Friday, June 30, 2017

Self-powered system makes smart windows smarter

Researchers developed a new type of smart window: a self-powered version that promises to be inexpensive and easy to apply to existing windows, with potential to save heating and cooling costs. The window powers itself with a transparent solar cell that harvests near-ultraviolet light.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Solving a sweet problem for renewable biofuels and chemicals

Scientists are trying to break through the innovation bottleneck for the renewable bioproduction of fuels and chemicals. They've looked into a new approach -- harnessing the trial-and-error power of evolution to coax nature into revealing the answer. By growing bacteria over generations under specially controlled conditions in fermentation tanks, they have test-tube evolved bacteria to better ferment sugars derived from biomass ----a rich, potential renewable energy source for the production of biofuels and chemicals.

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New system makes fast, customized antibiotic treatments possible

Using nanotechnology, image processing tools and statistical analysis, researchers have developed a system that enables faster diagnostics, earlier and more effective treatment of infectious bacteria, and improved patient recovery times.

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Textbook knowledge in molecular interactions refuted

Van der Waals interactions between molecules are among the most important forces in biology, physics, and chemistry, as they determine the properties and physical behavior of many materials. For a long time, it was considered that these interactions between molecules are always attractive. Now, researchers have found that in many rather common situations in nature the van der Waals force between two molecules becomes repulsive.

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Giant molecular cages made for energy conversion and drug delivery

The porous, 'sponge'-type molecules have an enormous internal surface area. This allows their use as 'molecular flasks' or 'molecular containers' that change the reactivity and properties of encapsulated molecules.

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Valuable substances extracted from conifer stumps and roots

The stumps and roots of coniferous trees contain extractives which can be processed into highly valuable products.

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3D-printed jars in ball-milling experiments

Mechanochemistry is a widespread synthesis technique in all areas of chemistry. Various materials have been synthesized by this technique when the classical wet chemistry route is not satisfactory. Characterization of the reaction mixture is however much less accessible than in solutions.

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Coating bacteria with electron-conducting polymer for microbial fuel-cells

Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes. A weak point is the dissatisfactory power density of the microbial cells. An unconventional solution: scientists coated live, electroactive bacteria with a conducting polymer and obtained a high-performance anode for microbial fuel cells.

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Biofuel from waste: Zeolite catalysts pave the road to decentralized chemical processes

Fuel from waste? It is possible. But hitherto, converting organic waste to fuel has not been economically viable. Excessively high temperatures and too much energy are required. Using a novel catalyst concept, researchers have now managed to significantly reduce the temperature and energy requirements of a key step in the chemical process. The trick: the reaction takes place in very confined spaces inside zeolite crystals.

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Bacteria-coated nanofiber electrodes clean pollutants in wastewater

Researchers may have created an innovative, cost-competitive electrode material for cleaning pollutants in wastewater.

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Ruthenium rules for new fuel cells

Scientists have fabricated a durable catalyst for high-performance fuel cells by attaching single ruthenium atoms to graphene.

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Cheap, energy-efficient and clean reaction to make chemical feedstock

Combining experimental and computer chemistry, scientists find the conditions to break carbon-hydrogen bonds at low temperature with cheap titanium in place of rare metals.

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Scientists develop an innovative method for filling, sealing pleural cavities

Researchers have developed a new method for filling and sealing pleural cavities. The process consists of injecting polyurethane foams into the lungs with a self-expanding and self-modelling capacity that replaces aggressive surgical and palliative treatments used so far.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chemists turn metal catalysis on its head for a sustainable future

A research team used high-valent transition metal catalysts for an unconventional hydrogenation of carboxylic acid groups, common to biomass feedstocks. The high-valent catalysts showed good selectivity under mild conditions.

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Thwarting metastasis by breaking cancer's legs with gold rods

Your cancer has metastasized. No one wants to ever hear that. Now researchers have found a way to virtually halt cell migration, a key component in metastasis, in vitro, in human cells. In past in vivo studies in mice, treated cancer did not appear to recur. No significant side effects were observed.

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New class of 'soft' semiconductors could transform HD displays

New research could help usher in a new generation of high-definition displays, optoelectronic devices, photodetectors, and more. They have shown that a class of “soft” semiconductors can be used to emit multiple, bright colors from a single nanowire at resolutions as small as 500 nanometers. The work could challenge quantum dot displays that rely upon traditional semiconductor nanocrystals to emit light.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Microbe mystery solved: What happened to the Deepwater Horizon oil plume?

