by the Duke team show that their engineered gene circuit functions as a timing mechanism, triggering a predictable ring growth pattern that adjusts to the size of its environment.
Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics for their theoretical discoveries on how subatomic particles acquire mass. Their theories are key to explaining the building blocks of matter and the origins of the universe. They were confirmed last year by the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, also known as the Higgs boson, at CERN, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
At first glance, Mars’ clouds might be mistaken for those on Earth. Given what scientists know about the Red Planet’s atmosphere, these clouds likely consist of either carbon dioxide or water-based ice crystals. But it’s difficult to know the precise conditions that give rise to such clouds without sampling directly from a Martian cloud. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have now done the next-best thing.
François Englert and Peter W. Higgs are jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 for the theory of how particles acquire mass. In 1964, they proposed the theory independently of each other (Englert together with his now deceased colleague Robert Brout). In 2012, their ideas were confirmed by the discovery of a so called Higgs particle at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva in Switzerland.
For years scientists have been working to fundamentally understand how nanoparticles move throughout the human body. One big unanswered question is how the shape of nanoparticles affects their entry into cells. Now researchers have discovered that under typical culture conditions, mammalian cells prefer disc-shaped nanoparticles over those shaped like rods.
Multi-touch surfaces offer easy interaction in public spaces, with people being able to walk-up and use them. However, people cannot feel what they have touched. A team from the Univ. of Bristol’s Interaction and Graphics research group have developed a solution that not only allows people to feel what is on the screen, but also receive invisible information before they touch it.
A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford Univ. School of Medicine could pave the way to an era of personalized epigenomics. The technique could quickly yield huge amounts of useful information about which genes are active in particular cells. The technology involved is cheap, fast and easy to use, and all that would be needed from the patient is a blood sample or needle biopsy.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, working with partners at NASA, have developed a new concept for a microscope that would use neutrons instead of beams of light or electrons to create high-resolution images. Among other features, neutron-based instruments have the ability to probe inside metal objects to learn details of their internal structure.
3-D printing isn’t just cheaper, it’s also greener, says Joshua Pearce, a Michigan Technological Univ. assoc. prof. of materials science and engineering/electrical and computer engineering. Even Pearce, an aficionado of the make-it-yourself-and-save technology, was surprised at his study’s results. It showed that 3-D printer use less energy and release less carbon dioxide than producing stuff in a factory and shipping it to a warehouse.
Scientists at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Univ. of Texas at Arlington have developed a new type of microscopy that can image cells through a silicon wafer, allowing them to precisely measure the size and mechanical behavior of cells behind the wafer. The new technology, which relies on near-infrared light, could help scientists learn more about diseased or infected cells as they flow through silicon microfluidic devices.
In a completely unexpected finding, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have discovered that tiny water droplets that form on a superhydrophobic surface, and then “jump” away from that surface, carry an electric charge. The finding could lead to more efficient power plants and a new way of drawing power from the atmosphere, they say.
Univ. of California, Los Angeles chemical engineering researchers have created a new synthetic metabolic pathway for breaking down glucose that could lead to a 50% increase in the production of biofuels. The new pathway is intended to replace the natural metabolic pathway known as glycolysis, a series of chemical reactions that nearly all organisms use to convert sugars into the molecular precursors that cells need.
A microfluidic chip developed at the Univ. of Michigan is among the best at capturing elusive circulating tumor cells from blood—and it can support the cells' growth for further analysis. The device, believed to be the first to pair these functions, uses the advanced electronics material graphene oxide. In clinics, such a device could one day help doctors diagnose cancers.
For astrophysicists, the interplay of hydrogen and the clouds of dust that fill the voids of interstellar space has been an intractable puzzle of stellar evolution. The dust, astronomers believe, is a key phase in the lifecycle of stars, which are formed in dusty nurseries throughout the cosmos. But how the dust interacts with hydrogen and is oriented by the magnetic fields in deep space has proved a theoretical challenge. Until now.
Kids grumble about homework. But their complaints will hold no water with a group of theoretical physicists who’ve spent almost 50 years solving one homework problem: a calculation of one type of subatomic particle decay aimed at helping to answer the question of why the early universe ended up with an excess of matter. Without that excess, the matter and antimatter created in the Big Bang would have completely annihilated one another.