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Researchers at The University of Manchester have made a significant breakthrough in the development of synthetic pathways that will enable renewable biosynthesis of the gas propane. This research is part of a programme of work aimed at developing the next generation of biofuels.
Huge 3D Displays without 3D Glasses: A new invention opens the door to a new generation of outdoor displays. Different pictures can be seen at different angles, creating 3D effects without the need for 3D glasses.
Public screenings have become an important part of major sports events. In the future, we will be able to enjoy them in 3D, thanks to a new invention from Austrian scientists. A sophisticated laser system sends laser beams into different directions. Therefore, different pictures are visible from different angles. The angular resolution is so fine that the left eye is presented a different picture than the right one, creating a 3D effect.
In 2013, the young start-up company TriLite Technologies had the idea to develop this new kind of display, which sends beams of light directly to the viewers’ eyes. The highly interdisciplinary project was carried out together with the Vienna University of Technology.
A Start-up Company and a University Together, TriLite and TU Vienna have created the first prototype. Currently it only has a modest resolution of five pixels by three, but it clearly shows that the system works. “We are creating a second prototype, which will display colour pictures with a higher resolution. But the crucial point is that the individual laser pixels work. Scaling it up to a display with many pixels is not a problem”, says Jörg Reitterer (TriLite Technologies and PhD-student in the team of Professor Ulrich Schmid at the Vienna University of Technology).
Every single 3D-Pixel (also called “Trixel”) consists of lasers and a moveable mirror. “The mirror directs the laser beams across the field of vision, from left to right. During that movement the laser intensity is modulated so that different laser flashes are sent into different directions”, says Ulrich Schmid. To experience the 3D effect, the viewer must be positioned in a certain distance range from the screen. If the distance is too large, both eyes receive the same image and only a normal 2D picture can be seen. The range in which the 3D effect can be experienced can be tuned according to the local requirements.
Hundreds of Images at Once 3D movies in the cinema only show two different pictures – one for each eye. The newly developed display, however, can present hundreds of pictures. Walking by the display, one can get a view of the displayed object from different sides, just like passing a real object. For this, however, a new video format is required, which has already been developed by the researchers. “Today’s 3D cinema movies can be converted into our 3D format, but we expect that new footage will be created especially for our displays – perhaps with a much larger number of cameras”, says Franz Fiedler, CTO of TriLite Technologies.
Compared to a movie screen, the display is very vivid. Therefore it can be used outdoors, even in bright sunlight. This is not only interesting for 3D-presentations but also for targeted advertisements. Electronic Billboards could display different ads, seen from different angles. “Maybe someone wants to appeal specifically to the customers leaving the shop across the street, and a different ad is shown to the people waiting at the bus stop”, says Ferdinand Saint-Julien, CEO of TriLite Technologies. Technologically, this would not be a problem.
Entering the market “We are very happy that the project was so successful in such a short period of time”, says Ulrich Schmid. It took only three years to get from the first designs to a working prototype. The technology has now been patented and presented in several scientific publications. The second prototype should be finished by the middle of the year, the commercial launch is scheduled for 2016.
In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.
That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.
“Instead of asking, ‘How do we study the immune response of the brain?,’ ‘Why do multiple sclerosis patients have the immune attacks?,’ now we can approach this mechanistically – because the brain is like every other tissue connected to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels,” said Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in U.Va.’s Department of Neuroscience and director of U.Va.’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions."
He added, “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. [It’s] hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a neurological disease with an immune component.”
Kevin Lee, who chairs the Department of Neuroscience, described his reaction to the discovery by Kipnis’ lab: “The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation – and they’ve done many studies since then to bolster the finding – that it will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.”
Even Kipnis was skeptical initially. “I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped,” he said. “I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”
The discovery was made possible by the work of Antoine Louveau, a postdoctoral fellow in Kipnis’ lab. The vessels were detected after Louveau developed a method to mount a mouse’s meninges – the membranes covering the brain – on a single slide so that they could be examined as a whole. “It was fairly easy, actually,” he said. “There was one trick: We fixed the meninges within the skullcap, so that the tissue is secured in its physiological condition, and then we dissected it. If we had done it the other way around, it wouldn’t have worked.”
After noticing vessel-like patterns in the distribution of immune cells on his slides, he tested for lymphatic vessels and there they were. The impossible existed. The soft-spoken Louveau recalled the moment: “I called Jony [Kipnis] to the microscope and I said, ‘I think we have something.’”
