Friday, May 26, 2017

Three-dimensional graphene: Experiment at BESSY II shows that optical properties are tuneable

An international research team has for the first time investigated the optical properties of three-dimensional nanoporous graphene at the IRIS infrared beamline of the BESSY II electron storage ring. The experiments show that the plasmonic excitations (oscillations of the charge density) in this new material can be precisely controlled by the pore size and by introducing atomic impurities. This could facilitate the manufacture of highly sensitive chemical sensors.

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Solving the riddle of the snow globe

A new study finds the sedimentation of asymmetric objects in liquid is very different from that of symmetrical objects like spheres. The research may have practical applications in improving water treatment and industrial processes.

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High pressure key to lighter, stronger metal alloys, scientists find

Subjecting complex metal mixtures called high-entropy alloys to extremely high pressures could lead to finer control over the arrangement of their atoms, which in turn can result in more desirable properties.

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Fuel from the air technology provides a path to new business for OPEC countries

Pioneering technology makes OPEC countries prime regions to produce synthetic fuels. This could be a key asset in phasing out fossil fuels after the Paris Agreement, while also keeping some of the existing oil industry value chain intact.

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Water is surprisingly ordered on the nanoscale

The surface of minuscule water drops with a 100 nm size is surprisingly ordered, new research shows. At room temperature, the surface water molecules of these droplets have much stronger interactions than a normal water surface. The structural difference corresponds to a difference in temperature of -50°C, which may shed new light on a variety of atmospheric, biological and even geological processes.

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Carcinogenic soot particles from petrol engines

First, diesel vehicles tainted their reputation with soot particles, then high nitric oxide emissions. So are owners of new gasoline cars environmentally friendly? Not always, says a new study scientists, some direct-injection gasoline engines emit just as many soot particles as unfiltered diesel cars did in the past. Particle filters can remedy this.

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New chemical reaction could eventually yield new fuels and medications

Chemists have developed a new technique to convert carbon-hydrogen bonds into carbon-carbon bonds using catalysts made of silicon and boron, both abundant and inexpensive elements.

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Two simple building blocks produce complex 3-D material

Scientists have built a structurally complex material from two simple building blocks that is the lowest-density metal-organic framework ever made. Directed by design rules developed by the scientists, uranium atoms and organic linkers self-assemble into a beautiful crystal -- a large, airy 3-D net of very roomy and useful pores. The pores are so roomy, in fact, that the scientists have nestled a large enzyme inside a pore -- no small feat.

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Total synthesis of flueggenine C via an accelerated intermolecular Rauhut-Currier reaction

The first total synthesis of dimeric securinega alkaloid (-)-flueggenine C was completed via an accelerated intermolecular Rauhut-Currier (RC) reaction. The research team succeeded in synthesizing the natural product by reinventing the conventional RC reaction.

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Graphene on silicon carbide can store energy

By introducing defects into the perfect surface of graphene on silicon carbide, researchers have increased the capacity of the material to store electrical charge. This result increases our knowledge of how this ultrathin material can be used.

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Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

Laser-induced graphene made from an inexpensive polymer is an effective anti-fouling material and, when charged, an excellent antibacterial surface, report scientists.

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New method: Water mapping around solutes

Chemists have developed a new method that allows them to map changes in the dynamics and structure of water molecules in the vicinity of solutes. With this technique, called terahertz calorimetry, they investigated the properties of the hydration shell of dissolved alcohol molecules. In the future, they want to also use the method for water mapping around more complex systems such as enzymes, which can be important for drug design.

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A new tool for discovering nanoporous materials

Scientists have developed a mathematical 'face-recognition' method for identifying and discovering nanoporous materials based on their pore size.

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Computer code that Volkswagen used to cheat emissions tests uncovered

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent US and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car's onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.

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A fresh math perspective opens new possibilities for computational chemistry

A new mathematical “shortcut” is speeding up molecular absorption calculations by a factor of five, so simulations that used to take 10 to 15 hours to compute can now be done in approximately 2.5 hours.

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Triple play boosting value of renewable fuel could tip market in favor of biomass

A new process triples the fraction of biomass converted to high-value products to nearly 80 percent, also tripling the expected rate of return for an investment in the technology from roughly 10 percent (for one end product) to 30 percent.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Fueling the future

New research investigated the full life cycle impact of one promising 'second-generation biofuel' produced from short-rotation oak. The study found that second-generation biofuels made from managed trees and perennial grasses may provide a sustainable fuel resource.

