Monday, February 29, 2016

Two-way clustering method for QSAR modeling of diverse set of chemicals

New articles developed in silico models for the estimation of potential mutagenicity of chemicals from their structure without the input of any other experimental data.

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Ladder polymers stand apart

Polymer chemists have synthesized materials with intrinsic, microscale porosity that are well suited for reusable gas and liquid separations because of their robust, ladder-like frameworks.

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Biodiesel in a caustic flash

Biodiesel represents a potentially cleaner and more sustainable fuel than those derived from crude oil. Now, scientists have developed a high-speed conversion that turns waste cooking oil into fuel using ultrasound and caustic soda.

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New form of electron-beam imaging can see elements that are 'invisible' to common methods

Scientists have developed a new imaging technique, tested on samples of nanoscale gold and carbon, that greatly improves images of light elements using fewer electrons. The technique can reveal structural details for materials that would be invisible to a traditional electron-imaging method.

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Physicist discovers new 2-D material that could upstage graphene

Physicists have discovered a new material that could advance digital technology and open a new frontier in 2-D materials beyond graphene. Truly flat and extremely stable, the material is made up of light, inexpensive and earth abundant elements.

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Sunday, February 28, 2016

Artificial control of exciplexes opens possibilities for new electronics

Demonstrating a strategy that could form the basis for a new class of electronic devices with uniquely tunable properties, researchers were able to widely vary the emission color and efficiency of organic light-emitting diodes based on exciplexes simply by changing the distance between key molecules in the devices by a few nanometers.

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Inventions deliver cleaner copper, energy capture

A toxin-free method for extracting copper from raw ore and other procedures using molten salts represent an opportunity for a sizable impact in both mining and energy storage.

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Lab-on-a-chip breakthrough

Researchers have developed a new polymer suited for photostructuring — which opens new possibilities for medical diagnostics, biophotonics and 3D printing. 

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The key to mass-producing nanomaterials

A new 3-D-printed device can mass-produce nanoparticles, commonly used materials that can be difficult and expensive to manufacture.

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Spotlighting the brain: Fluorescence of neuroscience demonstrates pathways of neurological disorders

Scientists have now described the engineering of a bright red fluorescent protein-based voltage indicator, providing pathways to understanding complex neurological disorders. Designated as FlicR1 (fluorescent indicator for voltage imaging red), these indicators enable imaging of the electrical activity of many genetically targeted neurons with high spatial and temporal resolution.

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Grassland harvest could conserve resources, benefit farmers, and curb government spending

A new long-term research study shows the potential for biomass production from perennial grasslands in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). Biomass yield varied with nitrogen fertilization, precipitation, harvest timing, and location. Economic analysis indicates that a 25 percent rental reduction in harvest years could incentivize farmers to keep land in CRP, allow them to earn revenue, and save the government millions in annual payments.

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Material enables more reliable, meaningful self-screening

Paper-based diagnostics enable rapid medical test results at minimal cost — and now they're about to get even better. A new synthetic paper could enable simultaneous screenings for multiple conditions, with more reliable results. Scientists say that the new synthetic paper provides an optimal control of chemistry and fluid flow, and some of the possibilities include combined pregnancy and HIV self-testing, with a single sample.

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How metal clusters grow

First the nucleus, then the shell: Scientists have studied stepwise formation of metal clusters, smallest fractions of metals in molecular form. The shell gradually forms around the inner atom rather than by later inclusion of the central atom. Knowledge of all development steps may allow for customized optoelectronic and magnetic properties.

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Seizures and other extreme events in the brain

How do epileptic seizures develop? A new model may help to answer this question. Physicists have developed a model whose behavior – although based on strict rules – can apparently change spontaneously. There are also changes of this type in nature, for example, in the development of migraine attacks or epileptic seizures. The mechanism, described for the first time by the researchers, could help to better understand extreme events such as these.

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Optimizing biofuel production from algae using carbon dioxide emissions

The combustion of fossil fuels drives the world's energy production, but it also emits carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. In recent years, researchers have worked to cultivate alternative, renewable energy sources, including using algae-based systems. Now, a team reports an optimized way of producing biofuel from algae that also removes CO2 emissions from the environment.

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What makes penguin feathers ice-proof

Humboldt penguins live in places that dip below freezing in the winter, and despite getting wet, their feathers stay sleek and free of ice. Scientists have now figured out what could make that possible. They report that the key is in the microstructure of penguins' feathers. Based on their findings, the scientists replicated the architecture in a nanofiber membrane that could be developed into an ice-proof material.

