October 18, 2018

    CO2 emitted by industry may be converted into useable energy in the future
    Converting CO2 to CO as a source for usable energy

    Single nickel atoms dispersed into graphene nanosheets appear to form a highly effective and cost-effective substrate for the electrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction to CO. With this new finding, some technical obstacles have been overcome to use the greenhouse gas CO2 for usable energy. CO can be used in many ways, for instance to produce energy-rich hydrogen gas, or other useful chemicals such as hydrocarbons and alcohols.

    Read the full story: Brookhaven National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Energy and Environmental Science

    Looking at cells with unprecedented spatiotemporal resolution
    Microscope developed with super spatial and temporal resolution

    Scientists from the EPFL in Lausanne have developed a new microscopy platform which allows the study of living cells in greater detail than ever before. The temporal resolution with which images can be taken makes it possible to capture the intracellular dynamics of even the finest structures within living cells. The unique combination of super spatial and super temporal resolution will increase our understanding of the biology of cells in health and disease.

    Read the full story: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
    Scientific publication: Nature Photonics

    Most of the energy in buildings is lost through windows
    Clever coating for smart windows

    Researchers have developed a very thin self-regulating film made of vanadiumoxide that can be coated on windows to regulate indoors temperature. By passively changing the conductive properties of vanadiumoxide under influence of ambient temperature, the coating lets more heat in when it is cold, and blocks sunlight when it is cold. Coating of windows with this film is expected to spare significant amounts of energy for heating and cooling of buildings, resulting in major financial and environmental benefits.

    Read the full story: RMIT University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    An exotic state of matter was created by physicists: an atom full of atoms! Credit: TU Wien
    Giant atom containing other atoms created as a new form of matter - short science news

    In a standard atom there is a certain space between the nucleus and the surrounding electrons. A team of physicist decided it would be a good idea to fill this space with… well, other atoms! They used strontium ions which, using a laser, were converted into a Rydberg atom, an atom with a huge distance between the nucleus and the orbiting electron. Thus, the electron will orbit not only around its own nucleus, but also around many other normal strontium atoms that easily fit in this space. This new exotic state of matter, called Rydberg polarons, can only be detected at very low temperatures.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Physical Review Letters

    Human eye
    Artificial eye with a metalens and an artificial muscle

    Researchers have advanced to a new generation of artificial eyes by combining a metalens with an artificial muscle. This new electronically controlled eye is thin and flat, and can focus in real time, just like the human eye. On top of this, the new metalens corrects for aberrations such as image shift and astigmatism to avoid image blurring. The new metalens may be used for zooming and autofocus in future cameras in e.g. cell phones or microscopes.

    Read the full story: Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
    Scientific publication: Science Advances

    Add-on clip turns smartphone into fully operational microscope. Image courtesy of CNBP / cnbp.org.au
    Turning a smartphone into a microscope

    Australian researchers have designed a 3D printable divice that can be clipped onto a smartphone to convert it into a microscope with 5 micrometer resolution. Individual cells and microscopic organisms can be seen without the need of an additional light source as the device uses the flashlight of smartphone cameras. 3D printing instructions have been made freely available, so that the only thing you need to start using a smartphone as a microscope is access to a 3D printer.

    Read the full story: ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports

    A new device allows for collection of blood without using needles
    A new device allows for collection of blood without using needles - science news

    A device that allows collecting of blood without the use of needles is being developed by a startup from EPFL, Switzerland. The device will allow people to collect blood samples at home, without pain. The company did not reveal information about how the device works, but it is known it allows drawing enough blood for most tests in a similar amount of time as conventional methods. The blood samples still need to be sent to a specialized laboratory for testing. Interestingly, the system is connected to the internet to ensure that each blood sample is traceable from the moment of the sample collection until the results are released.

    Read the full story: EPFL

    Photons interact to form new photonic matter. Credit: Christine Daniloff/MIT
    Photons interact to form new photonic matter. Physics short science news

    When two beams of light intersect, the photons from the two sources ignore each other and pass by without any interaction occurring. However, under special conditions the photons could be forced to interact. This is exactly what a new study reports: photons from two light sources were made to interact and this event resulted in the formation of a new kind of photonic matter. The physicists observed groups of three photons interacting when a weak laser was shone through a dense concentration of ultracold rubidium atoms. Besides the fundamental scientific importance of the discovery, there are also practical applications such as the field of quantum computers.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Science

    New chip reduces neural networks’ power consumption by up to 95 percent
    New chip reduces neural networks’ power consumption by up to 95 percent - short science news

    Neural networks are at the basis of many artificial-intelligence applications. However, this comes at a cost, since neural networks require a high amount of energy which makes them unsuitable for small, portable devices. Now, MIT researchers have developed a special-purpose chip that increases the speed of neural-network computations by three to seven times over its predecessors, while reducing power consumption 94 to 95 percent. This opens the possibility of running neural networks on smartphones and other small devices.

