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Submission + - Perovskite phosphor could boost visible light communication (acs.org)

ckwu writes: LEDs are increasingly used to illuminate homes and offices; soon, the same lights could also transmit data to your computer or smartphone in photon pulses so fast the eye can’t see them. But this form of visible light communication--sometimes called Li-Fi--faces two key challenges: The light must flicker fast enough to carry sizeable amounts of data; and at the same time it should provide the warm, balanced color tones needed for pleasant ambient lighting. Nanocrystals of a perovskite, cesium lead bromide, could help to solve both problems. Researchers have found that LEDs coated with the material can reach high data transmission rates of 2 gigabits per second, comparable to Wi-Fi. The device also produced a warm white light with a color rendering index of 89, as good as white LEDs already on the market (natural sunlight itself is rated at 100).

Submission + - Plugged particles pack in natural gas (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Developing a compact, lightweight, and low-cost technology for storing natural gas has been a critical hurdle for its widespread adoption as a vehicle fuel. Now, researchers have devised a method to boost the methane storage capacity of porous adsorbent materials, which can then be kept and transported at low pressure. The trick is to seal high-pressure methane gas inside porous beads using hydrocarbon plugs that can be slowly removed to release the gas, effectively turning the beads into tiny gas tanks. The coated beads store twice the amount of methane as uncoated beads at a low 0.1 megapascal of pressure. For use in vehicles, adsorbent pellets loaded with natural gas could be stored in lightweight cartridges that could be swapped out at a gas station, the researchers say.

Submission + - Methamphetamine Vaccine Appears to Block High in Mice

JMarshall writes: "To help overcome the destructive brain chemistry of drug addiction, scientists are developing vaccines that block drugs from generating a high or even reverse an overdose. Researchers have now created a vaccine that cultivates a potent immune response against methamphetamine. Rodents given the vaccine didn’t become as hyperactive after a dose of methamphetamine as those that weren’t immunized against the stimulant."

Submission + - Stale beer? There's an app for that (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Chemists have developed a simple way to measure a beer’s freshness, using only a smartphone and a color-changing polymer film. The film detects the compound furfural, which rises in concentration as beer ages and gives it a musty taste. When dipped in beer, the polymer film changes color from pale yellow to pink based on the amount of furfural present, and a smartphone app interprets the color and provides the furfural concentration. The app is not really designed for consumers, but for brewers who want to do a quick check on their beer immediately before shipping.

Submission + - Simple Method Yields A Wrinkly, Durable, Water-Repellent Coating (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Superhydrophobic coatings that make water droplets dance and roll off of a surface show promise for applications such as self-cleaning cars, buildings, and food processing equipment. A new method creates a durable superhydrophobic coating by combining two common materials—Teflon and a shrinkable plastic—in a few simple steps. The researchers took inspiration from work done with the polystyrene material found in Shrinky Dinks--the children's crafting kit. They deposited Teflon onto a similar material called PolyShrink, heated it, and found that the Teflon formed a crinkled surface that helped water to bead and roll off easily. The best results came from putting Teflon onto polyolefin, a shrink wrap material. What's more, the surface is durable and repels water even after being scratched.

Submission + - Insect sugar could treat fatty liver disease

JMarshall writes: Fatty liver disease is a major health problem, affecting about a billion people worldwide. A simple sugar may point the way to a treatment. Researchers have known that trehalose, a sugar made by insects and other organisms, initiates “spring cleaning” in cells—clearing out old proteins and other cluttery molecules. In a new study, they show that by triggering this process, trehalose can help liver cells in mice remove excess fat, preventing fatty liver disease in the animals. Animals that drank trehalose-spiked water and then ate an unhealthy diet had significantly lower levels of genetic markers for fatty liver disease, as well as lower amounts of triglycerides and cholesterol in their livers, compared with mice that ate the diet but didn’t consume trehalose.

Submission + - Insects and plants inspire a water-harvesting surface (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Taking inspiration from beetles, cacti, and pitcher plants, scientists have created a water-harvesting surface that condenses moisture six times faster than state-of-the art synthetic surfaces. The researchers created an aluminum surface with millimeter-sized asymmetric bumps modeled after those on the backs of Namib Desert beetles, which help the insects collect water in their dry home climate. The team decided to make the bumps asymmetric based on the asymmetric spines cacti use to efficiently transport water. Finally, the researchers took inspiration from the pitcher plant’s molecularly smooth surface and applied a nanocoating of either mineral oil or polydimethylsiloxane to the bumps to make water drops move faster. The new surface could be used for heat exchange, dehumidification, and desalination applications.

