Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Gift-wrapped gas molecules

A group of scientists has worked out how to stably gift-wrap a chemical gas known as nitric oxide within metal-organic frameworks. Such an encapsulated chemical may allow doctors to administer nitric oxide in a more highly controlled way to patients, suggesting new approaches for treating dangerous infections and heart conditions with the biologically-active substance.



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Monday, December 29, 2014

Microscopy reveals how atom-high steps impede oxidation of metal surfaces

Certain features of metal surfaces can stop the process of oxidation in its tracks, new research has found. The findings could be relevant to understanding and perhaps controlling oxidation in a wide range of materials—from catalysts to the superalloys used in jet engine turbines and the oxides in microelectronics.



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A qubit candidate shines brighter

Scientists taken a major step forward in effectively enhancing the fluorescent light emission of diamond nitrogen vacancy centers -- a key step to using the atom-sized defects in future quantum computers. The technique hinges on the very precise positioning of NV centers within a structure called a photonic cavity that can boost the light signal from the defect.



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Researchers create method that recovers high value metals for industries while protecting the environment

Researchers have developed an extraction column which recovers metals companies use in their production processes; and thus cuts environmental pollution and lessen economic losses.



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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Breakthrough in predictions of pressure-dependent combustion chemical reactions

A method to successfully predict pressure-dependent chemical reaction rates has been demonstrated by scientists for the first time. It’s an important breakthrough in combustion and atmospheric chemistry that is expected to benefit auto and engine manufacturers, oil and gas utilities and other industries that employ combustion models.



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Graphene 'cut and paste' with microwaves

Researchers have demonstrated a variety of transformations taking place on carbon surface under the influence of metal nanoparticles and microwaves.



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Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass

Windows that change their light permeability at the touch of a button, façades whose color can be changed according to the sunlight, façades and window parts in which transparent photovoltaic modules are integrated or in which microalgae are being bred to provide the house with its own biofuel: This is what the buildings of the future could feature, or at least something similar, experts say.



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Sunday, December 21, 2014

A gold catalyst for clear water: Mixed nanoparticle systems may help purify water and generate hydrogen

A new catalyst could have dramatic environmental benefits if it can live up to its potential, suggests research from Singapore. Researchers have produced a catalyst with gold-nanoparticle antennas that can improve water quality in daylight and also generate hydrogen as a green energy source.



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Closing the loop for greener production: Technique to analyze production processes highlights financial benefits of recycling

A method for analyzing the financial benefits of incorporating the recycling and reuse of materials in manufacturing processes is expected to encourage more companies to adopt environmentally friendly production practices.



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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Possible avenue to better electrolyte for lithium ion batteries

Researchers carried out the first X-ray absorption spectroscopy study of a model electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries and may have found a pathway forward to improving LIBs for electric vehicles and large-scale electrical energy storage.



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Friday, December 19, 2014

Atom-thick CCD could capture images

An atomically thin material may lead to the thinnest-ever imaging platform. Synthetic two-dimensional materials based on metal chalcogenide compounds could be the basis for superthin devices.



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A 'GPS' for molecules

In everyday life, the global positioning system can be employed to reliably determine the momentary location of one en route to the desired destination. Scientists have now developed a molecular 'GPS' with which the whereabouts of metal ions in enzymes can be reliably determined. Such ions play important roles in all corners of metabolism and synthesis for biological products.



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New tracers can identify coal ash contamination in water

Laboratory and field tests confirm that new boron and strontium tracers can detect the distinctive isotopic and geochemical fingerprints of coal ash contamination in water. The tracers will allow the US Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators to distinguish coal ash contamination from other, similar contamination coming from different sources in a watershed, and trace the coal ash to its source.



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'Green' process created to reduce molecular switching waste

Researchers have found a solution using visible light to reduce waste produced in chemically activated molecular switches, opening the way for industrial applications of nanotechnology ranging from anti-cancer drug delivery to LCD displays and molecular motors.



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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Instant-start computers possible with new breakthrough

If data could be encoded without current, it would require much less energy and make things like low-power, instant-on computing a ubiquitous reality. Scientists have made a breakthrough in that direction with a room-temperature magnetoelectric memory device. Equivalent to one computer bit, it exhibits the holy grail of next-generation nonvolatile memory: magnetic switchability, in two steps, with nothing but an electric field.



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Computational clues into the structure of a promising energy conversion catalyst

Researchers at Princeton University have reported new insights into the structure of an active component of the nickel oxide catalyst, a promising catalyst for water splitting to produce hydrogen fuel.



