March 31, 2015

Phenomena of nonlinear oscillation and special resonance of a dielectric elastomer minimum energy structure rotary joint

(March 31, 2015)  The dielectric elastomer minimum energy structure can realize large angular deformations by a small voltage-induced strain of the dielectric elastomer, so it is a suitable candidate to make a rotary joint for a soft robot. Driven with an alternating electric field, the joint deformation vibrational frequency follows the input voltage frequency. However, the authors find that if the rotational inertia increases such that the inertial torque makes the frame deform over a negative angle, then the joint motion will become complicated and the vibrational mode will alter with the change of voltage frequency. The vibration with the largest amplitude does not occur while the voltage frequency is equal to natural response frequency of the joint.

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Researchers Build Brain-Machine Interface to Control Prosthetic Hand

A research team from the University of Houston has created an algorithm that allowed a man to grasp a bottle and other objects with a prosthetic hand, powered only by his thoughts.

The technique, demonstrated with a 56-year-old man whose right hand had been amputated, uses non-invasive brain monitoring, capturing brain activity to determine what parts of the brain are involved in grasping an object. With that information, researchers created a computer program, or brain-machine interface (BMI), that harnessed the subject’s intentions and allowed him to successfully grasp objects, including a water bottle and a credit card. The subject grasped the selected objects 80 percent of the time using a high-tech bionic hand fitted to the amputee’s stump.

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Experimental cancer drug restores memory in mouse model of Alzheimer’s

(March 31, 2015)  Memory and as well as connections between brain cells were restored in mice with a model of Alzheimer’s given an experimental cancer drug, Yale School of Medicine researchers reported in the journal Annals of Neurology.

The drug, AZD05030, developed by Astra Zeneca proved disappointing in treating solid tumors but appears to block damage triggered during the formation of amyloid-beta plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The new study, funded by an innovative National Institutes of Health (NIH) program to test failed drugs on different diseases, has led to the launch of human trials to test the efficacy of AZD05030 in Alzheimer’s patients.

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Soil organic matter vulnerable to climate change

Soil organic matter, long thought to be a semi-permanent storehouse for ancient carbon, may be much more vulnerable to climate change than previously thought.

Plants direct between 40 percent and 60 percent of photosynthetically fixed carbon to their roots and much of this carbon is secreted and then taken up by root-associated soil microorganisms. Elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere are projected to increase the quantity and alter the composition of root secretions released into the soil.

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Better traffic signals can cut greenhouse gas emissions

Analysis shows that smarter programming of stoplights could improve efficiency of urban traffic.

(March 31, 2015)  Sitting in traffic during rush hour is not just frustrating for drivers; it also adds unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.

Now a study by researchers at MIT could lead to better ways of programming a city’s stoplights to reduce delays, improve efficiency, and reduce emissions.

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Skin Tough

Study at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source Shows Why Skin is Resistant to Tearing

(March 31, 2015)  When weighing the pluses and minuses of your skin add this to the plus column: Your skin – like that of all vertebrates – is remarkably resistant to tearing. Now, a collaboration of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) San Diego has shown why.

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March 30, 2015

Clues to Aging From Long-Lived Lemurs

(March 30, 2015)  When Jonas the lemur died in January, just five months short of his thirtieth birthday, he was the oldest of his kind. A primate called a fat-tailed dwarf lemur, Jonas belonged to a long-lived clan. Dwarf lemurs live two to three times longer than similar-sized animals.

In a new study, Duke University researchers combed through more than 50 years of medical records on hundreds of dwarf lemurs and three other lemur species at the Duke Lemur Center for clues to their exceptional longevity.

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Wearable technology can help with public speaking

Researchers develop a real-time feedback system using “smart glasses”

(March 30, 2015)  Speaking in public is the top fear for many people. Now, researchers from the Human-Computer Interaction Group at the University of Rochester have developed an intelligent user interface for “smart glasses” that gives real-time feedback to the speaker on volume modulation and speaking rate, while being minimally distracting.

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Goodbye, Range Anxiety? Electric Vehicles May Be More Useful Than Previously Thought

(March 30, 2015)  In the first study of its kind, scientists at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) quantitatively show that electric vehicles (EVs) will meet the daily travel needs of drivers longer than commonly assumed. Many drivers and much prior literature on the retirement of EV batteries have assumed that EV batteries will be retired after the battery has lost 20 percent of its energy storage or power delivery capability. This study shows that the daily travel needs of drivers continue to be met well beyond these levels of battery degradation.

