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Superlattice transforms graphene into a semiconductor

September 22, 2014

Graphene placed on top of boron nitride to form a superlattice (credit: Berkeley Lab)

Graphene can be transformed into a new superlattice state that converts graphene — normally a metallic conductor — into a semiconductor, MIT and University of Manchester researchers have found.

In a research paper published in Science, the collaboration, led by MIT‘s theory professor Leonid Levitov and Manchester‘s Nobel laureate Sir Andre Geim, reports that they created a superlattice… read more

Russian scientists create ultrahard ‘Fullerite’ material at room temperature and lower pressure

"Ultrahard" materials are harder than diamond
September 22, 2014

Photo of a Vickers indenter made of ultrahard fullerite (credit: Mikhai lPopov)

A method for synthesis of an ultrahard material called Fullerite (exceeding diamond in hardness) at room temperature and lower pressure has been developed by Russian researchers from the Technological Institute for Superhard and Novel Carbon Materials in Troitsk, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), MISiS, and MSU.

The research is described in a recently published paper in the journal Carbon.

Fullerite is a polymer… read more

Ultra-thin diamond nanothreads are strongest, stiffest materials

Could make possible construction of a "space elevator"
September 22, 2014

Diamond nanothread structure, artist's impression (credit: Penn State University)

Scientists have discovered how to produce ultra-thin “diamond nanothreads” that promise extraordinary properties, including strength and stiffness greater than that of today’s strongest nanotubes and polymers.

A paper describing this discovery by a research team led by John V. Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, was published in the September 21, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Materials.

Potential applications that most interest… read more

A new impermeable form of graphene oxide could be the ultimate protective coating

September 19, 2014

Water permeation through a brick with (right) and without (left) graphitic coating (credit: Y. Su et al./ArXiv)

A new form of graphene oxide could be the ultimate protective coating and could have a significant impact on chemical, pharmaceutical, and electronic industries, according to University of Manchester researchers.

For example, applied as paint, it could provide an ultra-strong, non-corrosive coating for a wide range of industrial applications.

Besides being protective, the new material is mechanically nearly as tough as graphene itself, the strongest known… read more

Car hacking: who’s monitoring (or controlling) your car?

September 19, 2014

Ford reportedly shares emails sent via its Ford SYNC with business partners (credit: Ford)

As vehicles become computers on wheels, the risk of car hacking is real, according to Australia-based Queensland University of Technology (QUT) road-safety expert Professor Andry Rakotonirainy from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS).

He has researched the security systems of existing fleet and future autonomous and connected cars and found there is little protection against hacking.

“The… read more

A long-lasting, water-based nuclear-energy-powered battery

Could be used in cars, emergency devices, and spaceships
September 19, 2014

Schematic diagram and photograph of the Pt-nanoporous TiO2 electrode (credit: Baek Hyun Kim & Jae W. Kwon/Scientific Reports)

University of Missouri (MU) researchers have developed a prototype of an efficient nuclear-energy-powered* battery that does not require recharging and could be a reliable energy source in automobiles and space vehicles.

Betavoltaics [a battery technology that generates electrical power from beta-particle radiation] has been studied as an energy source since the 1950s,” said Jae W. Kwon, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering and… read more

Capturing the motion of a single molecule in real time as it oscillates from one quantum state to another

September 18, 2014

(Credit: Nature Photonics)

UC Irvine chemists have scored a scientific first: capturing moving images of a single molecule as it vibrates and shifts from one quantum state to another.

The groundbreaking achievement, led by Ara Apkarian, professor of chemistry, and Eric Potma, associate professor of chemistry, could lead to new insights in developing quantum computers.

It also moves researchers a step closer to viewing the… read more

Measuring the motion patterns of bacteria in real time

A potential rapid screening technique for antibiotics and cancer drugs
September 18, 2014

Illustration of a microcantilever sensor with E. coli bacteria attached and a close-up illustration of a single bacterium (inset). The motion of the bacteria couple to the cantilever and the cantilever motion is detected using the optical beam deflection technique. (Credit: L. Li and C. Lissandrello / Boston University)

Researchers at Boston University and Stanford University School of Medicine have developed a  clever new way to study the motion patterns of bacteria in real time — a potential new screen for antibiotics and cancer drugs.

The researchers chemically attached colonies of Escherichia coli bacteria to a microcantilever — a microscopic beam anchored at one end, with the other end movable, and they aimed a laser beam at the… read more

Twisting radio beams to transmit ultra-high-speed data

Transmissions reach speeds of 32 gigabits per second
September 18, 2014

This is a graphic showing the intensity of the radio beams after twisting (credit: Alan Willner / USC Viterbi)

Building on previous research using twisted light to send data at unheard-of speeds, scientists at USC have developed a similar technique with radio waves, reaching high speeds without the problems with optical systems.

