09-05-2013   -   Maths

Thu 9 May 2013 Mathematicians Help Unlock Brain Function. Researchers describe how different areas in the brain can have an association despite a lack of direct interaction. The research team combined two different human brain networks -- one that maps all the physical connections among brain areas known as the backbone network, and another that reports the activity of different regions as blood flow changes, known as the functional network. They showed that the presence of symmetrical neurons within the backbone network might be responsible for the synchronised activity of physically distant brain regions.More

  09-05-2013   -   Energy

Wed 8 May 2013 A giant leap to commercialization of polymer solar cell. Researchers demonstrated high-performance polymer solar cells (PSCs) with power conversion efficiency (PCE) of 8.92% which is the highest values reported to date for plasmonic PSCs using metal nanoparticles "Multipositional Silica-Coated Silver Nanoparticles for High-Performance Polymer Solar Cells". A polymer solar cell is a type of thin film solar cells made with polymers that produce electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect. Most current commercial solar cells are made from a highly purified silicon crystal. The high cost of these silicon solar cells and their complex production process has generated interest in developing alternative photovoltaic technologies. Compared to silicon-based devices, PSCs are lightweight (which is important for small autonomous sensors), solution processability (potentially disposable), inexpensive to fabricate (sometimes using printed electronics), flexible, and customizable on the molecular level, and they have lower potential for negative environmental impact. Polymer solar cells have attracted a lot of interest due to these many advantages. Although these many advantages, PSCs currently suffer from a lack of enough efficiency for large scale applications and stability problems but their promise of extremely cheap production and eventually high efficiency values has led them to be one of the most popular fields in solar cell research. More

  10-03-2013   -   Physics

Sun 10 Mar 2013 Long predicted atomic collapse state observed in graphene. The first experimental observation of a quantum mechanical phenomenon that was predicted nearly 70 years ago holds important implications for the future of graphene-based electronic devices. Working with microscopic artificial atomic nuclei fabricated on graphene, a collaboration of researchers have imaged the “atomic collapse” states theorized to occur around super-large atomic nuclei. Atomic collapse is one of the holy grails of graphene research, as well as a holy grail of atomic and nuclear physics. While this finding represents a very nice confirmation of basic relativistic quantum mechanics predictions made many decades ago, it is also highly relevant for future nanoscale devices where electrical charge is concentrated into very small areas.more

  03-03-2013   -   Energy

Sun 3 Mar 2013 New Fabrication Technique Could Provide Breakthrough for Solar Energy Systems and vastly improve the efficiency of today's solar energy systems. For years, scientists have studied the potential benefits of a new branch of solar energy technology that relies on nanosized antenna arrays theoretically capable of harvesting more than 70 percent of the sun's electromagnetic radiation and simultaneously converting it into usable electric power. The new fabrication process is immensely challenging. The nano-antennas – known as "rectennas" because of their ability to both absorb and rectify solar energy from alternating current to direct current – must be capable of operating at the speed of visible light and be built in such a way that their core pair of electrodes is a mere 1 or 2 nanometers apart, a distance of approximately one millionth of a millimeter, or 30,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. The potential breakthrough lies in a novel fabrication process called selective area atomic layer deposition (ALD). more

  03-03-2013   -   Physics

Thu 28 Feb 2013 Physicists demonstrate acceleration of electrons by laser in vacuum. Accelerating a free electron with a laser has been a longtime goal of solid-state physicists. Researcher at UCLA, have conducted research at BNL and have established that an electron beam can be accelerated by a laser in free space. This has never been done before at high energies and represents a significant breakthrough. It also may have implications for fusion as a new energy source. In free space, a plane-wave laser is unable to accelerate an electron. However, a chinese research group have proposed a concept of what physicists refer to as the capture–acceleration scenario to show that an electron can be accelerated by a tightly focused laser in a vacuum. more

  21-02-2013   -   Energy

Wed 20 Feb 2013 Engineers are catching rainbows: Material that slows light opens new possibilities in solar energy and other fields. This advancement in photonics could lead to technological breakthroughs in solar energy, stealth technology and other areas of research. A newly developed “hyperbolic metamaterial waveguide,” which is essentially an advanced microchip made of alternate ultra-thin films of metal and semiconductors and/or insulators. The waveguide halts and ultimately absorbs each frequency of light, at slightly different places in a vertical direction (see the above figure), to catch a “rainbow” of wavelengths. more

  12-02-2013   -   Biology

Wed 13 Feb 2013 Milestone of cancer research. A new research uncovered a critical, so far unknown immune mechanism that allows to permanently paralyse growing cancer cells, ie, arresting cancers rather than killing them. Scientists have found that anti-cancer immunity is capable of driving cancers and single cancer cells into a permanent growth arrest - called senescence. As complete cancer eradication is normally not feasible, deadly metastases normally result from surviving and regrowing cancer cells. The new data now explain, how immunity and immunotherapies can efficiently control surviving cancer cells and thus protect from cancer and metastases. more

  12-02-2013   -   Physics

Tue 12 Feb 2013 New order in quantum electronic material. Two physics professors have proposed an explanation for a new type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium -- a theory that may one day lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains. Scientists have seen this behavior for 25 years, but it has eluded explanation. When cooled to 17.5 degrees above absolute zero or lower (a bone-chilling minus 428 degrees Fahrenheit), the flow of electricity through this material changes subtly. The material essentially acts like an electronic version of polarized sunglasses, he explains. Electrons behave like tiny magnets, and normally these magnets can point in any direction. But when they flow through this cooled material, they come out with their magnetic fields aligned with the material's main crystal axis. more

  30-01-2013   -   Nuclear

Tue 29 Jan 2013 High plutonium breeding of light water cooled reactors. A Japanese research team have succeeded in developing the world's first conceptual nuclear reactor design of high plutonium breeding by light water cooling. The new fuel assembly where fuel rods are closely packed for reducing reactor coolant to fuel volume fraction for high breeding. This computational analysis will open the way of commercialization of fast reactor and nuclear fuel cycle for peaceful use of nuclear energy based on the mature light water cooling technologies.more

  14-01-2013   -   Physics

Mon 14 Jan 2013 New material harvests energy from water vapour. MIT engineers have created a new polymer film that can generate electricity by drawing on a ubiquitous source: water vapor. The power generated could drive robotic limbs or generate enough electricity to power micro- and nanoelectronic devices, such as environmental sensors. The new film is made from an interlocking network of two different polymers. One of the polymers, polypyrrole, forms a hard but flexible matrix that provides structural support. The other polymer, polyol-borate, is a soft gel that swells when it absorbs water. The film harvests energy found in the water gradient between dry and water-rich environments. When the 20-micrometer-thick film lies on a surface that contains even a small amount of moisture, the bottom layer absorbs evaporated water, forcing the film to curl away from the surface. more

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