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Researchers enable solar cells to use more sunlight

March 4, 2015

Scientists of the University of Luxembourg and of the Japanese electronics company TDK have extended sensitivity of a conductive oxide film used in solar cells in the near-infrared region to use more energy of the sun and thus create higher current.

Similar attempts have been made before, but this is the first time that these films were prepared by a one-step process and, at the same time, stable in… read more

Unzipped nanotubes as an alternative to costly platinum for fuel cells

March 4, 2015

An illustration shows a three-dimensional aerogel created by researchers at Rice University who combined graphene nanoribbons with boron and nitrogen. The aerogels show promise as a possible alternative to expensive platinum in fuel cells (credit: Ajayan Group/Rice University)

Rice University researchers have formed graphene nanoribbons into a three-dimensional aerogel enhanced with boron and nitrogen as catalysts for fuel cells as a replacement for platinum.

In tests involving half of the catalytic reaction that takes place in fuel cells, a team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tou discovered that versions with about 10 percent boron and nitrogen were efficient in catalyzing an… read more

Black phosphorus improves optical communication for chip interconnects

March 3, 2015

This illustration shows the high performance photodetector which uses few layer black phosphorus (red atoms) to sense light in the waveguide (green material). Graphene (gray atoms) is also used to tune the performance. (credit: College of Science and Engineering)

University of Minnesota researchers have found that an ultrathin black phosphorus film — only 20 layers of atoms — allows for high-speed data communication on nanoscale optical circuits. Black phosphorus is a crystaline form of the element phosphorus.

The devices showed vast improvement in efficiency over comparable devices using graphene.

The work by University of Minnesota Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Professors Mo Li and Steven Koester… read more

Worker robots that can learn from humans

March 3, 2015

Illustration of human-aware motion planning. The left panel depicts a<br />
shared workspace in which a human and robot are placing and sealing screws,<br />
respectively. The right panel depicts both the standard, shortest-path motion (dashed<br />
arrow) and a human-aware motion (solid arrow) that the robot could take given the<br />
expected human workspace occupancy, represented by the cylinder. (credit: Lasota, P. A., and J. A. Shah/Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society)

Roboticist and aerospace engineer Julie Shah and her team at MIT are developing next-generation assembly line robots that are smarter and more adaptable than robots available on today’s assembly lines.

The team is designing the robots with artificial intelligence that enables them to learn from experience, so the robots will be more responsive to human behavior. The more robots can sense the humans around them and make adjustments,… read more

Imaging the 3D structure of a single virus

Using the intense beam of the world’s most powerful x-ray free-electron laser (XFEL)
March 2, 2015

Three-dimensional reconstruction of the giant mimivirus particle with an X-ray<br />
free-electron laser (credit: Tomas Ekeberg et al./Physical Review Letters)

By measuring a series of diffraction pattern from a virus injected into an XFEL beam, researchers at Stanford’s Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) have determined the first three-dimensional structure of a virus, using a mimivirus.

X-ray crystallography has solved the vast majority of the structures of proteins and other biomolecules. The success of the method relies on growing large crystals of the molecules, which isn’t possible… read more

We can make multicore chips smarter, faster — we have the technology

March 2, 2015

(credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT)

Computer chips’ clocks have stopped getting faster, so chipmakers are instead giving chips more cores, which can execute computations in parallel.

Now, in simulations involving a 64-core chip, MIT computer scientists have improved a system that cleverly distributes data around multicore chips’ memory banks — increasing system computational speeds by 46 percent while reducing power consumption by 36 percent.

“Now that the way to improve performance is… read more

Researchers ‘overclocking’ world’s fastest supercomputers to process big data faster

"Approximate computing" tricks use controlled errors to achieve speed increases and reduce power consumption
March 2, 2015

High performance computing (HPC) systems (credit: Queens University Belfast)

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast, the University of Manchester, and the STFC Daresbury Laboratory are developing new software to increase the ability of supercomputers to process big data faster while minimizing increases in power consumption.