The researchers, led by electrical engineering professor Alan Willner of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, reached data transmission rates of 32 gigabits per second across 2.5 meters of free space in a… read more

Smallest known galaxy with supermassive black hole discovered

Black holes may be more common than we thought
September 18, 2014

This Hubble Space telescope image shows the gargantuan galaxy M60 on the left and the ultracompact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1 below it and to the right, and also enlarged as an inset. A new international study found that M60-UCD1 is the smallest known galaxy with a supermassive black hole at its center, suggesting that the dwarf galaxy originally was much larger but was stripped of its outer layers by gravity from galaxy M60 over billions of years. M60’s gravity also is pulling galaxy NGC4647, upper right, and the two eventually will collide. (Credit: NASA/Space Telescope Science Institute/European Space Agency)

Astronomers have discovered that an ultracompact dwarf galaxy harbors a supermassive black hole with a mass equal to 21 million suns — the smallest galaxy known to contain such a massive black hole. The finding suggests that huge black holes may be more common than previously believed.

“It is the smallest and lightest object that we know of that has a supermassive black hole,” says Anil Seth, lead author… read more

Interactive Bionic Man, featuring 14 novel biotechnologies

September 17, 2014

(Credit: National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering)

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has launched the “NIBIB Bionic Man,” an interactive Web tool that showcases cutting-edge research in biotechnology.

The bionic man features 14 technologies currently being developed by NIBIB-supported researchers.

Examples include a powered prosthetic leg that helps users achieve a more natural gait, a wireless brain-computer interface that lets people who are paralyzed control computer devices or… read more

Visualizing how TMS affects groups of neurons in real time

September 17, 2014

Spatiotemporal activity patterns induced by a single TMS pulse (left) and 10 Hz TMS (right) over 50 milliseconds (credit: Vladislav Kozyre et al./

German neuroscientists have developed a method for recording the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on animals in real time, using voltage-sensitive dyes, which emit fluorescent light signals that indicate which groups of neurons are activated or inhibited.

Using fMRI is too slow to show real-time effects, and with rapid measurement methods like EEG and MEG, the TMS magnetic field generates artifacts.

So RUB researchers headed by… read more

How to quickly convert human skin cells into immune-fighting white blood cells

Fast, safe technique avoids problems that have hindered regenerative medicine
September 17, 2014

Skin cells converted to white blood cells present functional immunological properties. In the picture a representative example of a converted cell in where phagocytosis, the process by which certain white blood cells “eat” pathogens, has taken place. Green indicates internalized “beads” used as an in vitro surrogate for bacteria. Red indicates lysosomes, the “digestive” organelle of macrophages. Yellow (highlighted with and arrow) indicates targeting of the internalized beads to the lysosomes. (Credit: J. Pulicio et al./Stem Cells)

Salk Institute scientists have turned human skin cells into transplantable white blood cells capable of attacking diseased or cancerous cells or augmenting immune responses against other disorders.

The process, described in the journal Stem Cells, is “quick and safe in mice,” says senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, holder of Salk’s Roger Guillemin Chair.

The existing process, using induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to grow… read more

Competing teams announced for $1 million prize incentive to create an artificial liver

September 16, 2014

The U.S. organ wait list has grown rapidly, while the number of organ donors has stagnated --- but the true need is almost 10x larger than the official waiting list suggests: 900,000 annual deaths are preventable by liver transplantation (credit: New Organ)

New Organ — a collective initiative for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine — announced today (Sept. 16) the initial six teams competing for the $1 million New Organ Liver Prize, a global prize competition launched in December 2013 and  sponsored by the Methuselah Foundation, a biomedical charity.

The award will go to “the first team that creates a regenerative or bioengineered solution that keeps a large animal… read more

Camouflaging metamaterials create the LCD color display of the future

The secret: precision placement of plasmonic aluminum nanorods
September 16, 2014

Rice University’s new color display technology is capable of producing dozens of colors, including rich red, green and blue tones comparable to those found in high-definition LCD displays.<br />
CREDIT: J. Olson/Rice University

The quest to create camouflaging metamaterials that can “see” colors and automatically blend into the background is one step closer to reality, thanks to a breakthrough color-display technology unveiled this week by Rice University‘s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP).

The new full-color display technology uses aluminum nanorods to create the vivid red, blue and green hues found in today’s top-of-the-line LCD televisions and monitors.

The technology is… read more

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