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The Lead

Underwater Robot Could Improve Port Security

September 29, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | News | Comments

Researchers have unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans. Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also inspect ships for the false hulls and propeller shafts that smugglers frequently use to hide contraband.

Tech May Help Smartphone Batteries

September 26, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Univ. of Texas at Dallas | News | Comments

Researchers have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with...

Officials: Electronics Allowed on European Flights

September 26, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, David Rising | News | Comments

Passengers on European airlines may soon be able to use portable electronics, including...

Finally: Bottleneck in Crystal Prediction Solved

September 26, 2014 7:00 am | by Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

The various patterns that atoms of a solid material can adopt, called crystal structures, can...

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There May Be a Volcano Season

September 25, 2014 2:00 pm | by The Conversation, Robin Wylie | News | Comments

The Earth seems to have been smoking a lot recently. These eruptions have raised a question: is there such a thing as a season for volcanic eruptions? Surprisingly, this may be a possibility. While volcanoes may not have “seasons” as we know them, scientists have started to discern intriguing patterns in their activity.

Weak Values May Not Be Quantum

September 25, 2014 2:00 pm | by Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics | News | Comments

New work asserts that a key technique used to probe quantum systems— weak measurement— may not be so quantum after all.

Biochar Alters Water Flow, Improves Sand, Clay

September 25, 2014 7:00 am | by Rice Univ. | News | Comments

As more gardeners and farmers add ground charcoal, or biochar, to soil to both boost crop yields and counter global climate change, a new study by researchers could help settle the debate about one of biochar’s biggest benefits— the seemingly contradictory ability to make clay soils drain faster and sandy soils drain slower.

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New Transistor is Big Step for Flexible Electronics

September 25, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

Researchers are reporting a new inexpensive and simple way to make transparent, flexible transistors— the building blocks of electronics— that could help bring roll-up smartphones with see-through displays and other bendable gadgets to consumers in just a few years.

Air Traffic Plans Leave Out Drones

September 25, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Joan Lowy | News | Comments

Designers of the ambitious U.S. air traffic control system of the future neglected to take drones into account, raising questions about whether it can handle the escalating demand for the unmanned aircraft and predicted congestion in the sky.

Graphene Flaws Key to Better Electronic Nose

September 23, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Illinois at Chicago | News | Comments

Researchers have discovered a way to create a highly sensitive chemical sensor based on the crystalline flaws in graphene sheets. The imperfections have unique electronic properties that the researchers were able to exploit to increase sensitivity to absorbed gas molecules by 300 times.

Image of the Week: Magnetized Fusion Technique Yields Results

September 23, 2014 7:00 am | by Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have produced a significant output of fusion neutrons, using a method fully functioning for only little more than a year.

Light Can Play Seesaw at the Nanoscale

September 23, 2014 7:00 am | by Univ. of Minnesota | News | Comments

Electrical engineering researchers have developed a unique nanoscale device that demonstrates mechanical transportation of light. The discovery could have major implications for creating faster and more efficient optical devices for computation and communication.

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Engineers Want National Plan for Flooding

September 22, 2014 2:00 pm | by Associated Press, Geoff Mulvihill | News | Comments

An organization of civil engineers is calling for a national strategy for mitigating flood risks, saying the U.S. has not fully heeded lessons from Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.

Researchers Create Nano-sized Hydrogen Generator

September 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers have created a small-scale hydrogen generator that uses light and a two-dimensional graphene platform to boost production of the hard-to-make element. The research also unveiled a previously unknown property of graphene. The two-dimensional chain of carbon atoms not only gives and receives electrons, but can also transfer them into another substance.

Sensor Gives Robot Greater Dexterity

September 22, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | Videos | Comments

Researchers have equipped a robot with a novel tactile sensor that lets it grasp a USB cable draped freely over a hook and insert it into a USB port. The sensor is small enough to fit on a robot’s gripper and its processing algorithm is fast, so it can give the robot feedback in real time.

Team Smashes Own Quantum Teleportation Record

September 22, 2014 7:00 am | by Université de Genève | News | Comments

Physicists have succeeded in teleporting the quantum state of a photon to a crystal over 25 kilometers of optical fiber. The experiment constitutes a first, and pulverizes the previous record of six kilometers achieved 10 years ago by the same team.

