Essential oils have boomed in popularity as more people seek out alternatives to replace their synthetic cleaning products, anti-mosquito sprays and medicines. Now scientists are tapping them as candidates to preserve food in a more consumer-friendly way. Recent research has led to new edible films containing oils from clove and oregano that preserve bread longer than commercial additives.
The humble sewing machine could play a key role in creating "soft" robotics, wearable electronics and implantable medical systems made of elastic materials that are capable of extreme stretching. New stretchable technologies could lead to innovations including robots that have human-like sensory skin and synthetic muscles and flexible garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.
Twenty years after the hormone leptin was found to regulate metabolism, appetite and weight through brain cells called neurons, Yale School of Medicine researchers have found that the hormone also acts on other types of cells to control appetite.
The gap between stem cell research and regenerative medicine just became a lot narrower, thanks to a new technique that coaxes stem cells, with potential to become any tissue type, to take the first step to specialization. It is the first time this critical step has been demonstrated in a laboratory.
Researchers are trying to develop solar-driven generators that can split water, yielding hydrogen gas that could be used as clean fuel. Such a device requires efficient light-absorbing materials that attract and hold sunlight to drive the chemical reactions involved in water splitting. Semiconductors are excellent light absorbers. However, these materials rust when submerged in the type of water solutions found in such systems.
Bacteria use threadlike appendages, called pili, to creep along a surface, and some disease-causing microbes extend pili in all directions to move. But until now researchers have been unable to explain why bacteria like these are able to travel in a straight line consistently. A new model developed to describe this movement shows that bacteria do not act as randomly as they appear to when moving.
With a growing number of consumers demanding more earth-friendly practices from the fashion world, scientists are developing new ways to produce textiles that could help meet rising expectations. They report in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research one such method that can dramatically reduce the amount of energy it takes to bleach cotton while improving the quality of the popular material.
The slopes of a giant Martian volcano, once covered in glacial ice, may have been home to one of the most recent habitable environments yet found on the Red Planet, according to new research led by Brown Univ. geologists. Nearly twice as tall as Mount Everest, Arsia Mons is the third tallest volcano on Mars and one of the largest mountains in the solar system.
They are 3-D and yet single-sided: Moebius strips. These twisted objects have only one side and one edge. Using this iconic form, an international team of scientists has succeeded in designing the world’s first “triply” twisted molecule. Because of their peculiar quantum mechanical properties these structures are interesting for applications in molecular electronics and optoelectronics.
Doctors in Italy have designed a miniature dialysis machine for babies, used for the first time last year to save a newborn girl. Usually, doctors adapt standard dialysis machines for babies, but that can be risky since the devices can't always be accurately tweaked. About 1 to 2% of hospitalized infants have kidney problems that may require dialysis, which cleans toxins from the blood when the kidneys aren't working.
Researchers at the Univ. of Massachusetts will lead an international team of scientists in the development and implementation of a new optogenetic platform that can remotely activate neurons inside a free-moving organism. Using a new class of nanoparticles they propose to selectively turn on non-image forming photoreceptors inside mice and Drosophila, unencumbered by the fiber optic wires currently used in optogenetic technologies.
Images taken by Rice Univ. scientists show that some diamonds are not forever. The Rice researchers behind a new study that explains the creation of nanodiamonds in treated coal also show that some microscopic diamonds only last seconds before fading back into less-structured forms of carbon under the impact of an electron beam.
To the relief of patients diagnosed with hepatitis C, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved two new treatments late last year, and a few more are on the way. Now scientists are solving another side of the disease’s problem: identifying the millions more who have the virus but don’t know it—and unwittingly pass it on. A report in Analytical Chemistry describes a novel, scrapbook-inspired test that does just that.
A demonstration by NASA and MIT engineers last fall showed, for first time, that a data communication technology exists that can provide space dwellers with the connectivity we all enjoy here on Earth. Next month, the team will present the first comprehensive overview of the performance of their laser-based communication uplink between the moon and Earth, which beat the previous record transmission speed last fall by a factor of 4,800.
For anyone searching for another reason to enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, here’s a good one: A new study has found that red wine, as well as grape seed extract, could potentially help prevent cavities. They say that their report, which appears in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, could lead to the development of natural products that ward off dental diseases with fewer side effects.
Scientists from the Biorobotics Laboratory (BIOROB) at EPFL in Switzerland have developed small robotic modules that can change their shape to create reconfigurable furniture. Like Lego bricks, these robotic pieces, or Roombots, can be stacked upon each other to create various structures. Each piece has three motors that allow the module to pivot with three degrees of freedom, and each also has a battery and wireless connection.
A team in Texas has built the smallest, fastest and longest-running tiny synthetic motor to date. The reliable, 18,000-rpm device can convert electrical energy into mechanical motion on a scale 500 times smaller than a grain of salt. Made from three parts, the nanomotor can rapidly mix and pump biochemicals and move through liquids.
In 1934, physicists Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron. New research in the U.K. shows for the first time how Breit and Wheeler’s theory could be proven in practice using what’s called a “photon-photon collider”.
Britain is offering 10 million pounds (almost $17 million) to whoever can solve one of humanity's biggest scientific challenges. What’s the challenge? Organizers said Monday the public would vote on which of six challenges the prize should tackle, ranging from reversal of paralysis to making air travel environmentally friendly.
Terahertz, or T-ray, range of the electromagnetic has rich promise for scientific applications, but instrumentation that can take advantage of these rays for imaging are still in progress. Univ. of Michigan researchers have recently made a breakthrough by converting terahertz light into sound using a compact, sensitive detector that operates at room temperature and is fabricated in an unusual manner.
Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have a potential solution for how to more effectively kill tumor cells using cancer-killing viruses. The investigators report that trapping virus-loaded stem cells in a gel and applying them to tumors significantly improved survival in mice with glioblastoma multiforme, the most common brain tumor in human adults and also the most difficult to treat.
If studying a single gene or a diet that might extend longevity is like searching for a fountain of youth, then a new study calls for looking at something more like the whole watershed. Brown Univ. biologists who experimentally throttled three such factors in fruit flies found that lifespan depended more on interactions among the factors than on the factors themselves.
Using a material found in Silly Putty and surgical tubing, a group of researchers at the Univ. of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have developed a new way to make lithium-ion batteries that will last three times longer between charges compared to the current industry standard. The innovation involves the development of silicon dioxide nanotube anodes.
A poet and a scientist at the Univ. of Sheffield in the U.K. have collaborated to create a catalytic poem called “In Praise of Air”. The poem is printed on material containing a formula invented at the university which is capable of removing nitrogen oxide from the atmosphere. According to its developers, the cheap technology could also be applied to billboards and advertisements alongside congested roads to cut pollution.
The mechanical properties of natural joints are considered unrivalled. Cartilage is coated with a special polymer layer allowing joints to move virtually friction-free, even under high pressure. Using simulations, scientists in Europe have developed a new process that technologically imitates biological lubrication and even improves it using two different types of polymers.