Submission + - How Lead Ended Up In Flint's Tap Water (acs.org)

JMarshall writes: Lead contamination is the most troubling in a series of water problems that have plagued Flint, Michigan since the summer of 2014. All of them were caused by corrosion in the lead and iron pipes that distribute water to city residents. When the city began using the Flint River as its water source in April 2014, it didn’t adequately control the water’s ability to corrode those pipes. This led to high lead levels, rust-colored tap water, and possibly the growth of pathogenic microbes.

Environmental engineers talk about the chemistry behind the Flint water crisis and explain the one thing the city could have done to prevent the whole catastrophe.

Submission + - Self-Propelling Microparticles Spot Ricin In Minutes (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Tiny rocketlike particles that move around on their own in a hydrogen peroxide solution can detect trace amounts of the lethal toxin ricin within minutes. The tube-shaped, microsized particles--made of graphene oxide lined with platinum--carry sensor molecules that glow when they bind to ricin. In a dilute hydrogen peroxide solution, the platinum catalyzes the breakdown of the peroxide into water and oxygen. The oxygen bubbles shoot out one end of the tube, propelling them in the liquid like little rockets. The swimming motors could actively seek out ricin in a sample and speed up detection, paving the way toward a quick, easy way to detect the bioterrorism agent in food and water samples without having to bring them back to a lab.

Submission + - How Lead Ended Up In Flint's Tap Water (acs.org)

MTorrice writes: Lead contamination is the most troubling in a series of water problems that have plagued Flint, Michigan since the summer of 2014. All of them were caused by corrosion in the lead and iron pipes that distribute water to city residents. When the city began using the Flint River as its water source in April 2014, it didn’t adequately control the water’s ability to corrode those pipes. This led to high lead levels, rust-colored tap water, and possibly the growth of pathogenic microbes.

Environmental engineers talk about the chemistry behind the Flint water crisis and explain the one thing the city could have done to prevent the whole catastrophe.

Submission + - Carbon Nanotube Films Stronger Than Kevlar (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Carbon nanotubes are exceptionally strong and stretchy. But so far, films made out of them have come nowhere close to having the mechanical strength of individual nanotubes. Researchers now report a simple fabrication method to make carbon nanotube films that are five times as strong as those made before—and stronger than films made from Kevlar or carbon fiber. The films had an average tensile strength of 9.6 gigapascals. By comparison, Kevlar fibers and commercially used carbon fibers are around 3.7 and 7 GPa, respectively. The films are also four times as pliable as conventional carbon fibers, able to elongate 8% on average.

Submission + - Estimating Damages From The VW Emissions Scandal (acs.org)

ckwu writes: Last year, the news broke that in the U.S. almost 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles, model years 2009 to 2015, contain software that altered engine performance and lowered emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) during emissions tests but not during normal driving. A new study calculates the societal impact of this extra NOx: 46 excess expected deaths and $430 million in excess damages. U.S. regulators have filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker alleging violations of the Clean Air Act.

Submission + - Sketchable, stretchable circuits

JMarshall writes: A new, elastic silver ink allows stretchy circuits to be drawn using a regular pen. Unlike previous inks, which have been made with silver nanoparticles and are prone to clog pens over time, this ink begins as a silver salt mixed with adhesive rubber. After writing, the ink is brushed with a formaldehyde and sodium hydroxide solution that reduces the silver ions to conductive silver nanoparticles. Researchers strung 14 LED lights together using the ink. The lights stayed lit even through stretching and bending the rubber sheet the circuit was drawn on.

Submission + - Some 3-D-Printed Parts May Leach Toxic Chemicals (acs.org)

ckwu writes: As 3-D printers become cheaper and more popular, researchers are starting to investigate the potential health and environmental impacts of the technology. A new study shows that parts made by a common 3-D printing method, stereolithography, are toxic to zebrafish, a model organism often used to predict toxicological effects on humans. The researchers hypothesize that acrylate and methacrylate monomers in the resin that don't get fully polymerized could be leaching from the parts. On the other hand, 3-D-printed parts made with another technique, fused deposition modeling, didn't appear to be toxic to zebrafish. The findings are too preliminary to draw conclusions about human toxicity, but they suggest that 3-D printing waste should be carefully managed to prevent harm to ecosystems.

Submission + - Wildflowers give bees a dose of pesticides

JMarshall writes: Wildflowers growing near fields sown with pesticide-treated seeds can be reservoirs of bee-harming neonicotinoid compounds, according to new research. The study suggests bees get most of their exposure to these pesticides from wildflowers, rather than from the crops the pesticides are designed to protect. At the peak of flowering season, 97% of the pollen brought back to beehives tested in the UK came from wildflowers, not the canola crops they were growing alongside.

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