Blood clots play an unexpected role in protecting the body from the deadly effects of bacteria by absorbing bacterial toxins, researchers have found. Even with modern antibiotics, septic shock from bacterial infections afflicts about 300,000 people a year in the U.S., with a mortality rate of 30 to 50%. Septic shock is caused by Gram-negative bacteria, which release a toxin called lipopolysaccharide or endotoxin.
With one stomp of his foot, Zhong Lin Wang illuminates a thousand light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, with no batteries or power cord. The current comes from essentially the same source as that tiny spark that jumps from a fingertip to a doorknob when you walk across carpet on a cold, dry day. Wang and his research team have learned to harvest this power and put it to work.
Heating a sheet of plastic may not bring it to life, but it sure looks like it does in new experiments at Rice Univ. The materials created by Rice polymer scientist Rafael Verduzco and his colleagues start as flat slabs, but they morph into shapes that can be controlled by patterns written into their layers.
The prospect of turning coal into fluorescent particles may sound too good to be true, but the possibility exists, thanks to scientists at Rice Univ. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour found simple methods to reduce three kinds of coal into graphene quantum dots (GQDs), microscopic discs of atom-thick graphene oxide that could be used in medical imaging as well as sensing, electronic and photovoltaic applications.
A new method to identify previously hidden details about the structures of proteins may speed the process of novel drug design, according to scientists at Rice Univ. A unique combination of computational techniques and experimental data helped Rice theorists predict intermediate configurations of proteins that, until now, have been hard to detect.
Much of what is known about sensory touch and hearing cells is based on indirect observation. Scientists know that these tiny cells are sensitive to changes in force and pressure. But to truly understand how they function, scientists must be able to manipulate them directly. Now, Stanford Univ. scientists are developing a set of tools that are small enough to stimulate an individual nerve or group of nerves.
Researchers have tried for decades to understand the undulations and gyrations that allow transport proteins to shuttle molecules from one side of a cell membrane to the other. Now scientists report that they have found a way to penetrate the mystery. They have worked out every step in the molecular dance that enables one such transporter to do its job.
More than 100 million gallons of cutting fluid is used each year in the U.S. to protect wet machining tools. Dry machining is a more ecologically friendly alternative to wet machining, but a lack of available cutting tools that offer the necessary lubrication and desired hot hardness has limited its usage. NanoMech Inc. has now introduced a technology that offers a potential 500% efficiency improvement on the industry standard.
Univ. of Illinois researchers have developed a way to heal gaps in wires too small for even the world's tiniest soldering iron. Junctions between nanotubes have high resistance, slowing down the current and creating hotspots. The researchers use these hot spots to trigger a local chemical reaction that deposits metal that nanosolders the junctions.
Those who study hydrophobic materials are familiar with a theoretical limit on the time it takes for a water droplet to bounce away from such a surface. But Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have now found a way to burst through that perceived barrier, reducing the contact time by at least 40%.
In developing nations, rural areas and even one's own home, limited access to expensive equipment and trained medical professionals can impede the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Many qualitative tests that provide a simple "yes" or "no" answer have been optimized for use in these resource-limited settings. But few quantitative tests can be done outside of a laboratory or clinical setting.
Researchers have made the first battery electrode that heals itself, opening a new and potentially commercially viable path for making the next generation of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, cell phones and other devices. The secret is a stretchy polymer that coats the electrode, binds it together and spontaneously heals tiny cracks that develop during battery operation.
Analysis of the electrical properties of nanostructures is crucial for the successful development of practical materials that take advantage of atomic-scale properties. Examination at this size regime can be accomplished with a variety of instrumentation, but few tools are as flexible and potent as nanoprobe systems.
During spring break the last five years, a Univ. of Washington class has headed to the Nevada desert to launch rockets and learn more about the science and engineering involved. Sometimes, the launch would fail and a rocket smacked hard into the ground. This year, the session included launches from a balloon that were deliberately directed into a dry lakebed.
Accurate and rapid testing for drug toxicity just became easier, thanks to a half-dozen Rice Univ. student interns working at Houston-based startup Nano3D Biosciences (n3D). The bioengineering and nanoscale physics students just wrapped up a year-long effort to aid the company in developing a new method for conducting high-throughput, in vitro cytotoxicity assays.