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Hematite nanoparticle film (red) with functional phycocyanin network (green) attached

Recently, scientists from the Swiss research institute EMPA, along with colleagues from the University of Basel and the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois took a cue from photosynthesis and discovered that by coupling a light-harvesting plant protein with their specially designed electrode, they could substantially boost the efficiency of photo-electrochemical cells used to split water and produce hydrogen - a huge step forward in the search for clean, truly green power.  Read More

The new diode is made from two silicon rings that measure just 10 microns in diameter and ...

When it comes to speed, photons leave electrons for dead and have a higher bandwidth, which means optical computers will be much faster than their current electron-based cousins. While optical diodes for use in optical information processing systems already exist, these require external assistance to transmit signals so cannot be readily integrated into computer chips. Now researchers at Purdue University have developed a “passive optical diode” that not only doesn’t require any outside help to transmit signals, but is also so small that millions would fit on a computer chip, potentially leading to faster, more powerful information processing and supercomputers.  Read More

Extra electrons harvested from a photon's quantum 'shadow state' could boost the efficienc...

Researchers at the University of Texas say it is possible to hike the energy yield of solar cells by exploiting what they call a photon's "shadow state", doubling the number of electrons that may be harvested in the process. They claim the discovery could up the theoretical maximum efficiency of silicon solar cells from 31 to 44 percent.  Read More

Finnish researchers have developed a method of fuel cell production, that uses 60 percent ...

While fuel cells show a lot of promise for cleanly powering things such as electric cars, there’s something keeping them from being more widely used than they currently are – they can be expensive. More specifically, the catalysts used to accelerate the chemical processes within them tend to be pricey. Work being done at Finland’s Aalto University, however, should help bring down the cost of fuel cells. Using atomic layer deposition (ALD), researchers there are making cells that incorporate 60 percent less catalyst material than would normally be required.  Read More

Sony's battery breaks down paper to create power (Photo: PhysOrg)

We've heard of gadgets being powered by some pretty crazy stuff, but how about paper? Sony recently showed off a new bio-cell battery that breaks down paper in order to create power. A paper battery sounds a little bit far-fetched, but the technology works, and could potentially change how we power devices in the future. So how does it work? The process starts with an enzyme suspended in water. When paper is dropped in, the enzyme starts to break it down and produce glucose that can then be harvested and used to power a battery. Sony described the break down process as similar to how a termite might eat and break down wood.  Read More

Artist's rendering of Kepler-20e (Image: NASA)

NASA has discovered the first earth-size planets outside of our solar system. The discovery was made as part of NASA's Kepler mission and involves the discovery of two planets currently named after the project: Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f. If the Kepler name sounds familiar, that's because NASA also recently announced the discovery of Kepler-22b, the most Earth-like planet discovered to date. Kepler 22b is orbiting a star similar to our sun, and is capable of possessing liquid water, an essential feature for life to exist on a planet.  Read More

IBM has released its Next 5 in 5 predictions for 2011

It’s late December, and that means that it’s time once again for IBM’s Next 5 in 5 list. Every year since 2006, the corporation has put together an annual roundup of the top five emerging technologies that its researchers feel “will change the way we work, live and play” within the next five years. Here’s a look at what caught their attention this year.  Read More

A recent study suggests that global climate may be far less sensitive to carbon dioxide fl...

According to a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation’s Paleoclimate Program, climate change may be far less sensitive to carbon dioxide fluctuations than previously predicted.  Read More

Bioluminescent bacteria fluorescing in sync within a biopixel

By making colonies of bacteria periodically fluoresce, a team of researchers at the University of California San Diego may have hit upon a significant breakthrough in the field of bioluminescence. Though the development has the potential to unplug the neon sign, it may also usher in a new generation of hazard-detecting biological sensors.  Read More

Pumped-up muscle tissue (in blue) in a high performing 'mighty mouse'

He can't fly just yet, but a team of scientists have made a big step towards creating a real-life Mighty Mouse. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, along with two Swiss institutions, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Lausanne, created a batch of super-strong mice and worms by tweaking a gene that normally inhibits muscle growth.  Read More

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