Friday, September 30, 2016

Food additive key to environmentally friendly, efficient, plastic solar cells

An efficient, semi-printed plastic solar cell has now been created without the use of environmentally hazardous halogen solvents.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Key to manufacturing more efficient solar cells

In a discovery that could have profound implications for future energy policy, scientists have demonstrated it is possible to manufacture solar cells that are far more efficient than existing silicon energy cells by using a new kind of material, a development that could help reduce fossil fuel consumption.

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Traveling through the body with graphene

Researchers have succeeded to place a layer of graphene on top of a stable fatty lipid monolayer, for the first time. Surrounded by a protective shell of lipids graphene could enter the body and function as a versatile sensor. The results are the first step towards such a shell, say authors of a new report.

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Study of North Atlantic Ocean reveals decline of leaded petrol emissions

A new study of lead pollution in the North Atlantic provides strong evidence that leaded petrol emissions have declined over the past few decades. For the first time in around 40 years, scientists have detected lead from natural sources in samples from this ocean. In the intervening period, the proportion of lead in the ocean from humanmade sources, most importantly leaded petrol emissions, had been so high that it was not possible to detect any lead from natural sources.

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Toward 'greener,' inexpensive solar cells

Solar panels are proliferating across the globe to help reduce the world's dependency on fossil fuels. But conventional panels are not without environmental costs, too. Now scientists report a new advance toward more practical, "greener" solar cells made with inexpensive halide perovskite materials. They have developed low-bandgap perovskite solar cells with a reduced lead content and a power conversion efficiency of 15 percent.

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The ultimate radar detector

A new technique for exploring the physics and chemistry of a gas interacting with molecules on the surface of a liquid has been developed by researchers. The group originally envisioned the technique because it's impossible to overestimate the importance of understanding surface chemistry. For instance, ozone depletion in the atmosphere occurs because of chemical reactions of hydrochloric acid on the surface of ice crystals and aerosols in the upper atmosphere. Interstellar chemistry takes place on the surface of tiny grains of dust. And, any time industrial chemists want to react a gas with a liquid or solid, the secret is getting the gas to touch the surface of whatever they want the gas to react with.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Discovery: A new form of light

Glow-in-the-dark stickers, weird deep-sea fish, LED lightbulbs -- all have forms of luminescence. In other words, instead of just reflecting light, they make their own. Scientists have discovered a new method to create fluorescent light that may have promising applications from LEDs to medical imaging.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Engineers create room-temperature multiferroic material

Multiferroics -- materials that exhibit both magnetic and electric order -- are of interest for next-generation computing but difficult to create because the conditions conducive to each of those states are usually mutually exclusive. And in most multiferroics found to date, their respective properties emerge only at extremely low temperatures. Now researchers have combined two non-multiferroic materials, using the best attributes of both to create a new room-temperature multiferroic.

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To produce biopharmaceuticals on demand, just add water

Researchers have created tiny freeze-dried pellets that include all of the molecular machinery needed to translate DNA into proteins, which could form the basis for on-demand production of drugs and vaccines.

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Marriage made in sunlight: Invention merges solar with liquid battery

As solar cells produce a greater proportion of total electric power, a fundamental limitation remains: the dark of night when solar cells go to sleep. Lithium-ion batteries are too expensive a solution to use on something as massive as the electric grid. A professor of chemistry has a better idea: integrating the solar cell with a large-capacity battery.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Combining the elements palladium, ruthenium for industry

For a long time, researchers have thought that combining palladium and ruthenium could lead to improved and novel properties for industrial applications. However, the two elements do not readily mix together to become a single material.

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Discovery could lead to safer, cheaper production of amine-boranes

A newway to produce amine-boranes has been created that promises to be safer and cheaper, and could lead to new uses in medicine, energy storage, rocket propulsion and other technologies. Amine-boranes have long been prized for their potential for hydrogen storage, say researchers, noting that producing amine-boranes by conventional methods has several safety concerns.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Popeye was right: There’s energy in that spinach

Using a simple membrane extract from spinach leaves, researchers have developed a cell that produces electricity and hydrogen from water using sunlight. Based on photosynthesis, and technology paves the way for clean fuels from renewable sources.

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New device detects hazardous substances in water

A device for the rapid analysis of liquids on the content of hazardous substances - such as heavy metals - has been developed by researchers, who have used a method based on polymer optodes, very small plastic matrices that can be made sensitive to specific substances by means of special reagents. The matrices change color and their intensity depending on the concentration of the substance. The device is mobile, can carry out analysis in situ even at low temperatures, and its cost is many times less than the price of a spectrophotometer, the most used device for chemical analysis.

