Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Engineered intrinsically disordered proteins provide biomedical insights

Biomedical researchers have engineered the first examples of biomimetic structures composed from a mysterious class of proteins that lack any sort of internal structure. Researchers reveal the ability to control the self-assembly and disassembly of these structures in an organized manner.

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A better way to farm algae for biofuels, chemicals

Researchers have developed a method that improves the growth of microalgae, which could have big implications for production of biofuels and other valuable chemicals.

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Move over Bear Grylls! Academics build ultimate solar-powered water purifier

You've seen Bear Grylls turn foul water into drinking water with little more than sunlight and plastic. Academics added a third element -- carbon-dipped paper -- to create a highly efficient and inexpensive way to turn saltwater and contaminated water into potable water for personal use. The system could help address global drinking water shortages, especially in developing areas and regions affected by natural disasters.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

Cell-tracking agents get a boost

An improved compound of bismuth and carbon nanotubes could enhance the ability to track stem cells as they move through the body and target diseases.

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Unified time, frequency picture of ultrafast atomic excitation in strong fields

New insight that light sometimes needs to be treated as an electromagnetic wave and sometimes as a stream of energy quanta called photons is as old as quantum physics. In the case of interaction of strong laser fields with atoms the dualism finds its analogue in the intuitive pictures used to explain ionization and excitation: The multiphoton picture and the tunneling picture. In a combined experimental and theoretical study on ultrafast excitation of atoms in intense short pulse laser fields, scientists succeeded to show that the prevailing and seemingly disparate intuitive pictures usually used to describe interaction of atoms with intense laser fields can be ascribed to a single nonlinear process.

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Boosting the solar protection factor with rationally designed, nature-inspired sunscreens

The ideal sunscreen should block UVB and UVA radiation while being safe and stable. Scientists have introduced a new family of UVA and UVB filters based on natural sunscreen substances found in algae and cyanobacteria. They are highly stable and enhance the effectivity of commercial sunscreens.

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The recent slowdown in global carbon dioxide emissions masks the challenges ahead

Many performance indicators of global and national energy systems suggest that global temperatures could still be kept below 2°C. However, future trajectories will soon diverge from 2°C pathways if key existing technologies are not rapidly deployed and new technological advances made.

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Storing solar power increases energy consumption and emissions, study finds

Homes with solar panels do not require on-site storage to reap the biggest economic and environmental benefits of solar energy, according to research. In fact, storing solar energy for nighttime use actually increases both energy consumption and emissions compared with sending excess solar energy directly to the utility grid.

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Fluorescence dyes from the pressure cooker

Researchers are working toward a dye synthesis in nothing but water instead of using toxic solvents, by developing a highly efficient and environmentally friendly synthesis for organic pigments.

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Hospitals can rapidly identify life-threatening bacteria

Soon in virtually every hospital it will be possible to identify the bacterial species responsible for an infection developing in a patient in a matter of just a few minutes. A new, easy-to-adapt and inexpensive analytical procedure has been developed, with the main role is played by innovative bioconjugates -- luminescent, magnetic microparticles coated with appropriately selected bacteriophages.

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First 3D observation of nanomachines working inside cells

Researchers have combined genetic engineering, super-resolution microscopy and biocomputation to allow them to see in 3D the protein machinery inside living cells. The study unveils key functional features of an assembly of proteins that is vital for animals and plants.

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Preservation and protection of cultural heritage objects

Conservation and preservation of historical monuments as well as of single artworks of our cultural heritage are receiving increasing attention. Austrian scientists take a view on the current technologies used for scientific analysis and documentation. Portable instruments, a combination of noninvasive spectroscopic techniques, and especially designed weathering cells will provide the data needed to develop strategies for better artwork preservation, they propose.

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New technique could lead to safer, more efficient uranium extraction

The separation of uranium, a key part of the nuclear fuel cycle, could potentially be done more safely and efficiently through a new technique developed by chemistry researchers at Oregon State University.

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New technique identifies micropollutants in New York waterways

Engineers have developed a new technique to test for a wide range of micropollutants in lakes, rivers and other potable water sources that vastly outperforms conventional methods. The new technique -- using high-resolution mass spectrometry -- assessed 18 water samples collected from New York state waterways. A total of 112 so-called micropollutants were found in at least one of the samples.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

Advanced materials power next-generation molecular separations

Scientists have identified the opportunities they see ahead for scalable membrane materials based on rigid, engineered pore structures. They say the most promising materials are scalable for use in compact modules and take advantage of entropy at the molecular level to moderate the separation selectivity of membranes.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Nanostructured coatings take a bite out of pollutants

Low-cost iron hydroxide coatings with unique fin-like shapes can clean heavily contaminated water with a simple dipping procedure.

