Friday, February 27, 2015

Bringing clean energy a step closer

Researchers have made an inexpensive metal-free catalyst that performs as well as costly metal catalysts at speeding the oxygen reduction reaction in an acidic fuel cell, and is more durable. The catalyst is made of sheets of nitrogen-doped graphene that provides great surface area, carbon nanotubes that enhance conductivity, and carbon black particles that separate the layers allowing the electrolyte and oxygen to flow freely, which greatly increased performance and efficiency.



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The biobattery: Turning sewage sludge into electricity and engine oil

Sewage sludge, green waste, production residue from the food industry, straw or animal excrement – with the biobattery‘s modular concept a much larger range of biomass can be utilized for energy recovery than previously. Researchers show that they can convert organic residues into electricity, heat, purified gas, engine oil and high quality biochar using this process.



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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Combating bacteria via silver-dammar coating

Natural resins obtained from plants to be used as a coating element to enhance durability and anti-rust properties. Coating systems are formulated using a mixture of dammar, silver and nanoclay in varied compositions.



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Superatomic Nickel core and unusual molecular reactivity

Scientists have revealed a unique molecular fragment Ni2O2, consisting of two nickel atoms and two oxygen atoms, that have shown plausible superatomic properties. Supeatoms are important structural elements in nanoscale organization and they possess unique physical and chemical properties.



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Building blocks of the future defy logic: New logic-defying mathematical model

Wake up in the morning and stretch; your midsection narrows. Pull on a rubber band and it becomes thinner. One might assume that materials will always stretch and thin. Wrong. Thanks to their peculiar internal geometry, auxetic materials grow wider when stretched. After confounding scientists for decades, researchers are now developing mathematical models to explain the unusual behavior of these logic-defying materials, unlocking applications from better skin grafts to new smart materials.



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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

In quest for better lithium-air batteries, chemists boost carbon's stability

Chemists report nano-coatings increased the stability of a unique form of carbon, yielding performance gains focused on next generation lithium-air batteries.



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Simple way to make and reconfigure complex emulsions

Researchers have devised a new way to make complex liquid mixtures, known as emulsions, that could have many applications in drug delivery, sensing, cleaning up pollutants, and performing chemical reactions.



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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Renewable energy obtained from wastewater

Researchers have devised an efficient way to obtain electrical energy and hydrogen by using a wastewater treatment process. The proposed system uses bacteria which consumes the organic material and produces electricity which allows producing hydrogen, the energetic vector of the future. The results point to further developments of this technology at industrial scale.



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Building tailor-made DNA nanotubes step by step

Researchers have developed a new, low-cost method to build DNA nanotubes block by block -- a breakthrough that could help pave the way for scaffolds made from DNA strands to be used in applications such as optical and electronic devices or smart drug-delivery systems.



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Monday, February 23, 2015

Threat of ocean acidification to coastal communities in US

Coastal communities in 15 states that depend on the $1 billion shelled mollusk industry (primarily oysters and clams) are at long-term economic risk from the increasing threat of ocean acidification, a new report concludes.



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Fever alarm armband: A wearable, printable, temperature sensor

Researchers have developed a 'fever alarm armband,' a flexible, self-powered wearable device that sounds an alarm in case of high body temperature. The flexible organic components developed for this device are well-suited to wearable devices that continuously monitor vital signs including temperature and heart rate for applications in healthcare settings.



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Availabililty of rare metals for manufacturing: Are we (in)dependent of rare metals?

Numerous metallic elements are regarded as "critical": on one hand, they play an ever more important role in so-called future technologies and on the other, there is a high risk of supply bottlenecks. Small and medium-sized companies are also affected by this, and they are often not sure which of these materials they are dependent on.



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Frequency combs in molecular fingerprint region

Silicon nanowire optical waveguides dramatically broaden mid-infrared frequency comb spectra, scientists report. Frequency combs are commercially available in the visible and near-infrared spectral ranges. The mid-infrared spectral region (2-20?m), however, is still emerging. Many applications in spectroscopy, material science, security and industry process control, or chemical, biological and medical sensing would straightforwardly take advantage of mid-infrared photonics devices of higher performance.



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New catalyst to create chemical building blocks from biomass

Researchers have developed a novel selective catalyst that allows the creation of several basic chemicals from biomass instead of petroleum. This discovery may lead to the use of plant biomass as a basic feedstock for the chemical industry.



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Friday, February 20, 2015

System to turn wastewater into fresh water developed

A professor has shown that improving wastewater treatment and saving energy are not only essential, but they’re also compatible.



