Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Advanced lithium-ion and metal-air batteries

Engineers are developing energy storage technologies that are cheaper, safer and more efficient.

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Molecular motors: Slowing the clockwork

Progress on the way to smart nanomachines: Chemists have modified the synthesis of a molecular motor so as to reduce the speed of its light-driven rotation, thus permitting the researchers to analyze the mechanism of motion in complete detail.

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Nanocapsules enable cell-inspired metabolic reactions

Researchers have succeeded in developing capsules capable of producing the bio-molecule glucose-6-phosphate that plays an important role in metabolic processes. The researchers were able to produce the metabolite in conditions very similar to the biochemical reaction inside natural cells.

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Graphene and other carbon nanomaterials can replace scarce metals

Scarce metals are found in a wide range of everyday objects around us. They are complicated to extract, difficult to recycle and so rare that several of them have become "conflict minerals" which can promote conflicts and oppression. New research shows that there are potential technology-based solutions that can replace many of the metals with carbon nanomaterials, such as graphene.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene

Scientists have harnessed the power of photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into fuels and alcohols at efficiencies far greater than plants. The achievement marks a significant advance in the effort to move toward sustainable sources of fuel.

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Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion

Scientists have developed a new electrocatalyst that can directly convert carbon dioxide into multicarbon fuels and alcohols using record-low inputs of energy. The work is the latest in a round of studies tackling the challenge of a creating a clean chemical manufacturing system that can put carbon dioxide to good use.

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Chemists make playdough/lego-like hybrid to create tiny building blocks

Playdough and Legos are among the most popular childhood building toys. But what could you use if you wanted to create something really small — a structure less than the width of a human hair? It turns out, a team of chemists has found, this can be achieved by creating particles that have both playdough and Lego traits.

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Innovation could mean flexible rechargeable batteries for pacemakers

Experts have designed a flexible and organic alternative to the rigid batteries that power up medical implants.

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Just squeeze in -- when spaces are tight, nature loosens its laws

It turns out that when they're in a hurry and space is limited, ions, like people, will find a way to cram in -- even if that means defying nature's norms. Researchers have now shown that the charged particles will actually forgo their 'opposites attract' behavior, called Coulombic ordering, when confined in the tiny pores of a nanomaterial.

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Step towards better 'beyond lithium' batteries

A step towards new 'beyond lithium' rechargeable batteries with superior performance has been made.

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Physicists discover a tri-anion particle with colossal stability

Chemists have created the most stable tri-anion particle currently known to science. A tri-anion particle is a combination of atoms that contains three more electrons than protons. This discovery is novel because previously known tri-anion particles were unstable due to their numerical imbalance.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reducing leather pollution with molten salts

From handbags and jackets to car interiors, leather products are almost everywhere. But processing the leather for these luxury items creates a lot of potentially harmful pollution. Now, scientists report a new method for processing leather that is more eco-friendly.

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

Converting waste toilet paper into electricity

Chemists have performed a techno-economic analysis of converting waste toilet paper into electricity. They propose a two-step process and calculate a cost per kWh comparable to that of residential photovoltaic installations.

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Getting to the point (mutations) in re-engineering biofuel-producing bacterial enzymes

Helping bacteria become more efficient when breaking down fibrous plant waste into biofuel could result in more affordable biofuels for our gas tanks and sustainable products such as bioplastics. One way to achieve this goal is to re-engineer the bacterial enzyme complexes, called cellulosomes, which serve as catalysts in the degradation process.

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Supported liquid metal catalysts -- a new generation of reaction accelerators

Catalysts are agents that initiate chemical reactions, speed them up or increase the yield of the desired product. New and improved catalysts are thus considered the key to creating more sustainable and efficient production processes in the chemical industry. Researchers have now discovered how to bypass the known drawbacks of the technical catalysts that are currently in use by means of a new material concept that makes the creation of significantly more efficient catalysts possible.

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Groundwork to better understanding optical properties of glass

Researchers demonstrated a new packing of glass with unique optical properties. What they learned could lead to innovations in technology, such as glass with different mechanical properties, and may elucidate some fundamental aspects of glass formation.

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Wax on, melt off: Adding phase change materials, like paraffin, to concrete could make roads that melt snow and ice

Researchers have made a discovery that could create roads that melt off ice and snow during winter storms. Their secret? Adding a little paraffin wax to the road's concrete mix.

