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Earth

Inside the Active Volcano On Montserrat 42

Roland Piquepaille writes "An international team of researchers has begun collecting imaging data on the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat, which has been erupting regularly since 1995. They're using the equivalent of a CAT scan to understand its internal structure and how and when it erupts. The experiment is dubbed SEA-CALIPSO and 'will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber.' Early results are surprising. Quoting one of the leading scientists: 'The interesting thing is that much more magma is erupting than appears represented by the subsiding bowl. ... The magma volume in Montserrat eruptions is much larger than anyone would estimate from the surface deformation, because of the elastic storage of magma in what is effectively a huge magma sponge.'"
Technology

The First Paper-Based Transistors 177

Roland Piquepaille found news of research out of Portugal that has resulted in the first paper-based transistors (the original article is less informative than Roland's blog). More precisely, they've made the first field effect transistors (FET) with a paper interstrate layer. According to the research team, such transistors offer the same level of performance as 'state-of-the-art, oxide-based thin film transistors produced on glass or crystalline silicon substrates.' Possible applications include disposable electronics devices, such as paper displays, smart labels, bio-applications or RFID tags. The research will be published in IEEE Electron Device Letters in September.
Space

First Reflected Light From an Exoplanet Seen 72

Roland Piquepaille writes "European astronomers have for the first time ever been able to detect and monitor the visible light that is scattered in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. Designated HD 189733b, also known as a 'hot Jupiter,' orbits a star slightly cooler and less massive than the Sun about 60 light-years from Earth. According to a Zurich news release, 'Polarization technique focuses limelight,' the researchers used 'techniques similar to how Polaroid sunglasses filter away reflected sunlight to reduce glare. They also directly traced the orbit of the planet, a feat of visualization not possible using indirect methods.' The team thinks that their findings are opening new opportunities for exploring physical conditions on exoplanets."
Power

A New Way To Make Water, And Fuel Cells 107

Roland Piquepaille writes "You probably know that it is easy to combine hydrogen and oxygen to make water. After all, this chemical reaction is known for more than two centuries. But now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have discovered a new way to make water. As states the UIUC report, 'not only can they make water from unlikely starting materials, such as alcohols, their work could also lead to better catalysts and less expensive fuel cells.' But be warned: don't read the technical paper itself. It could win an obfuscated contest — if such a contest existed for scientific papers." Yet another advance in fuel cell technology; we discussed a different one just the other day.
Biotech

GMOs Perfected Down to the Chromosome Level 469

Roland Piquepaille writes "If don't like the concept of 'Frankenfoods,' I have bad news for you. U.S. researchers have developed an artificial chromosome for corn plants. The Chicago Tribune reports that researchers can now make chromosomes to order. These artificial chromosomes are accepted as natural by the plants and passed through generations. As the Monsanto Company bought rights to use this mini-chromosome stacking technology in corn, cotton, soybeans, and canola, I guess we'll soon eat food made from permanently genetically modified organisms (PGMOs?)."
Science

New Plastic to Cut CO2 Emissions and Purify Water 120

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers have lots of imagination. After developing plastic as solid as steel, other scientists from in Australia, Korea and in the U.S. have created a plastic which could cut CO2 emissions and purify water. Their new material mimics pores found in plants and is exceptionally efficient. As said one of the lead researchers, 'it can separate carbon dioxide from natural gas a few hundred times faster than current plastic membranes and its performance is four times better in terms of purity of the separated gas.' Now it remains to be seen if commercial companies are interested, either for water desalination or for natural gas processing plants."

Nanotechnology Boosts Solar Cell Performance 176

Roland Piquepaille writes "Physicists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) say they have improved the performance of solar cells by 60 percent. And they obtained this spectacular result by using a very simple trick. They've coated the solar cells with a film of 1-nanometer thick silicon fluorescing nanoparticles. The researchers also said that this process could be easily incorporated into the manufacturing process of solar cells with very little additional cost. Read more for additional references and a photo of a researcher holding a silicon solar cell coated with a film of silicon nanoparticles."
Supercomputing

A Single-Photon Server 75

Roland Piquepaille writes "A team of German physicists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics has built a single-photon server with just one atom. They've trapped ultra cold atoms of rubidium in a vacuum chamber and applied laser pulses from one side. The generated photons were of 'high quality,' meaning their energy was very similar from one test to another, and that their properties could be controlled. The researchers think this new way to generate single photons will help the field of quantum information processing. "

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