November 29, 2014

New Electrolyte for the Construction of Magnesium-Sulfur Batteries

Electrolyte of Excellent Electrochemical Stability and High Efficiency –Promising Potential for the Development of New Types of Batteries

The Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) established by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) is pushing research relating to batteries of the next and next-but-one generations: A research team has now developed an electrolyte that may be used for the construction of magnesium-sulfur battery cells. With magnesium, higher storage densities could be achieved than with lithium. Moreover, magnesium is abundant in nature, it is non-toxic, and does not degrade in air. The new electrolyte is now presented in the journal “Advanced Energy Materials”.

November 27, 2014

Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy: Computer Simulations Sharpen Insights into Molecules

The resolution of scanning tunnelling microscopes can be improved dramatically by attaching small molecules or atoms to their tip. The resulting images were the first to show the geometric structure of molecules and have generated a lot of interest among scientists over the last few years. Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague have now used computer simulations to gain deeper insights into the physics of these new imaging techniques. One of these techniques was presented in the journal Science by American scientists this spring. The results have now been published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Global Quantum Communications – No Longer the Stuff of Fiction?

Neither quantum computers nor quantum cryptography will become prevalent technologies without memory systems able to manipulate quantum information easily and effectively. The Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw has recently made inroads into popularizing quantum information technologies by creating an atomic memory with outstanding parameters and an extremely simple construction.

University of Minnesota engineers make sound loud enough to bend light on a computer chip

Device could improve wireless communications systems

During a thunderstorm, we all know that it is common to hear thunder after we see the lightning. That’s because sound travels much slower (768 miles per hour) than light (670,000,000 miles per hour).

Now, University of Minnesota engineering researchers have developed a chip on which both sound wave and light wave are generated and confined together so that the sound can very efficiently control the light. The novel device platform could improve wireless communications systems using optical fibers and ultimately be used for computation using quantum physics.

Matched “hybrid” systems may hold key to wider use of renewable energy

The use of renewable energy in the United States could take a significant leap forward with improved storage technologies or more efforts to “match” different forms of alternative energy systems that provide an overall more steady flow of electricity, researchers say in a new report.

Historically, a major drawback to the use and cost-effectiveness of alternative energy systems has been that they are too variable – if the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine, a completely different energy system has to be available to pick up the slack. This lack of dependability is costly and inefficient.

November 26, 2014

Stanford engineers invent high-tech mirror to beam heat away from buildings into space

Stanford engineers have invented a material designed to help cool buildings.
The material reflects incoming sunlight, and it sends heat from inside the structure
directly into space as infrared radiation (represented by reddish rays).

(November 26, 2014)  A new ultrathin multilayered material can cool buildings without air conditioning by radiating warmth from inside the buildings into space while also reflecting sunlight to reduce incoming heat.

Stanford engineers have invented a revolutionary coating material that can help cool buildings, even on sunny days, by radiating heat away from the buildings and sending it directly into space.

A team led by electrical engineering Professor Shanhui Fan and research associate Aaswath Raman reported this energy-saving breakthrough in the journal Nature.

The heart of the invention is an ultrathin, multilayered material that deals with light, both invisible and visible, in a new way.

Invisible light in the form of infrared radiation is one of the ways that all objects and living things throw off heat. When we stand in front of a closed oven without touching it, the heat we feel is infrared light. This invisible, heat-bearing light is what the Stanford invention shunts away from buildings and sends into space.

Of course, sunshine also warms buildings. The new material, in addition dealing with infrared light, is also a stunningly efficient mirror that reflects virtually all of the incoming sunlight that strikes it.

read entire press release >>

November 25, 2014

Vegetable Oil Ingredient Key to Destroying Gastric Disease Bacteria

In mice, therapeutic nanoparticles dampen H. pylori bacteria and inflammation that lead to ulcers and gastric cancer

(November 25, 2014)  The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is strongly associated with gastric ulcers and cancer. To combat the infection, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering developed LipoLLA, a therapeutic nanoparticle that contains linolenic acid, a component in vegetable oils. In mice, LipoLLA was safe and more effective against H. pylori infection than standard antibiotic treatments.

