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New junction between stacked solar cells can handle max energy of 70,000 suns

September 10, 2013

The discovery means solar cell manufacturers can create stacked solar cells that can handle high-intensity solar energies without losing voltage at the connecting junctions, potentially improving conversion efficiency. Click to enlarge. (Photo: NC State University)

North Carolina State University researchers have come up with a new technique for improving the connections between stacked solar cells, which should improve the overall efficiency of solar energy devices and reduce the cost of solar energy production, the researchers say.

The new connections can allow these cells to operate at theoretical solar concentrations of 70,000 “suns”* worth of energy without losing much voltage as… read more

Another breakthrough in replacing silicon in transistors

Promises to increase transistor performance, reduce size and heat
September 10, 2013

molybdenum disulfide --- and found that manipulating it with gold atoms improves its electrical characteristics (credit: Kansas State University)

Manipulating a three-atom-thick material — molybdenum disulfide — with gold atoms improves its electrical characteristics, Kansas State University chemical engineer Vikas Berry, William H. Honstead professor of chemical engineering,, and his research team have discovered.

The research may advance transistors, photodetectors, sensors and thermally conductive coatings, Berry said. It could also produce ultrafast, ultrathin logic and plasmonics devices.

Berry’s laboratory hasread more

Prion-like proteins drive several diseases of aging, say leading neurology researchers

September 9, 2013

prion-like brain disease

Many of the brain diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are caused by specific proteins that misfold and aggregate into harmful seeds — similar to what happens with prions.

That’s a new hypothesis that two leading neurology researchers — Mathias Jucker and Lary Walker — have proposed.

These seeds behave very much like the pathogenic agents known… read more

Recording and replaying human touch: the next user-interface revolution?

September 9, 2013

haptic output

University of California, San Diego researchers have demonstrated a new user interface technology: electronic recording and replay of human touch.

“Touch was largely bypassed by the digital revolution, except for touch-screen displays, because it seemed too difficult to replicate what analog haptic [touch] devices can produce,” said Deli Wang, a professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in UC San Diego’s… read more

How to control fruit flies by putting designer drugs in their food

Don't tell Alex Jones about this, whatever you do!
September 9, 2013

Drosophila melanogaster aka fruit fly (credit: Mr.checker/ Wikimedia Commons)

So scientists at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans have figured out how to control fruit-fly behavior and physiology by spiking their food with a designer drug called (we’re not making this up) DREADD (Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs).

The idea is to give them Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, ALS, and mental illness.

That’s all we need, crazed… read more

Who did you hear, me or your lying eyes?

(With apologies to Richard Pryor)
September 8, 2013

Richard Pryor

Our understanding of language may depend more heavily on vision than previously thought, University of Utah bioengineers have discovered.

Video credit: Three Gun Rose Productions

What did you hear?

“For the first time, we were able to link the auditory signal in the brain to what a person said they heard when what they actually heard was something different. We found… read more

‘Seeing’ faces through touch

September 6, 2013

haptically_explored_face

Perceiving faces can be enhanced by touch, says  researcher Kazumichi Matsumiya of Tohoku University in Japan.

The face aftereffect

In a series of studies, Matsumiya took advantage of a phenomenon called the “face aftereffect” to investigate whether our visual system responds to nonvisual signals for processing faces.

In the face aftereffect, we adapt to a face with a particular expression — happiness, for example —… read more

Achieving quantum-based secure communication

A solution for intrusive government spying?
September 6, 2013

MDI-QKD featured

University of Calgary scientists say they have overcome the “Achilles’ heel” of quantum-based secure communication systems, using a new approach that safeguards secrets.

The team’s research — published in the journal Physical Review Letters back-to-back with similar work by a group from Hefei, China — also removes a big obstacle to realizing future applications of quantum communication, including a fully functional quantum network.

“I hope… read more

Elon Musk designs real-world Iron Man gesture interface and 3D modeler

The future of design
September 6, 2013

(Credit: SpaceX)

Elon Musk has released a video demonstrating SpaceX’s new custom 3D design interface, inspired by Iron Man.

It includes use of Leap Motion control, free-standing glass projections (from Iron Man), 3D projections using glasses, and the Occulus Rift VR headset.

After generating and manipulating the 3D model, Musk then 3D-prints an actual titanium metallic rocket-engine part from the model.

“I believe we are on the… read more

Training the older brain in 3D: video game enhances cognitive performance

Geezers totally p0wn novice 20-somethings
September 6, 2013

NeuroRacer

UC San Francisco scientists have found a way to reverse some of the negative effects of aging on the brain, using a video game designed to improve cognitive performance in healthy older adults.

In the game (developed by the UCSF researchers), participants race a car around a winding track while a variety of road signs pop up. Drivers are instructed to keep an eye out… read more

NSA cracks most Internet encryption, inserts back doors, The New York Times reveals

September 6, 2013

NSA

The NSA has circumvented or cracked much of the encryption, or digital scrambling, that guards global commerce and banking systems, protects sensitive data like trade secrets and medical records, and automatically secures the e-mails, Web searches, Internet chats, and phone calls of Americans and others around the world, The New York Times reports.

The agency, according to documents provided  to The Times and ProPublica by Edward J. Snowden… read more

How DNA repair helps prevent cancer

September 5, 2013

Bent DNA

The biological information that makes us unique is encoded in our DNA. DNA damage is a natural biological occurrence that happens every time cells divide and multiply. External factors such as overexposure to sunlight can also damage DNA.

Michael Feig, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University, studies the proteins MutS and MSH2-MSH6, which recognize defective DNA and initiate DNA repair. Natural DNA repair… read more

Cancer’s origins revealed

Researchers discover the genetic imprints and signatures left by DNA-damaging processes that lead to cancer
September 5, 2013

cancer_signature

Researchers at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute have provided the first comprehensive compendium of mutational processes that drive tumor development. Together, these mutational processes explain most mutations found in 30 of the most common cancer types. This new understanding of cancer development could help to treat and prevent a wide-range of cancers.

Each mutational process leaves a particular pattern of mutations, an imprint or signature, in… read more

A new supercapacitor for energy storage at high temperatures

September 5, 2013

rice_SUPERCAP-1

Rice University researchers who have developed a supercapacitor that can operate at very high temperatures, using clay as a key ingredient.

The supercapacitor is reliable at temperatures of up to 200 degrees Celsius (392 degrees Fahrenheit), and could be useful for powering devices for use in extreme environments, such as oil drilling, the military and space, Rice scientist Pulickel Ajayan reported in Nature’s… read more

Creating a low-cost, flexible touchscreen

September 5, 2013

nanowire combinations

Future touchscreens* will be flexible, cheap, and give you finer touch-control.

The secret: replace currently used indium tin oxide (ITO) — which is expensive, rare, and worse, brittle — with cheap, flexible metal nanowires that can even be sprayed on.

Unfortunately, there has been no simple way to design a touchscreen using nanowires that will provide an optimum combination of low resistance, evenness, and transparency.

It’s trial-and-error:… read more

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