February 28, 2014

A sharp eye for molecular fingerprints

MPQ-scientists record broad absorption spectra on a microsecond scale with two laser frequency combs.

A team of scientists around Dr. Nathalie Picqué and Prof. Theodor W. Hänsch at the Laser Spectroscopy Division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching), in a collaboration with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Institut des Sciences Moléculaires d’Orsay (France) now reports on a new method of real-time identification and quantification of molecular species (Nature Communications 5, 3375 – Feb. 27, 2014).

UAB research improves ease and security of password protections

Passwords guard everything from our cellphones to our bank accounts, but they often present a relatively weak challenge to hackers looking for the information that passwords should protect. New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in collaboration with the University of California at Irvine, proposes and tests a variety of methods that add a strong second layer of security to a password.

S&T computer engineer patents quantum computing device

While widespread quantum computing may still be 15 years away, a computer engineering professor at Missouri University of Science and Technology has patented a quantum processor capable of parallel computing that uses no transistors.

Dr. C.H. Wu, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri S&T, patented the device and will speak about the research behind the patent at the American Physical Society March Meeting 2014 in Denver on Monday, March 3. His research will also be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Cellular Automata. Wu’s work on the subject was also published in a 2011 issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

Ultra-fast laser spectroscopy lights way to understanding new materials

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory are revealing the mysteries of new materials using ultra-fast laser spectroscopy, similar to high-speed photography where many quick images reveal subtle movements and changes inside the materials. Seeing these dynamics is one emerging strategy to better understanding how new materials work, so that we can use them to enable new energy technologies.

Physicist Jigang Wang and his colleagues recently used ultra-fast laser spectroscopy to examine and explain the mysterious electronic properties of iron-based superconductors. Results appeared in Nature Communications this month.

Virginia Tech hosting debut student competition to design 3-D printed aircraft, ground vehicles

Virginia Tech will play host to a first-time, university-wide competition for students to deign on-demand, remote-controlled 3-D printed aircraft and ground vehicles.

Up for grabs in the Spring 2014 Additive Manufacturing Grand Challenge that launches March 4: $15,000 in cash prizes, including $3,000 for first prize in each of the air and ground vehicle competitions, and $250 for each team that creates a functional vehicle.

Undergraduate and graduate students, individually or in groups, are invited to participate from across the university, no matter their course of study.

Scientists call for more direct engagement with the public on issues of climate change

Climate scientists need to interact more directly with the public through blogs and social media, researchers from the University of Bristol, the University of Reading and the Met Office argue in a commentary in this week's Nature Climate Change.

Panasonic to Launch Industry's First Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker

Panasonic Corporation announced that it has developed a loudspeaker using a diaphragm that is made with plant opals [1] in bamboo leaves for the first time in the industry*1 to improve sound quality. The new Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker can deliver according to the original sound by reproducing clear sound with low distortion, thanks to the use of the hard, plant opal materials occurring in bamboo for the diaphragm. Samples of the new loudspeaker, which is suitable for automotive and home audio systems, will be available on March 1.

Lexus to Display F Sport Version of New 'RC' Coupe at Geneva Motor Show

click to enlarge

Lexus will display the “F Sport” grade of the new “RC” coupe at the 84th Geneva International Motor Show in Geneva, Switzerland from March 4 through 16*.  The vehicle is scheduled for launch the second half of this year.

The F Sport version adds an enhanced sporty and dynamic interior/exterior design and the driving enjoyment and performance of Lexus "F" vehicles to the RC, which debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show 2013.

With Petrol and Passion: Mercedes-Benz Trucks at the Carnival in Brazil

*  Mercedes-Benz do Brasil supports the Carnival in São Paulo and Salvador with Mercedes-Benz Actros, Axor and Atego trucks
*  Social and cultural involvement of the staff: 200 employees support carnival celebrations of “Rosas de Ouro” samba school

Each year the Brazilian Carnival thrills millions of people – and Mercedes-Benz is taking part. For the second time in a row, the Daimler subsidiary Mercedes-Benz do Brasil is supporting the long-established carnival troupe from the samba school “Escola de Samba Sociedade Rosas de Ouro” in São Paulo.