The results are published online Nov. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“Current H. pylori treatments are facing a major challenge — antibiotic resistance,” said Liangfang Zhang, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and Department of Nanoengineering. “Our goal was to develop a nanotherapeutic that can tolerate the harsh gastric environment, kill H. pylori and avoid resistance.” Zhang and Marygorret Obonyo, PhD, assistant professor in the Moores Cancer Center and Department of Medicine, are co-senior authors of the study.

journal reference (OPENN ACCESS)  >>

Flexible Crossbar-Structured Resistive Memory Arrays on Plastic Substrates via Inorganic-Based Laser Lift-Off

Flexible electronics have been extensively investigated in hopes of realizing system-on-plastic (SoP) applications as the nextgeneration technology in various areas, ranging from consumer electronics to bio-integrated medical devices. Flexible memory in particular is regarded as an integral component for SoP applications because of its crucial role in data processing, storage, and communications with external devices. A number of research groups have explored a variety of organicbased flexible memories including fl ash memory, ferroelectric memory, and resistive memory, directly fabricated at relatively low temperature on flexible substrates using spin-coating, roll-to-roll, and other processes.

KAIST Robotic Art: Exhibit “Artificial Brain, Robots Evolve”

It is not difficult to find the desire to create a Neoanthropinae in the history of mankind. Humans evolve through man-made extension sand live by self-training them. This is the author’s description encouraging us to discuss the changes man-made humanoids would bring to our future lives. This is the meaning behind “Theory of Evolution: From mankind to humanoid” by Seung Hyun Son in “Artificial Brain, Robots Evolve” exhibition in KI Building, KAIST from 21 November 2014 to 8 February 2015.

Eggshell-like Cell Encapsulation and Degradation Technology Developed

Some bacteria form endospores on cell walls to protect their DNA in case of nutrient deficiency. When an endospore meets a suitable environment for survival, the cell can revert to the original state from which it can reproduce. 

The technique that can artificially control such phenomenon was developed by an international team of researchers. At first, a cell is wrapped and preserved like an egg. When the cell is needed, the technique allows the endospore to decompose while it is alive. Future applications for this technique include cell-based biosensor, cell therapy, and biocatalyst processes.

Study Supports Free “Super WiFi”

New Frequency Ranges May Make Free Network Access Possible over Long Distances and Relieve Mobile Communications Networks / Expected to Trigger Innovations

The need for the wireless transfer of data will increase significantly in the coming years. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) therefore propose to turn some of the TV frequencies that will become free into common property and to use it to extend existing wireless networks (WiFi) instead of using the frequencies for mobile communications. Their study, published in the international journal “Telecommunications Policy,” recommends that the additional frequencies not be marketed but made available to the population and companies at no cost

Researchers find way to turn sawdust into gasoline

Researchers at KU Leuven’s Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis have successfully converted sawdust into building blocks for gasoline. Using a new chemical process, they were able to convert the cellulose in sawdust into hydrocarbon chains. These hydrocarbons can be used as an additive in gasoline, or as a component in plastics. The researchers reported their findings in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

A hybrid vehicle that delivers DNA

The new transport system for DNA vaccines could help treat HIV, malaria, HPV and other major illnesses

A new hybrid vehicle is under development.

Its performance isn’t measured by the distance it travels, but rather the delivery of its cargo: vaccines that contain genetically engineered DNA to fight HIV, cancer, influenza and other maladies.

Research yields material made of single-atom layers that snap together like Legos

Physicists at the University of Kansas have fabricated an innovative substance from two different atomic sheets that interlock much like Lego toy bricks. The researchers said the new material — made of a layer of graphene and a layer of tungsten disulfide — could be used in solar cells and flexible electronics. Their findings are published today by Nature Communications.

November 23, 2014


Current inspections extremely dangerous and expensive. Multidisciplinary 'RoboShip' project offers great advantages

The University of Twente is one of a number of partners in the region around the border between Germany and the Netherlands that have contributed to a project to develop a robot for inspecting ballast water tanks on board ships. The robot is able to move independently along rails built into the tanks. At the moment, people still carry out such inspections, with ships being brought into dry dock for the purpose. The costs can rise to € 700,000 per inspection. The RoboShip project offers great advantages, not only in terms of cost but also in terms of safety.

UT Arlington Theatre Arts research provides insight into human behavior for scientists, engineers who build social robots

As an actress, producer, director and theatre arts lecturer at The University of Texas at Arlington, Julienne Greer knows the techniques that help draw people’s deepest emotions to the surface. Now, she’s building on her experience and research to help scientists and robotics engineers better understand the human experience so that they can build more responsive robots.

November 20, 2014

New semiconductor device could lead to better photodetectors

UCLA researchers have developed a perovskite photodetector that could reduce manufacturing costs and improve the quality of medical and commercial light sensors.

Photodetectors are semiconductor devices that convert incoming light into electrical signals. They are used in a vast array of products, from visible and infrared light detection systems to television remote controls.