To do that, computer scientists in the Scalable, Energy-Efficient, Resilient and Transparent Software Adaptation (SERT) project are using “approximate computing” (also known as “significance-based computing”) — a form… read more

Schmidhuber to do AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit /r/MachineLearning

March 1, 2015


Jürgen Schmidhuber, Director of the Swiss Artificial Intelligence Lab (IDSIA), will do an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit/r/MachineLearning on Wednesday March 4, 2015 at 10 AM EST. You can post questions now in advance in this thread.

A key figure in AI in Europe and noted for his quirky sense of humor, Schmidhuber’s ideas and writing have been featuredread more

Quantum radar could detect stealth cancer cells or aircraft

February 27, 2015

quantum radar ft.

A prototype “quantum radar” that has the potential to detect objects that are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University of York.

The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity such as cancer cells or aircraft with a stealth… read more

A superconductor advance using ‘superatoms’

February 27, 2015

Superconductivity is the ability to transmit electricity without resistance (credit: USC/Original image/DC Comics Mystery in Space #56, December 1959)

USC scientists may have discovered a family of superconductor materials called superatoms that could lead to room-temperature supercomputers.

A team led by Vitaly Kresin, professor of physics at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, found that aluminum “superatoms” — homogenous clusters of atoms — appear to form Cooper pairs of electrons (one of the key elements of superconductivity) at temperatures around 100 Kelvin.

Though 100… read more

Puzzling bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres

February 27, 2015

(credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA)

Cruising through the asteroid belt, NASA Dawn spacecraft is approaching dwarf planet Ceres, and some puzzling features are coming into focus, revealing craters and mysterious bright spots.

“We expected to be surprised by Ceres,” says Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at UCLA. “We did not expect to be this puzzled. … As Dawn has come closer to Ceres, the bright spots have become brighter and… read more

Controlling pain by optogenetic stimulation of the brain’s pain center

February 27, 2015

Pain-reduction experimental setup: (upper) optical fiber mounted via cannula in mouse brain; (lower) saline or Formalin injection in hind paw (credit: Ling Gu et al./PLoS ONE)

A small area of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in the thalamus can be optically stimulated to control pain, University of Texas at Arlington scientists have found.

The researchers used optogenetic stimulation with a blue laser to control pain sensation in a mouse, created by a chemical irritant (formalin) and mechanical pain, such as that experienced following a pinprick or pinch.

“Our results… read more

A ‘breakthrough’ in rechargeable batteries for electronic devices and electric vehicles

February 26, 2015


Researchers from Singapore’s Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) of A*STAR and Quebec’s IREQ (Hydro-Québec’s research institute) have synthesized a new material that they say could more than double the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries, allowing for longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles and mobile devices.

The new material for battery cathodes (the + battery pole) in based on a “lithium orthosilicate-related” compound,  Li2MnSiO4, combining lithium, manganese, silicon and oxygen,… read more

Deep astronomy: automated 3D observations of the universe

February 26, 2015

The MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope reveals previously invisible galaxies (credit: ESO)

The MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile recently gave astronomers the best-ever 3D view of the deep Universe.

After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South (HDF-S) region for just 27 hours, the new observations and automated analysis revealed details, distances, motions, spectra, compositions, and other properties of 189 galaxies, more than ten times the number of measurements of distance in this tiny piece of… read more

Graphene shown to neutralize cancer stem cells

February 26, 2015

Graphene oxide targeting cancer stem cells with differentiation-based nano-therapy (credit: Marco Fiorillo et al./Oncotarget)

University of Manchester scientists have used graphene oxide to target and neutralize cancer stem cells (CSCs) while not harming other cells.

This new development opens up the possibility of preventing or treating a broad range of cancers, using a non-toxic material.

In combination with existing treatments, this finding could eventually lead to tumor shrinkage as well as preventing the spread of cancer and its… read more

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