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Molecules for the masses

December 10, 2014 | by Beckman Institute at the University of Illinois | Comments

Scientists have created an app that brings molecules to life in a handheld device. Through the app, people can use up to eleven fingers to examine in great detail more than 350 molecules.                  

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R&D Daily

Breakthrough in energy harvesting could power life on Mars

March 5, 2015 9:15 am | by Northumbria Univ. | Comments

Martian colonists could use an innovative new technique to harvest energy from carbon dioxide thanks to research pioneered at Northumbria Univ. The research proposes a new kind of engine for producing energy based on the Leidenfrost effect, a phenomenon which happens when a liquid comes into near contact with a surface much hotter than its boiling point.

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Pens filled with high-tech inks for DIY sensors

March 3, 2015 9:06 am | by Ioana Patringenaru, Jacobs School of Engineering | Comments

A new simple tool developed by nanoengineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego, is opening the door to an era when anyone will be able to build sensors, anywhere. The team developed high-tech bio-inks that react with several chemicals, including glucose. They filled off-the-shelf ballpoint pens with the inks and were able to draw sensors to measure glucose directly on the skin and sensors to measure pollution on leaves.

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First ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

March 2, 2015 8:34 am | by EPFL | Comments

Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at EPFL have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior.

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Electrochemical “fingers” unlock battery’s inner potential

February 27, 2015 8:18 am | by Justin Eure, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Lithium-ion batteries unleash electricity as electrochemical reactions spread through active materials. Manipulating this complex process and driving the reactions into the energy-rich heart of each part of these active materials is crucial to optimizing the power output and ultimate energy capacity of these batteries. Now, scientists have mapped these atomic-scale reaction pathways and linked them to the battery’s rate of discharge.

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A mollusk of a different stripe

February 26, 2015 10:59 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

The blue-rayed limpet is a tiny mollusk that lives in kelp beds along the coasts of Norway, Iceland, the U.K., Portugal and the Canary Islands. These diminutive organisms might escape notice entirely, if not for a very conspicuous feature: bright blue dotted lines that run in parallel along the length of their translucent shells. Depending on the angle at which light hits, a limpet’s shell can flash brilliantly even in murky water.

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The body’s transformers

February 26, 2015 8:59 am | by Julie Cohen, UC Santa Barbara | Comments

Like the shape-shifting robots of "Transformers" fame, a unique class of proteins in the human body also has the ability to alter their configuration. These so-named intrinsically disordered proteins lack a fixed or ordered 3-D structure, which can be influenced by exposure to various chemicals and cellular modifications. A new study looked at a particular IDP called tau, which plays a critical role in human physiology.

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Carbon dioxide’s increasing greenhouse effect at Earth’s surface

February 26, 2015 8:12 am | by Dan Krotz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | Comments

Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide’s greenhouse effect at the Earth’s surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, measured atmospheric carbon dioxide’s increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface over an eleven-year period at two locations in North America.

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A simple way to make and reconfigure complex emulsions

February 26, 2015 8:00 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have devised a new way to make complex liquid mixtures, known as emulsions, that could have many applications in drug delivery, sensing, cleaning up pollutants and performing chemical reactions. Many drugs, vaccines, cosmetics and lotions are emulsions, in which tiny droplets of one liquid are suspended in another liquid.

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New flow battery to keep big cities lit, green and safe

February 25, 2015 10:27 am | by Frances White, PNNL | Comments

Ensuring the power grid keeps the lights on in large cities could be easier with a new battery design that packs far more energy than any other battery of its kind and size. The new zinc-polyiodide redox flow battery, described in Nature Communications, uses an electrolyte that has more than two times the energy density of the next-best flow battery used to store renewable energy and support the power grid.

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Geysers have loops in their plumbing

February 25, 2015 8:25 am | by Robert Sanders, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Geysers like Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park erupt periodically because of loops or side-chambers in their underground plumbing, according to recent studies by volcanologists at the Univ. of California, Berkeley. The key to geysers is an underground bend or loop that traps steam and then bubbles it out slowly to heat the water column above until it is just short of boiling.

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First glimpse of a chemical bond being born

February 13, 2015 1:49 pm | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Comments

Scientists have used an x-ray laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place.

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New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

February 6, 2015 12:07 pm | by Michelle Ma, Univ. of Washington | Comments

Researchers building a new underwater robot they’ve dubbed the “Millennium Falcon” certainly have reason to believe it will live up to its name. The robot will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy.

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How oxygen is kryptonite to titanium

February 6, 2015 11:00 am | by Sarah Yang, Media Relations, UC Berkeley | Comments

Univ. of California, Berkeley scientists have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen. The discovery has the potential to open the door to more practical, cost-effective uses of titanium in a broader range of applications.

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High-efficiency concentrating solar cells move to the rooftop

February 6, 2015 8:23 am | by A'ndrea Elyse Messer, Penn State Univ. | Comments

Ultra-high-efficiency solar cells similar to those used in space may now be possible on your rooftop thanks to a new microscale solar concentration technology. The falling cost of typical silicon solar cells is making them a smaller and smaller fraction of the overall cost of solar electricity, which also includes "soft" costs like permitting, wiring, installation and maintenance that have remained fixed over time.

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Octopus robot makes waves with ultra-fast propulsion

February 5, 2015 10:47 am | by Glenn Harris, Univ. of Southampton | Comments

Scientists have developed an octopus-like robot, which can zoom through water with ultra-fast propulsion and acceleration never before seen in man-made underwater vehicles. Most fast aquatic animals are sleek and slender to help them move easily through the water but cephalopods, such as the octopus, are capable of high-speed escapes by filling their bodies with water and then quickly expelling it to dart away.

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