NRL Scientists Discover Novel Metamaterial Properties within Hexagonal Boron Nitride

U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Manchester, U.K.; Imperial College, London; University of California San Diego; and the National Institute of Material Science (NIMS), Japan, have demonstrated that confined surface phonon polaritons within hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) exhibit unique metamaterial properties that enable novel nanoscale optical devices for use in optical communications, super-resolution imaging, and improved infrared cameras and detectors.

NTU develops novel 2-in-1 biomarker and drug delivery system

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has invented a unique biomarker with two exceptional functions.

First, it lights up when it detects tumour cells to allow scientists to take a better look. And it can also release anti-cancer drugs at the same time to the specific cells.

This new biomarker, which has immense potential for drug development, is made from a nanophosphor particle, ten thousand times smaller than a grain of sand.

Supercomputer cooled as a nuclear reactor

Świerk Computer Centre (SCC) operations officially started on November 13, 2014. One of the largest computer clusters in Poland developed in NCBJ will provide IT support for the Polish Nuclear Power Programme. The facility has one more thing in common with nuclear technologies – part of the supercomputer is cooled down by water, just like majority of modern nuclear reactors.

Thomson Reuters TOP 100 Global Innovators

November 19, 2014

A 3-D, talking map for the blind (and everyone else)

Touch-responsive maps bring interactive wayfinding to a new level, providing independence to the visually impaired

These maps are made for talking. And touching. And they’re beautiful, too.
In partnership with Touch Graphics Inc., developers at the University at Buffalo’s Center for Inclusive
Design and Environmental Access (IDeA Center) have built and tested a new kind of interactive wayfinder: 3-D maps that vocalize building information and directions when touched.

A World Disrupted: The Leading Global Thinkers of 2014

Scientists get to the heart of fool's gold as a solar material

MADISON - As the installation of photovoltaic solar cells continues to accelerate, scientists are looking for inexpensive materials beyond the traditional silicon that can efficiently convert sunlight into electricity.

Theoretically, iron pyrite - a cheap compound that makes a common mineral known as fool's gold - could do the job, but when it works at all, the conversion efficiency remains frustratingly low. Now, a University of Wisconsin-Madison research team explains why that is, in a discovery that suggests how improvements in this promising material could lead to inexpensive yet efficient solar cells.

UCLA biochemists build largest synthetic molecular ‘cage’ ever

New nanoscale protein container could lead to synthetic vaccines and offer a way to deliver medicine inside of human cells

UCLA biochemists have created the largest-ever protein that self-assembles into a molecular “cage.” The research could lead to synthetic vaccines that protect people from the flu, HIV and other diseases.

Many older brains have plasticity, but in a different place

Brain scientists have long believed that older people have less of the neural flexibility (plasticity) required to learn new things. A new study shows that older people learned a visual task just as well as younger ones, but the seniors who showed a strong degree of learning exhibited plasticity in a different part of the brain than younger learners did.

Climate Change in Drylands

Ecologists from the University of Cologne are Analyzing Vegetation Stability during and after Droughts

Approximately 40 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by drylands in which average annual precipitation is lower than evaporation. The changes projected to unfold in these areas in the course of climate change are alarming. Greater variations in annual and seasonal precipitation will lead to more frequent droughts and, presumably, longer drought periods. This means that drylands are among those areas most severely affected by climate change.

November 18, 2014

Salamanders Are a More Abundant Food Source in Forest Ecosystems Than Previously Thought

Advanced statistical methods used in study increase previous population estimates

In the 1970s, ecologists published results from one of the first whole-forest ecosystem studies ever conducted in Hubbard Brook, New Hampshire. In the paper, scientists reported that salamanders represent one of the largest sources of biomass, or food, of all vertebrates in the forest landscape. Now, using new sampling and statistical techniques not available during the past study, researchers at the University of Missouri have estimated that the population of salamanders in forested regions of the Missouri Ozarks are 2-4 times higher than originally thought, and in other regions of the eastern U.S. may be on average 10 times higher. Scientists believe that acknowledging salamanders as one of the main food sources in forest ecosystems could help drive conservation efforts and forest management.


Small volcanic eruptions might eject more of an atmosphere-cooling gas into Earth’s upper atmosphere than previously thought, potentially contributing to the recent slowdown in global warming, according to a new study.

Scientists have long known that volcanoes can cool the atmosphere, mainly by means of sulfur dioxide gas that eruptions expel. Droplets of sulfuric acid that form when the gas combines with oxygen in the upper atmosphere can remain for many months, reflecting sunlight away from Earth and lowering temperatures. However, previous research had suggested that relatively minor eruptions—those in the lower half of a scale used to rate volcano “explosivity”—do not contribute much to this cooling phenomenon.