As to how the brain’s lymphatic vessels managed to escape notice all this time, Kipnis described them as “very well hidden” and noted that they follow a major blood vessel down into the sinuses, an area difficult to image. “It’s so close to the blood vessel, you just miss it,” he said. “If you don’t know what you’re after, you just miss it.
“Live imaging of these vessels was crucial to demonstrate their function, and it would not be possible without collaboration with Tajie Harris,” Kipnis noted. Harris is an assistant professor of neuroscience and a member of the Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. Kipnis also saluted the “phenomenal” surgical skills of Igor Smirnov, a research associate in the Kipnis lab whose work was critical to the imaging success of the study.
The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it. For example, take Alzheimer’s disease. “In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.” He noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore. And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.
A team of scientists have taken quantum teleportation – a method of communicating information from one location to another without having to physically move it – to a higher level by using certain high-dimensional states (which they dubbed “donut” states) for teleportation. Stony Brook University physicist Tzu-Chieh Wei, PhD, and colleagues nationally demonstrated that their method works, is more reliable than previous teleportation schemes, and could be a stepping stone toward building a quantum communications network. Their findings appear in Nature Communications.
The researchers developed entangled elementary particles – in this case photons, the smallest units of light – to transmit information through a shared pair of entangled quantum state of photons – both the sender and receiver have one photon, one half of each entangled pair. In simple communication terms, the process of superdense-teleporting would involve one person to encode information in the form of a quantum state on his photon. Then the person would perform measurement on his photon and then use traditional communication channels (phone or email) to let the other person know what operation to perform on her photon in the laboratory to re-create the same quantum state.
“This process of a re-creation is essentially a transport without having any matter move from location A to location B,” said Dr. Wei, an Assistant Professor in Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University. “Loosely speaking you could also view teleportation as a miniature version of teletransportation in the ‘Star Trek’ movies.”
Dr. Wei also likened the teleportation method as quantum information created and then stored in a kind of invisible parallel “shared folder” for end users. A broadening and testing of this concept could help to form a quantum communications network that could potentially be used to encode and transmit useful quantities of quantum data for scientific experimentation and communication virtually anywhere on earth or in space.
In “Superdense teleportation using hyper-entangled photons,” the team took advantage of the mathematical properties intrinsic to the shape of a donut – or torus, in mathematical terms to use “superdense teleportation.” The work, led by physicist Paul Kwiat of the University of Illinois, built on this new protocol for teleportation that was developed by co-author physicist Herbert Bernstein of Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. The method effectively reduces the resources required to teleport quantum information, while at the same time improving the rate and reliability of the information transfer.
With this new method, the researchers experimentally achieved 88 percent transmission fidelity, twice that of 44 percent, the very best that could be achieved by any system that didn’t have access to the entangled quantum resource. To make the whole process more efficient, the protocol uses pairs of photons that are “hyperentangled” – simultaneously entangled in more than one property, in this case in polarization and in orbital angular momentum – with a restricted number of possible states in each variable. Using multiple properties allows each photon to carry more information than the earlier quantum teleportation experiments.
Electronic mesh has potential to unravel workings of mammalian brain.
A simple injection is now all it takes to wire up a brain. A diverse team of physicists, neuroscientists and chemists has implanted mouse brains with a rolled-up, silky mesh studded with tiny electronic devices, and shown that it unfurls to spy on and stimulate individual neurons.
The implant has the potential to unravel the workings of the mammalian brain in unprecedented detail. “I think it’s great, a very creative new approach to the problem of recording from large number of neurons in the brain,” says Rafael Yuste, director of the Neurotechnology Center at Columbia University in New York, who was not involved in the work.
If eventually shown to be safe, the soft mesh might even be used in humans to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, says Charles Lieber, a chemist at Harvard University on Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the team. The work was published inNature Nanotechnology on 8 June1.
Neuroscientists still do not understand how the activities of individual brain cells translate to higher cognitive powers such as perception and emotion. The problem has spurred a hunt for technologies that will allow scientists to study thousands, or ideally millions, of neurons at once, but the use of brain implants is currently limited by several disadvantages. So far, even the best technologies have been composed of relatively rigid electronics that act like sandpaper on delicate neurons. They also struggle to track the same neuron over a long period, because individual cells move when an animal breathes or its heart beats.
The Harvard team solved these problems by using a mesh of conductive polymer threads with either nanoscale electrodes or transistors attached at their intersections. Each strand is as soft as silk and as flexible as brain tissue itself. Free space makes up 95% of the mesh, allowing cells to arrange themselves around it.
