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  • April 3, 2014
  • 06:41 PM

Iron, Carbon May Replace Platinum as PEM Fuel Cell Catalysts

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

A research team from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) has discovered a new type of iron and carbon-based catalyst, which is stable and active in both acidic and alkaline media, and may even eliminate the need for platinum in catalysts and thus revolutionize the proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell industry.... Read more »

  • April 2, 2014
  • 05:33 PM

Scientists Get Closer to Artificial Photosynthesis

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory in collaboration with researchers from Arizona State University have found a way to imitate Photosystem II, the first protein complex in the long chain of reactions that use energy from the sun to create usable fuel. ... Read more »

Megiatto Jr, J., Méndez-Hernández, D., Tejeda-Ferrari, M., Teillout, A., Llansola-Portolés, M., Kodis, G., Poluektov, O., Rajh, T., Mujica, V., Groy, T.... (2014) A bioinspired redox relay that mimics radical interactions of the Tyr–His pairs of photosystem II. Nature Chemistry. DOI: 10.1038/nchem.1862  

  • March 31, 2014
  • 05:18 PM

Researchers Gain Insight Into Organic Solar Cell Efficiency

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Research from North Carolina State University reveals that organic solar cell efficiency is based upon a delicate balance between the size and purity of the interior layers, or domains. These findings may lead to better designs and improved performance in organic solar cells.... Read more »

  • March 31, 2014
  • 07:43 AM

Engineered Bacterium to Produce Rocket Fuel

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications.... Read more »

Sarria, S., Wong, B., Martín, H., Keasling, J., & Peralta-Yahya, P. (2014) Microbial Synthesis of Pinene. ACS Synthetic Biology, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/sb4001382  

  • March 29, 2014
  • 01:37 PM

Supercomputers, The Human Brain and the Advent of Computational Biology

by JB Sheppard in Antisense Science

What makes a supercomputer different from a human brain, and how is this leading to a better understanding of ourselves? ... Read more »

  • March 29, 2014
  • 10:28 AM

Ionic Liquid Resistance Mechanism to Advance Biofuel Production

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a multi-institutional partnership led by Berkeley Lab, have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this ionic liquid resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels.... Read more »

Ruegg, T., Kim, E., Simmons, B., Keasling, J., Singer, S., Soon Lee, T., & Thelen, M. (2014) An auto-inducible mechanism for ionic liquid resistance in microbial biofuel production. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4490  

  • March 28, 2014
  • 10:00 AM

Highly unusual proteinaceous infectious agents probed by hydrogen/deuterium exchange

by Clay Clark in Biochem Blogs

  Prion proteins are implicated in a perplexing class of infectious diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Prion proteins are ubiquitous among mammals with roughly 90% sequence identity across species. TSEs include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle, AKA mad cow disease.  The disease ontology involves the conversion of the cellular […]... Read more »

Smirnovas Vytautas, Baron Gerald S, Offerdahl Danielle K, Raymond Gregory J, Caughey Byron, & Surewicz Witold K. (2011) Structural organization of brain-derived mammalian prions examined by hydrogen-deuterium exchange. Nature Structural , 18(4), 504-506. DOI: 10.1038/nsmb.2035  

  • March 27, 2014
  • 05:27 PM

Researchers Observe Microstructural Degradation in Li-Ion Battery in 3D

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have made the first 3D observations of how the structure of a lithium-ion battery anode evolves at the nanoscale in a real battery cell as it discharges and recharges.... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 04:38 PM

Fragmented Carbon Nanotube Macrofilms Hold Promise for Better Batteries

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

The electrodes in lithium-ion batteries typically comprise three components: active materials, conductive additives, and binders. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Delaware has discovered that fragmented carbon nanotube macrofilms may eliminate the need for binders.... Read more »

  • March 26, 2014
  • 11:25 AM

New Solar Cell Moonlights as Light Panel

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) scientists have developed a next-generation solar cell material which can also emit light, in addition to converting light to electricity.... Read more »

Xing, G., Mathews, N., Lim, S., Yantara, N., Liu, X., Sabba, D., Grätzel, M., Mhaisalkar, S., & Sum, T. (2014) Low-temperature solution-processed wavelength-tunable perovskites for lasing. Nature Materials. DOI: 10.1038/nmat3911  