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To Stop Cancer: Block its Messages

Weizmann Institute scientists identify a potential drug molecule that stops cancer cells, but not healthy ones, from getting their “mail”

(March 30, 2015)  The average living cell needs communication skills: It must transmit a constant stream of messages quickly and efficiently from its outer walls to the inner nucleus, where most of the day-to-day decisions are made. But this rapid, long-distance communication system leaves itself open to mutations that can give rise to a “spam attack” that promotes cancer. Prof. Rony Seger of the Weizmann Institute's Biological Regulation Department and his team have now proposed a method of shutting off the overflow of information before it can get to the nucleus. If the initial promising results hold up, the method could be used to treat a number of different cancers, especially several that develop resistance to current treatments, and it might possibly induce fewer side effects than those treatments do. These findings appeared today in Nature Communications.

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Making the right turn

New, Assisted Steering System with Optimum Energy Efficiency for Electric Vehicles Is Subject of a Joint Project by KIT and Schaeffler

(March 30, 2015)  The project "Intelligent Assisted Steering System with Optimum Energy Efficiency for Electric Vehicles (e²-Lenk)" subsidized by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) focuses on a new assisted steering concept. In conventional vehicles, the internal combustion engine not only accelerates the car but also supplies on-board assist systems with energy; such as the assisted steering system, which reduces the strain on the driver at the wheel. In electric vehicles, this energy comes from the battery and also reduces the range as a result. In this research project by the collaborating partners, Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) and Schaeffler, the steering system is assisted in an energy-efficient manner by intelligent control of the drive torques transmitted to the individual wheels.

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Next important step toward quantum computer

Scientists at the University of Bonn have succeeded in linking two different quantum systems

(March 30, 2015)  Physicists at the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge have succeeded in linking two completely different quantum systems to one another. In doing so, they have taken an important step forward on the way to a quantum computer. To accomplish their feat the researchers used a method that seems to function as well in the quantum world as it does for us people: teamwork. The results have now been published in the "Physical Review Letters".

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March 28, 2015


(March 28, 2015)  New coloured protective coatings offer corrosion and wear protection and could for instance also be used as a warning colour on surfaces which can get very hot.

New coloured protective coatings offer the same corrosion and wear protection as colourless coatings while their colouration opens new opportunities. Red could for instance be used as a warning colour on surfaces which can get very hot. The new possibilities from combining protection and colour in such coatings will be demonstrated by INM – Leibniz Institute for New Materials at this year’s Hannover Fair from 13 to 17 April as an exhibitor at the leading Research & Technology trade fair (stand B46 in hall 2).

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(March 28, 2015)  Telephones. Refrigerators. Cars. Television sets. Bathroom scales. More and more of the things that surround us in our daily lives send and receive data via the Internet without us having to know about it. The phenomenon is called the ”Internet of Things”. During the last three years, Aalborg University has been involved in a major European project to ensure that the things speak the same language – and that the language can be used by all.

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March 27, 2015

Nanoscale "worms" provide new route to nano-necklace structures

(March 27, 2015)  Researchers have developed a novel technique for crafting nanometer-scale necklaces based on tiny star-like structures threaded onto a polymeric backbone. The technique could provide a new way to produce hybrid organic-inorganic shish kebab structures from semiconducting, magnetic, ferroelectric and other materials that may afford useful nanoscale properties.

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Precocious GEM: Shape-Shifting Sensor Can Report Conditions from Deep in the Body

(March 27, 2015)  Scientists working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have devised and demonstrated a new, shape-shifting probe, about one-hundredth as wide as a human hair, which is capable of sensitive, high-resolution remote biological sensing that is not possible with current technology. If eventually put into widespread use, the design could have a major impact on research in medicine, chemistry, biology and engineering. Ultimately, it might be used in clinical diagnostics.

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Recipe for antibacterial plastic: Plastic plus egg whites


(March 27, 2015)  Bioplastics made from protein sources such as albumin and whey have shown significant antibacterial properties, findings that could eventually lead to their use in plastics used in medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, according to a recent study by the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

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March 26, 2015

Report: Photosynthesis hack needed to feed the world by 2050

(March 26, 2015)  Using high-performance computing and genetic engineering to boost the photosynthetic efficiency of plants offers the best hope of increasing crop yields enough to feed a planet expected to have 9.5 billion people on it by 2050, researchers report in the journal Cell.

There has never been a better time to try this, said University of Illinois plant biology professor Stephen P. Long, who wrote the report with colleagues from Illinois and the CAS-MPG Partner Institute of Computational Biology in Shanghai.

