August 31, 2014

Batteryless cardiac pacemaker is based on automatic wristwatch

A new batteryless cardiac pacemaker based on an automatic wristwatch and powered by heart motion was presented at ESC Congress 2014 today by Adrian Zurbuchen from Switzerland. The prototype device does not require battery replacement.

Mr Zurbuchen, a PhD candidate in the Cardiovascular Engineering Group at ARTORG, University of Bern, Switzerland, said:

August 30, 2014

Reducing water scarcity possible by 2050

Increased water-recycling and improved irrigation techniques among six strategies identified as key to successfully reducing global water scarcity

Water scarcity is not a problem just for the developing world. In California, legislators are currently proposing a $7.5 billion emergency water plan to their voters; and U.S. federal officials last year warned residents of Arizona and Nevada that they could face cuts in Colorado River water deliveries in 2016.

Mysteries of space dust revealed

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The first analysis of space dust collected by a special collector onboard NASA's Stardust mission and sent back to Earth for study in 2006 suggests the tiny specks open a door to studying the origins of the solar system and possibly the origin of life itself.

August 29, 2014

Breakthrough in light sources for new quantum technology

Electronic circuits are based on electrons, but one of the most promising technologies for future quantum circuits are photonic circuits, i.e. circuits based on light (photons) instead of electrons. First, it is necessary to be able to create a stream of single photons and control their direction. Researchers around the world have made all sorts of attempts to achieve this control, but now scientists at the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded in creating a steady stream of photons emitted one at a time and in a particular direction. The breakthrough has been published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

August 28, 2014

Changing the Emotional Association of Memories

New research by HHMI scientists shows that the emotional memory of an experience is malleable.

By manipulating neural circuits in the brain of mice, scientists have altered the emotional associations of specific memories. The research, led by Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Susumu Tonegawa at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), reveals that the connections between the part of the brain that stores contextual information about an experience and the part of the brain that stores the emotional memory of that experience are malleable.

Rubber meets the road with new ORNL carbon, battery technologies

Recycled tires could see new life in lithium-ion batteries that provide power to plug-in electric vehicles and store energy produced by wind and solar, say researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, a substance recovered from discarded tires, a team led by Parans Paranthaman and Amit Naskar is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries. An anode is a negatively charged electrode used as a host for storing lithium during charging.

Water ‘Thermostat’ Could Help Engineer Drought-Resistant Crops

Duke University researchers have identified a gene that could help scientists engineer drought-resistant crops. The gene, called OSCA1, encodes a protein in the cell membrane of plants that senses changes in water availability and adjusts the plant’s water conservation machinery accordingly.

Experiments explain why some liquids are ‘fragile’ and others are ‘strong’

‘Fragility’ provides a clue to the mystery of what happens when a liquid turns into a glass.

Only recently has it become possible to accurately “see” the structure of a liquid. Using X-rays and a high-tech apparatus that holds liquids without a container, Kenneth Kelton, PhD, the Arthur Holly Compton Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, was able to compare the behavior of glass-forming liquids as they approach the glass transition.

A touching story: The ancient conversation between plants, fungi and bacteria

The mechanical force that a single fungal cell or bacterial colony exerts on a plant cell may seem vanishingly small, but it plays a heavy role in setting up some of the most fundamental symbiotic relationships in biology. In fact, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that plants may have never moved onto land without the ability to respond to the touch of beneficial fungi, according to a new study led by Jean-Michel Ané, a professor of agronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

August 27, 2014

NASA Completes Successful Battery of Tests on Composite Cryotank

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NASA has completed a complex series of tests on one of the largest composite cryogenic fuel tanks ever manufactured, bringing the aerospace industry much closer to designing, building, and flying lightweight, composite tanks on rockets.

“This is one of NASA’s major technology accomplishments for 2014,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for Space Technology. “This is the type of technology that can improve competitiveness for the entire U.S. launch industry, not to mention other industries that want to replace heavy metal components with lightweight composites. These tests, and others we have conducted this year on landing technologies for Mars vehicles, show how technology development is the key to driving exploration.”