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Molecular switches: Two ways to turn

Chemists have synthesized a new photo-activatable molecule, which shows 2-dimensional switching behavior -- an essential prerequisite for the construction of complex molecular machines.

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Speedy bacteria detector could help prevent foodborne illnesses

It seems like almost every week another food product is being recalled because of contamination. One of the more common culprits is a pathogenic strain of E. coli. To help prevent illnesses caused by this bacteria in food or water, researchers have developed a new nanosensor to rapidly detect its presence.

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Coffee-infused foam removes lead from contaminated water

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the U.S., which makes for a perky population -- but it also creates a lot of used grounds. Scientists now report an innovative way to reduce this waste and help address another environmental problem. They have incorporated spent coffee grounds in a foam filter that can remove harmful lead and mercury from water.

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Bright idea for detecting harmful bacteria in food products

Scientists looking for traces of E. coli O157:H7 contamination in foods soon could have a new detection method on their hands -- turning off the lights to see if the bacteria glow in the dark.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Defects at the spinterface disrupt transmission

Researchers have put metal-oxides and organic magnets together, suggesting that their work has applications for electronics.

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Artificial intelligence helps in the discovery of new materials

With the help of artificial intelligence, chemists have computed the characteristics of about two million crystals made up of four chemical elements. The researchers were able to identify 90 previously unknown thermodynamically stable crystals that can be regarded as new materials.

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Small molecules lead to a big change in reaction outcomes

Scientists have found a way to rewire the behavior of an important group of small molecules involved in the synthesis of carbon-to-oxygen chemical bonds. The process allows small, synthetic molecules to exhibit the functional diversity of much larger enzymatic catalysts, and offers a promising new tool for synthesizing therapeutics based on natural products.

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Making catalysts smarter

The industrial catalysts of the future won’t just speed up reactions, they’ll control how chemical processes work and determine how much of a particular product is made.

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Inexpensive semiconducting organic polymers can harvest sunlight to split carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels

Chemists have been the first to demonstrate that an organic semiconductor polymer called polyaniline is a promising photocathode material for the conversion of carbon dioxide into alcohol fuels without the need for a co-catalyst.

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VW emissions cheat may lead to 50 premature deaths, $423 million in economic costs, study shows

Beginning in 2008, Volkswagen installed software to circumvent emissions testing by turning off the nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions control system in real-world driving in nearly half a million cars. A new analysis using a tool developed and used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to assess the health and economic impacts related to air quality calculates that a single year of elevated emissions from the affected VW vehicles could lead to as many as 50 premature deaths, 3,000 lost workdays, and $423 million in economic costs.

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A low-cost sensor for cystic fibrosis diagnosis

A new, inexpensive method for detecting salt concentrations in sweat or other bodily fluids has been developed by biomaterials scientists. The fluorescent sensor, derived from citric acid molecules, is highly sensitive and highly selective for chloride, the key diagnostic marker in cystic fibrosis.

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Nanoscale tetrapods could provide early warning of a material's failure

Light-emitting, four-armed nanocrystals could someday form the basis of an early warning system in structural materials by revealing microscopic cracks that portend failure, thanks to recent research by scientists.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cleaning concrete contaminated with chemicals

Scientists are looking for better ways to clean contaminated concrete to reduce the impact of a U.S. transportation hub being contaminated with a chemical agent.

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Solar radiation variability over Italy in the last 55 years reconstructed for the first time

Surface solar radiation variability over Italy from the end of the 1950s has been reconstructed in a new framework, report scientists. This information -- based on more than 50 daily records distributed all over the Italian territory -- is completely innovative, as surface solar radiation records had never been analyzed for this area.

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Direct observation of graphene decoupling on Cu(111)

A recent quantum mechanical study of graphene has elucidated the intercalation mechanism and pathways for graphene decoupling from the copper substrate.

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New anode material set to boost lithium-ion battery capacity

A team of researchersclaims to have made yet another step towards finding a solution to accelerate the commercialization of silicon anode for Lithium-ion batteries.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Turning ubiquitous lignin into high-value chemicals

Abundant, chock full of energy and bound so tightly that the only way to release its energy is through combustion — lignin has frustrated scientists for years. With the help of an unusual soil bacteria, researchers believe they now know how to crack open lignin, a breakthrough that could transform the economics of biofuel production.

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Engineering polymer brush patterns: Quicker and more versatile methods

Antimicrobial cutting boards. Flame-retardant carpets. Friction-resistant bearings. Engineered surfaces add value to the things we use, providing extra layers of safety, easing their operation, preserving their quality or adding utility.