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Crown ethers flatten in graphene for strong, specific binding

Scientists have discovered a way to dramatically increase the selectivity and binding strength of crown ethers by incorporating them within a rigid framework of graphene. Strong, specific electrostatic binding of crown ethers may advance sensors, chemical separations, nuclear-waste cleanup, extraction of metals from ores, purification and recycling of rare-earth elements, water purification, biotechnology, energy production in durable lithium-ion batteries, catalysis, medicine and data storage.



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Choreography of an electron pair

The motion of the two electrons in the helium atom can be imaged and controlled with attosecond-timed laser flashes.



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New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies

The first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies have been crafted by scientists. The new molecules -- synthetic antibody mimics -- attach themselves simultaneously to disease cells and disease-fighting cells. The result is a highly targeted immune response, similar to the action of natural human antibodies.



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Improving rechargeable batteries by focusing on graphene oxide paper

An engineering team has discovered some of graphene oxide's important properties that can improve sodium- and lithium-ion flexible batteries.



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Glimpsing pathway of sunlight to electricity

Four pulses of laser light on nanoparticle photocells in a spectroscopy experiment has opened a window on how captured sunlight can be converted into electricity. The work, which potentially could inspire devices with improved efficiency in solar energy conversion, was performed on photocells that used lead-sulfide quantum dots as photoactive semiconductor material.



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Study fuels hope for natural gas cars: Metal organic framework candidates for methane storage identified

Cars that run on natural gas are touted as efficient and environmentally friendly, but getting enough gas onboard to make them practical is a hurdle. A new study promises to help. Researchers have calculated the best candidates among possible metal organic frameworks to store natural gas for cars.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New conversion process turns biomass 'waste' into lucrative chemical products

A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets. A team of researchers has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.



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Scientists open new frontier of vast chemical 'space': As proof-of-principle, the team makes dozens of new chemical entities

Chemists have invented a powerful method for joining complex organic molecules that is extraordinarily robust and can be used to make pharmaceuticals, fabrics, dyes, plastics and other materials previously inaccessible to chemists.



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Researchers' recipe: Cook farm waste into energy

Researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially 'wet' waste, such as corn husks, tomato vines and manure, that is typically difficult to use. They have developed a fairly simple procedure, pressure cooking, to transport waste and produce energy from it. Cooking farm waste yields compact, easily transportable material that will not degrade and can be used in energy-producing plants, they say.



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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The simplest element: Turning hydrogen into 'graphene'

New work delves into the chemistry underlying some surprising recent observations about hydrogen, and reveals remarkable parallels between hydrogen and graphene under extreme pressures.



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Carbon-trapping 'sponges' can cut greenhouse gases

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture -- chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it releases into the atmosphere -- is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping 'sponges' that could lead to increased use of the technology.



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Future batteries: Lithium-sulfur with a graphene wrapper

What do you get when you wrap a thin sheet of the "wonder material" graphene around a novel multifunctional sulfur electrode that combines an energy storage unit and electron/ion transfer networks? An extremely promising electrode structure design for rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries.



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Composite plane life cycle assessment shows lighter planes are the future

A global fleet of composite planes could reduce carbon emissions by up to 15 percent, but the lighter planes alone will not enable the aviation industry to meet its emissions targets, according to new research.



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Techniques for minimizing environmental impacts of fracking

Natural gas power plants emit less carbon dioxide than coal power plants, but must be carefully managed to prevent air and water pollution.



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Cost of cloud brightening for cooler planet revealed

Scientists have identified the most energy-efficient way to make clouds more reflective to the sun in a bid to combat climate change. Marine Cloud Brightening is a reversible geoengineering method proposed to mitigate rising global temperatures. It relies on propelling a fine mist of salt particles high into the atmosphere to increase the albedo of clouds -- the amount of sunlight they reflect back into space.



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Switching to vehicles powered by electricity from renewables could save lives

Driving vehicles that use electricity from renewable energy instead of gasoline could reduce the resulting deaths due to air pollution by 70 percent. This finding comes from a new life cycle analysis of conventional and alternative vehicles and their air pollution-related public health impacts. The study also shows that switching to vehicles powered by electricity made using natural gas yields large health benefits.



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Back to future with Roman architectural concrete: Advanced light source reveals key to longevity of imperial Roman monuments

A key discovery to understanding Roman architectural concrete that has stood the test of time and the elements for nearly two thousand years has been made by researchers using beams of X-rays.