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Antioxidants get small: Molecular compounds mimic effective graphene agents, show potential for therapies

New single-molecule compounds that are efficient antioxidants in their own right help scientists understand how larger nanoparticles quench damaging reactive oxygen species in the body.

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Researchers produce artificial spider silk by mimicking the procedure of spiders

Researchers are involved has developed a bioinspired method that for the first time will allow researchers to spin artificial silk fibers as spiders do and to efficiently produce kilometers of silk.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Scientists lay foundations for new type of solar cell

An interdisciplinary team of researchers has laid the foundations for an entirely new type of photovoltaic cell. In this new method, infrared radiation is converted into electrical energy using a different mechanism from that found in conventional solar cells. The mechanism relies on so-called polaron excitations, which combine the excitation of electrons and vibrations of the crystal lattice.

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New insights into the forms of metal-organic frameworks

A new study has introduced a new novel design strategy for synthesizing various forms of metal-organic materials (MOMs).

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New class of materials could revolutionize biomedical, alternative energy industries

Polyhedral boranes, or clusters of boron atoms bound to hydrogen atoms, are transforming the biomedical industry. These humanmade materials have become the basis for the creation of cancer therapies, enhanced drug delivery and new contrast agents needed for radioimaging and diagnosis. Now, a researcher has discovered an entirely new class of materials based on boranes that might have widespread potential applications, including improved diagnostic tools for cancer and other diseases as well as low-cost solar energy cells.

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Breaking the optical bandwidth record of stable pulsed lasers

Researchers have redefined the limitations and constraints for ultra-fast pulsed lasers. They have produced the first pulsed passively mode-locked nanosecond laser, with a record-low and transform-limited spectral width of 105 MHz. With a compact architecture, modest power requirements, and the unique ability to resolve the full laser spectrum in the RF domain, the laser paves the way towards full on-chip integration for novel sensing and spectroscopy implementations.

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Passing the chemical Turing test: Making artificial and real cells talk

The classic Turing test evaluates a machine's ability to mimic human behavior and intelligence. To pass, a computer must fool the tester into thinking it is human -- typically through the use of questions and answers. But single-celled organisms can't communicate with words. Now researchers have demonstrated that certain artificial cells can pass a basic laboratory Turing test by 'talking' chemically with living bacterial cells.

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Synthetic chemicals understudied drivers of environmental change

The growing use of synthetic chemicals, including pesticides and pharmaceuticals to attack unwanted organisms, has outpaced rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations and other agents of global change in the last 45 years, a new analysis reveals. Despite this trend, US ecological journals, meetings and funding sources still devote less than 2 percent of their pages, talks and dollars to studies on these chemicals, creating a disconnect between real-world needs and scientific focus.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The contradictory catalyst

Using a natural catalyst from bacteria for inspiration, researchers have now reported the fastest synthetic catalysts to date for hydrogen production-- producing 45 million hydrogen molecules per second.

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New sensors can detect single protein molecules

For the first time, engineers have designed sensors that can detect single protein molecules as they are secreted by cells. These sensors, which consist of modified carbon nanotubes, could help scientists with any application that requires detecting very small amounts of protein, such as tracking viral infection, monitoring cell manufacture of useful proteins, or revealing food contamination.

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Using sunlight to activate the flow of electrical current in a new material

Scientists have discovered a new material that absorbs visible light to generate electricity. This material might be useful for splitting water to produce a combustible fuel, hydrogen.

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Step closer to safe stem cell therapies

A new compound could help rid stem cell samples of potentially tumorigenic cells, making them safer for regenerative therapies, researchers report.

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New stem cell technique shows promise for bone repair

A new study has introduced a new treatment for skeletal system injuries, using stem cells from human bone marrow and a carbon material with photocatalytic properties.

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Increasing energy efficiency of metal-air batteries

Scientists have introduced a new way to increase energy efficiency of metal-air batteries.

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Scientists develop first catalysed reaction using iron salts

A new chemical reaction has been developed that is catalysed using simple iron salts – an inexpensive, abundant and sustainable alternative to costlier and scarcer metals. The research could lead to huge economic gains in the pharmaceutical and agrichemical sectors, plus more affordable medicines for healthcare providers, say researchers.

