Graphene Optical Lens a Billionth of a Meter Thick Breaks the Diffraction Limit

Slashdot - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:54pm
Zothecula writes: With the development of photonic chips and nano-optics, the old ground glass lenses can't keep up in the race toward miniaturization. In the search for a suitable replacement, a team from the Swinburne University of Technology has developed a graphene microlens one billionth of a meter thick that can take sharper images of objects the size of a single bacterium and opens the door to improved mobile phones, nanosatellites, and computers.

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Graphene is ideal substrate for brain electrodes, researchers find

Kurzweil AI - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:47pm

This illustration portrays neurons interfaced with a sheet of graphene molecules in the background (credit: Graphene Flagship)

An international study headed by the European Graphene Flagship research consortium has found that graphene is a promising material for use in electrodes that interface with neurons, based on its excellent conductivity, flexibility for molding into complex shapes, biocompatibility, and stability within the body.

The graphene-based substrates they studied* promise to overcome problems with “glial scar” tissue formation (caused by electrode-based brain trauma and long-term inflammation). To avoid that, current electrodes based on tungsten or silicon use a protective coating on electrodes, which reduces charge transfer. Current electrodes are also rigid (resulting in tissue detachment and preventing neurons from moving) and generate electrical noise, with partial or complete loss of signal over time, the researchers note in a paper published recently in the journal ACS Nano.

Electrodes are used as neural biosensors and for prosthetic applications — such as deep-brain intracranial electrodes used to control motor disorders (mainly epilepsy or Parkinson’s) and for brain-computer interfaces (BCIs), used to recover sensory functions or control robotic arms for paralyzed patients. These applications require an interface with long-term, minimal interference.

Interfacing graphene to neurons directly

Scanning electron microscope image of rat hippocampal neurons grown in the lab on a graphene-based substrate, showing normal morphology characterized by well-defined round neural soma, extended neurite arborization (branching), and cell density similar to control substrates (credit: A. Fabbro et al./ACS Nano)

“For the first time, we interfaced graphene to neurons directly, without any peptide-coating,” explained lead neuroscientist Prof. Laura Ballerini of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA/ISAS) and the University of Trieste.

Using electron microscopy and immunofluorescence, the researchers found that the neurons remained healthy, transmitting normal electric impulses and, importantly, no adverse glial reaction, which leads to damaging scar tissue, was seen.

Atomic force microscope (AFM) image of graphene-based substrate created using liquid phase exfoliation (credit: A. Fabbro et al./ACS Nano)

As a next step, Ballerini says the team plans to investigate how different forms of graphene, from multiple layers to monolayers, are able to affect neurons,  and “whether tuning the graphene material properties might alter the synapses and neuronal excitability in new and unique ways.”

Prof. Andrea C. Ferrari, Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre and Chair of the Graphene Flagship Executive Board, said the Flagship will “support biomedical research and development based on graphene technology with a new work package and a significant cash investment from 2016.”

The interdisciplinary collaboration also included the University Castilla-La Mancha and the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

* The study used two methods of creating graphene-based substrates (GBSs).  Liquid phase exfoliation (LPE) — peeling off graphene from graphite — can be performed without the potentially hazardous chemical treatments involved in graphene oxide production, is scalable, and operates at room temperature, with high yield. LPE dispersions can also be easily deposited on target substrates by drop-casting, filtration, or printing. Ball milling (BM), with the help of melamine (which forms large hydrogen-bond domains, unlike LPE), can be performed in a solid environment. “Our data indicate that both GBSs are promising for next-generation bioelectronic systems, to be used as brain interfaces,” the paper concludes.

Categories: Science

Microsoft Serves Cloud From the Sea Bed

Slashdot - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:35pm
judgecorp writes: A Microsoft Research project to run a data center underwater was so successful the team actually delivered commercial Azure cloud services from the module, which was 1km off the US Pacific coast for three months. The vessel, dubbed Leona Philpot after a Halo character, is a proof of concept for Project Natick, which proposes small data centers that could be submerged for five years or more, serving coastal communities.

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Mechanical 'trees' swaying in the wind: Turning good vibrations into energy

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:27pm
A project is testing whether high-tech objects that look a bit like artificial trees can generate renewable power when they are shaken by the wind -- or by the sway of a tall building, traffic on a bridge or even seismic activity.
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Emerald and gold: Two new precious-eyed endemic tree frog species from Taiwan

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:25pm
Two endemic tree frog species, not recognized by science until now, have been identified in broadleaf forests in the island country of Taiwan. Unlike their siblings from mainland China and Southern Asia, they demonstrate reproductive behavior, characterized with egg-eating tadpole embryos feeding on eggs, while still inside the mother's womb. What told them apart initially, however, were their gemstone-colored eyes.
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Global plant conservation's phase one: The world checklist of hornworts and liverworts

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:25pm
Although Charles Darwin himself voiced his intention to compile a complete catalog of all known plant species more than a century ago, such is yet to be realized. However, an international research team now present the first ever worldwide checklist of hornworts and liverworts, prepared as a part of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation aiming to list the whole plant kingdom by 2020.
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Orion’s Jewels Glisten This Winter! | Skywatching Video

Space.com - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:14pm
The winter sky dominating Orion constellation holds a bevy of targets for skywatchers including: Red supergiant Betelgeuse, triple star system Rigel, the Orion Nebula and more.
Categories: Science

Sesame Street Is Getting Into Venture Capital. This Isn’t a Joke

Wired News - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 2:01pm

VC is for venture capital, and it's coming to Sesame Street.