Fossils cast doubt on climate-change projections on habitats

Mammals didn't play by the rules of modeling on where they migrated to survive last ice age, says UO researcher

Leave it to long-dead short-tailed shrew and flying squirrels to outfox climate-modelers trying to predict future habitats.

Evidence from the fossil record shows that gluttonous insect-eating shrew didn't live where a species distribution technique drawn by biologists put it 20,000 years ago to survive the reach of glaciers, says University of Oregon geologist Edward B. Davis. The shrew is not alone.

Better micro-actuators to transport materials in liquids

Researchers have developed improved forms of tiny magnetic actuators thanks to new materials and a microscopic 3D printing technology.

Scientists have been conducting research on micrometre-sized actuators which one day may make it possible to transport drugs or chemical sensor molecules to specific locations throughout the human body. Researchers at ETH Zurich have now taken the development of such micro-devices a crucial step forward: a new production technology and new materials have made it possible to manufacture tiny actuators in any form and optimise them for future applications.

Two sensors in one

Nanoparticles that enable both MRI and fluorescent imaging could monitor cancer, other diseases.

MIT chemists have developed new nanoparticles that can simultaneously perform magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescent imaging in living animals. Such particles could help scientists to track specific molecules produced in the body, monitor a tumor’s environment, or determine whether drugs have successfully reached their targets.

November 17, 2014

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells

Rice University labs create novel electrode for dye-sensitized cells

Rice University scientists have invented a novel cathode that may make cheap, flexible dye-sensitized solar cells practical.

The Rice lab of materials scientist Jun Lou created the new cathode, one of the two electrodes in batteries, from nanotubes that are seamlessly bonded to graphene and replaces the expensive and brittle platinum-based materials often used in earlier versions.

As Temperatures Rise, Soil Will Relinquish Less Carbon to the Atmosphere Than Currently Predicted

New Berkeley Lab model quantifies interactions between soil microbes and their surroundings

Here’s another reason to pay close attention to microbes: Current climate models probably overestimate the amount of carbon that will be released from soil into the atmosphere as global temperatures rise, according to research from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

The findings are from a new computer model that explores the feedbacks between soil carbon and climate change. It’s the first such model to include several physiologically realistic representations of how soil microbes break down organic matter, a process that annually unleashes about ten times as much carbon into the atmosphere as fossil fuel emissions. In contrast, today’s models include a simplistic representation of microbial behavior.

November 13, 2014

Self-Repairing Software Tackles Bugs


University of Utah computer scientists have developed software that not only detects and eradicates never-before-seen viruses and other malware, but also automatically repairs damage caused by them. The software then prevents the invader from ever infecting the computer again.

A3 is a software suite that works with a virtual machine – a virtual computer that emulates the operations of a computer without dedicated hardware. The A3 software is designed to watch over the virtual machine’s operating system and applications, says Eric Eide, University of Utah research assistant professor of computer science leading the university’s A3 team with U computer science associate professor John Regehr. A3 is designed to protect servers or similar business-grade computers that run on the Linux operating system. It also has been demonstrated to protect military applications

Biodiversity can offset climate change

The tremendous value of diverse ecosystems is often invisible to the naked eye. The Research Council of Norway is encouraging research activities that draw closer connections between climate and biodiversity.

The objective of the large-scale joint call for proposals on ecosystem effects issued by the Research Council of Norway for the September 2014 deadline was to generate a wider understanding of natural responses to changes in climate and the environment. Four Research Council programmes are working together to encourage the R&D community to join forces for more integrated research efforts on urgent issues.

Software to automatically outline bones in x-rays

Research into disorders such as arthritis is to be helped by new software developed at the University of Manchester which automatically outlines bones – saving thousands of hours of manual work.

Amidst a national shortage of radiographers in the UK and an increasing requirement for researchers to work with large databases of radiograph images, the software which is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, is being designed to automatically pick out the shapes of bones in the images, rather than relying on individual researchers.

Researchers Find New Way to Move Atomically Thin Semiconductors for Use in Extremely Flexible Devices

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new way to transfer thin semiconductor films, which are only one atom thick, onto arbitrary substrates, paving the way for flexible computing or photonic devices. The technique is much faster than existing methods and can perfectly transfer the atomic scale thin films from one substrate to others, without causing any cracks.

At issue are molybdenum sulfide (MoS2) thin films that are only one atom thick, first developed by Dr. Linyou Cao, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at NC State. MoS2 is an inexpensive semiconductor material with electronic and optical properties similar to materials already used in the semiconductor industry.

