Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Research links inorganic mercury exposure to damaged cell processes

Inorganic mercury, which was previously thought to be a less harmful form of the toxic metal, is very damaging to key cell processes, new research demonstrates.

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Precise molecular fingerprinting on the fly

Frequency-agile laser frequency combs take real-time multicolour snapshots of absorbing samples, report researchers in a new article.

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Metabolic pathway in cyanobacteria could yield better biofuels, bioproducts from photosynthesis

A metabolic pathway previously only suggested to be functional in photosynthetic organisms is actually a major pathway and can enable efficient conversion of carbon dioxide to organic compounds, scientists have discovered.

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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Move aside carbon: Boron nitride-reinforced materials are even stronger

When mixed with lightweight polymers, tiny carbon tubes reinforce the material, promising lightweight and strong materials for airplanes, spaceships, cars and even sports equipment. While such carbon nanotube-polymer nanocomposites have attracted enormous interest from the materials research community, a group of scientists now has evidence that a different nanotube -- made from boron nitride -- could offer even more strength per unit of weight.

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Nanotech weapon against chronic bacterial infections in hospitals

Biofilms have been linked to 80% of infections, forming on living tissues or dwelling in medical devices, and cause chronic infections that are extremely resistant to antibiotics able to evade the immune system. A new nanomedicine technique offers a non-toxic way to dislodge biofilms in infected tissue, making them vulnerable to antibiotics.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Neutrons offer guide to getting more out of solid-state lithium-ion batteries

A new study has revealed promising results that could drastically boost the performance of solid-state electrolytes, and could potentially lead to a safer, even more efficient battery. Researchers used neutron diffraction (the VULCAN instrument, SNS beam line 7) to conduct an in-depth study probing the entire structure evolution of doped garnet-type electrolytes during the synthesis process to unravel the mechanism that boosts the lithium-ionic conductivity.

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New device uses carbon nanotubes to snag molecules

A new technique for trapping hard-to-detect molecules has been devised, using forests of carbon nanotubes. The team modified a simple microfluidic channel with an array of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes -- rolled lattices of carbon atoms that resemble tiny tubes of chicken wire. The researchers had previously devised a method for standing carbon nanotubes on their ends, like trees in a forest. With this method, they created a three-dimensional array of permeable carbon nanotubes within a microfluidic device, through which fluid can flow.

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Scientists blueprint tiny cellular 'nanomachine'

Scientists have drawn up molecular blueprints of a tiny cellular 'nanomachine,' whose evolution is an extraordinary feat of nature, by using one of the brightest X-ray sources on Earth.

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Physicists discover material for a more efficient energy storage

Predictions of physicists recently lead to the discovery of a material with special electric properties which engages the interest of plastics producing industry.

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Magnetic nanoparticle chains offer new technique for controlling soft robots

Researchers have developed a technique that uses chains of magnetic nanoparticles to manipulate elastic polymers in three dimensions, which could be used to remotely control new 'soft robots.'

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Turning rice farming waste into useful silica compounds

'DO NOT EAT.' That's what's marked on the innocuous little packets that contain the most widely known form of precipitated silica. They're used to absorb moisture that could damage new products, and most of us don't think much about them.

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The double life of a bacteria: Living off both iron and pure electricity

The bacterium Acidithiobacillus ferrooxidans can take electrons needed for growth directly from an electrode power source when iron—its already known source of energy—is absent, new research shows. The study shows that A. ferrooxidans can use direct uptake of electrons from an electrode to fuel the same metabolic pathway that is activated by the oxidation of diffusible iron ions. 

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Alternative method for the representation of microstructures in polycrystalline materials

Most solid materials are of polycrystalline nature. New research explains the orientation distributions on large specimen areas, using a scanning electron microscope as a tool.

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Radioactive matter migrates more quickly through fractured carbonate rock

A new study has determined the impact of intrinsic colloid formation on increased migration of leaked radioactive materials in the environment. Colloids are microscopic inorganic or organic solids that remain suspended in water. Intrinsic colloids are formed when radioactive waste mixes with other dissolved components in the groundwater, such as bicarbonate.

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3D 'nanobridges' formed using electron beam writing with tiny jets of liquid precursor

Researchers have demonstrated a new process for rapidly fabricating complex three-dimensional nanostructures from a variety of materials, including metals. The new technique uses nanoelectrospray to provide a continuous supply of liquid precursor, which can include metal ions that are converted to high-purity metal by a focused electron beam.