Coal's continued dominance of global industrialization must be made more vivid in climate change accounting

The world's accounting system for carbon emissions, run by the United Nations, disregards capital investments in future coal-fired and natural-gas power plants that will commit the world to several decades and billions of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new study from Princeton University and the University of California-Irvine published Aug. 26 in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

August 26, 2014

Laser Pulse turns Glass into a Metal

For tiny fractions of a second, quartz glass can take on metallic properties, when it is illuminated be a laser pulse. This has been shown by calculations at the Vienna University of Technology. The effect could be used to build logical switches which are much faster than today’s microelectronics.

Do we live in a 2-D hologram?

New Fermilab experiment will test the nature of the universe

A unique experiment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe – including whether we live in a hologram.


Unregulated trash burning around the globe is pumping far more pollution into the atmosphere than shown by official records. A new study led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research estimates that more than 40 percent of the world’s garbage is burned in such fires, emitting gases and particles that can substantially affect human health and climate change.

Competition for Graphene

Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultrafast Charge Transfer in New Family of 2D Semiconductors

A new argument has just been added to the growing case for graphene being bumped off its pedestal as the next big thing in the high-tech world by the two-dimensional semiconductors known as MX2 materials. An international collaboration of researchers led by a scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has reported the first experimental observation of ultrafast charge transfer in photo-excited MX2 materials. The recorded charge transfer time clocked in at under 50 femtoseconds, comparable to the fastest times recorded for organic photovoltaics.

Changes in the eye might predict onset of frontotemporal dementia

Changes to the eyes might help diagnose the onset of frontotemporal dementia, the second most common form of dementia, according to new research from scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Gladstone Institutes and the University of California, San Francisco.

MSU geologist discovers natural methane seepage in an unlikely place

New questions about geology, oceanography and seafloor ecosystems are being raised because of research by a Mississippi State University geologist.

Lead author Adam Skarke, assistant professor of geosciences at MSU, worked with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and other institutions on a scientific team that discovered methane seeps in unlikely places along the seafloor on the northern part of the U.S. Atlantic margin.

Black carbon linked to risk of cardiovascular disease

Pollutants in wood smoke and traffic have major effects on women’s cardiovascular health and climate

Black carbon pollutants from wood smoke are known to trap heat near the earth’s surface and warm the climate. A new study led by McGill Professor Jill Baumgartner suggests that black carbon may also increase women’s risk of cardiovascular disease.

MU Researchers Find Boron Facilitates Stem Cell Growth and Development in Corn

Results could lead to advancements in corn crop yields and farming techniques

Boron deficiency is one of the most widespread causes of reduced crop yield. Missouri and the eastern half of the United States are plagued by boron deficient soil and, often, corn and soybean farmers are required to supplement their soil with boron; however, little is known about the ways in which corn plants utilize the essential nutrient. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that boron plays an integral role in development and reproduction in corn plants. Scientists anticipate that understanding how corn uses the nutrient can help farmers make informed decisions in boron deficient areas and improve crop yields.

August 25, 2014

Tiny graphene drum could form future quantum memory

Scientists from TU Delft’s Kavli Institute of Nanoscience have demonstrated that they can detect extremely small changes in position and forces on very small drums of graphene. Graphene drums have great potential to be used as sensors in devices such as mobile phones. Using their unique mechanical properties, these drums could also act as memory chips in a quantum computer. The researchers present their findings in an article in the August 24th edition of Nature Nanotechnology. The research was funded by the FOM Foundation, the EU Marie-Curie program, and NWO.

Biomimetic photodetector ‘sees’ in color

Rice lab uses CMOS-compatible aluminum for on-chip color detection

Rice University researchers have created a CMOS-compatible, biomimetic color photodetector that directly responds to red, green and blue light in much the same way the human eye does.

The new device was created by researchers at Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) and is described online in a new study in the journal Advanced Materials. It uses an aluminum grating that can be added to silicon photodetectors with the silicon microchip industry’s mainstay technology, “complementary metal-oxide semiconductor,” or CMOS.