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New method for identifying carbon compounds derived from fossil fuels

Scientists have developed a laboratory instrument that will greatly reduce the cost of analyzing carbon isotopes. Among other things, this will allow scientists to measure how much of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere came from burning fossil fuels, and to estimate fossil fuel emissions in an area as small as a city or as large as a continent.

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Test strips for cancer detection get upgraded with nanoparticle bling

Detecting cancer could be as easy as a home pregnancy test. Current test strip designs are not sensitive enough, but a new design with platinum-coated gold nanoparticles could make cheap and simple test strip detection a reality.

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Filtering molecules from the water or air with nanomembranes

Free-standing carbon membranes that are a millionth of a millimeter thin. The nanomembranes can serve as ultrafine filters and as a protective layer.

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Water conservation can have unintended consequences

Conventional wisdom dictates water conservation can only benefit communities affected by drought. But researchers have deduced that indoor residential conservation can have unintended consequences in places where systems of wastewater reuse have already been implemented, diminishing both the quantity and quality of influent available for treatment.

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Discovery could reduce nuclear waste with improved method to chemically engineer molecules

A new chemical principle has the potential to revolutionize the creation of specially engineered molecules whose uses include the reduction of nuclear waste and the extraction of chemical pollutants from water and soil.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Advanced material developed for ultra-stable, high capacity rechargeable batteries

A novel organic material of superior electrical conductivity and energy retention capability for use in battery applications has been developed by scientists. This invention paves the way for the development of ultra-stable, high capacity and environmental friendly rechargeable batteries.

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

In step toward controlling chemistry, physicists create a new molecule, atom by atom

Physicists have discovered a unique new molecule that could lead to many useful applications, and show how chemical reactions can be studied on a microscopic scale using tools of physics.

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Sunscreen protects skin without seeping in

A non-penetrating sunscreen invented by its researchers has been licensed to a major aloe verde supplier. The sunscreen will appeal to consumers concerned about chemicals exposure.

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Hints from hemoglobin lead to better carbon monoxide storage

Highly porous metal-organic frameworks have proved ideal for storing many chemicals, from carbon dioxide and hydrogen to water. A new tweak to MOFs has now produced a highly selective material for adsorbing carbon monoxide, which is used in many industrial processes, including as a component of syngas. Using only one-third the energy of a common process for capturing and reusing CO, it holds promise for more efficient recycling of CO in the steel industry.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Self-assembling nanoparticle arrays can switch between a mirror and a window

By finely tuning the distance between nanoparticles in a single layer, researchers have made a filter that can change between a mirror and a window.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Realistic projections of economic growth and carbon emissions

Between 2008 and 2015, the United States was able to reduce carbon emissions while enjoying limited economic growth. But in a recent commentary, John Deutch, who has worked with the energy departments of several presidential administrations, urges cautious optimism. He explains the country experienced a short-term decoupling of emissions and economic growth that models suggest won't sustain in the future or be enough to prevent climate change.

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Water-based lithium-ion batteries without explosive risks now a reality

Researchers have developed for the first time a lithium-ion battery that uses a water-salt solution as its electrolyte and reaches the 4.0 volt mark desired for household electronics, such as laptop computers, without the fire and explosive risks associated with some commercially available non-aqueous lithium-ion batteries.

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The turbulent healing powers of plasma

Non-equilibrium atmospheric pressure plasma can help heal wounds, destroy cancer cells and kill harmful bacteria. The jets of plasma that doctors might use, however, often become turbulent with the direction and velocity changing dramatically. Now, researchers have found this turbulence likely emerges from heat-induced sound waves generated at the plasma electrodes. This new insight is critical for more consistent and effective medical therapies.

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Scientists make methanol using air around us

Scientists have created methanol from methane using oxygen from the air. Methanol is currently produced by breaking down natural gas at high temperatures. But researchers have discovered they can produce methanol from methane through simple catalysis that allows methanol production at low temperatures using oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. The findings have major implications for cleaner, greener industrial processes worldwide.

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A sweeter way to make green products

A more efficient process has been created for extracting the sugars from wood chips, corn cobs and other organic waste from forests and farms. This biorenewable feedstock could serve as a cheaper, sustainable substitute for the petroleum used in manufacturing tons of consumer goods annually -- goods that consumers want to be greener.