  • March 23, 2014
  • 02:30 PM

Nanopillars of nanotubes! A novel method to drastically improve charge transport in hybrid nanotube devices

by Jonathan Trinastic in Goodnight Earth

A new article demonstrates a method to drastically increase the conductivity of hybrd CNT-polymer devices using nano-engineering!... Read more »

  • March 22, 2014
  • 06:59 AM

The Explosive Brain

by Neuroskeptic in Neuroskeptic_Discover

A few months ago, I blogged about The Hydraulic Brain – an unorthodox theory which proposed that brain function is not electrical, but mechanical. On this view, neuroscientists have it all wrong, because nerve impulses are in fact physical waves of pressure that travel down neurons as if the brain were made up of billions […]The post The Explosive Brain appeared first on Neuroskeptic.... Read more »

  • March 21, 2014
  • 09:44 AM

New Processing Method Makes LEDs Brighter, More Stable

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new processing technique that makes light emitting diodes (LEDs) brighter and more resilient by coating the semiconductor material gallium nitride (GaN) with a layer of phosphonic acid derivatives.... Read more »

  • March 21, 2014
  • 06:29 AM

Dioxin exposure and autistic traits?

by Paul Whiteley in Questioning Answers

As promised in a previous post, today I'm turning my attention to the paper by Muneko Nishijo and colleagues [1] and their conclusion of "a specific impact of perinatal TCDD [2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin] on autistic traits in childhood, which is different from the neurotoxicity of total dioxins (PCDDs/Fs) [polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins/furans]".TCDD @ Wikipedia With all the recent chatter about [surrogate] environmental markers and the numbers of cases of autism spectrum disorders and environmental toxicants and autism risk it is indeed timely that the Nishijo paper comes to publication now. Environmental factors, however you wish to define this, are certainly no stranger to autism research, and are fast finding a place in the autism research psyche, perhaps in part due to the rise and rise of the science of epigenetics (see here) as a bridge between genetics and environment. Genes, or rather the blueprint that is your genome, might not necessarily be your destiny and all that jazz...The Nishijo paper in a little more detail:Set in Vietnam, which it has to be said, has seen more than its fair share of chemical exposures in recent history, the authors looked at the possibility of perinatal dioxin exposure being linked to the presence of autistic traits based on a sample of 153 infants. This follows other work by this group looking at dioxin exposure and more generalised infant neurodevelopment [2] as part of a wider research agenda. Dioxins for those who might not know, are categorised as environmental pollutants, and because of their biological persistence, are deemed pretty hazardous to human and other animal health (see the WHO fact sheet here). It's accurate that I mentioned Agent Orange in reference to the chemical load witnessed in Vietnam because Agent Orange was contaminated with TCDD - the chemical name for dioxin -  and there are some very scary quotes about TCDD being for example "perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man". The US IOM report 'Veterans and Agent Orange' provides some sober reading on the topic.Scare tactics aside, the authors assessed the levels of TCDD in breast milk as part of a larger analysis of various other dioxins (PCDDs, PCDFs) based on analysis of samples via GC-MS. Actually quite a good overview of their methods can be found in another paper by this group [3] (open-access). Data from these analyses were transformed to form something called the TEQ (Toxic Equivalent) which basically gives you some idea of the toxicity of these classes of compounds relative to TCDD. TCDD has a value of 1 so setting the gold standard of toxicity. Offspring were followed-up based on the use of the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition (Bayley-III) and specifically with autism in mind, the Autism Spectrum Rating Scales (ASRS).  Results: exposure groups (mild and high) were determined according to a cut-off level of 3.5 pg/g fat of TCDD being detected and results were reported according to gender. So: "The high-2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) exposed groups... showed significantly higher Autism Spectrum Rating Scale (ASRS) scores for both boys and girls than the mild-TCDD exposed groups, without differences in neurodevelopmental scores". This indicates some kind of dose-dependent relationship between TCDD exposure and autistic traits in study participants. When it came to looking at any connection between other PCDDs/Fs and autistic traits, nothing significant was picked up. Ergo, TCDD exposure seemed to have specifically impacted on infant autistic traits.These are interesting results, of that there is no doubt. I could start to go on about correlation not being the same as causation, or how the ASRS might not necessarily have been the best instrument to use in this particular instance given it being standardised on American children and not officially translated into Vietnamese. That also it is not a professionally-administered instrument is another potential gap. But I'm not going to let all that get too far in the way of the Nishijo findings.I see from some of the additional data from this paper that there were some other differences noted across the high and mild TCDD exposure groups which may be relevant to the results. When comparing boys and girls in the high and mild exposure groups, I note that mean birth weight was lower in the high exposed group compared to the mild exposed group (average 2920g vs. 3298g respectively) for boys. Realising that low birth weight is not an exclusively autism-correlated phenomena (see here) one might however consider this to be something which could potentially have affected the results obtained.As per the discussions about the geographical location of this study [4], one of the question which then needs to be asked is whether the possibility of a TCDD exposure link is something applicable to other areas and other cases of autism/autistic traits. I'm no expert on TCDD so cannot readily answer this question aside from directing you to some data from the US Environmental Protection Agency on sources of TCDD. It does appear that there are quite a few potential sources of TCDD; although food seems to be the most widely cited source of exposure in modern times. By saying that I'm not trying to panic anyone, given that many countries do monitor foods for dioxin levels (see here) and act accordingly when high levels are detected.Still, if we assume that there may be many roads towards a diagnosis of autism or the presentation of autistic traits, and that those roads may not be the same in every part of the world, the Nishijo results make for an interesting addition to the research landscape. As to mechanisms of effect, well take your pick; TCDD is categorised an endocrine disruptor so potentially falling into the same type of effect as that discussed by R... Read more »

