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Mar 23

By Y. Tanizawa, Y. Okamoto, K. Tsuzuki, Y. Nagao, N. Yoshida, R. Tero, S. Iwasa, A. Hiraishi, Y. Suda, H. Takikawa, R. Numano, H. Okada, R. Ishikawa and A. Sandhu, in J. Phys.: Conf. Ser. 352 012011 doi:10.1088/1742-6596/352/1/012011

Abstract: The wide-ranging industrial application of graphene and related compounds has led researchers to devise methods for the synthesis of high quality graphene. We recently reported on the chemical synthesis, patterning, and doping of graphene films by the chemical exfoliation of graphite into graphene oxide (GO) with subsequent chemical reduction into graphene films [1, 2]. Here, we describe a hybrid approach for the synthesis of reduced graphene sheets, where chemically derived GO was reduced by microorganisms extracted from a riverside near the University. Our procedure enabled the production of ~100 μm sized reduced graphene sheets, which showed excellent Raman spectra associated with high quality reduced graphene. We give a detailed account of the relationship between the type of microorganisms and the properties of the resulting reduced graphene.

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Mar 22

Reported by Caroline McCall, MIT News Office, March 2012.

A new imaging system could use opaque walls, doors or floors as ‘mirrors’ to gather information about scenes outside its line of sight.


In December, MIT Media Lab researchers caused a stir by releasing a slow-motion video of a burst of light traveling the length of a plastic bottle. But the experimental setup that enabled that video was designed for a much different application: a camera that can see around corners.

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Mar 21

Reported by Science Daily, 21 March 2012.

Electron one-way street. In this dual channel, electrons (blue) move on defined, parallel paths. Only one single electron fits through at a time. By means of tunnel coupling, the electron can switch back and forth between the channels, thus occupying two different states, which are denoted by “arrow up” and “arrow down”. The electron virtually flies in both tracks at the same time, its two states overlap. (Credit: © Andreas Wieck)

The alphabet of data processing could include more elements than the “0″ and “1″ in future. An international research team has achieved a new kind of bit with single electrons, called quantum bits, or qubits. With them, considerably more than two states can be defined. So far, quantum bits have only existed in relatively large vacuum chambers. The team has now generated them in semiconductors. They have put an effect in practice, which the RUB physicist Prof. Dr. Andreas Wieck had already theoretically predicted 22 years ago. This represents another step along the path to quantum computing.

Together with colleagues from Grenoble and Tokyo, Wieck from the Chair of Applied Solid State Physics reports on the results in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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Mar 19

Reported by Megan Fellman, in Northwestern University News, 16 March 2012.

Who wouldn’t pay a penny for a sports car? That’s the mentality some popular online auctions take advantage of — the opportunity to get an expensive item for very little money.

In a study of hundreds of lowest unique bid auctions, Northwestern University researchers asked a different question: Who wins these auctions, the strategic gambler or the lucky one? The answer is the lucky. But, ironically, it’s a lucky person using a winning strategy.

The researchers found that all players intuitively use the right strategy, and that turns the auction into a game of pure chance. The findings, published by the journal PLoS One, provide insight into playing the stock market, real estate market and other gambles.

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Mar 18

Reported by Catherine Zandonella, in Princeton University News-Stories,  14 March 2012.

Princeton University researchers have used a novel virtual reality and brain imaging system to detect a form of neural activity underlying how the brain forms short-term memories that are used in making decisions.

By following the brain activity of mice as they navigated a virtual reality maze, the researchers found that populations of neurons fire in distinctive sequences when the brain is holding a memory. Previous research centered on the idea that populations of neurons fire together with similar patterns to each other during the memory period.

The study was performed in the laboratory of David Tank, who is Princeton’s Henry L. Hillman Professor in Molecular Biology and co-director of the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Both Tank and Christopher Harvey, who was first author on the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the time of the experiments, said they were surprised to discover the sequential firing of neurons. The study was published online on March 14 in the journal Nature. Continue reading »

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Mar 16

Reported by Jennifer Marcus, in UCLA Newsroom, 15 March 2012.

Electrochemical capacitors (ECs), also known as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, differ from regular capacitors that you would find in your TV or computer in that they store sustantially higher amounts of charges. They have garnered attention as energy storage devices as they charge and discharge faster than batteries, yet they are still limited by low energy densities, only a fraction of the energy density of batteries. An EC that combines the power performance of capacitors with the high energy density of batteries would represent a significant advance in energy storage technology. This requires new electrodes that not only maintain high conductivity but also provide higher and more accessible surface area than conventional ECs that use activated carbon electrodes. Continue reading »
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Mar 10

Reported by Bob Yirka, in PhysOrg weblog, 5 March 2012.

The past several years have seen a virtual explosion in the amount of research dedicated to graphene and as a result there has been a nearly constant stream of news pertaining to new discoveries regarding its attributes. Now it appears, graphene is about to be upstaged by a more interesting cousin called graphyne. Graphene, as most everyone is aware by now, is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal or chicken-wire pattern. Graphyne is also a single layer of carbon atoms, but it comes in several different types of patterns, which likely make it more versatile. Now new computer simulations regarding its properties have been done by a team of researchers in Germany, who report in Physical Review Letters, that their research shows that some types of graphyne structures allow for electron flow in just one direction.

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Mar 09

Reported by Tanguy Chouard, Nature, 22 Feb. 2012.

From the day he was born — 23 June 1912 — Alan Mathison Turing seemed destined to solitude, misunderstanding and persecution (see page 441). As his centenary year opens, Nature hails him as one of the top scientific minds of all time (see page 440). This special issue sweeps through Turing’s innumerable achievements, taking us from his most famous roles — wartime code-breaker and founder of computer science (see page 459) — to his lesser known interests of botany, neural nets, unorganized machines, quantum physics and, well, ghosts (see page 562).

Everyone sees a different Turing. A molecular biologist might surprise you by saying that Turing’s most important paper is his 1936 work on the ‘Turing machine’ because of its relevance to DNA-based cellular operations (see page 461). A biophysicist could instead point to his 1952 work on the formation of biological patterns — the first simulation of nonlinear dynamics ever to be published (see page 464). Continue reading »

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Mar 02

Reported by Christine Vu, IBM Press Release, 28 Feb. 2012.

- Latest results bring device performance near the minimum requirements for implementation of a practical quantum computer.
- Scaling up to hundreds or thousands of quantum bits becomes a possibility.

Scientists at IBM Research (NYSE: IBM)/ (#ibmresearch) have achieved major advances in quantum computing device performance that may accelerate the realization of a practical, full-scale quantum computer. For specific applications, quantum computing, which exploits the underlying quantum mechanical behavior of matter, has the potential to deliver computational power that is unrivaled by any supercomputer today.

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Mar 01

Reported by , in Wired Science, 27 Feb. 2012.

In the movie Fantastic Voyage, a crack surgical team is miniaturized inside a ship. Their mission: to destroy a blood clot in the brain of a Soviet-era informant.

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