Chemists at Oregon State Univ. have identified a compound that could significantly reduce the cost and potentially enable the mass commercial production of silicon nanostructures—materials that have huge potential in everything from electronics to biomedicine and energy storage. This extraordinary compound is called table salt.
The fashion industry in many countries amounts to tens of billions of dollars in value, and has historically been vulnerable to counterfeiters. Scientists from the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory have published recent research that demonstrates how a technique called terahertz time-domain spectroscopy could be used to help spot fakes and combat textile counterfeiting.
Inspired by prickly cacti, Chinese scientists have developed a new technique for removing oil from water, which could have applications in oil spill cleanup work. An article published in Nature Communications describes the study by Jiang Lei and his co-workers at the Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, whose creation of copper spike arrays have proved to be highly efficient in absorbing oil during experiments.
Using imperfections in diamonds as nanoscale thermometers, and gold nanoparticles implanted in cells as laser-induced heating mechanisms, a team of researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout program recently demonstrated sub-degree temperature measurement and control at the nanometer scale inside living cells.
Two volunteer taste-testers in London got the unusual opportunity of sampling a stem-cell burger. Though it was reportedly short on taste, the burger represents five years of research. Made from meat grown in a laboratory from the stem cells of cattle, the the burger is part of an effort to help solve both the food crisis and climate change.
Cable clutter is an eyesore and a tripping hazard in one. Researchers have developed a new kind of antenna hidden in tables that can wirelessly supply electronic devices with power. The power extends throughout the tabletop without the need for a large, impractical coil. The “tables” can transmit data, too.
Sun-drenched rooms make for happy residents, but large glass windows also bring higher air-conditioning bills. Now a bioinspired microfluidic circulatory system for windows developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University could save energy and cut cooling costs dramatically—while letting in just as much sunlight.
Scientists in Spain have developed a cementitious material incorporating carbon nanofibers in its composition, turning cement into an excellent conductor of electricity capable of performing functions beyond its usual structural function. The transformation relies on the addition of carbonaceous materials.
Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics and Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have used optogenetics techniques to implant false memories into mice, potentially illuminating the mechanisms underlying the human phenomenon of “recalling” experiences that never occurred.
Two years ago, a team from the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara discovered the mechanism by which a neurotransmitter dramatically changes color in the common market squid. Now the researchers have delved deeper to uncover the mechanism responsible for the dramatic changes in color used by such creatures as squids and octopuses. They have found the animals have evolved their own version of a tunable Bragg reflector.
A superfluid, like liquid helium, moves like a completely frictionless liquid. Physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have applied a method called holographic duality to mathematically describe the complex behavior of superfluids—in particular, the turbulent flows within superfluids. Their approach, which generated a model similar to the behavior of cigarette smoke, involved translating the physics of black holes.
A new biosensor, applied to the human skin like a temporary tattoo, can alert marathoners, competitive bikers and other “extreme” athletes that they’re about to “bonk,” or “hit the wall.” The study describes the first human tests of the sensor, which also could help soldiers and others who engage in intense exercise.
Taking inspiration from trees, scientists have developed a battery made from a sliver of wood coated with tin that shows promise for becoming a tiny, long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly energy source. The device, developed at the Univ. of Maryland, is 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.
Another reason to eat breakfast: Skipping it may increase your chances of a heart attack. A study of older men found those who regularly skipped breakfast had a 27% higher risk of a heart attack than those who ate a morning meal. There's no reason why the results wouldn't apply to other people, too, the Harvard researchers said.
Concentric hexagons of graphene grown in a furnace at Rice University represent the first time anyone has synthesized graphene nanoribbons on metal from the bottom up—atom by atom. As seen under a microscope, the layers brought onions to mind. Though flat graphene could never be like an onion, the name stuck.
If you squeeze a normal object in all directions, it shrinks in all directions. But a few strange materials will actually grow in one dimension when compressed. A team of chemists has now discovered a structure that takes this property to a new level, expanding more dramatically under pressure than any other known material.
Using a close interplay of neuronal control and clever biomechanical tricks, insects can move their limbs without muscles. So-called “passive joint forces” serve to return the limb back towards a preferred resting position. This surprising finding from neurobiologists at the Univ. of Leicester may provide engineers with new ways to improve the control of robotic and prosthetic limbs.
Scientists have developed an "intelligent knife" that can tell surgeons immediately whether the tissue they are cutting is cancerous or not. In the first study to test the invention in the operating theatre, the "iKnife" diagnosed tissue samples from 91 patients with 100% accuracy, instantly providing information that normally takes up to half an hour to reveal using laboratory tests.
Researchers in Switzerland have been able to make objects such as particles and liquid droplets fly in mid-air by letting them ride on acoustic waves. For the first time, they have been able to also control the movement of objects, merge droplets, letting them react chemically or biologically and even rotate a toothpick in the air.
In one of the most harrowing spacewalks in decades, an astronaut had to rush back into the International Space Station on Tuesday after a mysterious water leak inside his helmet robbed him of the ability to speak or hear at times and could have caused him to choke or even drown. Italian Luca Parmitano was reported to be fine after the dangerous episode, which might have been caused by an unprecedented leak in the cooling system of his suit.
Imagine this: There's no need to throw out your old cellphone, because it will self-destruct. That's the idea behind a project at the Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where researchers are investigating how to build electronics that vanish in water. A new video from the university explains their efforts.
The ergodic theorem, proposed by mathematician George Birkhoff in 1931, holds that if you follow an individual particle over an infinite amount of time, it will go through all the states that are seen in an infinite population at an instant in time. Experiments by biochemists in California show for the first time that the ergodic theorem can be demonstrated by a collection of individual protein molecules.
Astronomers have for the first time managed to determine the color of a planet outside our solar system, a blue gas giant 63 light-years away. Measuring the planet's color, which is probably created by a turbulent atmosphere of silicate particles, is a significant first. It has never been done before with a planet outside our solar system.
Researchers are now designing robots for the last frontier of agricultural mechanization: fruits and vegetables. Sensitive to bruising, these crops have resisted mechanization. But engineers from Silicon Valley have been working on the Lettuce Bot, which can thin a field of lettuce in the time it takes about 20 works to do the job by hand.
Archaeologists say they have discovered some of the world's oldest known primitive writing, dating back 5,000 years, in eastern China, and some of the markings etched on broken axes resemble a modern Chinese character. The inscriptions are about 1,400 years older than the oldest written Chinese language, although some scholars are divided over whether the markings are words or something simpler.