Background: A three-dimensional virtual world (3DVW) is a computer-simulated electronic 3D virtual environment that users can explore, inhabit, communicate, and interact with via avatars, which are graphical representations ...
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Boron nitride is a chemical compound with chemical formula BN, consisting of equal numbers of boron and nitrogen atoms. BN is isoelectronic to a similarly structured carbon lattice and thus exists in various crystalline forms. The hexagonal form corresponding to graphite is the most stable and softest among BN polymorphs, and is therefore used as a lubricant and an additive to cosmetic products. The cubic (sphalerite structure) variety analogous to diamond is called c-BN. Its hardness is inferior only to diamond, but its thermal and chemical stability is superior. The rare wurtzite BN modification is similar to lonsdaleite and may even be harder than the cubic form.
Because of excellent thermal and chemical stability, boron nitride ceramics are traditionally used as parts of high-temperature equipment. Boron nitride has potential use in nanotechnology. Nanotubes of BN can be produced that have a structure similar to that of carbon nanotubes, i.e. graphene (or BN) sheets rolled on themselves, but the properties are very different.
Three-dimensional structures of boron nitride are a viable candidate as a tunable material to keep electronics cool, according to scientists at Rice University researchers Rouzbeh Shahsavari and Navid Sakhavand. Their work appears this month in the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces.
In its two-dimensional form, hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), aka white graphene, looks just like the atom-thick form of carbon known as graphene. One difference: h-BN is a natural insulator, where perfect graphene presents no barrier to electricity (is a natural electrical conductor).
But like graphene, h-BN is a also a good conductor of heat, which can be quantified in the form of phonons. (Technically, a phonon is a “quasiparticle” in a collective excitation of atoms.) “Typically in all electronics, it is highly desired to get heat out of the system as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. “One of the drawbacks in electronics, especially when you have layered materials on a substrate, is that heat moves very quickly in one direction, along a conductive plane, but not so good from layer to layer. Multiple stacked graphene layers is a good example of this.”
Heat moves ballistically across flat planes of boron nitride, too, but the Rice simulations showed that 3-D structures of h-BN planes connected by boron nitride nanotubes would be able to move phonons in all directions, whether in-plane or across planes, Shahsavari said.
1,4-BUTANEDIOL ISN’T EXACTLY the flashiest product on the market: with a four-carbon chain bounded by alcohol groups, the thick, colorless liquid is one of those “industrial chemicals” that makes the eyes glaze over. But the diminutive molecule is worth some serious cash, with an estimated global market cap of $2 billion. Ultimately, 1,4-butanediol, also known as BDO, facilitates the production of a range of plastics, polyurethanes, and elastic fibers, making everything from skateboards to Spandex possible.
Keira Havens is the co-founder of Revolution Bioengineering, and this week the company launched a crowd funding campaign to produce flowers that can change colors.
And what is the revolution?
“We want to change the world,” says Keira. “We really want to make a difference in the way people think about biotechnology. For a long time it’s been the realm of large companies and behind-the-scenes labs, and we want to make it a part of folks' everyday lives.”
Keira hopes that a genetically engineered plant product which is not eaten or produced by a big company will not be as threatening to those afraid of GMOs and might possible affect the ongoing debate over genetically modified products.
The flower will not be available until 2017. So it will be some time before Keira and her team are turning a pumpkin into a stagecoach.
What if you could design a house that would be encapsulated in a seed? Then to build that house you just had to plant the seed and add water. The Bio/Nano/Programmable Matter group at Autodesk Research is working to make this possible.
New research at the University of Arkansas suggests that methanogens -- among the simplest and oldest organisms on Earth -- could survive on Mars.
Methanogens, microorganisms in the domain Archaea, use hydrogen as their energy source and carbon dioxide as their carbon source, to metabolize and produce methane, also known as natural gas. Methanogens live in swamps and marshes, but can also be found in the gut of cattle, termites and other herbivores as well as in dead and decaying matter.
Methanogens are anaerobic, so they don't require oxygen. They don't require organic nutrients, either, and are non-photosynthetic, indicating they could exist in sub-surface environments and therefore are ideal candidates for life on Mars.
Rebecca Mickol, a doctoral student in space and planetary sciences, found that in the laboratory, four species of methanogens survived low-pressure conditions that simulated a subsurface liquid aquifer on Mars.