  • March 20, 2014
  • 06:15 PM

Nanotube Networks Boost Solar Cell Efficiency

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Researchers at Umeå University in Sweden have discovered that a controlled placement of carbon nanotubes into nanotube networks produces a huge boost in electronic performance.... Read more »

  • March 19, 2014
  • 11:22 AM

Reason Behind Li-Ion Battery Degradation Discovered

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Even the best Li-ion batteries degrade with time. A reason for this Li-ion battery degradation was now identified by researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin for Materials and Energy (HZB).... Read more »

Rana, J., Stan, M., Kloepsch, R., Li, J., Schumacher, G., Welter, E., Zizak, I., Banhart, J., & Winter, M. (2013) Structural Changes in Li MnO Cathode Material for Li-Ion Batteries . Advanced Energy Materials. DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201300998  

  • March 19, 2014
  • 10:00 AM

Probing the allosteric site of MDM2 during P53 binding using hydrogen/deuterium exchange

by Clay Clark in Biochem Blogs

Exchanging hydrogen for deuterium allows one to explore many facets of protein:protein interactions. Allostery is an important characteristic of some proteins that gives fine tuned control over an active site or substrate binding pocket. MDM2 is an important negative regulator of p53. p53 has a crucial role in many physiological pathways such as DNA repair. When DNA undergoes a […]... Read more »

  • March 17, 2014
  • 01:52 PM

‘Breathing’ Battery Could Extend EVs’ Range

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

Researchers are reporting new progress on a “breathing” battery that has the potential to one day replace the lithium-ion technology of today’s EVs. This lithium-air battery technology could boost the range of EVs toward a 300 miles or even more.... Read more »

  • March 17, 2014
  • 08:56 AM

Process Converts Natural Gas to Liquid Alcohol Fuel

by dailyfusion in The Daily Fusion

America’s current energy boom may take a new direction thanks to the discovery of a new way to turn raw natural gas to liquid alcohol fuel.... Read more »

Hashiguchi, B., Konnick, M., Bischof, S., Gustafson, S., Devarajan, D., Gunsalus, N., Ess, D., & Periana, R. (2014) Main-Group Compounds Selectively Oxidize Mixtures of Methane, Ethane, and Propane to Alcohol Esters. Science, 343(6176), 1232-1237. DOI: 10.1126/science.1249357  

  • March 15, 2014
  • 07:05 AM

Le carbone pyrolytique, c'est fantastique

by Dr. Goulu in Pourquoi Comment Combien

Découvert l'existence d'une forme de carbone méconnue : le carbone pyrolytique. C'est un empilement de couches de graphène moins régulier que dans le graphite *.

Cependant le graphite n'est formé que de minuscules cristaux comme ceux qui partent en poudre au bout de votre mine de crayon, alors qu'on est capable de produire des plaques de carbone pyrolytique de quelques centimètres de côté.

Les propriétés de ce matériau sont vraiment étonnantes.... Read more »

Kobayashi M, & Abe J. (2012) Optical motion control of maglev graphite. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 134(51), 20593-6. PMID: 23234502  

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