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Chemists cook up new nanomaterial and imaging method

A team of chemists has cooked up something big: The scientists created an entirely new type of nanomaterial and watched it form in real time -- a chemistry first.

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3-D bioprinter to print human skin

Scientists have presented a prototype for a 3D bioprinter that can create totally functional human skin. This skin is adequate for transplanting to patients or for use in research or the testing of cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products.

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Melting solid below the freezing point

Researchers have discovered a new phenomenon of so-called metastability in a liquid phase. This state is common in supercooled liquids, which are liquids that cool below the freezing point without turning into a solid or a crystal. These scientists report the first experimental evidence of creating a metastable liquid directly by melting a high-pressure solid crystal of the metal bismuth via a decompression process below its melting point.

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Discrepancy between the theoretical, experimental results of a system of biological interest is resolved

A piece of research has resolved the tautomeric equilibrium of a model system of great biological interest. The work was made possible by setting up a piece of equipment that they themselves developed to characterize sets of molecules in a very accurate way. The research has thus put an end to the controversy that existed between the prior experiments and theoretical calculations that yielded contradictory and inconclusive results.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Faster recharging batteries possible after new insights

Faster recharging lithium batteries could be developed after scientists figured out why adding charged metal atoms to tunnel structures within batteries improves their performance.

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Molecular characterization of the autotransport process of Yersinia adhesin A (YadA)

Adhesins are surface structures of bacteria that facilitate their attachment to host cells or non-living materials. New research has advanced our understanding of adhesins, as outlined in a new report.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Creating atomic scale nanoribbons

A recent study has demonstrated the first important step toward integrating atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (APGNRs) onto nonmetallic substrates.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Milestone in graphene production

For the first time, it is now possible to produce functional OLED electrodes from graphene. The OLEDs can, for example, be integrated into touch displays, and the miracle material graphene promises many other applications for the future.

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Nanofibers developed for healing bone fractures

In future, it may be possible to use nanofibres to improve the attachment of bone implants, or the fibers may be used directly to scaffold bone regeneration. This would aid the healing of fractures and may enable the care of osteoporosis. This is detailed in a new dissertation.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scientists make plastic from pine trees

Most current plastics are made from oil, which is unsustainable. However, scientists have now developed a renewable plastic from a chemical called pinene found in pine needles.

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Researchers zero-in on cholesterol's role in cells

For the first time, by using a path-breaking optical imaging technique to pinpoint cholesterol's location and movement within the cell membrane, chemists have made the surprising finding that cholesterol is a signaling molecule that transmits messages across the cell membrane.

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Flexible ferroelectrics bring two material worlds together

Thanks to a new discovery, scientists have pioneered a new class of materials with advanced functionalities that moves the idea of flexible ferroelectrics from the realm of oxymoron into reality.

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Self-assembling particles brighten future of LED lighting

Researchers have illuminated another path forward for LED technologies by refining the manufacturing of light sources made with crystalline substances known as perovskites, a more efficient and potentially lower-cost alternative to materials used in LEDs found on store shelves.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Chemical-biological strategy for microRNA target identification

A research team reports photo-clickable miRNAs as probes for intracellular target identification of miRNAs.

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UV light for producing customized surfaces

Scientists have developed a new process to structure surfaces and to apply or detach functional molecules. They use UV light for the formation or breaking of so-called disulfide bridges, i.e. bonds of sulfur atoms. Both photodynamic reactions allow for a temporally and spatially controlled and reversible modification of the surface and, hence, can be used to produce functional interfaces.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Magnesium is ready for take off

Researchers are hoping to transform the fortunes of magnesium this year, by showcasing it as a viable alternative for luxury car makers and the aerospace industry.

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Crystallography: Electron diffraction locates hydrogen atoms

Diffraction-based analytical methods are widely used in laboratories, but they struggle to study samples that are smaller than a micrometer in size. Researchers have nevertheless been successful in using electron diffraction to reveal the structure of nanocrystals.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

A breath of fresh air: Improving zinc-air batteries

A three-layer nanoparticle catalysts improve zinc-air batteries, report scientists.

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Composite material for water purification

Fresh, clean water coming directly from the tap is a true luxury. In developing countries, people often have no choice but to use a contaminated river for drinking water. Water filters can help by quickly converting polluted surface or ground water into safe drinking water. In a new article, researchers have now introduced a novel multifunctional composite material that removes inorganic, organic, radioactive, and microbial impurities from water.

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