"These organisms are ideal candidates for life on Mars," Mickol said.
"All methanogen species displayed survival after exposure to low pressure, indicated by methane production in both original and transfer cultures following each experiment. This work represents a stepping-stone toward determining if methanogens can exist on Mars."
Physicists developing a prototype quantum hard drive have improved storage time by a factor of more than 100
The team’s record storage time of six hours is a major step towards a secure worldwide data encryption network based on quantum information, which could be used for banking transactions and personal emails.
“We believe it will soon be possible to distribute quantum information between any two points on the globe,” said lead author Manjin Zhong, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering (RSPE).“
Quantum states are very fragile and normally collapse in milliseconds. Our long storage times have the potential to revolutionise the transmission of quantum information.” Quantum information promises unbreakable encryption because quantum particles such as photons of light can be created in a way that intrinsically links them. Interactions with either of these entangled particles affect the other, no matter how far they are separated.
The team of physicists at ANU and the University of Otago stored quantum information in atoms of the rare earth element europium embedded in a crystal. Their solid-state technique is a promising alternative to using laser beams in optical fibers, an approach which is currently used to create quantum networks around 100 kilometers long.
“Our storage times are now so long that it means people need to rethink what is the best way to distribute quantum data,” Ms Zhong said. “Even transporting our crystals at pedestrian speeds we have less loss than laser systems for a given distance.”
“We can now imagine storing entangled light in separate crystals and then transporting them to different parts of the network thousands of kilometers apart. So, we are thinking of our crystals as portable optical hard drives for quantum entanglement.” After writing a quantum state onto the nuclear spin of the europium using laser light, the team subjected the crystal to a combination of a fixed and oscillating magnetic fields to preserve the fragile quantum information.
“The two fields isolate the europium spins and prevent the quantum information leaking away,” said Dr Jevon Longdell of the University of Otago. The ANU group is also excited about the fundamental tests of quantum mechanics that a quantum optical hard drive will enable.
"We have never before had the possibility to explore quantum entanglement over such long distances," said Associate Professor Matthew Sellars, leader of the research team.
“We should always be looking to test whether our theories match up with reality. Maybe in this new regime our theory of quantum mechanics breaks.” Their research is published in Nature.
Soft matter encompasses a broad swath of materials, including liquids, polymers, gels, foam and — most importantly — biomolecules. At the heart of soft materials, governing their overall properties and capabilities, are the interactions of nano-sized components. Observing the dynamics behind these interactions is critical to understanding key biological processes, such as protein crystallization and metabolism, and could help accelerate the development of important new technologies, such as artificial photosynthesis or high-efficiency photovoltaic cells.
Observing these dynamics at sufficient resolution has been a major challenge, but this challenge is now being met with a new non-invasive nanoscale imaging technique that goes by the acronym of CLAIRE.
CLAIRE stands for “cathodoluminescence activated imaging by resonant energy transfer.” Invented by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) Berkeley, CLAIRE extends the extremely high resolution of electron microscopy to the dynamic imaging of soft matter.
“Traditional electron microscopy damages soft materials and has therefore mainly been used to provide topographical or compositional information about robust inorganic solids or fixed sections of biological specimens,” says chemist Naomi Ginsberg, who leads CLAIRE’s development and holds appointments with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division and its Materials Sciences Division, as well as UC Berkeley’s departments of chemistry and physics.
“CLAIRE allows us to convert electron microscopy into a new non-invasive imaging modality for studying soft materials and providing spectrally specific information about them on the nanoscale.”
Ginsberg is also a member of the Kavli Energy NanoScience Institute (Kavli-ENSI) at Berkeley. She and her research group recently demonstrated CLAIRE’s imaging capabilities by applying the technique to aluminum nanostructures and polymer films that could not have been directly imaged with electron microscopy.
“What microscopic defects in molecular solids give rise to their functional optical and electronic properties? By what potentially controllable process do such solids form from their individual microscopic components, initially in the solution phase? The answers require observing the dynamics of electronic excitations or of molecules themselves as they explore spatially heterogeneous landscapes in condensed phase systems,” Ginsberg says.
“In our demonstration, we obtained optical images of aluminum nanostructures with 46 nanometer resolution, then validated the non-invasiveness of CLAIRE by imaging a conjugated polymer film. The high resolution, speed and non-invasiveness we demonstrated with CLAIRE positions us to transform our current understanding of key biomolecular interactions.”
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