February 27, 2014

VTT's hyperspectral camera shows promising results in detection of skin field cancerization

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a lightweight, handheld, ultra-precision hyperspectral camera for the detection of skin cancers and their precursors. From the surface of the skin, the camera recognises early stages of cancer that are invisible to the naked eye. Collaborators in the pilot study are the University of Jyväskylä, the Päijät-Häme Central Hospital and the Skin and Allergy Hospital of Helsinki University Central Hospital. The preliminary results are promising.

Getin Point: VTM solution developed by Hitachi Europe and Wincor Nixdorfsets new trends in Polish banking

Getin Bankannounces that it has completed the first implementation in Poland of the self-service VTM branches called Getin Point. This innovative solution has been jointly developed by Getin Noble Bank and two leading technology companies - Hitachi Europe Ltd., a subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. ( TSE: 6501), and Wincor Nixdorf Sp. z o.o.

Getin Pointis the latest generation of self-service bank branch that allows customers to perform the operations that are traditionally made in bank branches. VTM provides support for cash, payment of bills, setting up deposits, making transfers from the account, as well as setting up new accounts and instant issuance of payment cards. Moreover, at any time the customer can request for support of bank's consultants through video-conference. Getin Bank's VTM is a combination of the top innovations in the market, from Finger Vein biometric authentication to instant card issuance.

KYOCERA Announces Launch of Monocrystalline Solar Modules for Residential Use in Japan

The company further enhances its industry-leading production techniques by applying its expertise in monocrystalline and multicrystalline modules

Kyocera Corporation (President: Goro Yamaguchi) today announced its first commercialized monocrystalline silicon solar modules, which it will begin fully supplying for the Japanese residential market in April.

February 26, 2014


Judging the effects of climate change on extinction may be easier than previously thought, according to a paper published today in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Although widely used assessments of threatened species, such as the IUCN Red List, were not developed with the effects of climate change in mind, a study of 36 amphibian and reptile species endemic to the US has concluded that climate change may not be fundamentally different from other extinction threats in terms of identifying species in danger of extinction.

Superabsorbing Design May Lower Manufacturing Cost of Thin Film Solar Cells

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a “superabsorbing” design that may significantly improve the light absorption efficiency of thin film solar cells and drive down manufacturing costs.

The superabsorbing design could decrease the thickness of the semiconductor materials used in thin film solar cells by more than one order of magnitude without compromising the capability of solar light absorption.

read entire press  release

Artificial muscles that do the twist

In the heart, as in the movies, 3D action beats the 2D experience hands down.

In 3D, healthy hearts do their own version of the twist. Rather than a simple pumping action, they circulate blood as if they were wringing a towel. The bottom of the heart twists as it contracts in a counterclockwise direction while the top twists clockwise. Scientists call this the left ventricular twist—and it can be used as an indicator of heart health.

MSU advances algae’s viability as a biofuel

Lab success doesn’t always translate to real-world success. A team of Michigan State University scientists, however, has invented a new technology that increases the odds of helping algae-based biofuels cross that gap and come closer to reality.

The current issue of Algal Research showcases the team’s invention — the environmental photobioreactor. The ePBR system is the world’s first standard algae growing platform, one that simulates dynamic natural environments.

A cavity that you want

Engineers are developing an optical “nanocavity” to boost light absorption in semiconductors; it could improve solar cells, cameras and more

Associated with unhappy visits to the dentist, “cavity” means something else in the branch of physics known as optics.

Put simply, an optical cavity is an arrangement of mirrors that allows beams of light to circulate in closed paths. These cavities help us build things like lasers and optical fibers used for communications.

Silver linings: Silver, meet graphene.

Super strong, super light, near totally transparent and one of the best conductors of electricity ever discovered, graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms that owes its amazing properties to being two-dimensional.

Graphene, meet silver.

Silver is a high-quality noble metal that corrodes very slowly in moist air and doesn’t typically interact chemically with other substances. Graphene, meanwhile, is a much sought-after platform for new physics and device applications.

