Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Mantis shrimp inspires next generation of ultra-strong materials

Researchers are one step closer to developing super strong composite materials, thanks to the mantis shrimp, a small, multicolored marine crustacean that crushes the shells of its prey using a fist-like appendage called a dactyl club. Their latest research describes for the first time a unique herringbone structure, not previously reported in nature, within the appendage's outer layer.

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Mapping the defects of a supermaterial

Scientists have developed a technique that allows them to visualize defects on the surface of graphene. The technique may ultimately help scientists develop a better understanding of graphene’s properties in order to find novel applications for this supermaterial.

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Optical fiber monitoring key to waste oil recycling

Scientists are harnessing advanced fiber-sensor technologies to increase productivity and process safety in the waste oil recycling process.

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It pays to increase energy comsumption

Extensive theoretical mappings have been developed of the way private consumers can save money for heating in a modern supply system based on electricity. Surprisingly enough, the mapping shows that by using approximately 10 percent more energy for heating, it is possible to save about 10 percent on the heating bill, at the same time as protecting the environment with lower carbon dioxide emission.

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Better combustion for power generation

As US utility companies replace coal-fired power plants with natural gas, a collaboration between two parties is contributing to efficiency gains in GE's H-class gas turbines. GE researchers produced the first simulation involving multiple gas turbine combustors to study combustion interactions that are impractical to test physically. Advanced simulation is projected to results in a full percentage-point gain in turbine efficiency.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

'Dirty Blizzard' sent 2010 Gulf oil spill pollution to seafloor

Scientists working in the Gulf of Mexico have found that contaminants from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill lingered in the subsurface water for months after oil on the surface had been swept up or dispersed. In a new study, they detailed how remnants of the oil, black carbon from burning oil slicks and contaminants from drilling mud combined with microscopic algae and other marine debris to descend in a 'dirty blizzard' to the seafloor.

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New compound switches between liquid, solid states when exposed to light or heat

A metal-containing compound that transforms into a solid when exposed to light and returns to liquid form when heated has been developed by researchers. This substance could potentially be used for photolithography technology, such as fabricating printed circuits, among other applications, they say.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Appalachian coal ash richest in rare earth elements

The first comprehensive study of the content of rare earth elements in coal ashes from the United States shows that coal originating from the Appalachian Mountains has the highest concentrations of scarce elements like neodymium, europium, terbium, dysprosium, yttrium and erbium that are needed for alternative energy and other technologies. The study also reveals how important developing inexpensive, efficient extraction technologies will be to any future recovery program.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Standards to improve sustainable manufacturing

A public-private team led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has created a new international standard that can 'map' the critically important environmental aspects of manufacturing processes, leading to significant improvements in sustainability while keeping a product's life cycle low cost and efficient.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Engineers discover a new gatekeeper for light

Imagine a device that is selectively transparent to various wavelengths of light at one moment, and opaque to them the next, following a minute adjustment. Researchers report a discovery that brings us one step closer to this imagined future.

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Beating the limits of the light microscope, one photon at a time

The world's most advanced light microscopes allow us to see single molecules, proteins, viruses and other very small biological structures -- but even the best microscopes have their limits. Now scientists are pushing the limits of a technique called super-resolution microscopy, opening potential new pathways to illuminating, for example, individual cell processes in living tissue at unprecedented resolutions.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Common antibacterial triclosan found in most freshwater streams

Most U.S. homes are full of familiar household products with an ingredient that fights bacteria: triclosan. Most of the triclosan is removed in waste water treatment plants. However, a U.S. Geological Survey found the antibacterial in nearly 58% of freshwater streams. What does that mean for the food and soil irrigated with water from streams? As triclosan breaks down, it can turn into other harmful compounds. The breakdown of triclosan produces more effective hormone disruptors.

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New concept turns battery technology upside-down

A new approach to the design of a liquid battery, using a passive, gravity-fed arrangement similar to an old-fashioned hourglass, could offer great advantages due to the system's low cost and the simplicity of its design and operation, says a team of researchers who have made a demonstration version of the new battery.

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Ivy's powerful grasp could lead to better medical adhesives, stronger battle armor

English ivy's natural glue might hold the key to new approaches to wound healing, stronger armor for the military and maybe even cosmetics with better staying power.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Closing in on the elusive rotational-vibrational CH5+ spectra

To identify molecules on Earth or in outer space, scientists typically record the spectrum of light absorbed -- each molecule has its own unique spectrum. CH5+, consists of a central carbon atom with five hydrogen atoms constantly moving around it, which makes it difficult to interpret its spectrum. Scientists report comparing, for the first time at a detailed level, experimental v. theory for CH5+.