August 24, 2014

Study: Cutting emissions pays for itself

Savings from healthier air can make up for some or all of the cost of carbon-reduction policies.

Lower rates of asthma and other health problems are frequently cited as benefits of policies aimed at cutting carbon emissions from sources like power plants and vehicles, because these policies also lead to reductions in other harmful types of air pollution.

Simply Complex – The Origin of Our Body Axes

Evolutionary ties between humans and prehistoric animals – study published in “Nature”

The fresh-water polyp Hydra, a member of the over 600-million-year-old phylum Cnidaria, is famous for its virtually unlimited regenerative capability and hence a perfect model for molecular stem cell and regeneration research. This polyp, with its simple structure and radial symmetry, can help us understand how our body axes came to evolve. Scientists from Heidelberg and Vienna have brought this evidence to light through their research on the formation of new polyps in the Hydra through asexual reproduction. Their findings have now been published in the journal “Nature”.

Purdue prof. leading DoD work into 'neuromorphic' computing

A Purdue University professor is among 10 researchers named National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellows to pursue advanced technologies with potential applications for the U.S.  Department of Defense and the commercial sector.

Kaushik Roy, the Edward G. Tiedemann Jr. Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will use his grant to perform research into "neuromorphic computing"

August 23, 2014


New program also seeks to develop revolutionary miniaturization and assembly methods that would work at scales 100,000 times smaller than current state-of-the-art technology

Many common materials exhibit different and potentially useful characteristics when fabricated at extremely small scales—that is, at dimensions near the size of atoms, or a few ten-billionths of a meter. These “atomic scale” or “nanoscale” properties include quantized electrical characteristics, glueless adhesion, rapid temperature changes, and tunable light absorption and scattering that, if available in human-scale products and systems, could offer potentially revolutionary defense and commercial capabilities

August 22, 2014

C2D2 fighting corrosion

Bridges become an infrastructure problem as they get older, as de-icing salt and carbon dioxide gradually destroy the reinforced concrete. A new robot can now check the condition of these structures, even in places that people cannot reach.

Stanford scientists develop water splitter that runs on ordinary AAA battery

Hongjie Dai and colleagues have developed a cheap, emissions-free device that uses a 1.5-volt battery to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen gas could be used to power fuel cells in zero-emissions vehicles.

In 2015, American consumers will finally be able to purchase fuel cell cars from Toyota and other manufacturers. Although touted as zero-emissions vehicles, most of the cars will run on hydrogen made from natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to global warming.

Proteins: New class of materials discovered

German-Chinese research team gleans seminal insights into protein crystalline frameworks at HZB's BESSY II

Scientists at the Helmholtz Center Berlin (HZB) along with researchers at China’s Fudan University have characterized a new class of materials called protein crystalline frameworks (PCFs).

A breakthrough in imaging gold nanoparticles to atomic resolution by electron microscopy

Nanometre-scale gold particles are intensively investigated for application as catalysts, sensors, drug delivery devices, biological contrast agents and components in photonics and molecular electronics. Gaining knowledge of their atomic-scale structures, fundamental for understanding physical and chemical properties, has been challenging. Now, researchers at Stanford University, USA, have demonstrated that high-resolution electron microscopy can be used to reveal a three-dimensional structure in which all gold atoms are observed. The results are in close agreement with a structure predicted at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, on the basis of theoretical modelling and infrared spectroscopy.

August 21, 2014

Researchers Map Quantum Vortices Inside Superfluid Helium Nanodroplets

Scientists have, for the first time, characterized so-called quantum vortices that swirl within tiny droplets of liquid helium. The research, led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), the University of Southern California, and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, confirms that helium nanodroplets are in fact the smallest possible superfluidic objects and opens new avenues for studying quantum rotation.

Shaping the Future of Nanocrystals

Berkeley Lab researchers have recorded the first direct observations of how facets form and develop on platinum nanocubes in solution, pointing the way towards more sophisticated and effective nanocrystal design and revealing that a nearly 150 year-old scientific law describing crystal growth breaks down at the nanoscale.