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California blowout led to largest U.S. methane release ever

The Aliso Canyon natural gas well blowout, first reported on Oct. 23, 2015, released over 100,000 tons of the powerful greenhouse gas methane before the well was sealed on Feb. 11, according to the first study of the accident published. The results confirm that Aliso Canyon is the largest methane leak in U.S. history.

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New trigger for self-powered mechanical movement

A new way to use the chemical reactions of certain enzymes to trigger self-powered mechanical movement has been developed by a team of researchers. The pumps provide precise control over flow rate without the aid of an external power source and are capable of turning on in response to specific chemicals.

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Lower limit for future climate emissions

The world can emit even less greenhouse gases than previously estimated in order to limit climate change to less than 2°C, a new study shows. The study finds that the available budget is on the low end of the spectrum compared to previous estimates--which ranged from 590 to 2390 billion tons of carbon dioxide for the same time period--lending further urgency to the need to address climate change.

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Quantum dot solids: This generation's silicon wafer?

Just as the single-crystal silicon wafer forever changed the nature of communication 60 years ago, a group of researchers is hoping its work with quantum dot solids -- crystals made out of crystals -- can help usher in a new era in electronics.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Scientists unlock key to turning wastewater and sewage into power

A new article speaks to a growing sustainability movement to capture energy from existing waste to make treatment facilities more energy-efficient.

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Immune cells don't always ward off carbon nano invaders

Scientists have found evidence that some carbon nanomaterials can enter into immune cell membranes, seemingly going undetected by the cell's built-in mechanisms for engulfing and disposing of foreign material, and then escape through some unidentified pathway.

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Pulling water from thin air

As the planet grows drier, researchers are looking to nature for more effective ways to pull water from air. Now, scientists have drawn inspiration from three organisms to develop a better way to promote and transport condensed water droplets.

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Adapted Trombe wall now used for both building heating, cooling

A new study demonstrates a way to adapt the so-called Trombe wall -- a passive solar building design from the 19th century -- to not only heat but also cool buildings, while drastically reduce associated carbon emissions. The new design is now being tested by locals in Saint Catherine, Egypt.

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Copper destroys MRSA at a touch

New research shows that copper can destroy MRSA spread by touching and fingertip contamination of surfaces. Frequently-touched surfaces in busy areas - such as hospitals, transport hubs and public buildings - are at high risk of community-acquired and healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs) caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and methicillin-sensitive Staphylococcus aureus (MSSA).. Bacteria deposited on a surface by one person touching it, or via contaminated body fluids, can be picked up by subsequent users and spread to other surfaces, potentially causing thousands of infections worldwide.

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Eco-friendly food packaging material doubles shelf-life of food products

Natural chitosan-based film enhanced with anti-bacterial and antiviral properties of grapefruit seed extract improves food safety and quality.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Controlling ultrafast electrons in motion

An international team has used the light produced by the Free Electron Laser FERMI at the research Centre Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste in the AREA Science Park to control the ultrafast movement of electrons. The experiment opens the way to the study of more complex processes which occur in nature on the scale of attoseconds (billionths of a billionth of a second), such as photosynthesis, combustion, catalysis and atmospheric chemistry.

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Earth science: Remote predictions of fluid flow in fractures possible with new finding

A team of researchers has created a way to quickly and remotely evaluate fluid flow in subsurface fractures that could impact aquifers, oil and gas extraction, sequestration of greenhouse gases or nuclear waste and remediation of leaked contaminants.

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Proven one-step process to convert CO2 and water directly into liquid hydrocarbon fuel

Chemists and engineers have proven that concentrated light, heat and high pressures can drive the one-step conversion of carbon dioxide and water directly into useable liquid hydrocarbon fuels.

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Crystal, magnetic structure of multiferroic hexagonal manganite

Ever since Curie conjectured on 'the symmetry in physical phenomena, symmetry of an electric field and a magnetic field,' it has long been a dream for material scientists to search for this rather unusual class of material. Multiferroic materials are a class of crystalline material which exhibit a number of unique properties, in which at least two order parameters exist simultaneously.

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Quantum processes control accurately to several attoseconds

An international team of scientists has succeeded in proving that control over quantum processes accurately to several attoseconds (one billionth of a billionth of a second) is possible.

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New material to enhance battery life

A cathode material for li-ion batteries with a very high charge rate -- down to 90 seconds -- has been created, retaining more than 75% of an initial capacity. The discovery may stipulate the development of batteries where expensive lithium could be replaced with cheaper potassium.