    Read the full story: MIT

    Clean and safe water could be achieved easier with new material for filtering
    New filtering material could make seawater safe for drinking. Short science news

    With millions of people worldwide suffering from lack of clean water, a better technology for water purification is welcome. A team of scientists has developed a new material which can filter salts and ions from seawater, making it suitable for consumption. The new material has the largest internal surface area known and it acts similarly to biological membranes to remove salts and ions. Thus, it can be used for water purification, but has other applications too, such as the mining industry. This new technology is expected to offer a better alternative for desalinization water compared to traditional reverse osmosis membranes and therefore improve access to clean water.

    Read the full story: Monash University
    Scientific publication: Science Advances

    100,000 X-shaped micropatterns of proteins that cells can adhere to. Credit: UCLA
    New technology for measuring cell strength to speed up drug discovery

    A team of scientists has developed a method for measuring the physical strength of cells 100 times faster than previously available tools. The new technology has important applications in drug discovery efforts. It allows quick, large-scale testing of drugs for diseases associated with anomalies in cellular stregth. For example, it could be used to screen for new drugs for hypertension, muscular dystrophy and asthma. The device is called fluorescently labeled elastomeric contractible surfaces, or FLECS. It contains 100,000 x-shaped patterns of proteins that emit a fluorescent signal when a cell is attached to them and changes its strength. The researchers tested successfully the technology and the results were published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: Nature

    Combining blockchain with genetic data. Image from pixabay.com
    Lets put your genetic code on the blockchain and share it

    Traditionally, when you do a DNA test, the company which does it owns the genetic data. However, Nebula Genomics has proposed to sequence the genome for $1000, give insights on it and then secure it on the blockchain. Pharma companies need large genetic databases to develop new drugs. This sets the way for individuals to sell their genomic data directly to these companies thereby foregoing middlemen. With the plans going underway soon, the implications are limitless.

    Read the full story: www.technologyreview.com

    Volcanic ash may help reduce energy required to build cities Credit: MIT News
    Volcanic ash reduces the energy required to manufacture concrete

    Scientists have discovered that adding volcanic rock dust to concrete may be an effective additive, leading to a decrease in energy consumption. According to the study, it takes 16 percent less energy to construct 26 concrete buildings made with 50 percent volcanic ash, compared to traditional concrete. This makes possible the construction of sustainable cities with low environmental impact. Currently the manufacturing of traditional Portland cement is responsible for about 5 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. This raises the possibility that the cities of the future will be made of volcanic ash to reduce the environmental footprint.

    Read the full story: MIT News
    Scientific publication: Journal of Cleaner Production

    Clean hydrogen could soon power hydrogen-fueled cars. Image source: Bigstockphoto
    Clean energy now closer thanks to new, faster and cheaper technology to produce hydrogen

    Scientists have found a way to more efficiently generate hydrogen from water and this is good news for clean energy production. The new technology uses two metals, iron and nickel, both inexpensive, to create a fast, qualitative catalyst for the chemical reactions needed to extract hydrogen from water. The method is fit for large-scale production and is cheap, thus one day it could be used to produce clean energy to power, for example, hydrogen fuel-cell cars.

    Read the full story: https://news.wsu.edu/
    Scientific publication: https://www.sciencedirect.com

    What the surgeons see using augmented reality. Image © Imperial College London
    Surgeons see inside the body during surgeries using augmented reality

    A team from Imperial College London at St Mary’s Hospital used for the first time the Microsoft HoloLens augmented reality headsets to perform reconstructive lower limb surgeries. The headset overlays images from CT scans, including the 3D location of blood vessels and bones, onto the patient’s limbs. This allows for better precision during the identification and reconnection of the key blood vessels, ultimately improving the outcome of the surgeries. The surgical teams concluded that the HoloLens was a success and augmented reality technologies could soon be found in hospitals all over the world.

    Read the full story: www3.imperial.ac.uk
    Scientific publication: eurradiolexp.springeropen.com

    Viruses to treat bacterial infections. Image from pixabay.com
    Using AI to fight deadly antibiotic-resistant infections with viruses

    Startups like the AmpliPhi Biosciences and Adaptive Phage Therapeutics are developing viruses to fight antibiotic-resistant infections. Currently, viruses (which are called phages) are used as a last resort for the sickest patients since DNA sequencing to identifying the right virus is a slow process. However, this is all set to change since companies have started using Artificial intelligence to identify the right virus. The ultimate goal is to develop an AI app which can be used in hospitals which can identify the most appropriate virus which can be immediately delivered to the hospital.