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 is one of the most studied spills in history, yet scientists haven't agreed on the role of microbes in eating up the oil. Now a research team has identified all of the principal oil-degrading bacteria as well as their mechanisms for chewing up the many different components that make up the released crude oil.

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Odd properties of water and ice explained: Water exists as two different liquids

Scientists have discovered two phases of liquid water with large differences in structure and density. The results are based on experimental studies using X-rays.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Self-folding origami: Chemical programming allows Nafion sheets to fold and refold

Plastic with a thousand faces: A single piece of Nafion foil makes it possible to produce a broad palette of complex 3-D structures. Researchers now describe how they use simple chemical 'programming' to induce the foil to fold itself using origami and kirigami principles. These folds can be repeatedly 'erased' and the foil can be 'reprogrammed'.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Making ferromagnets stronger by adding non-magnetic elements

Magnetic materials can be functionalized through a thoroughly unlikely method, report researchers: by adding amounts of the virtually non-magnetic element scandium to a gadolinium-germanium alloy.

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Rhodium-based catalyst for making organosilicon using less precious metal

A new catalyst composed of silica, a rhodium complex and tertiary amines, significantly boosts hydrosilylation reactions, report researchers.

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The rise of giant viruses

Giant viruses acquire genes piecemeal from others, researchers have found. The discovery has implications for bioenergy production and environmental cleanup.

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State-of-the-art text mining technologies for chemistry

The first exhaustive revision of the state-of-the-art methodologies underlying chemical search engines, named entity recognition and text mining systems, has now been published by researchers.

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How a single chemical bond balances cells between life and death

With SLAC's X-ray laser and synchrotron, scientists measured exactly how much energy goes into keeping a crucial chemical bond from triggering a cell's death spiral.

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A unique amino acid for brain cancer therapy

Photodynamic therapy is often used to treat brain tumors because of its specificity — it can target very small regions containing cancerous cells while sparing the normal cells around it from damage. It works by injecting a drug called a photosensitizer into the bloodstream, where it gathers in cells, and then exposing the drug-filled cells to light. When the photosensitizer is exposed to this light, it emits what is known as a reactive oxygen species (ROS) that causes the cells to die.

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

New efficient, low-temperature catalyst for hydrogen production

Scientists have developed a new low-temperature catalyst for producing high-purity hydrogen gas while simultaneously using up carbon monoxide (CO). The discovery could improve the performance of fuel cells that run on hydrogen fuel but can be poisoned by CO.

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Catalyst mimics the z-scheme of photosynthesis

A new study demonstrates a process with great potential for developing technologies for reducing CO2 levels.

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Chemical solution to shrink digital data storage

Chemists have found that commonly used polymer films containing two dyes can optically store data in a quaternary (four-symbol) code, potentially requiring about half as much space as binary code storage.

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Biofilms: The eradication has begun

Biofilms are slimy, glue-like membranes that are produced by microbes in order to colonize surfaces. They protect microbes from the body's immune system and increase their resistance to antibiotics. Biofilms represent one of the biggest threats to patients in hospital settings. But there is good news: scientists have developed a novel enzyme technology that prevents the formation of biofilms and can also break them down.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Chemists create 3-D printed graphene foam

Nanotechnologists have used 3-D laser printing to create centimeter-sized objects of graphene foam, a 3-D version of atomically thin graphene. The research could yield industrially useful quantities of bulk graphene.

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New sensors could enable more affordable detection of pollution, diseases

When it comes to testing for cancer, environmental pollution and food contaminants, traditional sensors can help. The challenges are that they often are bulky, expensive, non-intuitive and complicated. Now, one team reports that portable pressure-based detectors coupled with smartphone software could provide a simpler, more affordable alternative while still maintaining sensitivity.

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New catalyst paves way for carbon neutral fuel

Scientists have paved the way for carbon neutral fuel with the development of a new efficient catalyst that converts carbon dioxide (CO2) from the air into synthetic natural gas in a 'clean' process using solar energy.

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Illuminating a better way to calculate excitation energy

Researchers have demonstrated a new method to calculate excitation energies. They used a new approach based on density functional methods, which use an atom-by-atom approach to calculate electronic interactions. By analyzing a benchmark set of small molecules and oligomers, their functional produced more accurate estimates of excitation energy compared to other commonly used density functionals, while requiring less computing power.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Corn better used as food than biofuel, study finds

Corn is grown not only for food, it is also an important renewable energy source. Renewable biofuels can come with hidden economic and environmental issues, and the question of whether corn is better utilized as food or as a biofuel has persisted since ethanol came into use. For the first time, researchers have quantified and compared these issues in terms of economics of the entire production system to determine if the benefits of biofuel corn outweigh the costs.