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Light exposure in the evening improves performance in the final spurt

Athletes often have to compete late in the evening, when they are no longer able to perform at their best. However, researchers have shown that athletes who are exposed to blue light before competing can significantly increase their performance in the final spurt. The blue light had no impact on the athletes’ maximum performance.

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Sensors detect disease markers in breath

A small, thin square of an organic plastic that can detect disease markers in breath or toxins in a building's air could soon be the basis of portable, disposable sensor devices. Scientists have now demonstrated a device that monitors ammonia in breath, a sign of kidney failure.

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A recipe for concrete that can withstand road salt deterioration

Engineers have known for some time that calcium chloride salt, commonly used as deicer, reacts with the calcium hydroxide in concrete to form a chemical byproduct that causes roadways to crumble. A civil engineer is working on a new recipe for concrete, using cast-off products from furnaces, that can hold its own against the forces of chemical erosion.

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Not all cool pavements are created equal

Cool pavements can help keep cities cool, right? Yes, but according to new research many reflective pavements have some unexpected drawbacks relative to conventional pavements when considering the entire life cycle of the materials.

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New water-based, recyclable membrane filters all types of nanoparticles

Membranes comprised mostly of water, that self-assemble in water have now been developed by scientists. They can filter out particles based on size, and can be easily disassembled, report researchers.

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Insight into enzyme's 3-D structure could cut biofuel costs

Using neutron crystallography, research team has mapped the three-dimensional structure of a protein that breaks down polysaccharides, such as the fibrous cellulose of grasses and woody plants, a finding that could help bring down the cost of creating biofuels.

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Shapeshifting materials: Using light to rearrange macroscopic structures

Researchers have created self-assembling molecules which can be broken down by ultraviolet light to recombine into novel macroscopic shapes.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Molecular Lego for nanoelectronics

The ability to assemble electronic building blocks consisting of individual molecules is an important objective in nanotechnology. An interdisciplinary research group is now significantly closer to achieving this goal. The team of researchers has successfully assembled and tested conductors and networks made up of individual, newly developed building block molecules. These could in future serve as the basis of components for optoelectronic systems, such as flexible flat screens or sensors.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Better cathode materials for lithium-sulphur-batteries

Scientists have for the first time fabricated a nanomaterial made from nanoparticles of a titanium oxide compound (Ti4O7) that is characterized by an extremely large surface area, and tested it as a cathode material in lithium-sulphur batteries. The highly porous nanomaterial possesses high storage capacity that remains nearly constant over many charging cycles.

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Chemists create the ultimate natural sunscreen

Chemists, materials scientists and nanoengineers have created what may be the ultimate natural sunscreen. They report the development of nanoparticles that mimic the behavior of natural melanosomes, melanin-producing cell structures that protect our skin, eyes and other tissues from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.

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Microbial fuel cell converts methane to electricity

Transporting methane from gas wellheads to market provides multiple opportunities for this greenhouse gas to leak into the atmosphere. Now, an international team of researchers has taken the first step in converting methane directly to electricity using bacteria, in a way that could be done near the drilling sites.

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Mountains of waste could lead to new US manufacturing, jobs

Waste material from the paper and pulp industry soon could be made into anything from tennis rackets to cars. Scientists have discovered how to make high quality carbon fiber from lignin.

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Molecular dynamics, machine learning create 'hyper-predictive' computer models

Researchers have demonstrated that molecular dynamics simulations and machine learning techniques could be integrated to create more accurate computer prediction models. These 'hyper-predictive' models could be used to quickly predict which new chemical compounds could be promising drug candidates.

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Diesels pollute more than lab tests detect

Because of testing inefficiencies, maintenance inadequacies and other factors, cars, trucks and buses worldwide emit 4.6 million tons more harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) than standards allow, according to a new study.

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Less is more: Researchers develop a 'molecular needle' using a simplified biological system

Minimalism is an increasingly popular lifestyle choice that encourages individuals to decrease the overall number of possessions owned and live more simply. According to minimalist philosophy, the reduction of unnecessary clutter enables one to live a more functional and purposeful existence. Now researchers have discovered that a minimalist approach can also be applied to complex biological systems, such as the type III secretion system.

