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Pennsylvania State University

Artist's conception of WISE J1049-5319, with the brightly shining Sun 6.5 light years away...

In a day when we have examined astronomical objects shining forth from a time shortly after the Big Bang, one would think astronomers have a pretty good handle on what is in the immediate vicinity of the Solar System. That's why the recent report of a binary star lying only 6.5 light-years away came as rather a surprise to the astronomical community. The pair, called WISE J1049-5319 A and B, are brown dwarf stars and only two star systems – the triple star Alpha Centauri, and Barnard's Star – lie closer to our Sun.  Read More

Habitable zone distances around various types of stars (Image: Chester Herman)

Researchers at Penn state have developed a new method for calculating the habitable zone around stars. The computer model based on new greenhouse gas databases provides a tool to better estimate which exoplanets with sufficient atmospheric pressure might be able to maintain liquid water on their surface. The new model indicates that some of the nearly 300 possible Earth-like planets previously identified might be too close to their stars to to be habitable.  Read More

A cross-sectional image of the new silicon-based optical fiber with solar-cell capabilitie...

Imagine forgetting to plug in your smartphone, but then not worrying because your clothes could charge it for you. It sounds surreal, but it may one day be reality. An international team of scientists and engineers led by John Badding, a professor of chemistry at Penn State University, have developed a silicon-based optical fiber that acts like a solar cell and offers the promise of fabric that can generate electricity from light.  Read More

A newly-developed polymer might find use in the clean-up of oil spills  (Photo: Shuttersto...

As the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed us, we need to develop better ways of cleaning up oil spills. While many ideas have been put forth, scientists from Pennsylvania State University have come up with something that particularly shows promise – a polymer that soaks up 40 times its weight in oil.  Read More

Researchers at Penn State University used the prototype cell-sorting device to successfull...

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University have developed a new prototype cell-sorting device which uses sound waves to arrange cells far more efficiently than before. The advance in efficiency presents the possibility that future medical analytical devices could be scaled-down to a size much smaller than is currently the case.  Read More

Penn State researchers have developed a way to manufacture starch fibers, which might lead...

Should you rip it off fast or slow? Researchers at Penn State may have found the elusive third, painless option. Professor Greg Ziegler and research assistant Lingyan Kong have developed a process that spins starch into fine strands, creating fibers that could be woven into low-cost toilet paper, napkins and biodegradable bandages that don't need to be ripped off at all.  Read More

This carbon nanotube sponge can hold more than 100 times its weight in oil, which can be s...

Last week we looked at the development of “hydrate-phobic” surfaces that could assist in the containment of oil leaks in deep water. Now, by adding boron to carbon while growing nanotubes, researchers have developed a nanosponge with the ability to absorb oil spilled in water. Remarkably, the material is able to achieve this feat repeatedly and is also electrically conductive and can be manipulated with magnets.  Read More

Light pulses (white spheres) traveling down the optical fiber can be converted into electr...

When data is transmitted as pulses of light along a fiber optic cable, chips at either end of that cable must convert the data from and back into an electronic signal - this is what allows an outgoing video image to be converted into light pulses, then back into video at the receiving end, for instance. There are a number of technical challenges in coupling chips to fibers, however. Now, an international team of scientists are developing an alternative ... fiber optics with the electronics built right into the fiber.  Read More

A new system that incorporates LED lighting and radio frequency communications could be us...

It baffles me that some people enjoy shopping. There’s not much that I like about it, but I particularly dislike searching through the aisles, trying in vain to find the product that I’m looking for. While I’m not adverse to asking a store employee for assistance, it seems that in many big box retailers, employees are either non-existent or are already busy with other customers. A new system is in development, however, that would allow customers to find the locations of products via the store’s overhead LED lighting.  Read More

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu from QUT Chemistry with the titanate nanofiber that can remove rad...

Nuclear power plants are located close to sources of water, which is used as a coolant to handle the waste heat discharged by the plants. This means that water contaminated with radioactive material is often one of the problems to arise after a nuclear disaster. Researchers at Australia's Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have now developed what they say is a world-first intelligent absorbent that is capable of removing radioactive material from large amounts of contaminated water, resulting in clean water and concentrated waste that can be stored more efficiently.  Read More

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