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Electron caught in the act

Australia's fastest camera has revealed the time it takes for molecules to break apart. The experimental research aims to help in the design of new molecules for materials science or drug discovery.

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Sustainable ethanol from carbon dioxide? A possible path

A recent discovery could lead to a new, more sustainable way to make ethanol without corn or other crops. This promising technology has three basic components: water, carbon dioxide and electricity delivered through a copper catalyst.

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Enhanced photocatalytic activity by Cu2O nanoparticles integrated H2Ti3O7 nanotubes

Compositing Cu2O nanoparticles with H2Ti3O7 nanotubes provides an effective strategy to reduce the bandgap energy and the recombination of photo-generated electrons and holes. There is an obvious synergistic effect between guest nanoparticles and host nanotubes due to the interaction to form heterojunction struction, which will enhance photocatalytic oxidation performance for removal of EM due to the stronger visible spectral response and wider absorbance in the long visble light region.

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Chemistry of sea spray particles linked for first time to formation process

For the first time, researchers have identified what drives the observed differences in the chemical make-up of sea spray particles ejected from the ocean by breaking waves.

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Transforming last night's leftovers into green energy

In a classic tale of turning trash into treasure, two different processes soon may be the favored dynamic duo to turn food waste into green energy, according to a study.

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To connect biology with electronics, be rigid, yet flexible

Scientists have measured a thin film made of a single type of conjugated polymer — a conducting plastic — as it interacted with ions and electrons. They show how there are rigid and non-rigid regions of the film, and that these regions could accommodate electrons or ions — but not both equally.

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Inexpensive organic material gives safe batteries a longer life

Modern batteries power everything from cars to cell phones, but they are far from perfect -- they catch fire, they perform poorly in cold weather and they have relatively short lifecycles, among other issues. Now researchers have described a new class of material that addresses many of those concerns in a new article.

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Figuring out the 3-D shape of molecules with a push of a button

A team of researchers has developed a program that automates the process of figuring out a molecule's three-dimensional structure. The technique compresses a process that usually takes days into minutes and could shorten the pipeline of drug discovery by reducing human error.

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Biofuel for Conventional Diesel Engines Created

In accordance with an EU directive, conventional automotive diesel is supplemented with seven percent biodiesel. This proportion is set to rise to ten percent by 2020. However, this presents a significant technical challenge: biodiesel vaporises at higher temperatures, which can lead to problems with electronic fuel injection systems and particulate filters. Researchers have developed a method for producing a petroleum diesel-like fuel from conventional biodiesel at low temperatures.

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Could renewable 'power-by-wire' help fix China’s air pollution problems?

Bringing renewable power ‘by wire’ from western China to its power-hungry Eastern cities could have benefits for both local air quality and global climate change, new research has found.

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Nickel for thought: Compound shows potential for high-temperature superconductivity

Researchers have identified a nickel oxide compound as an unconventional but promising candidate material for high-temperature superconductivity. The project combined crystal growth, X-ray spectroscopy and computational theory.

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New approach improves ability to predict metals' reactions with water

The wide reach of corrosion, a multitrillion-dollar global problem, may someday be narrowed considerably thanks to a new, better approach to predict how metals react with water.

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Electrolytes made from liquefied gas enable batteries to run at ultra-low temperatures

Engineers have developed new electrolytes that enable lithium batteries to run at temperatures as low as -60 degrees Celsius with excellent performance -- in comparison, today's lithium-ion batteries stop working at -20 degrees Celsius. The new electrolytes also enable electrochemical capacitors to run as cold as -80 degrees Celsius -- their current limit is -40 degrees Celsius.

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Cryo-EM images reveal how key biological machine unfolds problem proteins

Hand over hand. That's how new, near-atomic resolution, 3-D snapshots show that a key biological machine unfolds a ribbon of protein through its central channel.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Smart materials used in ultrasound behave similar to water

Researchers have provided new insight into piezoelectrics materials, a smart material used in ultrasound technology. While forming the most thorough model to date of how these materials work, they found striking similarities with the behavior of water. A more complete understanding of why these materials behave the way they do can unlock new materials design, leading to higher quality piezoelectrics that may revolutionize smart material applications.

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Raucous crystals: Acoustic emissions from organic martensite analogues

Some organic crystals jump around when heated up. This happens because of an extremely fast change in their crystal structure. Scientists have now demonstrated that the crystals send out acoustic signals during this process, which may be useful in analyzing the characteristics of this phenomenon. The researchers demonstrated that this process is analogous to martensitic transitions observed in steel and some alloys.

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