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X-ray imaging protein molecules at atomic resolution using a graphene cage

New imaging method could provide new insights into illness at the molecular level
February 10, 2014


Michigan Technological University researchers have developed a method of achieving transmission electron microscopy (TEM) atomic-resolution images and nanometer-resolution spectroscopy of biological samples by encapsulating them between two layers of graphene.

The method overcomes the limitations* of TEM imaging of biological samples, and uses a low-dose-rate X-ray imaging technique, so electron beam radiation damage can be reduced to hydrogen-bond-breakage level.

The researchers tried their technique on a biochemical… read more

Nanoparticle pinpoints blood-vessel plaques

A step toward identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture that causes heart attack and stroke
February 7, 2014

An artery with plaque buildup (credit: NIH)

A team of researchers led by scientists at Case Western Reserve University has developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that enables magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to pinpoint blood vessel plaques caused by atherosclerosis.

The technology is a step toward creating a non-invasive method of identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture — the cause of heart attack and stroke — in time for treatment.

Currently, doctors can identify only blood vessels that… read more

Mimicking atherosclerosis with blood cells on a microchip

Speeding up nanomedicine research by bypassing the 15-year FDA process for nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems
February 7, 2014


Georgia Institute of Technology scientists have engineered a microchip coated with blood vessel cells. The objective: learn more about the conditions under which nanoparticles accumulate in the plaque-filled arteries of patients with atherosclerosis, the underlying cause of myocardial infarction and stroke.

They coated microchips with a thin layer of endothelial cells, which make up the interior surface of blood vessels.

In healthy blood vessels, endothelial cells act as… read more

IBM’s $100M ‘Project Lucy’ brings Watson to Africa

February 7, 2014

(Credit: IBM)

IBM has launched a 10-year initiative to bring Watson and other cognitive systems to Africa to fuel development and spur business opportunities across the world’s fastest growing continent. Dubbed “Project Lucy” after the earliest known human ancestor, IBM will invest US$100 million in the initiative, giving scientists and partners access to the world’s most advanced cognitive computing technologies for use in key… read more

A microchip for studying cancer metastasis

February 7, 2014


To visualize how cancer cells invade specific organs, researchers from MIT, Italy, and South Korea have developed a three-dimensional microfluidic platform (microchip) that mimics the spread of breast cancer cells into a bonelike environment.

(Nearly 70 percent of patients with advanced breast cancer experience skeletal metastasis, in which cancer cells migrate from a primary tumor into bone — a painful development that can cause fractures and spinal… read more

New form of graphene allows electrons to behave like photons

Could lead to ultra-fast graphene-based computing devices and superconductivity
February 6, 2014


Using electrons more like photons could provide the foundation for a new type of electronic device that would capitalize on the ability of graphene to carry electrons with almost no resistance even at room temperature — a property known as ballistic transport.

Research reported this week in the journal Nature shows that electrical resistance in nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene changes in discrete steps following quantum mechanical principles. The research… read more

The first flexible, transparent, and conductive material

Could finally lead to a fully foldable cell phone or television screen
February 6, 2014

UH Au nanomesh

University of Houston researchers have developed a new stretchable and transparent electrical conductor, bringing the potential for a fully foldable cell phone, or a flat-screen television that can be folded and carried under your arm, closer to reality.

Such a material has to be transparent, flexible, and conductive. Some materials have two of the components, but until now, finding one with all three has remained difficult.

Zhifeng Ren,… read more

MITRE-Harvard nanocomputer may point the way to future computer miniaturization

February 6, 2014

Fig. S3. Fabricated chip. (A) SEM image of the final chip having 204 contact pads on the outer periphery of the chip. The pads match the pins of a probe card that is connected to the test system. (Scale bar, 500 μm.) The metal pads and fan-in interconnect lines appear bright in the image. (B) SEM image of the inner layout of the fabricated chip as indicated in the dashed box in A. The red dashed box region corresponds to the three-tile circuit shown in Fig. 1E. (Scale bar,<br />
100 μm.) (Credit: Jun Yao et al./PNAS)

An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University have taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore’s Law. They designed and assembled, from the bottom up, a functioning, ultra-tiny control computer (nanocontroller) that they say is the densest nanoelectronic system ever built.

The “nanoelectronic finite-state machine” (“nanoFSM”) or nanocomputer measures 0.3 x 0.03… read more

First single-molecule LED

February 5, 2014


The first single-molecule LED has been created by researchers at IPCMS in Strasbourg and the Institut Parisien de Chimie Moléculaire (CNRS/UPMC).

The device, formed from a single polythiophene chain placed between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope and a gold surface, emits light only when the current passes in a certain direction.

This experiment sheds light on the interactions between electrons and photons at the… read more

Virus-free, cord-blood-derived stem cells repair retinal tissue in mice

February 5, 2014


Investigators at Johns Hopkins report they have developed human induced-pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) capable of repairing damaged retinal vascular tissue in mice.

The stem cells, derived from human umbilical cord-blood and coaxed into an embryonic-like state, were grown without the conventional use of viruses, which can mutate genes and initiate cancers, according to the scientists. Their safer method of growing the cells has drawn increased support among scientists, they… read more

DNA-origami nanotubes self-align with self-organized nanoscale patterns to create nanoelectronic circuits

February 5, 2014


As we start to reach physical limits, one approach to continued miniaturization of microelectronics is with “DNA origami,” in which strands of DNA are formed into nanostructures to act as scaffolds for manufacturing nanoelectronic components, such as nanowires.

But forming entire circuits with this method requires precisely controlled positioning of these nanostructures on a surface, requiring very elaborate techniques.

Researchers at Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Germany… read more

Will ‘borophene’ replace graphene as a better conductor of electrons?

February 5, 2014


Researchers from Brown University have found evidence for a theoretical material they call “borophene” — a boron-based competitor to graphene.

Boron is carbon’s neighbor on the periodic table. Borophene has 36 boron atoms in a flat disc with a hexagonal hole in the middle.

Borophene is predicted to be fully metallic, whereas graphene is a semi-metal. That means borophene might end up being a better conductor… read more

Do autistic brains create more information at rest or do they have weaker connectivity — or both?

February 4, 2014

Information gain in the brain's resting state. (A) Schematic black-box representation of cortical dynamics in the resting state. (B) The information gain is significantly increased by 42% in autistic relative to non-autistic children. (Credit: José L. Pérez Velázquez1,2 and Roberto F. Galán3*

New research from Case Western Reserve University and University of Toronto neuroscientists finds that the brains of autistic children generate more information at rest — a 42% increase on average.

The study offers a scientific explanation for the most typical characteristic of autism — withdrawal into one’s own inner world. The excess production of information may explain a child’s detachment from their environment.

Published in Frontiersread more

‘Electronic tongue’ identifies brands of beer with 81.9% accuracy

February 4, 2014


Spanish researchers have managed to distinguish between different varieties of beer using an “electronic tongue,” with an accuracy of 81.9%.

Scientists at the Autonomous University of Barcelona used an array of 21 sensors formed from ion-selective electrodes, including some with response to cations (ammonium, sodium), others with response to anions (nitrate, chloride, etc.), and electrodes with generic (unspecified) responses.

The authors recorded the multidimensional response generated by the… read more

Bodily maps of emotions

February 4, 2014

bodily maps featured

Researchers at Aalto University in Finland have compiled maps of emotional feelings associated with culturally universal bodily sensations, which could be at the core of emotional experience.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions… read more

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