Mini-livers show promise to reduce animal use in science

Cambridge research that has for the first time successfully grown “mini-livers” from adult mouse stem cells has won the UK’s international prize for the scientific and technological advance with the most potential to replace, reduce or refine the use of animals in science (the 3Rs).

Dr Meritxell Huch from the Gurdon Institute, who tonight receives the National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research (NC3Rs) 3Rs Prize, has developed a method that enables adult mouse stem cells to grow and expand into fully functioning three-dimensional liver tissue.

Panasonic Showcases Innovative Electrical Construction Materials At Middle East Electricity Exhibition 2014

Showcasing its product line-up at the Middle East Electricity Exhibition (MEE) 2014, Panasonic is confident that its expanded range of electrical construction materials comprising of wiring, electrical, conduit, lighting and air moving solutions are designed to offer increased functionality and efficiency to Middle East homes and buildings in the coming years. MEE 2014 was held from 11th - 13th February 2014 in Dubai and was supported by the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), Dubai Municipality, Emirates Green Building Council, Society of Engineers - UAE, Environmental Center for Arab Towns, Clean Energy Business Council and Energy Institute Middle East.

Researchers generate new neurons in brains, spinal cords of living adult mammals

UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers created new nerve cells in the brains and spinal cords of living mammals without the need for stem cell transplants to replenish lost cells.

Although the research indicates it may someday be possible to regenerate neurons from the body’s own cells to repair traumatic brain injury or spinal cord damage or to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, the researchers stressed that it is too soon to know whether the neurons created in these initial studies resulted in any functional improvements, a goal for future research.

Fewer laboratory animals needed for drug development thanks to fish scales

The scales of the zebrafish are very suitable for identifying potential new drugs for treating bone diseases. This is good news because it means fewer mice and rats will be needed for that work. What's more, zebrafish are not killed when the scales are removed; they simply grow back. On 13 March, medical biologist Erik de Vrieze will receive his doctorate from Radboud University Nijmegen for carrying out this research.

Rapeseed-based animal feed cuts greenhouse gases by up to 13 per cent

The use of rapeseed cake in the production of livestock feed cuts methane and carbon dioxide emissions by up to 13%, according to the initial results of the research carried out by Neiker-Tecnalia within the framework of the Life-Seed Capital project. Specifically, the incorporation of this oilseed plant into animal food cuts methane emissions by between 6% and 13% and carbon dioxide emissions by between 6.8% and 13.6%.

How Did the Universe Begin: Hot Big Bang or Slow Thaw?

Heidelberg physicist develops a new theoretical model in which the Big Bang stretches into the infinite past

Did the universe begin with a hot Big Bang or did it slowly thaw from an extremely cold and almost static state? Prof. Dr. Christof Wetterich, a physicist at Heidelberg University, has developed a theoretical model that complements the nearly 100-year-old conventional model of cosmic expansion. According to Wetterich’s theory, the Big Bang did not occur 13.8 billion years ago – instead, the birth of the universe stretches into the infinite past. This view holds that the masses of all particles constantly increase. The scientist explains that instead of expanding, the universe is shrinking over extended periods of time.

Broadband field rotator based on acoustic metamaterials

The last decades have witnessed intensive attentions focused on the transformation optics, as well as the transformation acoustics,  which have paved the way for the design of metamaterials with unprecedented flexibility in controlling and guiding waves. This results in various conceptual devices with wave-manipulation functionalities, such as invisibility  and illusion cloaks,  field rotators,  and omnidirectional absorber.  Among these fascinating designs, the field rotator is an important one which can be attributed as a special kind of illusion cloak,  with the capability of making the object inside it appears like a rotated one. Moreover, it belongs to a few of those designs that can be experimentally implemented, but only for electromagnetic waves and liquid waves.

‘Greener’ aerogel technology holds potential for oil and chemical clean-up

Cleaning up oil spills and metal contaminates in a low-impact, sustainable and inexpensive manner remains a challenge for companies and governments globally.