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Mathematicians build code to take on toughest cyber attacks

(March 26, 2015)  Washington State University mathematicians have designed an encryption code capable of fending off the phenomenal hacking power of a quantum computer.

Using high-level number theory and cryptography, the researchers reworked an infamous old cipher called the knapsack code to create an online security system better prepared for future demands.

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Agricultural waste could be used as biofuel

(March 26, 2015)  Straw-powered cars could be a thing of the future thanks to new research from the University of East Anglia (UEA).

A new study pinpoints five strains of yeast capable of turning agricultural by-products, such as straw, sawdust and corncobs, into bioethanol - a well-known alcohol-based biofuel.

It is estimated that more than 400 billion litres of bioethanol could be produced each year from crop wastage.

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Brown chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

(March 26, 2015)  A new process developed by researchers at Brown University uses silicon telluride to produce multilayered two-dimensional semiconductor materials in a variety of shapes and orientations.

Chemists from Brown University have found a way to make new 2-D, graphene-like semiconducting nanomaterials using an old standby of the semiconductor world: silicon.

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Engineers Create Structures Tougher Than Bulletproof Vests

(March 26, 2015)  Researchers at UT Dallas have created new structures that exploit the electromechanical properties of specific nanofibers to stretch to up to seven times their length, while remaining tougher than Kevlar.

These structures absorb up to 98 joules per gram. Kevlar, often used to make bulletproof vests, can absorb up to 80 joules per gram. Researchers hope the structures will one day form material that can reinforce itself at points of high stress and could potentially be used in military airplanes or other defense applications.

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March 25, 2015

Nanorobotic agents open the blood-brain barrier, offering hope for new brain treatments

(March 25, 2015)  Magnetic nanoparticles can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver molecules directly to the brain, say researchers from the University of Montreal, Polytechnique Montréal, and CHU Sainte-Justine. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. The research is important as currently 98% of therapeutic molecules are also unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.

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March 24, 2015

When it comes to putting out fire, GMU students show it’s all about that bass

The two senior engineering majors at George Mason University appear to have invented and built a way to use sound waves to put out fires. It started as an idea for a senior research project, and after a year of trial and error and spending about $600 of their own money, they have built a somewhat portable sound generator, amplifier, power source and focusing tube that would seem to have great potential in attacking fires in a variety of situations.

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Engineers Develop New Yeast Strain to Enhance Biofuel and Biochemical Production

(March 24, 2015)  Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have used a combination of metabolic engineering and directed evolution to develop a new, mutant yeast strain that could lead to a more efficient biofuel production process that would make biofuels more economically competitive with conventional fuels. Their findings were published online in the journal Metabolic Engineering in March.

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New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed

(March 24, 2015)  Researchers combine two types of photovoltaic material to make a cell that harnesses more sunlight.

Researchers at MIT and Stanford University have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

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Tiny bio-robot is a germ suited-up with graphene quantum dots

(March 24, 2015)  As nanotechnology makes possible a world of machines too tiny to see, researchers are finding ways to combine living organisms with nonliving machinery to solve a variety of problems.

Like other first-generation bio-robots, the new nanobot engineered at the University of Illinois at Chicago is a far cry from Robocop. It’s a robotic germ.

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March 23, 2015

Nanospace-Controlled Gold Material Created Using Molecular Technology

Method Developed to Freely Adjust Pore Size in Nanoporous Gold Material

(March 23, 2015)  A research group led by Yusuke Yamauchi, NIMS, in cooperation with other research organizations in Japan and overseas, successfully developed a nanoporous gold material with a regular, uniform pore arrangement using polymers as a template.


A research group led by Yusuke Yamauchi, an Independent Scientist at the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), NIMS (Sukekatsu Ushioda, President), in cooperation with other research organizations in Japan and overseas, successfully developed a nanoporous gold material with a regular, uniform pore arrangement using polymers as a template. This research result had been published in the Nature Communications on 23 March 2015.

journal reference (Open Access) >>

Graphene – from a wonder material to the application in mobile communication

(March 23, 2015)  Its theoretical properties made graphene a »wonder material« overnight: it is up to 200 times harder than steel, six times lighter, strong but flexible, environmentally friendly and the world’s thinnest material. Measuring only a single atom layer, about a one hundred-thousandth the diameter of a human hair, it still retains a remarkable level of conductivity. At the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF, these properties will be put to practice: as a nearly massless electrode for piezoelectric resonators, as used in bandpass filters of smartphones.

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Airships – the future of aviation?

