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— Science

Modifier protein could increase crop yields, even in poor conditions

By - January 15, 2014 1 Picture
Researchers have discovered a new way to increase plant growth by suppressing the natural response to environmental stress. The scientists have found a modifier protein that can be used to interfere with the plant's growth repression proteins independently of the previously identified hormone Gibberellin. They believe this will lead to higher crop yields, even in unfavorable conditions. Read More
— Science

Thousands of Australian bees are getting tagged for research

By - January 15, 2014 2 Pictures
Bees are integral to the pollination of major crops around the world, so the more that we understand how they go about their business, the better we can facilitate the process and thereby boost yields. With this in mind, scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are taking the unprecedented step of equipping up to 5,000 honeybees with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. Read More
— Science

Graphene-based solar cell hits record 15.6 percent efficiency

By - January 14, 2014 1 Picture
In 2012, researchers from the University of Florida reported a record efficiency of 8.6 percent for a prototype solar cell consisting of a wafer of silicon coated with a layer of graphene doped with trifluoromethanesulfonyl-amide (TFSA). Now another team is claiming a new record efficiency of 15.6 percent for a graphene-based solar cell by ditching the silicon all together. Read More
— Science

Remote-controlled spermbots could be used to fertilize eggs

By - January 14, 2014 3 Pictures
Hijacking sperm cells to create little robots might seem far out, but that's exactly what researchers from the Dresden Institute for Integrative Nanosciences have done. Their "spermbots" consist of live sperm cells in little tubes, that can be magnetically controlled to move in a desired direction until they reach their destination and do their job – they're currently robust enough to even guide a specific sperm cell to an egg cell. The scientists hope that further development will allow the technology to offer a viable alternative to parents trying to have a child through in-vitro fertilization. When perfected, the spermbots could also be used as a safe means for drug delivery and gene manipulation. Read More
— Science

Organic flow battery could transform renewable energy storage

By - January 14, 2014 2 Pictures
Researchers at Harvard have developed an inexpensive, high capacity, organic battery that uses carbon-based materials as electrolytes rather than metals. The researchers say the technology stands to be a game-changer in renewable energy storage by solving the intermittent generation problems faced by renewable sources, such as wind and solar. The battery offers large volume electricity storage not possible with solid-state batteries and at a fraction of the cost of existing flow battery technology. Read More
— Science

World's smallest windmills to power cell phones

By - January 13, 2014 3 Pictures
Professor J.C. Chiao and his postdoc Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a MEMS-based nickel alloy windmill so small that 10 could be mounted on a single grain of rice. Aimed at very-small-scale energy harvesting applications, these windmills could recharge batteries for smartphones, and directly power ultra-low-power electronic devices. Read More
— Science

Two-in-one nanoparticles exploit tumor cells to precisely deliver multiple drugs

By - January 9, 2014 3 Pictures
A common strategy for treating tumors is combining two or more drugs, which has the effect of decreasing toxicity and increasing the synergistic effects between the drugs. However, the efficacy of this kind of cocktail treatment suffers when the drugs require access to different parts of the cell, a bit like fighting a battle by depositing all your archers on the same spot as your infantrymen. By making use of nanoparticle-based carriers, researchers at North Carolina State University are able to transport multiple drugs into cancerous cells optimally and precisely, in maneuvers that any field commander would be proud of. Read More
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