The post Sesame Street Is Getting Into Venture Capital. This Isn’t a Joke appeared first on WIRED.











Categories: Science

New type of nanowires, built with natural gas heating

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:57pm
A new simple, cost-effective approach that may open up an effective way to make other metallic/semiconducting nanomaterials. According to the research team, this method is simple, reproducible, size-controllable, and cost-effective in that lithium-ion batteries could also benefit from it.
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More efficient DNA technology for targeted disease detection, treatment

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:56pm
A more efficient DNA technology to detect and treat infectious diseases and cancer has been developed by researchers.
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Running "rm -rf<nobr> <wbr></nobr>/" Is Now Bricking Linux Systems

Slashdot - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:56pm
An anonymous reader writes: For newer systems utilizing UEFI, running rm -rf / is enough to permanently brick your system. While it's a trivial command to run on Linux systems, Windows and other operating systems are also prone to this issue when using UEFI. The problem comes down to UEFI variables being mounted with read/write permissions and when recursively deleting everything, the UEFI variables get wiped too. Systemd developers have rejected mounting the EFI variables as read-only, since there are valid use-cases for writing to them. Mounting them read-only can also break other applications, so for now there is no good solution to avoid potentially bricking your system, but kernel developers are investigating the issue.

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Vaginal microbes can be partially restored to c-section babies

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:53pm
A simple swab to transfer vaginal microbes from a mother to her C-section-delivered newborn can alter the baby's microbial makeup (microbiome) in a way that more closely resembles the microbiome of a vaginally delivered baby, a small pilot study has demonstrated.
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Olfactory receptors in the blood respond to Sandalore

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
Human blood cells have olfactory receptors that respond to Sandalore. This could provide a starting point for new leukemia therapies, as researchers report.
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Small birds prefer flying in company

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
Until now, scientists had observed that some large birds are sociable among each other. However, a new study has confirmed that this unique characteristic can also be seen among smaller birds such as the Eurasian siskin, a bird which is able to form bonds that last for a number of years as well as travel long distances in the company of these birds. This intimacy may favor reproduction in addition to facilitating the process of adjusting to a new place.
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Future help for stroke patients with language problems

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
A new method of analysis to distinguish between stroke patients with language problem has been developed by a brain researcher. The result may be individualized treatment for each patient.
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Bio-inspired biomimetics can outperform natural coenzymes

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
Researchers have developed a range of synthetic biomimetic compounds to replace the relatively expensive natural NADH and NADPH coenzymes in enzymatic conversions of industrial relevance. They show that some of the compounds even outperform their natural counterparts.
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Quirky cooling: The quantum fridge

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
When cold milk is poured into a hot cup of tea, a temperature equilibrium is reached very quickly. The milk droplets and the tea particles interact, and after a few moments they all have the same average energy. This process is called thermalization. It plays a crucial role in cooling down gases to ultra-low temperatures. But surprisingly, even gases for which this effect is suppressed can be cooled. Scientists took a closer look at this phenomenon and found a special quantum-mechanical kind of cooling at work.
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Cells chat via cannabinoids, about your future diabetes

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:50pm
The level of glucose in human blood depends on the continuous cooperation between two types of cells in the pancreas. Alpha cells secrete glucagon hormone that increases glucose in blood, while the beta cells secrete insulin, the hormone decreasing glucose concentration. Scientists have recently discovered that the alpha and beta cells communicate with each other, and the central role in this communication is played by cannabinoids – organic compounds that occur in nature also in inflorescences of cannabis. In recent studies it has also been shown that cannabinoids have an impact on the identity of the beta cells, and in human embryos they may lead to significant changes in the architecture of a forming pancreatic islets.
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Ring- and arc-shaped pores drive stressed cells to a programmed death

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:48pm
Damaged cells can commit suicide by a process of apoptosis, or programmed cell death. If this mechanism fails to work properly, the cell can become cancerous. Scientists are helping to explain important steps in the process of apoptosis. They know from previous studies that apoptosis begins with the activation of what are known as Bax proteins. If a cell is under stress, Bax proteins deposit on the surface of mitochondria in symmetrical pairs. The researchers then observed that the otherwise impermeable shell of the mitochondria becomes permeable – letting through cytochrome c. Once that happens, the process of cellular death cannot be reversed. But what happened in between was a mystery which for a long time puzzled apoptosis researchers. Now Ana García-Sáez and her team have been able to use a supermicroscope to watch how Bax proteins form pores in the mitochondrial shell, making it permeable.
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Pulsating glaciers of Svalbard behave differently

Science Daily - Mon, 01/02/2016 - 1:48pm
One of the many dangers resulting from global warming is the melting of glaciers. To ascertain how this will affect sea levels in the future, it is important to know how glaciers behave.  
Categories: Science