But a group of researchers at UW–Madison is examining alternative materials that can be modified to absorb oil and chemicals. If further developed, the technology may offer a cheaper and “greener” method to absorb oil and heavy metals from water and other surfaces.

Thanks for the 10 Million Likes!

Panasonic as a group just passed the overwhelming 10,000,000 fans mark across all our approved group accounts on Facebook in the beginning of February. We were so happy that our social media managers across the world just had to join in to say thanks in their local language. How many of the languages can you understand?

Again, thanks for liking us!


*  20.4 Percent Research Cell Certified at Newport Lab and Confirmed at NREL
*  Achievement capitalizes on First Solar/GE technology partnership
*  Performance matches long-standing mSi record

First Solar, Inc. (Nasdaq: FSLR) today announced it has set a world record for cadmium-telluride (CdTe) photovoltaic (PV) solar cell conversion efficiency, achieving 20.4 percent conversion efficiency certified at the Newport Corporation's Technology and Applications Center (TAC) PV Lab and confirmed by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The record-setting cell was constructed at the company's Perrysburg, Ohio factory and Research & Development Center.

February 25, 2014

How do you build a large-scale quantum computer?


How do you build a universal quantum computer? Turns out, this question was addressed by theoretical physicists about 15 years ago. The answer was laid out in a research paper and has become known as the DiVincenzo criteria [See Gallery Sidebar for information on this criteria]. The prescription is pretty clear at a glance; yet in practice the physical implementation of a full-scale universal quantum computer remains an extraordinary challenge.

Smartphone-Based Voting Technology May Lead to Fewer User Errors

Many U.S. counties have incorporated electronic voting technology, largely in response to well-publicized challenges related to older mechanical and punch-card models. Although these updated systems have solved some usability problems, they present a new set of issues for voters unfamiliar with the technology. A new study published in Human Factors examines how smartphone-based voting systems can be incorporated into the current large-scale election process.

How to create selective holes in graphene

New technique developed at MIT produces highly selective filter materials, could lead to more efficient desalination.

Researchers have devised a way of making tiny holes of controllable size in sheets of graphene, a development that could lead to ultrathin filters for improved desalination or water purification.

3-D printer creates transformative device for heart treatment

Using an inexpensive 3-D printer, biomedical engineers have developed a custom-fitted, implantable device with embedded sensors that could transform treatment and prediction of cardiac disorders.
Igor Efimov, PhD, at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis and an international team of biomedical engineers and materials scientists have created a 3-D elastic membrane made of a soft, flexible, silicon material that is precisely shaped to match the heart’s epicardium, or the outer layer of the wall of the heart. Current technology is two-dimensional and cannot cover the full surface of the epicardium or maintain reliable contact for continual use without sutures or adhesives.

Resources from the Sea

Can the ocean solve the resource problems of the future?

In “World Ocean Review 3”, maribus has published a profound analysis of the opportunities and risks associated with the use of the oceans. The study was conducted in cooperation with the cluster of excellence "The Future Ocean" in Kiel, Germany.

The hunger of mankind for raw materials continues unabated. Oil consumption has doubled since the early 1970s, and the demand for mineral resources is increasing with the ever growing use of metals, such as copper, nickel or cobalt, in electronic products like smart phones, solar panels or hybrid cars.

APG|SGA and Jaduda are cooperating to combine out-of-home with location-specific mobile advertising

With its "Double Impact – Out of Home & Mobile Targeting" offering, APG|SGA is launching a package which cleverly links advertising at poster sites and on mobile devices by means of geolocalization. APG|SGA has agreed an exclusive partnership with Jaduda GmbH, a full-service provider for mobile marketing from Berlin, who will provide the necessary marketing technology for location-specific mobile campaigns.


On the opening day of the HELI-EXPO 2014 show in Los Angeles, Thales unveils its Avionics 2020 new-generation helicopter cockpit.

Modeled on the principles behind the ground-breaking Avionics 2020 for fixed wing aircraft presented at the 2013 Paris Air Show, this cockpit represents the new-generation in helicopter avionics.