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Draft report analyzes policy options for hydraulic fracturing in Michigan

Researchers have released a detailed draft analysis of policy options for hydraulic fracturing, the natural gas and oil extraction process commonly known as fracking.



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Waste electrical and electronic equipment, including kitchen utensils, contain valuable materials

Anything from whisks and washing machines to power tools and PCs can be classed as WEEE at their end of life stage, and most are now recycled as they usually contain many valuable materials or elements which are difficult to attain from natural sources.



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Thursday, February 19, 2015

New technique for making graphene competitor, molybdenum disulfide

Researchers have made an advance in manufacturing molybdenum disulphide, a 2-D material that could compete with graphene for replacing silicon in next-generation electronics. By growing flakes of the material around 'seeds' of molybdenum oxide, they have made it easier to control the size, thickness and location of the material.



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Direct observation of bond formations

Direct "observation" of the bond making, through a chemical reaction, has been longstanding dream for chemists. However, the distance between atoms is very small, at about 100 picometer, and the bonding is completed very quickly, taking less than one picosecond (ps). Hence, previously, one could only imagine the bond formation between atoms while looking at the chemical reaction progressing in the test-tube. In this research, scientists directly observed a very fast chemical reaction, induced by photo-excitation.



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New paper-like material could boost electric vehicle batteries

Researchers have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.



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Cheap solar cells made from shrimp shells

Researchers have successfully created electricity-generating solar-cells with chemicals found the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans for the first time.



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Classical nova explosions are major lithium factories in the universe

Astronomers observed Nova Delphini 2013 which occurred on August 14, 2013. They discovered that the outburst is producing a large amount of lithium (Li). Lithium is a key element in the study of the chemical evolution of the universe because it likely was and is produced in several ways: through Big Bang nucleosynthesis, in collisions between energetic cosmic rays and the interstellar medium, inside stellar interiors, and as a result of novae and supernova explosions. This new observation provides the first direct evidence for the supply of Li from stellar objects to the galactic medium.



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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Nanotechnology: Better measurements of single molecule circuits

A new technique gives better measurements of the properties of electrical circuits made of single molecules. The method should enable more research in nanotechnology, researchers report.



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Cost-effective and efficient rival for platinum

Researchers have succeeded in creating an electrocatalyst that is needed for storing electric energy made of carbon and iron.



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Breakthrough in nanotoxicology by researchers

Whereas resistance to antibiotics complicates certain treatments, antimicrobial silver nanoparticles are gaining popularity for medical use. These particles are toxic for certain bacteria, but what about for humans? Researchers have taken a step toward understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that affect these particles



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Igniting the air for atmospheric research

Scientists have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.



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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New solder for semiconductors creates technological possibilities

Scientists have demonstrated how semiconductors can be soldered and still deliver good electronic performance.



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Recent research provides new data on chemical gardens, whose formation is a mystery for science

Recent research has yielded new data on chemical gardens, mysterious formations produced when certain solid salts -- copper sulfate, cobalt chloride -- are added to an aqueous solution of sodium silicate.



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Potential new breathalyzer for lung cancer screening

Chinese researchers have developed a simple, rapid device for detecting volatile organic compounds on the breath, demonstrating potential for early cancer detection.



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Monday, February 16, 2015

Controlling car pollution at the quantum level

Researchers are working towards a new generation of automotive catalytic converters.



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Half spheres for molecular circuits

Corannulene is a carbon molecule with a unique shape (similar to the better known fullerene) and promising properties. A team of scientists carried out computer simulations of the molecule’s properties and discovered that it might help overcome the difficulties building molecular circuits (i.e., of the size of molecules).



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How carbonates behave in Earth's interior

Carbonates are the most important carbon reservoirs on the planet. But what role do they play in Earth's interior? How do they react to conditions in Earth's mantle? These are the questions being asked by a group of scientific researchers from various geoscience disciplines.



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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mixing plant waste and plastic to obtain building materials

A new company has intertwined the science of chemical engineering and technology to recycle all kinds of useless plastics and tequila agave bagasse similar to wood, but with greater resistance used as formwork in the construction industry or in the manufacture of benches, tables and chairs.



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Research shows benefits of silicon carbide for sensors in harsh environments

The use of silicon carbide as a semiconductor for mechanical and electrical sensor devices is showing promise for improved operations and safety in harsh working environments, according to new research.