Delivery by drone

New algorithm lets drones monitor their own health during long package-delivery missions.

In the near future, the package that you ordered online may be deposited at your doorstep by a drone: Last December, online retailer Amazon announced plans to explore drone-based delivery, suggesting that fleets of flying robots might serve as autonomous messengers that shuttle packages to customers within 30 minutes of an order.

August 20, 2014

Research Paves Way for Development of Cyborg Moth ‘Biobots’

Photo credit: Alper Bozkurt. Click to enlarge.

North Carolina State University researchers have developed methods for electronically manipulating the flight muscles of moths and for monitoring the electrical signals moths use to control those muscles. The work opens the door to the development of remotely-controlled moths, or “biobots,” for use in emergency response.

Organic Photovoltaic Cells of the Future

Researchers at University of Tsukuba and National Institute for Materials Science use charge formation efficiency to screen materials for future devices

Organic photovoltaic cells -- a type of solar cell that uses polymeric materials to capture sunlight -- show tremendous promise as energy conversion devices, thanks to key attributes such as flexibility and low-cost production.

But one giant hurdle holding back organic photovoltaic technologies have been the complexity of their power conversion processes, which involve separate charge formation and transport processes.

Future phones to use blood and speech to monitor HIV, stress, nutrition

David Erickson, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell University, will receive a $3 million National Science Foundation grant over five years to adapt smart phones for health monitoring.

Erickson will head a multidisciplinary team of investigators from Cornell, Cornell NYC Tech, Cornell Weill Medical College, the University of Maryland and the University of California Los Angeles. The program, dubbed PHeNoM for Public Health, Nanotechnology, and Mobility, aims to deploy three systems that can have an immediate impact on personal healthcare: a Stress-Phone for long term stress management, a Nutri-Phone for nutritional awareness and a Hema-Phone for monitoring viral loading in HIV positive patients.

The power of salt

MIT study investigates power generation from the meeting of river water and seawater.

Where the river meets the sea, there is the potential to harness a significant amount of renewable energy, according to a team of mechanical engineers at MIT.

The researchers evaluated an emerging method of power generation called pressure retarded osmosis (PRO), in which two streams of different salinity are mixed to produce energy. In principle, a PRO system would take in river water and seawater on either side of a semi-permeable membrane. Through osmosis, water from the less-salty stream would cross the membrane to a pre-pressurized saltier side, creating a flow that can be sent through a turbine to recover power.

NMR Using Earth’s Magnetic Field

Berkeley Lab Researchers Demonstrate Ultra Low-Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance with an Optical Magnetometer

Earth’s magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments.

Solar energy that doesn’t block the view

A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through the window.

It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

August 19, 2014

Asian inventions dominate energy storage systems

Lithium batteries come out on top in the search for electrochemical energy storage technologies

Asian inventions dominate energy storage systems

In recent years, the number of patent applications for electrochemical energy storage technologies has soared. According to a study by the Technische Universität München (TUM), the largest volume of applications by far is submitted by developers of lithium batteries. The study offers a first differentiated analysis of which energy storage technologies will be viable in the exit from fossil-fuel energy. In this area, European and US companies are falling behind economically, as Asian companies apply for a substantially higher number of patents.

August 18, 2014

Blood cells unexpected source of new nerve cells in crayfish

A new study led by researchers at Uppsala University and Wellesley College, USA, demonstrates that the immune system in crayfish can produce cells with stem cell properties. These cells can then develop into new nerve cells in the adult animal. The findings were recently published in the journal Developmental Cell.

For years, researchers have tried to determine how nerve cells are produced and integrated into the brain throughout adult life. In a new study, a team of international scientists provides evidence that adult-born neurons in crayfish are derived from a special type of circulating blood cell produced by the immune system.

Recycling old batteries into solar cells

Proposal could divert a dangerous waste stream while producing low-cost photovoltaics.

