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A piece of steel treated with the graphene varnish, in front of an untreated sample

Hexavalent chromium compounds are a key ingredient in coatings used to rust-proof steel. They also happen to be carcinogenic. Researchers, therefore, have been looking for non-toxic alternatives that could be used to keep steel items from corroding. Recently, scientists from the University at Buffalo announced that they have developed such a substance. It’s a varnish that incorporates graphene, the one-atom-thick carbon sheeting material that is the thinnest and strongest substance known to exist.  Read More

Researchers are working on a vacuum channel transistor that can combines the best traits o...

Most people associate vacuum tubes with a time when a single computer took up several rooms and "debugging" meant removing the insects stuck in the valves, but this technology may be in for a resurgence with news that researchers at NASA and the National Nanofab Center in South Korea are working on a miniaturized "vacuum channel transistor" - a best-of-both-worlds device that could find application in space and high-radiation environments.  Read More

ISS astronauts aboard the Dragon spacecraft, last Saturday morning (Photo: NASA)

After making history last Friday by becoming the first private spacecraft to ever reach the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX’s Dragon capsule was successfully boarded by ISS astronauts the following morning. The interior of the craft was reportedly in good condition, and according to astronaut Don Pettit, it smelled like a new car.  Read More

A close-up view of the microlenses making up the biochip array

When we think of invisibility cloaks, probably the first things that come to mind are Harry Potter-like contraptions that allow people or large objects to instantly disappear. Scientists from the University of Maryland and nearby Towson University, however, today announced their development of something a little different – little being the key word. They have crammed 25,000 tiny “invisibility cloaks” onto a gold sheet, which itself only measures 25 millimeters per side. While the resulting biochip array may not allow any young wizards to vanish from sight, it could allow them to identify biological materials.  Read More

The Dragon spacecraft, held by the ISS manipulator arm (Image: NASA)

Well, it’s official. Just moments ago, the SpaceX Dragon became the first-ever privately-made spacecraft to reach the International Space Station (ISS). “The International Space Station Expedition 31 crew successfully captured the SpaceX Dragon capsule with the station's robotic arm at 9:56 AM EDT,” NASA has stated. “The feat came 3 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes and 23 seconds after the mission's launch. The station was 251 miles over northwest Australia when capture occurred.”  Read More

Lasers have long been used for military applications, as in this US Air Force test, now th...

Weeds are pesky things. They grow everywhere and, by definition, where they’re not wanted. Whether a large-scale farmer or a weekend gardener, everyone who has tried to raise crops has wished that there was a ray gun that could just blast the wretched things out of existence. Now, thanks in part to researchers from the Laser Zentrum Hannover (LZH) at the Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany, that frustrated daydream is closer to reality. Through the use of low-powered infrared lasers, the team has found a way to inhibit weed growth without harming neighboring plants, providing an alternative to expensive, hazardous and environmentally-damaging chemicals.  Read More

Researchers have demonstrated a tractor beam using a Bessel beam (not pictured) is theoret...

Last year, we looked at three potential “tractor beam” technologies being evaluated by NASA to deliver planetary or atmospheric particles to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft. At the time, the third of these, which involved the use of a Bessel beam, only existed on paper. Researchers at Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have now proven the theory behind the concept, demonstrating how a tractor beam can be realized in the real world – albeit on a very small scale.  Read More

A view of the Dragon spacecraft, as seen from the International Space Station today (Photo...

After launching this Tuesday at 3:44 Eastern Daylight Time, SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is now in its third day of low-Earth orbit. The company reports that everything has been going smoothly so far, with “a series of milestones” having been set as the vehicle approaches the International Space Station (ISS).  Read More

UCL researchers have designed a silicon oxide-based memory chip that is faster than flash ...

These days, Flash memory is almost the defacto standard for data storage in consumer devices, being found in everything from PCs and digital cameras, to smartphones and USB thumb drives. But a team of researchers at University College of London (UCL) has developed a new type of memory chip that is much faster than Flash memory, while also offering greater storage densities and requiring much less power. Could the days of Flash memory's dominance be numbered?  Read More

Transmission electron microscopy image of carbon nitride created by the reaction of carbon...

While there are plenty of ways to make carbon-based products from CO2, these methods usually require a lot of energy because the CO2 molecules are so stable. If the energy comes from the burning of fossil fuels, then the net result will be more CO2 entering the atmosphere. Now a material scientist at Michigan Technological University has discovered a chemical reaction that not only soaks up CO2, but also produces useful chemicals along with significant amounts of energy.  Read More

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