Fingerprints in birefringence

Stimuli-sensitive materials can respond to physical forces with structural phase transitions. This also applies to biopolymer-surfactant mixtures, a study by German and Chinese scientists now reports. Surprisingly, the newly adopted phases persist after removal of the stress and can be detected by a simple optical read-out technology. Biometric fingerprint detection is an attractive application for this technology. The results are published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

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Matter & Energy 

Using 3-D X-rays to measure particle movement inside lithium ion batteries

Lithium ion batteries have come a long way since their introduction in the late 1990s. They’re used in many everyday devices, such as laptop computers, mobile phones, and medical devices, as well as automotive and aerospace platforms, and others. However, lithium ion battery performance still can decay over time, may not fully charge after many charge/discharge cycles, and may discharge quickly even when idle. Researchers at the University of Illinois applied a technique using 3D X-ray tomography of an electrode to better understand what is happening on the inside of a lithium ion battery and ultimately build batteries with more storage capacity and longer life.

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Non-plasma high-speed anisotropic diamond etching with nickel in 1000°C water vapor

World energy consumption has been increasing year by year, and a global-scale energy shortage is of great concern. Because of this reason, it is important to use the energy (electricity) produced by power generation even more efficiently, the key to which is the development of power devices*1) that control the electric power. The present mainstream Si power devices have been highly developed but their performance is thought to be close to maximum, which means that further development becomes very difficult.

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Students taught by highly qualified teachers more likely to obtain bachelor’s degree

Previous research has shown that teachers play a pivotal role in their students’ academic success — or lack thereof. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has found that high school students taught by a string of teachers who majored or minored in a specific teaching subject, instead of a general teaching degree, are more likely to become college graduates. The researcher says that schools can use this new knowledge to find new ways to increase their number of highly qualified teachers and make student success a collective effort.

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Remote control of transport through nanopores

In our bodies, the transfer of genetic information, viral infections and protein trafficking, as well as the synthesis and the degradation of biomolecules, are all phenomena that require the transport of molecules through channels. Improving our control of these channels and the capacity of molecules to get across could have many potential applications in the fields of energy, biotechnology and medicine. These include ultra-fast DNA sequencing, detection of biological markers used in disease diagnostics, protein folding, high-resolution determination of the size of biological molecules or even the control of ion or biomolecule transport through the protein sensor. In a new study published in EPJ E, Manuela Pastoriza-Gallego from the University Paris-Seine, France, and colleagues have shown how to alter external factors, such as external voltage, to control the transport of a dextran sulfate molecule — a polyelectrolyte — through the nanopores of the aerolysin protein channel.

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