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Creation of Jupiter interior, a step towards room temperature superconductivity

Since hydrogen is both a highly diffusive and highly reactive element, it is difficult to maintain its stability in high-temperature, high-pressure equipment for use in experimentation, which has greatly impeded research on high temperature, high pressure hydrogen. A research group has successfully developed technology which stabilizes hydrogen in a high-temperature, high-pressure environment without chemical reactions with surrounding matter.

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

New model more accurately tracks gases for underground nuclear explosion detection

Scientists have developed a new, more thorough method for detecting underground nuclear explosions (UNEs) by coupling two fundamental elements -- seismic models with gas-flow models -- to create a more complete picture of how an explosion's evidence (radionuclide gases) seep to the surface.

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Scientists create atomically thin boron

A team of scientists has, for the first time, created a two-dimensional sheet of boron -- a material known as borophene. It is an unusual material because it shows many metallic properties at the nanoscale even though three-dimensional, or bulk, boron is nonmetallic and semiconducting. No bulk form of elemental boron has this metal-like behavior. Borophene, both metallic and atomically thin, holds promise for possible applications ranging from electronics to photovoltaics.

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New technique both enhances oil recovery, sequesters carbon dioxide

A proposed recovery technique for oil extraction not only outperforms existing drilling and recovery techniques, but also has the potential to sequester more carbon dioxide in the process.

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The transformation of cancer imaging: From shades of gray to living color

New technology called spectral CT imaging allows clinicians to get a more complete picture of patients' health. The technology for colored imaging is not only on the horizon, but it is also on the campus of a research facility, where researchers are giving the phrase “in living color” a new meaning.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Toward roads that de-ice themselves

As winter approaches, stores, cities and homeowners are stocking up on salt, gravel and sand in anticipation of slippery roads. But this annual ritual in colder climates could soon become unnecessary. Researchers report on a new road material that could de-ice itself.

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'Hydricity' concept uses solar energy to produce power round-the-clock

Researchers are proposing a new 'hydricity' concept aimed at creating a sustainable economy by not only generating electricity with solar energy but also producing and storing hydrogen from superheated water for round-the-clock power production.

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Diamonds may be the key to future NMR/MRI technologies

Researchers have demonstrated that diamonds may hold the key to the future for nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologies. NMR/MRI signals were significantly strengthened through the hyperpolarization of carbon-13 nuclei in diamond using microwaves.

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Some gas produced by hydraulic fracturing comes from surprise source

Some of the natural gas harvested by hydraulic fracturing operations may be of biological origin -- made by microorganisms inadvertently injected into shale by oil and gas companies during the hydraulic fracturing process, a new study has found.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Better catalysts for green energy

A detailed account has been provided by researchers of how to control the electron charge of nanoparticles of platinum, an important catalyst in fuel cells, to maximize the efficiency of the process.

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New ceramic firefighting foam becomes stronger when temperature increases

A team of chemists has developed a novel type of firefighting foam based on inorganic silica nanoparticles. The new foam beats existing analogues in fire extinguishing capacity, thermal and mechanical stability and biocompatibility.

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New industrial possibilities for nanoporous thin films

Metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are a new type of materials with nanoscale pores. Bioscience engineers have now developed an alternative method that produces these materials in the form of very thin films, so that they can easily be used for high-tech applications such as microchips.

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Hybrid material presents potential for 4-D-printed adaptive devices

Combining photo-responsive fibers with thermo-responsive gels, researchers have modeled a new hybrid material that could reconfigure itself multiple times into different shapes when exposed to light and heat.

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Designer crystals for next-gen electronics

A new process that uses vapor -- rather than liquid -- to grow designer crystals could lead to a new breed of faster, more powerful electronic devices.

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How nanoparticles give electrons away

Scientists have now succeeded in counting the number of elementary charges that are lost by a platinum nanoparticle when it is placed onto a typical oxide support. Their work brings the possibility of developing tailor-made nanoparticles a step closer.

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Doped organic semiconductors explored

Organic semiconductors are already being employed in solar cells and organic LEDs (OLEDs). Until now, however, little was known about how the doping molecules are integrated into their chemical structure. Scientists have now analyzed this question at BESSY II with surprising results. The molecules are not necessarily uniformly dispersed in the host lattice, but instead form co-crystallites. It is this very species that takes over the role as the actually doping molecule.

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Better materials promise LEDs at a fraction of the cost

Better materials promise LEDs at a fraction of the cost, say researchers. Apart from their use in more economical and efficient illumination, these better materials could be useful also in power electronics, which is needed among other things, in power control of electric vehicles, in power supplies and converters.