    Read the full story: www.technologyreview.com

    A decentralized blockchain system. Image from pixabay.com
    Give us $2 billion and we would solve all blockchain problems- says Telegram ICO

    In what appears like a leaked white-paper of the Telegram ICO, the company which has more than a 100 million users of its messaging service, is seeking to raise $2 billion. With the aim to develop censorship resistant applications such as anonymous web surfing, micropayments and decentralised storage systems, Telegram proposes to solve the most difficult blockchain problems since the challenge is to develop a system that is cheap to operate while being efficient at large scale and remaining truly decentralized.

    Read the full story: www.technologyreview.com

    3-D printing now allows changes in colors. Image by Jonathan Juursema, Wikimedia Commons
    New technique allows repeated change of color for 3D printed objects

    The present 3-D printing technology does not allow the modification of a printed object once it is finished. Researchers from MIT now present a revolutionary technique that allows repeatedly changing the color of a 3-D printed object, after fabrication. They used a proprietary ink which changes color when exposed to ultraviolet light. This allows the change in color to occur in about 20 minutes. Currently the method is optimized for plastic objects but the team is working on expanding this to other types of materials such as clothing. 

    Read the full story: www.sciencebriefss.com
    Scientific publication: http://groups.csail.mit.edu

    Counterfeit watches. Image source Wikimedia Commons
    Most secure marking system for fighting counterfeit goods developed

    Fake products are a huge economical burden worldwide. Sometimes they can even put the life of people in danger, as in the case of counterfeit drugs. There are continuous efforts to improve detection of fake products. Finally, a team of researchers from Copenhagen created the best marking system to combat counterfeit goods. The system works by assigning a unique digital fingerprint based on lanthanide luminescence to an original product. The assignment of the ID is random, thus it is basically impossible to hack. The system is fully functional and researchers estimate it can be on the market in one year.

    Read the full story: University of Copenhagen
    Scientific publication: www.advances.sciencemag.org

    Computer chip in the making that outperforms the human brain. Image: Pixabay
    New artificial synapse works faster than synapses in the brain

    Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, USA) have developed a superconducting switch that works like a natural synapse in the brain , but a lot faster. It is designed to connect processors (like connecting brain cells) and to store memory (synaptic plasticity) in future computers that operate like the human brain. Like a synapse, the switch integrates multiple bits of information in stead of only 1 or 0 bits, processes this, and fires a burst of electricity depending on the outcome of information processing. Technical hurdles need to be taken, however, before the switch can be used for real computing.

    Read the full story: www.nist.gov/
    Scientific publication: advances.sciencemag.org/content/

    Quantum chips might use photons obtained from spins of electrons.
    Quantum chips convert electron spin into photons/light – technology news

    Two independent groups of scientists have managed to convert the spin of the electron into photons (light signals). This technological breakthrough contributes to the development of quantum chips that could process information at an amazingly high speed. Quantum chips are likely to drive the quantum computers of the future, computers much powerful than the conventional ones. This process works at room temperature, which has important practical applications, and it results from combining spintronics and nanophotonics sciences, paving the way towards quantum computers.

    Read the full story: Delft University of Technology
    Scientific publication: Science

    Storage material of images evolves from paper to DNA. Image: Pixabay
    Your photos stored in DNA

    DNA will be the future of storing images and videos as it has a much larger capacity than that reached by current technologies. To develop DNA-storing techniques further, the University of Washington and Microsoft are collecting 10,000 images, and invites everybody to participate on their website http://memoriesindna.com.

    Read the full story: www.washington.edu/

    Microscopic green algae. Image: Wikimedia Commons
    Solar cells based on photosynthesis gain power

    In the quest for sustainable energy sources, researchers at the University of Cambridge have designed a new model of algae-powered solar cells that are five times as potent as those with the current design. Although they only have 10% of the capacity of conventional solar cells, they bring implementation of truly green energy a step closer.

    Read the full story: dailyaccord.com/
    Scientific publication: www.nature.com/articles/

    China focuses on AI chips. Image from pixabay.com
    China focusses on producing AI chips which could be added to any device

    In December 2017, China's Ministry of Industry and IT released a 3-year plan with the goal to mass produce neural network processing chips by the end of 2020. The currently available chips such as graphics cards can run AI software, however, their designs are expensive and these cannot be used in smaller devices run on batteries. Computer chips are considered a key for the mass adoption of AI, and China is gearing up its own hardware industry to become a force to reckon with.

    Read the full story: www.technologyreview.com

    Energy draining in fuel cells.
    Technology news: New technology allows making fuel cells 100 times cheaper

    Fuel cells, similar to batteries, could power many things, from computers to cars. The problem is that producing them can be quite expensive because they contain platinum, a very expensive metal. In a paper published recently, a group of scientist from California describes a new method to build fuel cells. This technique replaces platinum with cobalt and porous carbon nanofibers, an innovation that decreases the costs by a factor of 100. The many potential applications of fuel cells are now much closer due to this cheaper way of fabrication.

    Read the full story: https://ucrtoday.ucr.edu
    Scientific publication: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

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