29-01-2015   -   Chemistry

Thu 29 Jan 2015. Unlocking magnetization and polarization simultaneously. Scientists have controlled the structure of a material to simultaneously generate both magnetisation and electrical polarisation, an advance which has potential applications in information storage and processing. Researchers demonstrated that it is possible to unlock these properties in a material which initially displayed neither by making designed changes to its structure. To make a single material that has these two distinct properties - magnetisation and electrical polarisation - is difficult because the electronic requirements for obtaining them in a material are typically contradictory: materials characteristics, such as the crystal structure or the atomic composition, which favour polarisation often disfavour magnetisation. However, materials where polarisation and magnetisation coexist at room temperature are potentially important for low-energy information technology applications. More

  28-01-2015   -   Energy

Wed 28 Jan 2015. Reseachers have developed the first autonomous industrialised public lighting system that works with solar and wind energy. Designed for inter-urban roads, motorways, urban parks and other public areas. This would reduce the cost by 20% compared with conventional public lighting systems. The prototype is 10 metres high and is fitted with a solar panel, a wind turbine and a battery. The turbine runs at a speed of 10 to 200 revolutions per minute (rpm) and has a maximum output of 400 watts (W). The generator that has been developed can start working at a wind speed of only 1.7 metres per second (m/s), whereas current wind turbines need more than 2.5 m/s. More

  24-12-2014   -   Chemistry

Wed 24 Dec 2014. Detecting gases wirelessly and cheaply. chemists have devised a new way to wirelessly detect hazardous gases and environmental pollutants, using a simple sensor that can be read by a smartphone. These inexpensive sensors could be widely deployed, making it easier to monitor public spaces or detect food spoilage in warehouses. Using this system, the researchers have demonstrated that they can detect gaseous ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and cyclohexanone, among other gases. The new sensors are made from modified near-field communication (NFC) tags. These tags, which receive the little power they need from the device reading them, function as wirelessly addressable barcodes and are mainly used for tracking products such as cars or pharmaceuticals as they move through a supply chain, such as in a manufacturing plant or warehouse. NFC tags can be read by any smartphone that has NFC capability. The phones can send out short pulses of magnetic fields at radio frequency (13.56 MHz), inducing an electric current in the circuit on the tag, which relays information to the phone. More

  03-12-2014   -   Nuclear

Wed 3 Dec 2014, New discovery sheds light on nuclear reactor fuel behavior during a severe event. UO_2 is the primary fuel component in the majority of existing nuclear reactors, but little is known about the molten state because of its extremely high melting point. Until now, the extremely high temperature and chemical reactivity of the melt have hindered studies of molten UO_2. This lack of fundamental information has made it difficult to evaluate issues associated with the interaction of molten UO_2 with a reactor's zirconium cladding and steel containment vessel. A new discovery about the atomic structure of uranium dioxide will help scientists select the best computational model to simulate severe nuclear reactor accidents. More

  18-11-2014   -   Agriculture

Tue 18 Nov 2014. Big Data Takes Root in the World of Plant Research. Irish Botanists have launched a database with information that documents significant life events for nearly 600 plant species across the globe. They clubbed together with like-minded individuals working across five different continents to compile the huge database of plant life histories, for which data have been gathered over a near 50-year span. At a time in which climate change and increasing human populations are rapidly re-shaping plant distributions, the researchers hope their COMPADRE Plant/Animal Matrix database http://www.compadre-db.org/ will foster collaborations between scientists and allow them to better answer questions such as how we can conserve the species that are critical for ecosystem services, and which may provide food for billions. More

  03-11-2014   -   Physics

Mon 3 Nov 2014. NASA's Cold Atom Laboratory (CAL) mission has succeeded in producing a state of matter known as a Bose-Einstein condensate, a key breakthrough for the instrument leading up to its debut on the International Space Station in late 2016. A Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC) is a collection of atoms in a dilute gas that have been lowered to extremely cold temperatures and all occupy the same quantum state, in which all of the atoms have the same energy levels. At a critical temperature, atoms begin to coalesce, overlap and become synchronized like dancers in a chorus line. The resulting condensate is a new state of matter that behaves like a giant -- by atomic standards -- wave. More

  13-10-2014   -   Energy

Mon 13 Oct 2014. First Water-Based Nuclear Battery to Generate Electrical Energy. The battery uses a radioactive isotope called strontium-90 that boosts electrochemcial energy in a water-based solution. A nanostructured titanium dioxide electrode (the common element found in sunscreens and UV blockers) with a platinum coating collects and effectively converts energy into electrons. Water acts as a buffer and surface plasmons created in the battery turned out to be very useful in increasing its efficiency. The ionic solution is not easily frozen at very low temperatures and could work in a wide variety of applications including car batteries and spacecraft. More

  14-09-2014   -   Physics

Sun 14 Sep 2014. First 500 GHz photon switch built as a result of four years of research. It opens a fundamentally new direction in photonics with far-reaching potential consequences for the control of photons in optical fiber channels. Specifically, the new technology could be implemented for photon sensors that operate in fields that were previously not deemed possible. An example is a receiver that could detect a handful of photons but very slowly with the time delay between such pulses on the order of nanoseconds, not picoseconds (one nanosecond equals 1,000 picoseconds). Another example: long-scale, locally-controlled four-photon mixing may trigger a multi-frequency photon avalanche, meaning that a few-photon signal could induce massive pump photon annihilation. More

  10-09-2014   -   Nuclear

Wed 10 Sep 2014. Nuclear waste eaters - Scientists discover radioactive waste-eating bacteria. Tiny single-cell organisms discovered living underground could help with the problem of nuclear waste disposal, say researchers. Although bacteria with waste-eating properties have been discovered in relatively pristine soils before, this is the first time that microbes that can survive in the very harsh conditions expected in radioactive waste disposal sites have been found. More

  31-07-2014   -   Chemistry

Thu 31 Jul 2014. Solar energy: New Dyes help harvest broader light. A new dye-sensitized solar cell absorbs a broad range of visible and infrared wavelengths. Dye-sensitized solar cells rely on dyes that absorb light to mobilize a current of electrons and are a promising source of clean energy. Scientists have now developed zinc porphyrin dyes that harvest light in both the visible and near-infrared parts of the spectrum. More

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