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Single-step hydrogen peroxide production could be cleaner, more efficient

Chemical and biological engineers have uncovered new insight into how the compound hydrogen peroxide decomposes. This advance could inform efficient and cost-effective single-step strategies for producing hydrogen peroxide.

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Barium leaches directly from fracked rocks, Dartmouth team finds

Researchers are shedding light on the early chemical reactions in the organic sediments that would ultimately become the Marcellus Shale, a major source of natural gas and petroleum.

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Ambitious experiments cast light on far reaches of periodic table

A study of newly made chemical compounds is giving scientists a fresh understanding of an elusive element.

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Getting the most out of natural gas

Scientists have discovered a new catalyst that allows the easy conversion of natural gas constituents into precursors for the production of fuels or complex chemicals, such as polymers or pharmaceuticals. The new catalyst is extremely stable and results in fewer unwanted by-products.

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Clue for efficient usage of low-cost nickel catalysts

A group of researchers has developed a method of the consecutive formation of bonds of two butadiene, alkyl groups, and benzene rings by using a cheap nickel catalyst. Using this technique, it has become possible to synthesize high-value terminal olefin by using cheap butadiene.

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Light can 'heal' defects in new solar cell materials

A family of compounds known as perovskites, which can be made into thin films with many promising electronic and optical properties, has been a hot research topic in recent years. But although these materials could potentially be highly useful in applications such as solar cells, some limitations still hamper their efficiency and consistency. Now, a team of researchers say they have made significant inroads toward understanding a process for improving perovskites' performance, by modifying the material using intense light.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Programmable materials find strength in molecular repetition

Synthetic proteins based on those found in a variety of squid species' ring teeth may lead the way to self-healing polymers carefully constructed for specific toughness and stretchability that might have applications in textiles, cosmetics and medicine, according to researchers.

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A switch for light wave electronics

Light waves might be able to drive future transistors. The electromagnetic waves of light oscillate approximately one million times in a billionth of a second, hence with petahertz frequencies. In principle also future electronics could reach this speed and become 100,000 times faster than current digital electronics. This requires a better understanding of the sub-atomic electron motion induced by the ultrafast electric field of light. Now scientists combined novel experimental and theoretical techniques which provide direct access to this motion for the first time.

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Discovery could energize development of longer-lasting batteries

Researchers have made a discovery that could open the door to cellphone and car batteries that last five times longer than current ones. They discovered new catalyst materials for lithium-air batteries that jumpstart efforts at expanding battery capacity.

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Engineers take first step toward flexible, wearable, tricoder-like device

Engineers have developed the first flexible wearable device capable of monitoring both biochemical and electric signals in the human body. The Chem-Phys patch records electrocardiogram heart signals and tracks levels of lactate, a biochemical that is a marker of physical effort, in real time. The device can be worn on the chest and communicates wirelessly with a smartphone, smart watch or laptop.

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An app knows if a beer has gone stale

Chemists have developed a method that allows brewers to measure the freshness of beer, using a polymer sensor that changes color upon detecting furfural, a compound that appears when this beverage ages and gives it a stale flavor. The sensor can be controlled from a smartphone app also created by the team.

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New study captures ultrafast motion of proteins

For the first time, scientists have observed the structural changes in carbonic anhydrase. They expect that this will greatly contribute to the future biomedical research and new drug development.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Right size and right chemistry makes the right stuff for plastics manufacturing

New findings show that metal-organic frameworks can effectively remove the contaminant acetylene from ethylene, the material from which much of the world's plastic is made. The research suggests that filtering out acetylene using MOFs would produce ethylene at the high purity that industry demands while sidestepping the current need to convert acetylene to ethylene via a costly catalytic process.

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A path away from reliance on oil, with the help of bacteria

Adding genes to bacteria offers sustainable routes to make compounds currently obtained from petrochemicals.

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Nanotubes are beacons in cancer-imaging technique

Strong LED light, a unique detector and targeted nanotubes combine to offer a new way to pinpoint the location of cancer tumors, according to scientists.

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Chemists settle longstanding debate on how methane is made biologically

Like the poet, microbes that make methane are taking chemists on a road less traveled: Of two competing ideas for how microbes make the main component of natural gas, the winning chemical reaction involves a molecule less favored by previous research, something called a methyl radical. Reported today the work is important for understanding not only how methane is made, but also how to make things from it.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Chemists add color to chemical reactions

Members of a research group have designed a nanomaterial that changes color when it interacts with ions and other small molecules during a chemical reaction.

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Power up when the temperature is down

Chemists have developed a new synthesis method for organic radical batteries that are re-chargeable and continue to function at below-freezing temperatures. The specific model has greater voltage than previously reported styles from other research groups around the world.