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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Earth's most abundant mineral finally has a name

An ancient meteorite and high-energy X-rays have helped scientists conclude a half century of effort to find, identify and characterize a mineral that makes up 38 percent of the Earth.



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No lead pollution in the oil sands region of Alberta, study says

Contrary to current scientific knowledge, there's no atmospheric lead pollution in Alberta's oil sands region, researchers say. A soil and water scientist who specializes in heavy metal pollution, examined sphagnum moss from 21 separate peat bogs in three locations around the oil sands area, near open pit mines and processing facilities.



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Friday, December 12, 2014

Link between power lines, ill-health called into question

New evidence suggesting that power lines and mobile phones do not cause physical harm to humans has been found by researchers. "More work on other possible links will need to be done but this study definitely takes us nearer to the point where we can say that power-lines, mobile phones and other similar devices are likely to be safe for humans," concluded a co-lead author of the new paper.



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Breakthrough simplifies design of gels for food, cosmetics and biomedicine

Scientistshave created methods that dramatically simplify the discovery of biological gels for food, cosmetics and biomedicine.



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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Detecting gases wirelessly, cheaply

Chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone.



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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Organic electronics could lead to cheap, wearable medical sensors

A pulse oximeter, commonly used to measure heart rate and blood oxygen levels, has been created using all organic materials instead of silicon. The advance could lead to cheap, flexible sensors that could be used like a Band-Aid.



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New study measures methane emissions from natural gas production and offers insights into two large sources

A small subset of natural gas wells are responsible for the majority of methane emissions from two major sources -- liquid unloadings and pneumatic controller equipment -- at natural gas production sites. With natural gas production in the United States expected to continue to increase during the next few decades, there is a need for a better understanding of methane emissions during natural gas production.



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'Smart windows' have potential to keep heat out and save energy

Windows allow brilliant natural light to stream into homes and buildings. Along with light comes heat that, in warm weather, we often counter with energy-consuming air conditioning. Now scientists are developing a new kind of 'smart window' that can block out heat when the outside temperatures rise. The advance could one day help consumers better conserve energy on hot days and reduce electric bills.



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Defects are perfect in laser-induced graphene

Researchers use lasers to create graphene foam from inexpensive polymers in ambient conditions. The laser-induced graphene may be suitable for electronics and energy storage.



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New model to predict the thermal performance of vegetal façades

After years of monitoring different experimental buildings, a group of researchers from the School of Architecture of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid has developed a model that can estimate the thermal performance of vegetal façades regarding the traditional ones by previously studying the main characteristics of its climatology. Therefore, this model is a great tool to assess energy saving associated to vegetal façades installations in addition to having thermal benefits for the users of these buildings.



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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The gold standard: Affordable catalyst for energy and environmental applications

New nanoscale computational modeling predicts gold could be an effective and affordable catalyst for energy and environmental applications.



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Composite materials can be designed in a supercomputer 'virtual lab'

Scientists have shown how advanced computer simulations can be used to design new composite materials. Nanocomposites, which are widely used in industry, are revolutionary materials in which microscopic particles are dispersed through plastics. But their development until now has been largely by trial and error.



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Monday, December 8, 2014

Fracking and pollution: Technology-dependent emissions of gas extraction in the US

Not all boreholes are the same. Scientists used mobile measurement equipment to analyze gaseous compounds emitted by the extraction of oil and natural gas in the US. For the first time, organic pollutants emitted during a fracking process were measured at a high temporal resolution using a vapor capture system. The highest values measured by this process exceeded typical mean values in urban air by a factor of about one thousand.



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Easy measurement of the effect of fine dust

Fine dusts from industry, traffic, and households are omnipresent. Still, they are difficult to capture by reliable medical measurements. Researchers have now developed an exposure system, by means of which biological cells are exposed to fine dust-loaded air flows in an exact and reproducible manner. Using this system, it is possible to collect data on the adverse impact of fine dusts of variable sources in a rapid and inexpensive manner and without animal experiments being needed.



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Ultrafast complex molecular simulations by ‘cutting up molecules’

Scientists have developed an ultrafast quantum chemical method, which allows rapid and accurate simulations of complex molecular systems consisting of thousands of molecules.



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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Nanoparticle cluster manufacturing technique using DNA binding protein developed

Scientists have used the zinc finger protein to develop a new manufacturing technique for size-controllable magnetic nanoparticle clusters.



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Complementary light switchable proteins and superresolution reveal moving protein complexes in live cells at single molecule level

A new method uses photoactivatable complementary fluorescent proteins (PACF) to observe and quantify protein-protein interactions in live cells at the single molecule level.



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