AUSTIN, Texas — A technological leap sits on the horizon, with exciting capabilities like quantum computing, soft robotics and more coming down the pike. To bring these ideas to reality will require engineering new classes of materials that make up their building blocks. (more…)
Tag Archives: building blocks
Researchers from North Carolina State University, Duke University and the University of Copenhagen have created the world’s largest DNA origami, which are nanoscale constructions with applications ranging from biomedical research to nanoelectronics.
“These origami can be customized for use in everything from studying cell behavior to creating templates for the nanofabrication of electronic components,” says Dr. Thom LaBean, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper describing the work. (more…)
Berkeley Lab Researchers Discover New Rules for Single-Particle Imaging with Light-Emitting Nanocrystals
The term a “brighter future” might be a cliché, but in the case of ultra-small probes for lighting up individual proteins, it is now most appropriate. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered surprising new rules for creating ultra-bright light-emitting crystals that are less than 10 nanometers in diameter. These ultra-tiny but ultra-bright nanoprobes should be a big asset for biological imaging, especially deep-tissue optical imaging of neurons in the brain.
Working at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE national nanoscience center hosted at Berkeley Lab, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by James Schuck and Bruce Cohen, both with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, used advanced single-particle characterization and theoretical modeling to study what are known as “upconverting nanoparticles” or UCNPs. Upconversion is the process by which a molecule absorbs two or more photons at a lower energy and emits them at higher energies. The research team determined that the rules governing the design of UCNP probes for ensembles of molecules do not apply to UCNP probes designed for single-molecules. (more…)
Physicists at the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are uncovering the fundamental physical laws that govern the behavior of cellular materials.
“We don’t have any tools or formalism to think about these types of materials, and that’s what we’ve been trying to go after,” said Margaret Gardel, professor in physics at UChicago. Gardel and Jennifer Ross of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are supported in this work by a four-year, $800,000 INSPIRE grant from the National Science Foundation. (more…)
UD faculty members discuss 2013 prize-winners at annual symposium
Today’s chemists might work at a computer as often as in a laboratory, medical researchers studying conditions such as diabetes rely on understanding how cells carry and deposit materials within the body, and average investors in the market increasingly buy index funds to average out the short-term ups and downs of individual stocks.
The discoveries that led to these changes are among the work that was honored by this year’s Nobel Prizes. (more…)
Most of what scientists know of Jupiter’s moon Europa they have gleaned from a dozen or so close flybys from NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1979 and NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the mid-to-late 1990s. Even in these fleeting, paparazzi-like encounters, scientists have seen a fractured, ice-covered world with tantalizing signs of a liquid water ocean under its surface. Such an environment could potentially be a hospitable home for microbial life. But what if we got to land on Europa’s surface and conduct something along the lines of a more in-depth interview? What would scientists ask? A new study in the journal Astrobiology authored by a NASA-appointed science definition team lays out their consensus on the most important questions to address.
“If one day humans send a robotic lander to the surface of Europa, we need to know what to look for and what tools it should carry,” said Robert Pappalardo, the study’s lead author, based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. “There is still a lot of preparation that is needed before we could land on Europa, but studies like these will help us focus on the technologies required to get us there, and on the data needed to help us scout out possible landing locations. Europa is the most likely place in our solar system beyond Earth to have life today, and a landed mission would be the best way to search for signs of life.” (more…)
AUSTIN, Texas — Researchers from Amherst College and The University of Texas at Austin have described a new technique that might one day reveal in higher detail than ever before the composition and characteristics of the deep Earth.
There’s just one catch: The technique relies on a fifth force of nature (in addition to gravity, the weak and strong nuclear forces and electromagnetism) that has not yet been detected, but which some particle physicists think might exist. Physicists call this type of force a long-range spin-spin interaction. If it does exist, this exotic new force would connect matter at Earth’s surface with matter hundreds or even thousands of kilometers below, deep in Earth’s mantle. In other words, the building blocks of atoms—electrons, protons, and neutrons—separated over vast distances would “feel” each other’s presence. The way these particles interact could provide new information about the composition and characteristics of the mantle, which is poorly understood because of its inaccessibility. (more…)
UCLA-created nanoscale protein containers could aid drug, vaccine delivery
UCLA biochemists have designed specialized proteins that assemble themselves to form tiny molecular cages hundreds of times smaller than a single cell. The creation of these miniature structures may be the first step toward developing new methods of drug delivery or even designing artificial vaccines.
“This is the first decisive demonstration of an approach that can be used to combine protein molecules together to create a whole array of nanoscale materials,” said Todd Yeates, a UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry and a member of the UCLA–DOE Institute of Genomics and Proteomics and the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA. (more…)