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Uniform 'hairy' nanorods have potential energy, biomedical applications

Materials scientists have developed a new strategy for crafting one-dimensional nanorods from a wide range of precursor materials. Based on a cellulose backbone, the system relies on the growth of block copolymer "arms" that help create a compartment to serve as a nanometer-scale chemical reactor.

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Shedding light on the limits of the expanded genetic code

In 2014, scientists made a huge news splash when they reported the ability to grow bacteria with an expanded genetic code. Critics feared the rise of unnatural creatures; others appreciated the therapeutic potential of the development. Now, researchers have found that the expanded code might have an unforeseen limitation. A study reports that these novel components can damage cells when they are exposed to light.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Food waste could store solar, wind energy

Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device. Batteries get the most attention as a promising solution although pumped hydroelectric storage is currently used most often. Now researchers are advancing another potential approach using sugar alcohols — an abundant waste product of the food industry — mixed with carbon nanotubes.

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Modern-day alchemy: Researchers reveal that magnetic 'rust' performs as gold at the nanoscale

Researchers are giving new meaning to the phrase “turning rust into gold”—and making the use of gold in research settings and industrial applications far more affordable.

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Plutonium keeps its electrons close to home

Extremely complex plutonium has ties to energy and security. Scientists found that plutonium's behavior, in plutonium tetrafluoride, can be attributed to atoms hoarding electrons

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Drug-loaded synthetic nanoparticles can distinguish lung cancer cells from healthy cells

A synthetic polymer that can transport a drug into lung cancer cells without going inside of normal lung cells has now been successfully developed by scientists, a new report outlines.

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Using nature's own solvents for the preparation of pure lignin

Lignin can now be efficiently and cost-effectively separated from sawdust, by using eutectic solvents. A research group has developed solvents using which 50% of the lignin from wood can be extracted in a pure form that retains its natural chemical structure during processing. Using eutectic solvents, it may be possible to produce materials for use in the forest, food processing, pharmaceutical, packaging and mining industries in the future, they say.

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3D printed material helps to regenerate bone

A biomaterial with the ability to serve as a support for regenerating bone tissue has been developed by researchers. The material is biodegradable and can be printed in 3D with controlled porosity.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

New optofluidic platform features tunable optics and novel 'lightvalves'

Novel technology combines high-performance microfluidics for sample processing with dynamic optical tuning and switching, all on a low-cost "chip" made of a flexible silicone material.

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Chemists report new insights about properties of matter at the nanoscale

Nanoscience researchers have determined that a fluid that behaves similarly to water in our day-to-day lives becomes as heavy as honey when trapped in a nanocage of a porous solid, offering new insights into how matter behaves in the nanoscale world.

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Tuning materials and devices to adapt to their environment

By leveraging molecular beam epitaxy deposition and high-quality materials with large dielectric constants, researchers pursue future radio-frequency materials and devices capable of being 'tuned' to adapt to changing environments.

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On-surface chemistry leads to novel products

On-surface chemical reactions can lead to novel chemical compounds not yet synthesized by solution chemistry. The first-step, second-step, and third-step products can be analyzed in detail using a high-resolution atomic force microscope.

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Developing composites that self-heal at very low temperatures

Scientists have developed a method of allowing materials, commonly used in aircraft and satellites, to self-heal cracks at temperatures well below freezing. The article is among the first to show that self-healing materials can be manipulated to operate at very low temperatures.

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Proton diffusion discovery a boost for fuel cell technologies

Scientists have made an important breakthrough which could lead to the design of better fuel cells. They demonstrate how they synthesized nanometer-sized cage molecules that can be used to transport charge in proton exchange membrane (PEM) applications.

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Asphalt-based carbon-capture material advances

Scientists have improved the ability of asphalt-derived porous carbon to capture carbon dioxide from natural gas.

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Integrating graphene, reduced graphene oxide onto silicon chips at room temperature

Researchers have developed a technique that allows them to integrate graphene, graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide onto silicon substrates at room temperature using lasers. The advance raises the possibility of creating new electronic devices, and the researchers are already planning to use the technique to create smart biomedical sensors.

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Understanding how flat phosphorus grows

Modeling the growth of tiny flakes of a two-dimensional form of phosphorus could help researchers one day produce better electronics, say scientists.

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Lighting the way to miniature devices

Electromagnetic waves created on a layer of organic molecules could provide the perfect on-chip light source for future quantum communication systems.

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