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Science Connect: Next-Generation Engineering Facilities

April 17, 2015 | by Lindsay Hock, Editor | Comments

In the past decade, the expansion of research focus areas in engineering has undergone a transformation. The demands of engineering labs present challenges for institutions because most occupied spaces were conceived during an era with radically different needs and required services.

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R&D Daily

Artificial leaf harnesses sunlight for efficient fuel production

August 28, 2015 12:30 pm | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | Comments

Generating and storing renewable energy, such as solar or wind power, is a key barrier to a clean-energy economy. When the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis was established in 2010, the U.S. Dept. of Energy Energy Innovation Hub had one main goal: a cost-effective method of producing fuels using only sunlight, water and carbon dioxide, mimicking the natural process of photosynthesis in plants.

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Chemists solve major piece of cellular mystery

August 28, 2015 7:29 am | by Kimm Fesenmaier, California Institute of Technology | Comments

Not just anything is allowed to enter the nucleus, the heart of eukaryotic cells where, among other things, genetic information is stored. A double membrane, called the nuclear envelope, serves as a wall, protecting the contents of the nucleus. Any molecules trying to enter or exit the nucleus must do so via a cellular gatekeeper known as the nuclear pore complex (NPC), or pore, that exists within the envelope.

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Self-healing material could plug life-threating holes in spacecraft

August 27, 2015 12:00 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

For astronauts living in space with objects zooming around them at 22,000 mph like rogue super-bullets, it’s good to have a backup plan. Although shields and fancy maneuvers could help protect space structures, scientists have to prepare for the possibility that debris could pierce a vessel.

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Antimatter catches a wave

August 27, 2015 10:00 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

A study has demonstrated a new, efficient way to accelerate positrons, the antimatter opposites of electrons. The method may help boost the energy and shrink the size of future linear particle colliders, powerful accelerators that could be used to unravel the properties of nature’s fundamental building blocks.

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Surgeons may get remote assistance with new “telementoring” system

August 26, 2015 9:00 am | by Emil Venere, Purdue Univ. | Comments

Researchers at Purdue Univ. and the Indiana Univ. School of Medicine are developing an "augmented reality telementoring" system to provide effective support to surgeons on the battlefield from specialists located thousands of miles away. In telementoring, a surgeon performing an operation receives guidance remotely from an expert using telecommunications.

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Google Tests Six-Foot Humanoid Robot with Walk in Woods

August 21, 2015 10:30 am | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Comments

Boston Dynamics, a robotics company owned by Google, posted footage of a prototype of their robot, named Atlas, taking a walk through the woods. 

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A paradigm shift in multi-drug resistance

August 21, 2015 7:40 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | Comments

Bacteria are pretty wily creatures. Take for example, an organism such as Salmonella, which are killed by antibiotics in lab tests, but can become highly resistant in the body. It is an example of what Univ. of California, Santa Barbara biologist Michael Mahan refers to as the Trojan horse strategy.

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Harnessing Evaporation through Minuscule Bacterial Spores

August 20, 2015 10:30 am | by Ryan Bushey, Associate Editor | Comments

Scientists at Columbia Univ. developed a unique method for harnessing natural sources of energy. The researchers used tiny bacterial spores to kick-start an energy transfer process that, “on a grand scale, is a hugely important factor in the planet’s climate and weather-namely, evaporation,” according to The New York Times’ Science Take series.

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Most comprehensive projects for West Antarctica’s future revealed

August 19, 2015 11:00 am | by Linda Vu, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

A new international study is the first to use a high-resolution, large-scale computer model to estimate how much ice the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could lose over the next couple of centuries, and how much that could add to sea-level rise. The results paint a clearer picture of West Antarctica’s future than was previously possible.

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Reducing human health impacts on electric power generation

August 18, 2015 1:30 pm | by John Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

By combining information about power plant operation with real-time air quality predictions, researchers have created a new capability to minimize the human health effects of air pollution resulting from electric power generating facilities. The Air Pollutant Optimization Model, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides a new approach for reducing the health effects of ozone and fine particulate pollution.

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A new look at brain signaling

August 18, 2015 7:46 am | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Scientists have revealed never-before-seen details of how our brain sends rapid-fire messages between its cells. They mapped the 3-D atomic structure of a two-part protein complex that controls the release of signaling chemicals, called neurotransmitters, from brain cells. Understanding how cells release those signals in less than one-thousandth of a second could help launch a new wave of research on drugs for treating brain disorders.

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Dancing droplets launch themselves from thin fibers

August 17, 2015 5:00 pm | by Ken Kingery, Duke Univ. | Comments

We’ve all seen dewdrops form on spider webs. But what if they flung themselves off of the strands instead? Researchers at Duke Univ. and the Univ. of British Columbia have now observed this peculiar phenomenon, which could benefit many industrial applications. As long as the strands are moderately hydrophobic and relatively thin, small droplets combining into one are apt to dance themselves right off of the tightrope.

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Researchers turn 3-D world into “projection screen”

August 13, 2015 3:00 pm | by Tara La Bouff, Georgia Institute of Technology | Comments

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology discovered a new way to improve human and robot safety in manufacturing scenarios by developing a method for robots to project their next action into the 3-D world and onto any moving object.

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Algorithm clarifies “big data” clusters

August 13, 2015 11:30 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | Comments

Rice Univ. scientists have developed a big data technique that could have a significant impact on health care. The Rice lab of bioengineer Amina Qutub designed an algorithm called “progeny clustering” that is being used in a hospital study to identify which treatments should be given to children with leukemia.

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Flexible, biodegradable device can generate power from touch

August 12, 2015 5:15 pm | by American Chemical Society | Comments

Long-standing concerns about portable electronics include the devices’ short battery life and their contribution to e-waste. One group of scientists is now working on a way to address both of these seeming unrelated issues at the same time. They report in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces the development of a biodegradable nanogenerator made with DNA that can harvest the energy from everyday motion and turn it into electrical power.

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