Avionics 2020 is the result of a number of partnerships, spearheaded by Thales with researchers, scientific institutions and world class experts, aimed at refining knowledge in the field of human machine interface.

New research proves you can die of a broken heart

Experts studying the impact of bereavement on people’s health have found that the chances of a heart or stroke attack doubles after a partner’s death.

Bereavement has long been known as a risk factor for death and this study increases our understanding of its effects on cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and strokes.

It’s all water over the dam – but how and when it falls has huge impact on salmon

Adjustments to operation of Pacific Northwest dam triple the numbers of salmon

By adjusting water discharges in ways designed to boost salmon productivity, officials at a dam in central Washington were able to more than triple the numbers of juvenile salmon downstream of the dam over a 30-year period, according to a study published Feb. 25 in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.

Researchers at LSTM crack the genetic secret of mosquito resistance to DDT and bed net insecticides

Researchers from LSTM have found that a single genetic mutation causes resistance to DDT and pyrethroids (an insecticide class used in mosquito nets). With the continuing rise of resistance the research, published in the journal Genome Biology, is key as scientists say that this knowledge could help improve malaria control strategies.
The researchers, led by Dr Charles Wondji, used a wide range of methods to narrow down how the resistance works, finding a single mutation in the GSTe2 gene, which makes insects break down DDT so it’s no longer toxic. They have also shown that this gene makes insects resistant to pyrethroids raising the concern that GSTe2 gene could protect mosquitoes against the major insecticides used in public health.

Yingli Green Energy to Supply 54 MW of Solar Modules for Seven Projects in the United Kingdom

Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited (NYSE: YGE) ("Yingli Green Energy" or the "Company"), the largest vertically integrated photovoltaic ("PV") module manufacturer in the world, known as "Yingli Solar", today announced that it will supply 54 MW of solar modules to seven projects in the United Kingdom ("U.K.") that are developed by Grid Essence UK Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Grid Essence Holdings Ltd.

The Company's multicrystalline YGE Series modules will be installed in ground-mounted solar projects located in the south of England and Wales. Construction has already begun, and modules will be delivered between February and March 2014. Scheduled for grid connection by the end of Q1 2014, the seven solar power plants will generate an estimated total of 54,500 MWh of green electricity per year.


Mobile-based volunteer computing project to empower smartphone owners to help answer some of the world’s biggest questions

HTC, a global leader in mobile innovation and design, today unveiled HTC Power To Give™, an initiative that aims to create the a supercomputer by harnessing the collective processing power of Android smartphones.

Currently in beta, HTC Power To Give aims to galvanize smartphone owners to unlock their unused processing power in order to help answer some of society’s biggest questions. Currently, the fight against cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s; the drive to ensure every child has clean water to drink and even the search for extra-terrestrial life are all being tackled by volunteer computing platforms.

February 24, 2014

NIST Microanalysis Technique Makes the Most of Small Nanoparticle Samples

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have demonstrated that they can make sensitive chemical analyses of minute samples of nanoparticles by, essentially, roasting them on top of a quartz crystal. The NIST-developed technique, "microscale thermogravimetric analysis," holds promise for studying nanomaterials in biology and the environment, where sample sizes often are quite small and larger-scale analysis won't work.*

Now in 3D: Video of virus-sized particle trying to enter cell

Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed could help scientists learn more about how to deliver drugs via nanoparticles — which are about the same size as viruses — as well as how to prevent viral infection from occurring.

The video reveals a virus-like particle zipping around in a rapid, erratic manner until it encounters a cell, bounces and skids along the surface, and either lifts off again or, in much less time than it takes to blink an eye, slips into the cell’s interior. The work was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Brain stimulation at your fingertips

Stimulation glove for stroke patients improves sense of touch and motor skills

Learning an instrument, dancing ballet or reading braille – the golden rule for acquiring skills such as these is: practise, practise, practise. However, there are some things that the brain learns without any training at all. RUB researchers have demonstrated in several studies that perception and motor skills can be improved through repeated passive stimulation. Patients suffering from brain damage benefit from this approach. In collaboration with partners from the industry, the Bochum-based team is developing a stimulation glove which alleviates stroke impairments.