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Promising cancer therapy advanced by chemical explanation

Radiation therapy: A chilling word that creates images of burn-injuries where the cancer killing ray went through the skin. For decades research hospitals have been investigating the alternative method Hadron therapy, or particle therapy, where runaway cells are bombarded with 'naked' atomic nuclei or protons. When the particles pass through sick cells the collision creates chemical reactions preventing further cell division. Now researchers have discovered an unknown reaction caused by the therapy.

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

New nanomanufacturing technique advances imaging, biosensing technology

More than a decade ago, theorists predicted the possibility of a nanolens -- a chain of three nanoscale spheres that would focus incoming light into a spot much smaller than possible with conventional microscopy. Such a device would make possible extremely high-resolution imaging or biological sensing. But scientists had been unable to build and arrange many nanolenses over a large area. Now, new advances in nanolensing would make possible extremely high-resolution imaging or biological lensing.

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Could metal particles be the clean fuel of the future?

Metal powders, produced using clean primary energy sources, could provide a more viable long-term replacement for fossil fuels than other widely discussed alternatives, such as hydrogen, biofuels or batteries, according to a new study.

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Versatile method for developing new materials

Researchers have devised an elegant method for fitting various functional coatings to silicon microwires. The method makes it possible to create relatively easily a wire that is coated on its lower side with platinum, for example, and with silver on top. The wires can be used potentially for generating renewable energy or for purifying water.

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High performance nanoparticle electrocatalyst

Scientists have developed a high performance and cost effective fuel cell. Demand for a practical synthetic approach to the high performance electrocatalyst is rapidly increasing for fuel cell commercialization.

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You Can Have Your Conductor and Insulator, Too

By carefully tuning the chemical composition of a particular compound, researchers have created a topological crystalline insulator, whose bulk acts as an insulator but whose surface conducts electrical currents.

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Electrically induced arrangement improves bacteria detectors

Viruses that attack bacteria -- bacteriophages -- can be fussy: they only inject their genetic material into the bacteria that suit them. The fussiness of bacteriophages can be exploited in order to detect specific species of bacteria. Scientists have now demonstrated that bacteriophage-based biosensors will be much more efficient if prior to the deposition on the surface of the bacteriophage sensor their orientation is ordered in electric field.

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Cooperative catalysts offer unique route to alkenes

Chemists have developed a new chemical approach to dehydrogenation, a reaction found in important processes such as the biosynthesis of essential fatty acids in the body and the commercial production of detergents, that combines the various advantages from existing methods.

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New catalyst paves way for bio-based plastics, chemicals

Researchers have developed a catalyst that easily converts bio-based ethanol to a widely used industrial chemical, paving the way for more environmentally friendly, bio-based plastics and products.

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Friday, December 11, 2015

New analysis technique for chiral activity in molecules

Researchers have developed a technique that can easily analyze the optical activity of charged compounds by using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chemists characterize a chemical state thought to be unobservable

Researchers determine the energy and map the structure of a chemical reaction's transition state.

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Minerals from Papua New Guinea hold secret for recycling of noble gases

A new study brings insight to how atmospheric noble gases, in particular argon and neon, cycle from the surface to the Earth's mantle, and back to the surface again.

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Scientists develop diesel that emits far less CO2

Researchers have discovered a new approach to the production of fuels. Their new method can be used to produce much cleaner diesel. It can quickly be scaled up for industrial use. In five to 10 years, we may see the first cars driven by this new clean diesel.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Materials developed for tissue engineering, vaccines

Engineers are developing materials with a variety of medical applications, including delivering suicide genes to cancer cells, providing sustained delivery of vaccines, reducing the wear of hip implants and helping nerves regenerate.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Eco-friendly battery and solar cell all-in-one

In solar flow batteries, the proposed charging process links harvesting solar energy and storing it as chemical energy via the electrolyte. Scientists built a solar flow battery that uses an eco-friendly, compatible solvent and needs a lower applied voltage to recharge the battery.

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Plant-inspired power plants

A team of chemical engineers recently identified the two main factors for determining the optimal catalyst for turning atmospheric CO2 into liquid fuel. The results will streamline the search for an inexpensive yet highly effective new catalyst.

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Origin of heavy elements in the universe uncovered

A team of scientists suggests a solution to the Galactic radioactive plutonium puzzle. All the Plutonium used on Earth is artificially produced in nuclear reactors. Still, it turns out that it is also produced in nature. Plutonium is a radioactive element. Its longest-lived isotope is plutonium-244 with a lifetime of 120 million years.

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Faster groundwater remediation with thermal storage

Aquifer thermal energy storage (ATES) is more than a renewable energy source. The storage and extraction of heat and cold can remediate polluted groundwater ten times faster than existing technologies, a researcher says.

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