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A new method for harvesting energy from light

September 12, 2013

Researchers fabricated nanostructures with various photoconduction properties (credit: American Chemical Society)

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new mechanism for extracting energy from light, a finding that could improve technologies for generating electricity from solar energy and lead to more efficient optoelectronic devices used in communications.

The research centers on plasmonic nanostructures, specifically, materials fabricated from gold particles and light-sensitive molecules of porphyin, of precise sizes and arranged in specific patterns.

Plasmons, or a… read more

A new method for producing clean hydrogen

May 23, 2013

TEM_image_Au-a-Fe2O3_catalyst

Duke University engineers have developed a novel method for producing clean hydrogen, which could prove essential to weaning society off of fossil fuels and their environmental implications.

While hydrogen is ubiquitous in the environment, producing and collecting molecular hydrogen for transportation and industrial uses is expensive and complicated. Just as importantly, a byproduct of most current methods of producing hydrogen is carbon monoxide, which is… read more

A new method of producing large volumes of high-quality graphene

May 2, 2014

Graphene powder (credit: Thomas Swan)

A new method of producing industrial quantities of high-quality graphene has been developed by Trinity College Dublin researchers on the AMBER materials-science research team at CRANN.

The researchers say the discovery will “change the way many consumer and industrial products are manufactured.” Potential applications they cite include advanced food packaging, high-strength plastics, super-protective coatings for wind turbines and ships, and batteries with dramatically higher capacity… read more

A new micro-robotic technique for 3D-printing tissues

February 21, 2014

Two-dimensional micro-robotic coding of material composition

A new magnetic micro-robotic technique for assembling components of the complex materials used in tissue engineering* and 3D printing of cell materials has been developed by Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Carnegie Mellon University.

Described in Nature Communications, the technique allows for precise construction of individual cell-encapsulating hydrogels (such as cell blocks).

Described in the Jan. 28, 2014, issue of Nature Communicationsthe research… read more

A New Model Army Soldier Rolls Closer to Battle

February 17, 2005

Robot soldiers will think, see and react increasingly like humans. In the beginning, they will be remote-controlled, looking and acting like lethal toy trucks. As the technology develops, they may take many shapes. And as their intelligence grows, so will their autonomy.

Robots in battle, as envisioned by their builders, may look and move like humans or hummingbirds, tractors or tanks, cockroaches or crickets. With the development of nanotechnology,… read more

A new net

February 6, 2012

nicira

Just-launched Nicira hopes to make the Internet more powerful and more secure than ever before.

Its Network Virtualization Platform software, aimed at the operators of data centers like Rackspace, blocks the programs running on the servers from interacting with the surrounding network hardware, simulating physical routers and switches.

Administrators can swiftly reprogram the virtual network to offer each application a private connection to the rest of the Internet. That… read more

A new ‘network-extracted ontology’ model of the cell

Turning vast amounts of genomic data into meaningful information about the cell is the great challenge of bioinformatics, with major implications for human biology and medicine
December 20, 2012

cell_model-small

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues have proposed a new “network-extracted ontology” (NeXO) method that creates a computational model of the cell from large networks of gene and protein interactions, discovering how genes and proteins connect to form higher-level cellular machinery.

“Our method creates [an] ontology, or a specification of all the major players in the cell and… read more

A new neurochemical pathway for treating schizophrenia and age-related mental decline

June 11, 2013

Activated_NMDAR

Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have uncovered important clues about a biochemical pathway in the brain that may one day expand treatment options for schizophrenia.

This research focused on key components of the brain known as NMDA receptors. These receptors are located on nerve cells in the brain and serve as biochemical gates that allow calcium ions (electrical charges) to enter the… read more

A new ‘off’ switch for neurons

"Will greatly enhance work in large-brained organisms like rats and primates" -- Karl Deisseroth
April 28, 2014

Modified light-sensitive channelrhodopsin structure, with the nine mutations to achieve neuron silencing shown in orange (credit: Andre Berndt et al./Science)

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) scientists have found a way to silence (turn off) individual neurons, using optogenetics, which previously could only turn on neurons.

Optogenetics is a method used by neuroscientists to study how specific neurons work. They shine LED or laser light on genetically modified neurons (light-activated) proteins (such as channelrhodopsin) that function as ion channels, which then turn on the… read more

A new process for producing synthetic gasoline based on carbon nanofibers

December 4, 2013

carbon nanofibers featured

A chemical system developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago can efficiently perform the first step in the process of creating synthetic gasoline (syngas) and other energy-rich products out of carbon dioxide.

The key to the new process is a novel “co-catalyst” system using inexpensive, easy-to-fabricate carbon-based nanofiber materials that efficiently convert carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, a useful starting material for synthesizing fuels. The… read more

A new quantum-cryptography scheme to secure anonymous transactions

March 13, 2014

quantum_atm_artist_small

An international team has demonstrated a form of quantum cryptography that can protect people doing business with others they may not know or trust – a situation encountered often on the Internet and in everyday life — for example, at a bank’s ATM.

“I expect that quantum technologies will gradually become integrated with existing devices such as smartphones, allowing us to do things like identify ourselves securely or generate… read more

A new scheme for photonic quantum computing

October 14, 2011

Pumplaser_02

“Coherent photon conversion” could potentially overcome the unresolved problems for optical implementations of quantum computing. An international team of scientists led by researchers from the Vienna Center for Quantum Science and Technology (VCQ) at the University of Vienna (group of Anton Zeilinger) introduced this new scheme this week in Nature.

The new scheme provides a method of coherent conversion between different photon states and is… read more

A New Search Engine, Where Less Is More

November 1, 2010

Blekko, a search engine that will open to the public on Monday, aims to show search results from only useful, trustworthy sites.

Blekko’s search engine scours three billion Web pages that it considers worthwhile, but it shows only the top results on any given topic. It calls its edited lists of Web sites slashtags. The engine also tries to weed out Web pages created by … read more

A new self-assembling graphene-like material for flat semiconductors

May 1, 2014

material_flat_semiconductors

MIT and Harvard University researchers have found a two-dimensional material whose properties are very similar to graphene*, but with some distinct advantages — including the fact that this material naturally has a usable bandgap, which is essential for making devices such as computer chips and solar cells.

The new material, is a combination of nickel and an organic compound called HITP. Its constituents also naturally… read more

A new self-healing chemistry for plastics

April 15, 2014

Self-healing process (credit:  Kim K. Oehlenschlaeger et al./Advanced Materials)

Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and Evonik Industries have developed a self-healing chemistry that allows for rapid healing of a plastic material using mild heating, restoring its initial molecular structure. It is based on a reversible chemical crosslinking reaction*.

  • The reaction happens at temperatures from 50°C (122°F) to 120°C (248°F).
  • The material can be restored completely in less than 5 minutes, and

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