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Invention produces cleaner water with less energy and no filter

Researchers have found a way to clean particles from water by mixing in carbon dioxide. The gas changes the water's chemistry, which causes particles to move to one side of the water depending on their chemical charge. By taking advantage of the motion, the researchers can split a water stream and filter out suspended particles.

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Self-healing tech charges up performance for silicon-containing battery anodes

Researchers have found a way to apply self-healing technology to lithium-ion batteries to make them more reliable and last longer.

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Producing fertilizer from air could be five times as efficient

Scientists bring the prospect of farmers producing their own fertilizer from only air closer with a revolutionary reactor that coverts nitrogen from the atmosphere into NOx, the raw material for fertilizer. The method, in theory, is up to five times as efficient as existing processes, enabling farms to have a small-scale installation without the need for a big investment.

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Gas gives laser-induced graphene super properties

Introducing gas to fabrication changes the water-reacting properties of laser-induced graphene, making it either superhydrophilic or superhydrophobic.

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Liquid-crystal and bacterial living materials self-organize and move in their own way

Smart glass, transitional lenses and mood rings are not the only things made of liquid crystals; mucus, slug slime and cell membranes also contain them. Now, a team of researchers is trying to better understand how liquid crystals, combined with bacteria, form living materials and how the two interact to organize and move.

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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hydrogen bonds directly detected for the first time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope.

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Precision control of superconductivity in atomic layers using magnetic molecules

A research team has succeeded in precisely controlling the transition temperature of atomic-scale-thick superconductors using magnetic organic molecules. The team also identified the control mechanism.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Two James Webb instruments are best suited for exoplanet atmospheres

The best way to study the atmospheres of distant worlds with the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to launch in late 2018, will combine two of its infrared instruments, according to a team of astronomers.

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Faster, smaller, more powerful computer chips: Hafnia dons a new face

As computer chips become smaller, faster and more powerful, their insulating layers must also be much more robust -- currently a limiting factor for semiconductor technology. A research team says this new phase of hafnia is an order of magnitude better at withstanding applied fields.

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Next-gen solar cells could be improved by atomic-scale redesign

Researchers have uncovered the exact mechanism that causes new solar cells to break down in air, paving the way for a solution.

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Anticancer nanomaterials created by simulating underwater volcanic conditions

Researchers have developed anticancer nanomaterials by simulating the volcano-induced dynamic chemistry of the deep ocean. The novel method enables making nanoclusters of zinc peroxide in an environmentally friendly manner, without the use of additional chemicals. The as-synthesised zinc peroxide nanoparticles can be used as a tool for cancer therapy and against other complicated diseases.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

At last: Beautiful, consistent carbon belts

Chemists have tried to synthesize carbon nanobelts for more than 60 years, but none have succeeded until now. Carbon nanobelts are expected to serve as a useful template for building carbon nanotubes and open a new field of nanocarbon science.

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

How do snowflakes form? Chemist sees ice crystal formation in new light

New research by chemist has shed new light on ice crystal formation by combining an electron backscatter with a large single crystal ice model. Scientists discovered that an ice crystal's flat sides are formed by a hexagon that is larger and consists of a central water molecule surrounded by six others in the same layer.

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Three-dimensional direction-dependent force measurement at the subatomic scale

Scientists have developed a new atomic force microscopy (AFM) technique that can measure the three-dimensional force fields of atoms. In their technique, the precisely controlled tip of a mechanical arm is moved over a material surface at two different frequencies to provide information about the material surface in both vertical and parallel directions. This AFM technique will expand understanding of the structure and physical properties of material surfaces at the subatomic scale.

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New method can selectively remove micropollutants from water

Engineers have developed a new way to get toxic micropollutants, including pesticides and pharmaceuticals, out of water.

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Thin-film ferroelectrics go extreme

Scientists have created the first-ever polarization gradient in thin-film ferroelectrics, greatly expanding the range of functional temperatures for a key material used in a variety of everyday applications. The discovery could pave the way for developing devices capable of supporting wireless communications in extreme environments.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

More efficient catalytic material developed

Scientists have discovered a method for making smaller, more efficient intermetallic nanoparticles for fuel cell applications, and which also use less of the expensive precious metal platinum.

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No evidence that enrichment activities encourage pupils to study STEM A-levels

There is no evidence to suggest enrichment activities run to interest pupils in science, technology, engineering and maths results in significantly higher numbers of teenagers studying these subjects at A-level.

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