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New bacterial pump could be used to remove cesium from the environment by light

By specifically introducing mutations into key parts of a pump located within the bacterial cell membranes, scientists have been able to induce it to pump cesium, including cesium's radioactive isotopes. This could form part of a strategy for the decontamination of cesium, which was one of the main radioactive materials released in the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Nebraska researcher finds gold, other metals

A chemist is developing inexpensive, portable and reusable sensors that use a component of DNA to detect gold, mercury, silver, lead and other metals.

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Georgeite synthesized for first time

An extremely rare mineral has been synthesized for the first time, and used it as a catalyst precursor to improve two reactions that are of great importance to the chemical industry.

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Buildings wrapped in high-efficiency, flexible solar cells? It could happen

Patented organic solar cell breakthrough could increase their efficiency to cost-effective levels. Buildings and rooftops could be wrapped in lightweight, flexible sheets of solar cells, say researchers, adding that this could also provide reliable power to isolated regions.

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'Swiss army knife' molecule

A novel polymer for coating materials has been developed by researchers in order to prevent biofilms from forming on surfaces. Thanks to the technological platform developed, it is now possible to coat durably a variety of different materials using the same polymeric molecule. Such coatings are of relevance for medical applications, among others.

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Shape-shifting engineered nanoparticles for delivering cancer drugs to tumors

Over the last decade, one researcher has spent his time figuring out how to deliver chemotherapy drugs into cancerous tumors -- and nowhere else. Now his lab has designed a set of nanoparticles attached to strands of DNA that can change shape to gain access to diseased tissue.

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Biofuel tech straight from the farm

Anaerobic gut fungi perform as well as the best fungi engineered by industry in their ability to convert plant material into sugars that are easily transformed into fuel and other products, report scientists.

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Renewable fuels from algae boosted by refinery process

A new biorefinery process has proven to be significantly more effective at producing ethanol from algae than previous research.

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Chemistry trick paves way for safer diabetes medication

New research points to an entirely new approach for designing insulin-based pharmaceuticals. The approach could open the door for more personalized medications with fewer side effects for Type 1 Diabetes patients, say researchers.

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Organic waste for sustainable batteries

A carbon-based active material produced from apple leftovers and a material of layered oxides might help reduce the costs of future energy storage systems. Both were found to have excellent electrochemical properties and stand for the environmentally compatible and sustainable use of resources, say scientists.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Researchers devise more efficient materials for solar fuel cells

Chemists have developed new high-performing materials for cells that harness sunlight to split carbon dioxide and water into usable fuels like methanol and hydrogen gas. These 'green fuels' can be used to power cars, home appliances or even to store energy in batteries.

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Fluorescent biosensors light up high-throughput metabolic engineering

Synthetic biologists are learning to turn microbes and unicellular organisms into highly productive factories by re-engineering their metabolism to produce valued commodities such as fine chemicals, therapeutics and biofuels. To speed up identification of the most efficient producers, researchers describe new approaches to this process and demonstrate how genetically encoded fluorescent biosensors can enable the generation and testing of billions of individual variants of a metabolic pathway in record time.

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New ways to construct contactless magnetic gears

The new milk frother you are using to prepare your cappuccino is likely using magnetic gears. Magnetic gears transmit rotary motion like mechanical gears but instead of teeth they use magnetic attraction and repulsion between rotating magnets. Researchers have published a theory that extends the possibilities and applications for smooth magnetic couplings, which can produce an even motion without any counterforce. This research has several potential applications in nanotechnology, microfluidics and robotics.

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Researchers develop new, more-efficient selective oxidation catalyst

The development of a new more-efficient selective oxidation catalyst has been the focus of a research team, who have now reported their successes in a new article.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Making molecules that twinkle

A single step process transforms carbon dioxide into star-shaped molecules that are promising building blocks for useful polymeric materials, report scientists.

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In a U.S. first, team measures lightning-produced ozone with lidar

Scientists have used Rocket-city Ozone (O3) Quality Evaluation in the Troposphere (RO3QET) Lidar to measure ozone produced by lightning in the United States. The research could be important to air quality prediction and assessment once it is developed further.

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Mussel-mimicking adhesive polymer shown to be non-toxic to cells

A synthetic version of a high-strength adhesive produced by mussels is non-toxic to living cells, researchers say, suggesting its potential suitability for surgical and other biomedical applications. The polymer is designed after a natural protein that mussels produce for sticking to surfaces. The animals extend hair-like fibers that connect to surfaces with a natural adhesive. A synthetic polymer is needed because the natural proteins are not practical for industrial applications.

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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Drones give scientists a new self-service approach

Scientists and engineers are seeing a range of opportunities to enhance their research with use of drones -- i.e., unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The relatively low cost and increasing capabilities of drones have begun making them a popular data-gathering tool. A hydrologist says drones could bring big changes in how ecological and environmental science and engineering is done.

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