(March 23, 2015)  Researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, have completed a three year investigation into stratospheric passenger airships as part of a multi-national engineering project designed to provide a future sustainable air transport network.

A group of academics from the University’s School of Engineering have been members of a pan European research team that believes airships may be the ‘green’ answer to the future growth of aviation.

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(March 20, 2015)  Researchers are on the verge of a breakthrough that will allow for the wide-scale use of thermoplastic composites in the automotive industry. These 'futuristic materials' are ultra-light, while being strong and rigid and also sustainable and recyclable. Researchers at the ThermoPlastic Composite Research Center (TPRC) in Enschede (Netherlands) were recently successful in overcoming the last hurdle, which was to design practically faultless components and to make the process for doing so predictable. This makes it possible to determine at an early stage of the design process whether a component can be manufactured at all. This means that the two biggest requirements made by the automotive industry, namely weight reduction and reduced costs, can be satisfied.

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March 19, 2015

Infiniti Canada introduces new Limited Edition Q50 and QX80 models

(March 19, 2015)  Infiniti today announced Canadian pricing for the 2015 Infiniti Q50 Limited Sports Sedan and 2015 QX80 Limited 7-passenger SUV. The new Q50 Limited combines popular equipment together at an attractive value while the new QX80 Limited offers subtle exterior upgrades and a sophisticated interior evocative of an executive boardroom.

"Infiniti produces vehicles defined by emotive design, meticulous attention to detail, unsurpassed hospitality and intuitive technology," said Wendy Durward, Director of Marketing, Infiniti Canada. "These Limited Edition models will raise the standards of what Canadians expect in a premium vehicle."

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Lack of Effective Timing Signals Could Hamper ‘Internet of Things’ Development

(March 19, 2015)  Our fast-approaching future of driverless cars and “smart” electrical grids will depend on billions of linked devices making decisions and communicating with split-second precision to prevent highway collisions and power outages. But a new report* released by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) warns that this future could be stalled by our lack of effective methods to marry computers and networks with timing systems.

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Hidden benefits of electric vehicles revealed

(March 19, 2015)  Electric vehicles are cool, research shows. Literally.

A study in this week’s Scientific Report by researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and in China add more fuel to the already hot debate about whether electric vehicles are more environmentally friendly than conventional vehicles by uncovering two hidden benefits.

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Researchers Use Liquid Shearing Method to Create Nanofiber ‘Gusher’

(March 19, 2015)  Creating large amounts of polymer nanofibers dispersed in liquid is a challenge that has vexed researchers for years. But engineers and researchers at North Carolina State University and one of its start-up companies have now reported a method that can produce unprecedented amounts of polymer nanofibers, which have potential applications in filtration, batteries and cell scaffolding.

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Scientists Invent New Way to Control Light, Critical for Next Gen of Super Computing

(March 19, 2015)  A device resembling a plastic honeycomb yet infinitely smaller than a bee’s stinger can steer light beams around tighter curves than ever before possible, while keeping the integrity and intensity of the beam intact.

The work, conducted by researchers at the University of Texas El Paso (UTEP) and at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and published in the journal Optics Express, introduces a more effective way to transmit data rapidly on electronic circuit boards by using light.

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Sharper Nanoscopy


(March 19, 2015)  The 2014 chemistry Nobel Prize recognized important microscopy research that enabled greatly improved spatial resolution. This innovation, resulting in nanometer resolution, was made possible by making the source (the emitter) of the illumination  quite small and by moving it quite close to the object being imaged.   One problem with this approach is that in such proximity, the emitter and object can interact with each other, blurring the resulting image.   Now, a new JQI study has shown how to sharpen nanoscale microscopy (nanoscopy) even more by better locating the exact position of the light source.

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Robot model for infant learning shows bodily posture may affect memory and learning

(March 19, 2015)  An Indiana University cognitive scientist and collaborators have found that posture is critical in the early stages of acquiring new knowledge.

The study, conducted by Linda Smith, a professor in the IU Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, in collaboration with a roboticist from England and a developmental psychologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, offers a new approach to studying the way "objects of cognition," such as words or memories of physical objects, are tied to the position of the body.

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Scientists grow ‘mini-lungs’ to aid the study of cystic fibrosis

(March 19, 2015)  Scientists at the University of Cambridge have successfully created ‘mini-lungs’ using stem cells derived from skin cells of patients with cystic fibrosis, and have shown that these can be used to test potential new drugs for this debilitating lung disease.

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Lithium Investing: Tomorrow's Energy is a Metal

Did you know that tomorrow's oil is actually a metal?