This could be a classic win-win solution: A system proposed by researchers at MIT recycles materials from discarded car batteries — a potential source of lead pollution — into new, long-lasting solar panels that provide emissions-free power.

New Tool Makes Online Personal Data More Transparent

Columbia Engineering Researchers Develop XRay, First Step in Understanding How Personal Data Is Being Used on Web Services like Google, Amazon, and YouTube

The web can be an opaque black box: it leverages our personal information without our knowledge or control. When, for instance, a user sees an ad about depression online, she may not realize that she is seeing it because she recently sent an email about being sad. Roxana Geambasu and Augustin Chaintreau, both assistant professors of computer science at Columbia Engineering, are seeking to change that, and in doing so bring more transparency to the web. Along with their PhD student, Mathias Lecuyer, the researchers have developed XRay, a new tool that reveals which data in a web account, such as emails, searches, or viewed products, are being used to target which outputs, such as ads, recommended products, or prices.

Promising Ferroelectric Materials Suffer From Unexpected Electric Polarizations

Brookhaven Lab scientists find surprising locked charge polarizations that impede performance in next-gen materials that could otherwise revolutionize data-driven devices

Electronic devices with unprecedented efficiency and data storage may someday run on ferroelectrics—remarkable materials that use built-in electric polarizations to read and write digital information, outperforming the magnets inside most popular data-driven technology. But ferroelectrics must first overcome a few key stumbling blocks, including a curious habit of "forgetting" stored data.


A new study from Lund University in Sweden has, for the first time, reconstructed solar activity during the last ice age. The study shows that the regional climate is influenced by the sun and offers opportunities to better predict future climate conditions in certain regions.

New discovery: Microbes can create dripstones

According to new research humble, microscopic organisms can create dripstones in caves. This illustrates how biological life can influence the formation of Earth’s geology - and the same may be happening right now on other planets in space.

Artificial Cells Act Like the Real Thing

Cell-like compartments produce proteins and communicate with one another, similar to natural biological systems

Imitation, they say, is the sincerest form of flattery, but mimicking the intricate networks and dynamic interactions that are inherent to living cells is difficult to achieve outside the cell. Now, as published in Science, Weizmann Institute scientists have created an artificial, network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis. This achievement is not only likely to help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes, but it may, in the future, pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of both naturally-occurring and synthetic proteins for a host of uses.

8,000-Year-Old Mutation Key to Human Life at High Altitudes

In an environment where others struggle to survive, Tibetans thrive in the thin air on the Tibetan Plateau, with an average elevation of 14,800 feet. A University of Utah led discovery that hinged as much on strides in cultural diplomacy as on scientific advancements, is the first to identify a genetic variation, or mutation, that contributes to the adaptation, and to reveal how it works. The research appears online in the journal Nature Genetics on Aug. 17, 2014.

Our genes determine the traces that stress leaves behind on our brains

Our individual genetic make-up determines the effect that stress has on our emotional centres. These are the findings of a group of researchers from the MedUni Vienna. Not every individual reacts in the same way to life events that produce the same degree of stress. Some grow as a result of the crisis, whereas others break down and fall ill, for example with depression. The outcome is determined by a complex interaction between depression gene versions and environmental factors.

August 17, 2014

Stuck in neutral: brain defect traps schizophrenics in twilight zone

People with schizophrenia struggle to turn goals into actions because brain structures governing desire and emotion are less active and fail to pass goal-directed messages to cortical regions affecting human decision-making, new research reveals.

Published in Biological Psychiatry, the finding by a University of Sydney research team is the first to illustrate the inability to initiate goal-directed behaviour common in people with schizophrenia.

August 15, 2014

Molecular engineers record an electron’s quantum behavior

A University of Chicago-led team of researchers has developed a technique to record the quantum mechanical behavior of an individual electron contained within a nanoscale defect in diamond. Their technique uses ultrafast pulses of laser light, both to control the defect’s entire quantum state and observe how that single electron state changes over time. The work appears in this week’s online Science Express and will be published in print later this month in Science.