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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Wanted: The faces of the chemical crowd

Elements and their compounds will no longer be able to hide in mixtures, even if the latter are made up of many components. The end of chemical incognito is a result of the development at Warsaw's Polish Academy of Science's Institute of Physical Chemistry of a new, much more accurate method of identifying the 'fingerprints' of chemical substances, imprinted in the light dispersed by the mixtures.



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Friday, February 13, 2015

Self-stretching material: No limit to number of times material can change shape

Although most materials slightly expand when heated, there is a new class of rubber-like material that not only self-stretches upon cooling; it reverts back to its original shape when heated, all without physical manipulation.



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Transforming silver into any color of the rainbow: Silver-glass sandwich structure acts as inexpensive color filter

The engineering world just became even more colorful. Researchers have created a new technique that can transform silver into any color of the rainbow. Their simple method is a fast, low-cost alternative to color filters currently used in electronic displays and monitors.



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Distortions glimpsed in atomic structure of materials

Researchers are using a technique they developed to observe minute distortions in the atomic structure of complex materials, shedding light on what causes these distortions and opening the door to studies on how such atomic-scale variations can influence a material's properties.



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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Data-storage for eternity, stored in the form of DNA

How can we preserve our knowledge today for the next millennia? Researchers have found a way to store information in the form of DNA, presumably preserving it for nearly an eternity.



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Switching superconductivity by light

A research team has developed a novel superconducting transistor which can be switched reversibly between on and off by light irradiation. This achievement is a milestone for future high-speed switching devices or highly sensitive optical sensors.



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Step toward rational design of catalysts: Better catalysts, made-to-order

Scientists have captured enough data on crucial steps in a chemical reaction to accurately predict the structures of the most efficient catalysts, those that would speed the process with the least amount of unwanted byproducts. The new approach could help chemists design catalysts that are not just incrementally better, but entirely new.



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First glimpse of a chemical bond being born

Scientists have gotten the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place and on efforts to design reactions that generate energy, create new products and fertilize crops more efficiently.



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Bacterial armor holds clues for self-assembling nanostructures

Researchers have uncovered key details in the process by which bacterial proteins self-assemble into a protective coating, like chainmail armor. This process can be a model for the self-assembly of 2-D and 3-D nanostructures.



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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Advent of geoengineering may help lower temperature of debate over climate change

Geoengineering, an emerging technology aimed at counteracting the effects of human-caused climate change, also has the potential to counteract political polarization over global warming, according to a new study.



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Novel non-stick material joins portfolio of slippery surface technologies

The technology leverages the molecular structure of polymers, which makes them highly capable of taking up and storing considerable volumes of lubricating liquids in their molecular structure, like sponges. This allows for absorption of a large reservoir of lubricant, which can then travel to the surface and render it continuously slippery and repellent -- creating an environment that challenges bacteria's ability to colonize.



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Scientists take first X-ray portraits of living bacteria

Researchers have captured the first X-ray portraits of living bacteria. This milestone is a first step toward possible X-ray explorations of the molecular machinery at work in viral infections, cell division, photosynthesis and other processes that are important to biology, human health and our environment.



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Better batteries inspired by lowly snail shells

Researchers have isolated a peptide, a type of biological molecule, which binds strongly to lithium manganese nickel oxide (LMNO), a material that can be used to make the cathode in high performance batteries. The peptide can latch onto nanosized particles of LMNO and connect them to conductive components of a battery electrode, improving the potential power and stability of the electrode.



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Engineered insulin could offer better diabetes control

Engineers hope to improve treatment for diabetes patients with a new type of engineered insulin. In tests in mice, the researchers showed that their modified insulin can circulate in the bloodstream for at least 10 hours, and that it responds rapidly to changes in blood-sugar levels.



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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hybrid perovskite nanoparticles with 80% luminescence yield obtained

Researchers have developed a method for preparing methylammonium-lead bromide hybrid nanoparticles with extraordinary luminescence. They have successfully increased the luminescence efficiency of nanoparticles up to 80% and has also proven their high stability under ultraviolet visible light.



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Water ice renders short-lived molecule sustainable

“Antiaromatic compounds” is what chemists call a class of ring molecules which are extremely instable – the opposite of the highly stable aromatic molecules. Because they exist for mere split seconds, they can only be detected by extremely demanding, ultrafast methods. Scientists have now succeeded in isolating the antiaromatic fluorenyl cation at extremely low temperatures in water ice. Thus, they were able to conduct a spectroscopic analysis for the very first time.



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