Man-made Proteins Stick Like Glue, Even Underwater

September 22, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, Anne Trafton | News | Comments

Shellfish such as mussels and barnacles secrete very sticky proteins that help them cling to rocks or ship hulls, even underwater. Inspired by these natural adhesives, a team of engineers has designed new materials that could be used to repair ships or help heal wounds and surgical incisions.

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Lemon Juice Can Be Green Tool for Space

September 19, 2014 7:00 am | by ESA | News | Comments

Corrosion resistance and high strength put stainless steel high on the list of essential materials for satellite and rocket designers. Now, ESA plans to investigate an alternative, environmental-friendly method of readying this important metal.

Skintight Spacesuits Offer More Movement, Freedom

September 18, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Jennifer Chu | News | Comments

For future astronauts, the process of suiting up may go something like this: instead of climbing into a conventional, bulky, gas-pressurized suit, one may don a lightweight, stretchy garment, lined with tiny, muscle-like coils. The suit would then be plugged in to a spacecraft’s power supply, triggering the coils to contract and essentially shrink-wrap the garment around the body.

Materials Mimic Octopuses’ Abilities

September 18, 2014 7:00 am | by MIT, David Chandler | Videos | Comments

Cephalopods are able to change both the color and texture of their skin within seconds to blend into their surroundings— a capability that engineers have long struggled to duplicate in synthetic materials. Now, a team has come closer than ever to achieving that goal, creating a flexible material that can change its color or fluorescence and its texture at the same time, on demand, by remote control.

Artificial Beaks May Be Drought Solution

September 18, 2014 7:00 am | by ACS | News | Comments

From the most parched areas of Saudi Arabia to water-scarce areas of the western U.S., the idea of harvesting fog for water is catching on. Now, a novel approach to this process could help meet affected communities’ needs for the life-essential resource.

Chin Strap Harvests the Power of Chewing

September 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Researchers have developed a chin strap that can harvest energy from jaw movements. It is hoped that the device can generate electricity from eating, chewing and talking, and power a number of small-scale implantable or wearable electronic devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, electronic hearing protectors and communication devices.

Nanoribbon Can Keep Glass Ice-free

September 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Scientists who created a deicing film for radar domes have now refined the technology to work as a transparent coating for glass. The new work could keep glass surfaces from windshields to skyscrapers free of ice and fog while retaining their transparency to radio frequencies.

Sharks Inspire Hospital Surfaces to Cut Infections

September 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by BioMed Central | News | Comments

Transmission of bacterial infections, including MRSA and MSSA, could be curbed by coating hospital surfaces with microscopic bumps that mimic the scaly surface of shark skin.

Light Source for Chips Can Be Tuned

September 17, 2014 2:00 pm | by MIT, Larry Hardesty | News | Comments

Chips that use light rather than electricity to move data would consume much less power— and energy efficiency is a growing concern as chips’ transistor counts rise. Now, researchers are describing a new technique for building molybdenum disulfide light emitters tuned to different frequencies, an essential requirement for optoelectronic chips.

California Requires Permits for Self-driving Cars

September 17, 2014 7:00 am | by Associated Press, Justin Pritchard | News | Comments

Computer-driven cars have been testing their skills on California roads for more than four years— but until now, the DMV wasn't sure just how many were rolling around. That changed this week, when the agency issued testing permits that allowed three companies to dispatch 29 vehicles onto freeways and into neighborhoods— with a human behind the wheel in case the onboard computers make a bad decision.

Researchers ID Possible Material for Molecular Electronics

September 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

The emerging field of molecular electronics could take our definition of portable technology to the next level, enabling the construction of tiny circuits from molecular components. A team of researchers has identified a potential candidate for use in small-scale electronics: a molecule called picene.

Scientists Make Quantum Dots Glow Brighter

September 16, 2014 2:00 pm | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Researchers have found a new way, using ultrathin aluminum oxide, to control the properties of quantum dots, those tiny chunks of semiconductor material that glow different colors depending on their size.

Image of the Week: Approach Creates Strong, Conductive Carbon Threads

September 16, 2014 7:00 am | by Rice Univ. | News | Comments

The very idea of fibers made of carbon nanotubes is neat, but scientists are making them neater— literally. The single-walled carbon nanotubes in new fibers line up like a fistful of uncooked spaghetti through a process designed by a chemist and his colleagues.

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