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— Science

Black silicon could boost efficiency of traditional solar cells

By - October 3, 2012 2 Pictures
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications have developed a system that allows solar cells to effectively harvest energy from the infrared spectrum, tapping into a source of energy that in the past has mostly been out of reach. The new technology, which promises to work well with commercially available solar cells, has the potential of becoming a standard in the solar panels of tomorrow. Read More
— Science

NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes record electromagnetic "Earthsong"

By - October 2, 2012 14 Pictures
NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) took a musical interlude and listened to the Earth singing to itself. This “Earthsong,” as NASA calls it, was recorded by the two spacecraft as they orbited inside the highly radioactive Van Allen Belts that surround the Earth. The “song” is in the form of radio waves generated by the belts and the study of it may provide a clue toward answering the question of how to protect satellites and astronauts from deadly radiation storms. Read More
— Science

Infrared technology offers faster wireless data transfer than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

By - October 2, 2012 1 Picture
Back around the turn of the century, infrared ports for wireless data transfer over short distances were commonplace on many mobile devices. But it wasn't long before infrared communication technology was kicked to the curb in favor of the more versatile radio-based Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies. Fraunhofer researchers are looking to resurrect infrared wireless data transfer technology with the development of a “multi-gigabit communication module” that can wirelessly transfer data 46 times faster than Wi-Fi and 1,430 times faster than Bluetooth. Read More

The battery of the future might run on sugar

Researchers at the Tokyo University of Science have turned to sugar as part of a continuous effort to control Japan's growing import costs associated with building lithium-ion batteries. It seems that sugar may be the missing ingredient for building rechargeable batteries that are more robust, cheaper, and capable of storing more energy. Read More
— Science

Bi-Fi: New cell-to-cell communication process could revolutionize bioengineering

By - September 30, 2012 2 Pictures
The internet has revolutionized global communications and now researchers at Standford University are looking to provide a similar boost to bioengineering with a new process dubbed “Bi-Fi.” The technology uses an innocuous virus called M13 to increase the complexity and amount of information that can be sent from cell to cell. The researchers say the Bi-Fi could help bioengineers create complex, multicellular communities that work together to carry out important biological functions. Read More
— Science

SMART tool compensates for surgeons' hand tremors

By - September 28, 2012 1 Picture
No matter how steady you try to hold your hand, it will still tremble several times a second, moving a distance roughly the same as the thickness of a sheet of paper each time. While that might not matter much for the average person, it can be a very big deal to surgeons performing fine-scale surgery on things like eyes or nerve fibers. While there are experimental robotic devices to help smooth out the shakes, researchers from Johns Hopkins University have come up with something else – a surgical tool with a jiggling tip. Read More
— Science

Discovery of element 113 confirmed nine years after first detection

By - September 28, 2012 12 Pictures
Led by Dr. Kosuke Morita at the RIKEN Nishina Center for Accelerator-based Science, a group of scientists specializing in the superheavy elements have established the clearest evidence yet for the synthesis of the a new element with the temporary name of ununtrium (element 113). Claims of discovering a new element in the 21st century are usually the result of lengthy experiments involving new detection methods and element 113, which was first reported in 2003, has been particularly elusive. Read More
— Science

Curiosity completes first rock inspection, unveils Stars and Stripes

By - September 27, 2012 8 Pictures
NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover reached another pair of milestones over the past week. Last Saturday, the 4x4-sized lander touched its first rock with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) mounted on its seven-foot (2.1 m) robotic arm. Then on Wednesday, 50 Martian days into the mission, Curiosity took its longest drive yet as it rolled 160 feet (48.9 meters) eastward toward the Glenelg area. It also took the opportunity to show off the American flag. Read More
— Science

Flexible, high-strength polymer aerogels deliver "super-insulation" properties

By - September 27, 2012 4 Pictures
Often called "frozen smoke", aerogels are among the amazing materials of our time, with fifteen Guinness Book of World Records entries to their name. However, despite their list of extreme properties, traditional aerogels are brittle, crumbling and fracturing easily enough to keep them out of many practical applications. A new class of mechanically robust polymer aerogels discovered at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Ohio may soon enable engineering applications such as super-insulated clothing, unique filters, refrigerators with thinner walls, and super-insulation for buildings. Read More
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