(March 19, 2015)  I know it sounds pretty crazy, but the truth is, starting in the very near future (it's actually already begun, and I bet you're carrying evidence of this in your pocket right now), the majority of our energy will be delivered not through fossil fuels but through a very special metal.

As you may have already guessed, this is no ordinary metal.

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Rethink Robotics Unveils Its Newest Smart, Collaborative Robot

Sawyer is a high performance robot designed for machine tending and other precise applications

(March 19, 2015)  Rethink Robotics today provided an exciting glimpse into the future of collaborative robotics with the introduction of Sawyer™, a single-arm, high-performance robot designed to execute machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks that have historically been impractical to automate with traditional industrial robots.  Sawyer is a significant addition to the company’s smart, collaborative robot family, which also includes the groundbreaking Baxter™ robot that defined the category of safe, interactive, affordable automation.

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March 18, 2015

UNC-Chapel Hill researchers collaborate to develop 3-D printing technology

(March 18, 2015)  A 3-D printing technology developed by Silicon Valley startup, Carbon3D Inc., enables objects to rise from a liquid media continuously rather than being built layer by layer as they have been for the past 25 years, representing a fundamentally new approach to 3-D printing. The technology, to appear as the cover article in the March 20 print issue of Science, allows ready-to-use products to be made 25 to 100 times faster than other methods and creates previously unachievable geometries that open opportunities for innovation not only in health care and medicine, but also in other major industries such as automotive and aviation.

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New research suggests insect wings might serve gyroscopic function

(March 18, 2015)  Gyroscopes measure rotation in everyday technologies, from unmanned aerial vehicles to cell phone screen stabilizers.

Though many animals can move with more precision and accuracy than our best-engineered aircraft and technologies, gyroscopes are rarely found in nature. Scientists know of just one group of insects, the group including flies, that has something that behaves like a gyroscope — sensors called halteres, clublike structures that evolved from wings.

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NTU and UC Berkeley develop remote-controlled cyborg beetle

(March 18, 2015)  Giant beetles potential alternative to remote-controlled drones

Breaking new grounds in the future of remote-controlled drone technology, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, has jointly developed a living machine whose flight can be wirelessly controlled with minimal human intervention.

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Rice fine-tunes quantum dots from coal

Rice University scientists gain control of electronic, fluorescent properties of coal-based graphene

(March 18, 2015) Graphene quantum dots made from coal, introduced in 2013 by the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour, can be engineered for specific semiconducting properties in either of two single-step processes.

In a new study this week in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials & Interfaces, Tour and colleagues demonstrated fine control over the graphene oxide dots’ size-dependent band gap, the property that makes them semiconductors. Quantum dots are semiconducting materials that are small enough to exhibit quantum mechanical properties that only appear at the nanoscale.

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Empa-led EU project "TREASORES" yields first results

Towards "printed" organic solar cells and LEDs

(March 18, 2015)  Flexible optoelectronic devices that can be produced roll-to-roll – much like newspapers are printed – are a highly promising path to cheaper devices such as solar cells and LED lighting panels. Scientists from "TREASORES" project present  prototype flexible solar cell modules as well as novel silver-based transparent electrodes that outperform currently used materials.

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Caltech Scientists Develop Cool Process to Make Better Graphene

A new technique invented at Caltech to produce graphene—a material made up of an atom-thick layer of carbon—at room temperature could help pave the way for commercially feasible graphene-based solar cells and light-emitting diodes, large-panel displays, and flexible electronics.

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Light as Puppeteer

(March 18, 2015)  Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have demonstrated a more robust method for controlling single, micron-sized particles with light.

Passing light along optical microfibers or nanofibers to manipulate particles has gained popularity in the past decade and has an array of promising applications in physics and biology. Most research has focused on using this technique with the basic profile of light, known as the fundamental mode.

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An Improved Method for Coating Gold Nanorods

(March 18, 2015)  Researchers have fine-tuned a technique for coating gold nanorods with silica shells, allowing engineers to create large quantities of the nanorods and giving them more control over the thickness of the shell. Gold nanorods are being investigated for use in a wide variety of biomedical applications, and this advance paves the way for more stable gold nanorods and for chemically functionalizing the surface of the shells.

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March 17, 2015

Graphene membrane could lead to better fuel cells, water filters

(March 17, 2015)  An atomically thin membrane with microscopically small holes may prove to be the basis for future hydrogen fuel cells, water filtering and desalination membranes, according to a group of 15 theorists and experimentalists, including three theoretical researchers from Penn State.

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