05-12-2011   -   Energy

Tue 6 Dec 2011 Thinner thermal insulation. Vacuum insulation panels, VIPs for short, insulate ten times better than conventional insulation of the same thickness. At present these high-end products are built into energy-saving refrigerators. Innovative components and production techniques are now set to sink the costs so that private home-builders can also benefit from the new technology.more

  05-12-2011   -   Chemistry

Mon 5 Dec 2011 New revolutionary material can be worked like glass. A common feature of sailboards, aircraft and electronic circuits is that they all contain resins used for their lightness, strength and resistance. However, once cured, these resins can no longer be reshaped. Only certain inorganic compounds, including glass, offered this possibility until now. Combining such properties in a single material seemed impossible until now with the developement of a new class of compounds capable of this remarkable feat. Repairable and recyclable, this novel material can be shaped at will and in a reversible manner at high temperature. And, quite surprisingly, it also retains certain properties specific to organic resins and rubbers: it is light, insoluble and difficult to break. Inexpensive and easy to produce, this material could be used in numerous industrial applications, particularly in the automobile, aeronautics, building, electronics and leisure sectors. more

  05-12-2011   -   Physics

Sun 4 Dec 2011 Light created from vacuum shows empty space a myth. An international research team says that its experiment in which tiny parcels of light, or photons, are produced out of empty space has confirmed that a vacuum contains quantum fluctuations of energy. In fact, the scientists have demonstrated for the first time a strange phenomenon known as the dynamical Casimir effect, or DCE for short. The DCE involves stimulating the vacuum to shed some of the myriad "virtual" particles that fleet in and out of existence, making them real and detectable. Moreover, the real photons produced by the DCE in their experiment collectively retain a peculiar quantum signature that ordinary light lacks. The DCE was predicted over 40 years ago, but had not yet been observed experimentally due to the difficulty of creating the required experimental conditions.

  30-10-2011   -   Biology

Sun 30 Oct 2011 Researchers have built a map that shows how thousands of proteins in a fruit fly cell communicate with each other. This is the largest and most detailed protein interaction map of a multicellular organism, demonstrating how approximately 5,000, or one-third, of the proteins cooperate to keep life going. For researchers studying protein interactions, this map is a dream come true. While genes are a cell’s data repository, containing all the instructions necessary for life, proteins are its labor force, talking to each other constantly and channeling vital information through vast and complicated networks to keep life stable and healthy. Humans and fruit flies are both descended from a common ancestor, and in most cases, both species still rely on the same ancient cellular machinery for survival. In that respect, the fruit fly’s map serves as sort of a blueprint, a useful guide into the cellular activity of many higher organisms. more

  30-10-2011   -   Physics

Sat 29 Oct 2011 Graphene grows better on certain copper crystals. New observations could improve industrial production of high-quality graphene, hastening the era of graphene-based consumer electronics. By combining data from several imaging techniques, it was found that the quality of graphene -a very important material- depends on the crystal structure of the copper substrate it grows on. more

  30-10-2011   -   IS / IT

Thu 27 Oct 2011 Merging plasmonics and nanophotonics could bring "quantum information systems". The merging of two technologies under development - plasmonics and nanophotonics - is promising the emergence of new and far more powerful than today's computers. The technology hinges on using single photons the tiny particles that make up light for switching and routing in future computers that might harness the exotic principles of quantum mechanics. The quantum information processing technology would use structures called "metamaterials," artificial nanostructured media with exotic properties. The metamaterials, when combined with tiny "optical emitters," could make possible a new hybrid technology that uses "quantum light" in future computers.more

  27-06-2010   -   Nuclear

Sun 27 Jun 2010 Novel radiotracer shines new light on the brains of Alzheimer disease patients. New trial tool could aid in diagnosing Alzheimers, tracking disease progression and developing therapeutics. A novel radioactive compound readily and safely distinguished the brains of Alzheimers disease patients from healthy volunteers on brain scans and opens the doors to making such imaging available beyond facilities that can manufacture their own radioactive compounds. The results could lead to better ways to distinguish Alzheimers from other types of dementia, track disease progression and develop new therapeutics to fight the memory-ravaging disease. Previously, the only way to peer into the brains of Alzheimers patients was through autopsy or the use of another radiotracer, known as Pittsburgh compound or PIB. PIB is drawn to a protein known as beta-amyloid, which accumulates abnormally in the brains of Alzheimers patients. However, PIB has a half-life of only 20 minutes, meaning that half of the substance degenerates every 20 minutes after it is made. Consequently, PIBs use is possible only at a few hospitals or academic medical centers with facilities to manufacture it since this compound degenerates so rapidly.

  22-06-2010   -   Nano Tech

Mon 21 Jun 2010 Enhancing the power of batteries. MIT team finds that using carbon nanotubes in a lithium battery can dramatically improve its energy capacity. They found that using carbon nanotubes for one of the batterys electrodes produced a significant increase up to tenfold in the amount of power it could deliver from a given weight of material, compared to a conventional lithium-ion battery. Such electrodes might find applications in small portable devices, and with further research might also lead to improved batteries for larger, more power-hungry applications. more

  03-06-2010   -   Medicine

Wed 2 Jun 2010 PET and SPECT Biomedical Imaging Techniques Combined into VECT. TU Delft and Molecular Imaging Labs (MI Labs) have succeeded in combining two forms of medical imaging techniques into one piece of equipment. These techniques are particularly useful for cancer research. The two techniques are known as microPET and microSPECT. SPECT and PET can be performed simultaneously and they give a higher resolution than traditional microSPECT and microPET. The new device is known as the VECTor (Versatile Emission Computed Tomography) and is designed for use in fundamental research into the functioning of cells and organs. It can show functional details smaller than half a millimetre.more

  27-05-2010   -   Agriculture

Thu 27 May 2010 Organic Solids in Soil May Speed Up Bacterial Breathing. Oxygen-free, or anaerobic, environments contain microbes sometimes described as "mineral-breathing" because they use iron oxides and other minerals in the same way we use oxygen. This bacterial respiration may be accelerated by solid organic compounds in the soil. A new research shows that iron oxide-breathing bacteria can do the same with insoluble organic substances, formed when plants and other organic materials biodegrade in soils and sediments. During respiration, the bacteria release electrons that interact with nearby substances, a process called reduction. Reduction of large organic molecules -- called humics and familiar to gardeners as part of planting soil -- represents a new pathway for electrical charges to move around in the environment, with implications for understanding soil chemistry and environmental contamination.more

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