Sunday, May 06, 2007

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

Cell splits water via sunlight to produce hydrogen:
Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a unique photocatlytic cell that splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen in water using sunlight and the power of a nanostructured catalyst. The group is developing novel methodologies for synthesis of nanostructured films with superior opto-electronic properties.

Scientists offer new view of photosynthesis:
During the remarkable cascade of events of photosynthesis, plants scavenge nearly every photon of available light energy to produce food. In the May 4 issue of Science, an ASU Biodesign Institute team led by Neal Woodbury has published new insights that allow plants or bacteria to harness light energy efficiently even when conditions aren't optimal. The answers may be good news for organic solar cell technology, a low cost alternative to traditional silicon solar cells.

Solar breakthrough could lead to cheaper power:
Solar energy could become more affordable following a breakthrough by Australian scientists, who have boosted the efficiency of solar cell technology.

Princeton physicists connect string theory with established physics:
String theory, simultaneously one of the most promising and controversial ideas in modern physics, may be more capable of helping probe the inner workings of subatomic particles than was previously thought, according to a team of Princeton University scientists.

IBM brings nature to computer chip manufacturing:
IBM today announced the first-ever application of a breakthrough self-assembling nanotechnology to conventional chip manufacturing, borrowing a process from nature to build the next generation of computer chips.

Molecular rendezvous caught on camera:
A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research in Stuttgart, the Fraunhofer Institute in Freiburg, and King's College in London, has filmed pairs of molecules during recognition processes, which are vital to the functioning of organisms. As reported to the journal Angewandte Chemie, the shapes of the molecules change to accommodate each other.

Quantum dot recipe may lead to cheaper solar panels:
Rice University scientists have developed a new method for cost-effectively producing four-armed quantum dots that have previously been shown to be particularly effective at converting sunlight into electrical energy. The discovery, which appears this week in the journal Small, could clear the way for better, cheaper solar energy panels.

How the brain's backup system compensates for stroke:
Researchers have pinpointed in humans how a "backup" brain region springs into action to compensate for disruption of a primary functional area, as happens during stroke. Their finding offers new insight into how the brains of stroke victims can quickly reorganize to enable the beginning of recovery of movement.



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