Cats and Athletes Teach Robots to Fall

A cat always lands on its feet. At least, that’s how the adage goes. Karen Liu hopes that in the future, this will be true of robots as well.

To understand the way feline or human behavior during falls might be applied to robot landings, Liu, an associate professor in the School of Interactive Computing (IC) at Georgia Tech, delved into the physics of everything from falling cats to the mid-air orientation of divers and astronauts.

November 11, 2014

The Brain’s “Inner GPS” Gets Dismantled

Imagine being able to recognize your car as your own but never being able to remember where you parked it. Researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have induced this all-too-common human experience – or a close version of it – permanently in rats and from what is observed perhaps derive clues about why strokes and Alzheimer's disease can destroy a person’s sense of direction.

ORNL materials researchers get first look at atom-thin boundaries

Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have made the first direct observations of a one-dimensional boundary separating two different, atom-thin materials, enabling studies of long-theorized phenomena at these interfaces.

November 7, 2014


Findings published in the journal Nature Communications demonstrate how glass can be manipulated to create a material that will enable computers to transfer information using light.

This development could significantly increase computer processing speeds and power in the future.

The findings, from the University of Surrey in collaboration with the University of Cambridge and the University of Southampton, show that it’s possible to change the electronic properties of amorphous chalcogenides, a glass material integral to data technologies such as CDs and DVDs.

November 6, 2014

From single cells to multicellular life

Max Planck researchers capture the emergence of multicellular life in real-time experiments

All multicellular creatures are descended from single-celled organisms. The leap from unicellularity to multicellularity is possible only if the originally independent cells collaborate. So-called cheating cells that exploit the cooperation of others are considered a major obstacle. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany, together with researchers from New Zealand and the USA, have observed in real time the evolution of simple self-reproducing groups of cells from previously individual cells.

Sustainability, astrobiology combine to illuminate future of Earth’s technological civilization

Human-caused climate change, ocean acidification and species extinctions may eventually threaten the collapse of civilization, according to some scientists, while other people argue that for political or economic reasons we should allow industrial development to continue without restrictions.

In a new paper, two astrophysicists argue that these questions may soon be resolvable scientifically, thanks to new data about the Earth and about other planets in our galaxy, and by combining the earth-based science of sustainability with the space-oriented field of astrobiology.

NEBIAS: The world’s most advanced bionic hand

The world’s most advanced bionic hand, providing a sense of touch acute enough to handle an egg, has been completed after 10 years of EU-funded research.

Researchers have created a new neural interface to provide sensory information from an artificial hand to the brain. This interface is able to link the patient’s nervous system with the artificial sensors, embedded in the prosthesis, enabling the user to control complex hand and finger movements.

UW study shows direct brain interface between humans

Sometimes, words just complicate things. What if our brains could communicate directly with each other, bypassing the need for language?

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago. In the newly published study, which involved six people, researchers were able to transmit the signals from one person’s brain over the Internet and use these signals to control the hand motions of another person within a split second of sending that signal.

Cockroach Cyborgs Use Microphones to Detect, Trace Sounds

(November 6, 2014)  North Carolina State University researchers have developed technology that allows cyborg cockroaches, or biobots, to pick up sounds with small microphones and seek out the source of the sound. The technology is designed to help emergency personnel find and rescue survivors in the aftermath of a disaster.

The researchers have also developed technology that can be used as an “invisible fence” to keep the biobots in the disaster area.

November 5, 2014

2000-year-old youth organization

In Roman Egypt, 14-year-old boys were enrolled in a youth organization in order to learn to be good citizens.

So says social historian and historian of ideas Ville Vuolanto, University of Oslo, who has joined forces with Dr April Pudsey of the University of Newcastle to dive deep into a mass of material of around 7,500 ancient documents written on papyrus. The texts comprise literary texts, personal letters and administrative documents. Never before has childhood been researched so systematically in this type of material.

November 4, 2014

Nature adores a hybrid

Natural selection minimizes genetic effects of human-induced hybridization, Concordia University study shows

Overfishing, climate change and pollution have reduced fish populations in Canadian lakes and rivers. While hatchery-raised fish could return numbers to normal, they aren’t as well adapted to their new environments, and there’s been concern that the wild population is “tainted” once it breeds with its domesticated counterparts.

November 3, 2014

String field theory could be the foundation of quantum mechanics

USC scientists uncover a connection that could be a huge boost to string theory

Two USC researchers have proposed a link between string field theory and quantum mechanics that could open the door to using string field theory — or a broader version of it, called M-theory — as the basis of all physics.

“This could solve the mystery of where quantum mechanics comes from,” said Itzhak Bars, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences professor and lead author of the paper.