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Smelly socks and sweaty shirts: Why your laundry stinks, and how to stop it

Scientists have identified the molecules that make our clothes smell. Dirty laundry smells bad because of certain chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which can’t always be washed out on an eco-friendly 20 degree Celsius cycle, according to a new study. Researchers identified six volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on dirty t-shirts and socks, some of which survive washing in a machine at 20?C.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

How repeated spot microdischarges damage microdevices

In microelectronics, devices made up of two electrodes separated by an insulating barrier are subject to multiple of microdischarges -- referred to as microfilaments -- at the same spot. Now have elucidated the mechanism of microdischarge reoccurrence, by attributing it to the temperature increase in a single microdischarge.

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Bending hot molecules

Hot molecules are found in extreme environments such as the edges of fusion reactors. For simulations that e.g. help to understand the physics of planetary atmospheres, it is crucial to know how these molecules react. In a new study researchers reveal a method for controlling the likelihood that reactions between electrons and hot molecules occur, by altering the degree of bending the linear molecules.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Chance finding could transform plant production

An almost entirely accidental discovery by researchers could transform food and biofuel production and increase carbon capture on farmland. By tweaking a plant’s genetic profile, the researchers doubled the plant’s growth and increased seed production by more than 400 per cent.

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Thinning out the carbon capture viscosity problem

Researchers have used computer modeling to design carbon dioxide binding materials so that they retain a low viscosity after sponging up carbon dioxide, based on a surprise they found in their explorations. Although the chemists still have to test the predicted liquid in the lab, being able to predict viscosity will help researchers find and design cheaper, more efficient carbon capture materials.

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Cooling, time in the dark preserve perovskite solar power

A new study has found both the cause and a solution for the pesky tendency of perovskite solar cells to degrade in sunlight, a research breakthrough potentially removing one roadblock to commercialization for this promising technology.

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Printing metal in midair

A new laser-assisted direct ink writing method allows microscopic metallic, free-standing 3-D structures to be printed in one step without auxiliary support material.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Under pressure: New technique could make large, flexible solar panels more feasible

A new, high-pressure technique may allow the production of huge sheets of thin-film silicon semiconductors at low temperatures in simple reactors at a fraction of the size and cost of current technology.

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Technique improves efficacy of fuel cells

Fuel cells, which generate electricity from chemical reactions without harmful emissions, have the potential to power everything from cars to portable electronics, and could be cleaner and more efficient than combustion engines.

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Theorists smooth the way to modeling quantum friction

Theoretical chemists have pioneered a strategy for modeling quantum friction, or how a particle's environment drags on it, a vexing problem that has frustrated scientists for more than a century.

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Geologists identify sources of methane, greenhouse gas, in Ohio, Colorado and Texas

Methane comes from various sources, like landfills, bacterial processes in water, cattle and fracking. In testing methane sources at three national sites, geologists found no evidence fracking affected methane concentrations in groundwater in Ohio. At sites in Colorado and Texas, methane sources were founded to be mixed, divided between fracking, cattle and/or landfills.

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Speeding up key oxygen-oxygen bond-formation step in water oxidation

By accelerating the formation of the oxygen-oxygen bond in water oxidation, newly developed ruthenium catalysts could drive the reaction needed to efficiently store solar energy in the chemical bonds of clean fuels. Initial electrochemistry studies demonstrated that these catalysts could offer a low-energy pathway to faster water oxidation.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Scientists brew jet fuel in one-pot recipe

Researchers have engineered a strain of bacteria that enables a 'one-pot' method for producing advanced biofuels from a slurry of pre-treated plant material. The achievement is a critical step in making biofuels a viable competitor to fossil fuels by streamlining the production process.

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Researchers integrate diamond/boron nitride crystalline layers for high-power devices

Materials researchers have developed a new technique to deposit diamond on the surface of cubic boron nitride, integrating the two materials into a single crystalline structure.

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Satellite data could help reduce flights sidelined by volcanic eruptions

A volcano erupting and spewing ash into the sky can cover nearby areas under a thick coating of ash and can also have consequences for aviation safety. Airline traffic changes due to a recent volcanic eruption can rack up unanticipated expenses to flight cancellations, lengthy diversions and additional fuel costs from rerouting.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Laser pulses: Conductors for protons

Scientists have managed to manipulate the positions of atoms in hydrocarbon molecules using ultrashort laser pulses.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

At Attention, Molecules!

Chemists have learned about a molecular assembly that may help create quicker, more responsive touch screens, among other applications. The researchers report the interfacial layer—when molecules interact with a surface—of electrically charged fluids called ionic liquids is thicker than previously known.

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