You and I will monitor the environment


Environmental information about CO2, airborne dust and pollen will no longer be collected only at isolated measuring stations. From now on, cyclists, bus drivers and the man in the street will be able to do their bit.

“At present, environmental measurements are made using expensive stations spread around the country. However, now that everybody has a mobile phone, and with the development of technology, we ourselves can contribute with various types of data,” says Arne Berre at SINTEF ICT.

Lightning harnessed to protect grid components

The foes of power grids everywhere, lightning and other high voltage currents now can help utilities track the health of components throughout their systems.

For good reason, when power switches or lightning create high voltage currents, power companies view it as a problem. These so-called natural transients have the power to destroy components and cause disturbances along the transmission line.

Researchers Characterize Graphene's Bonding Effect on Platinum Nanoparticles

Discovery could lead to lower costs in fuel cell production

Physicists have found that platinum nanoparticles limit their size and organize into specific patterns when bonded to freestanding graphene.

While displaying this behavior, the bonded platinum nanoparticles maintain an effective surface area functioning as a catalyst for chemical reactions, a discovery that could lower the production costs of platinum-catalyzed fuel cells.

Scientists complete the top quark puzzle

Scientists on the CDF and DZero experiments at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have announced that they have found the final predicted way of creating a top quark, completing a picture of this particle nearly 20 years in the making.

The two collaborations jointly announced on Friday, Feb. 21, that they had observed one of the rarest methods of producing the elementary particle – creating a single top quark through the weak nuclear force, in what is called the “s-channel.” For this analysis, scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations sifted through data from more than 500 trillion proton-antiproton collisions produced by the Tevatron from 2001 to 2011. They identified about 40 particle collisions in which the weak nuclear force produced single top quarks in conjunction with single bottom quarks.

Building Artificial Cells Will Be a Noisy Business

Engineers like to make things that work. And if one wants to make something work using nanoscale components—the size of proteins, antibodies, and viruses—mimicking the behavior of cells is a good place to start since cells carry an enormous amount of information in a very tiny packet. As Erik Winfree, professor of computer science, computation and neutral systems, and bioengineering, explains, "I tend to think of cells as really small robots. Biology has programmed natural cells, but now engineers are starting to think about how we can program artificial cells. We want to program something about a micron in size, finer than the dimension of a human hair, that can interact with its chemical environment and carry out the spectrum of tasks that biological things do, but according to our instructions."

Acupuncture Holds Promise for Treating Inflammatory Disease

Rutgers-led study suggests pathways to alleviating inflammation in disorders such as sepsis, arthritis

When acupuncture first became popular in the Western Hemisphere it had its doubters. It still does. But over time, through detailed observation, scientists have produced real evidence that ancient Chinese practitioners of the medical arts were onto something.

Now new research documents a direct connection between the use of acupuncture and physical processes that could alleviate sepsis, a condition that often develops in hospital intensive care units, springs from infection and inflammation, and takes an estimated 250,000 lives in the United States every year.

Panasonic-Anchor's new lighting business begins in Mumbai, India

Continued rapid growth in India’s economy is changing the country’s living environment and inspiring many of its citizens to seek more comfortable living spaces. Kana, a writer living in India, visits India’s first showroom for home LED lighting (which opened on December 2, 2013) and shares with us how Panasonic is responding to the increasing demand for stylish décor.

Panasonic Eco Solutions Company offers its lighting solutions in 5 markets across Asia. It recently opened a showroom in India directly operated by Anchor Electricals Pvt. Ltd. (Anchor), the No. 1 wiring device company in India, which was acquired by Panasonic. Mr. Otaki, the president of Anchor, gave a speech on the showroom’s opening day, saying, “I am happy that you will be able to experience our greatest Panasonic LED technology. From now, by utilizing this showroom, we will be moving into the lighting fixtures business here in Mumbai,” thus expressing Panasonic’s commitment to its lighting business in India.