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Water-based lithium-ion batteries that don't explode now created

For the first time a lithium-ion battery has been developed that uses a water-salt solution as its electrolyte and reaches the 4.0 volt mark desired for household electronics, such as laptop computers, without the fire and explosive risks associated with some commercially available non-aqueous lithium-ion batteries.

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Researchers report new way to make dissolving electronics

Researchers have reported a new type of electronic device that can be triggered to dissolve through exposure to water molecules in the atmosphere. The work holds promise for eco-friendly disposable personal electronics and biomedical devices that dissolve within the body.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

New acid-free magnet recycling process created

A new rare-earth magnet recycling process dissolves magnets in an acid-free solution and recovers high purity rare earth elements.

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Scanning tunneling microscopy measurements identify active sites on catalyst surfaces

Chemistry live: using a scanning tunneling microscope, researchers were able for the very first time to witness in detail the activity of catalysts during an electrochemical reaction. The measurements show how the surface structure of the catalysts influences their activity. The new analysis method can now be used to improve catalysts for the electrochemical industry.

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New device accurately identifies cancer in seconds

A team of scientists and engineers has invented a powerful tool that rapidly and accurately identifies cancerous tissue during surgery, delivering results in about 10 seconds. The MasSpec Pen is an innovative handheld instrument that gives surgeons precise diagnostic information about what tissue to cut or preserve, helping improve treatment and reduce the chances of cancer recurrence.

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Solubility study could impact energy, biology, environment

Chemical engineers have used the most realistic computer model yet devised to simulate the precise atomic and molecular interactions that come into play when water mixes with alkanes, a family of hydrocarbons that includes methane, propane and other refined products.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Quantum tech has its sights set on human biochemistry

Scientists have developed a new tool for imaging life at the nanoscale that will provide new insights into the role of transition metal ions such as copper in neurodegenerative diseases.

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Newly-discovered semiconductor dynamics may help improve energy efficiency

Researchers examining the flow of electricity through semiconductors have uncovered another reason these materials seem to lose their ability to carry a charge as they become more densely 'doped.'

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Monday, September 4, 2017

In the face of climate change can our engineers keep the trains running on time?

Each nation has employed its own methodology for maintenance and repairs of trains and subways, but new, daunting challenges created by climate change -- extreme heat, extreme cold, and severe flooding -- require yet more rigorous solutions.

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New fluorescent dyes could advance biological imaging

Scientists have developed a new method for fine-tuning the structure of rhodamine dyes, and can now create a colorful palette of fluorescent molecules.

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Insect eyes inspire new solar cell design

Packing tiny solar cells together, like micro-lenses in the compound eye of an insect, could help scientists overcome a major roadblock to the development of perovskite photovoltaics.

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Nano chip system measures light from single bacterial cell to enable chemical detection

Researchers have created a nanophotonic chip system using lasers and bacteria to observe fluorescence emitted from a single bacterial cell. The novel system paves the way for an efficient and portable on-chip system for diverse cell-based sensing applications, such as detecting chemicals in real-time.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

New mini tool has massive implications

Researchers have created a miniaturized, portable version of a tool now capable of analyzing Mars' atmosphere -- and that's just one of its myriad possible uses.

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New bar set for water-splitting, CO2-splitting techniques

Researchers have significantly boosted the efficiency of two techniques, for splitting water to create hydrogen gas and splitting carbon dioxide to create carbon monoxide. The products are valuable feedstock for clean energy and chemical manufacturing applications.

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Motorized molecules drill through cells

Motorized molecules that target diseased cells may deliver drugs to or kill the cells by drilling into the cell membranes. Scientists have demonstrated them on cancer and other cells.

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Acting like a muscle, nano-sized device lifts 165 times its own weight

Engineers have discovered a simple, economical way to make a nano-sized device that can match the friendly neighborhood Avenger, on a much smaller scale. Their creation weighs 1.6 milligrams (about as much as five poppy seeds) and can lift 265 milligrams (the weight of about 825 poppy seeds) hundreds of times in a row.

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Chemist synthesizes pure graphene

A chemist has patented a one-of-a-kind process for exfoliating graphene in its pure (unoxidized) form, as well as manufacturing innovative graphene nanocomposites that have potential uses in a variety of applications, including desalination of brackish water.

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Why does rubbing a balloon on your hair make it stick?

New research indicates that tiny holes and cracks in a material -- changes in the microstructure -- can control how the material becomes electrically charged through friction.

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