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New glass tops steel in strength and toughness

Glass stronger and tougher than steel? A new type of damage-tolerant metallic glass, demonstrating a strength and toughness beyond that of any known material, has been developed and tested by a collaboration of researchers with the Berkeley Lab and the California Institute of Technology. What's more, even better versions of this new glass may be on the way.

Posted: Jan 10th, 2011

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New insights from the nano world: Direct observation of carbon monoxide binding

Carbon monoxide is highly toxic since it blocks the binding site for oxygen in hemoglobin. This very principle - a porphyrin ring with a central iron or cobalt atom that the poisonous gas attaches to - can be used to implement sensors to warn against carbon monoxide. Physicists have now deciphered the mechanism for binding of gas molecules to iron and cobalt porphyrins.

Posted: Jan 10th, 2011

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Nano-contact experiment clarifies role of electrons during friction

Is friction dominated by electrons or by lattice vibrations? A nano-contact experiment shows that on a Nb surface friction drops by a factor of three when crossing the superconductivity transition, showing that it has essentially an electronic nature in the metallic state, whereas the phononic contribution dominates in the superconducting state.

Posted: Jan 10th, 2011

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NSF launches an Engineering Research Center to develop smart lighting

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announces an award to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and its partners to establish a new NSF Engineering Research Center (ERC). The ERC will develop interdisciplinary research and education programs that address an important societal need and provide the foundation for new industries through innovation. NSF will invest $18.5 million in the Center over the next five years.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2011

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Spinning information for better memory

Scientists have now shown that the spin of atomic nuclei in silicon can store information for over a minute and that the information can then be read out electrically, an important step in linking spintronics with classical electronics.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2011

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Expitaxial graphene shows promise for replacing silicon in electronics

With silicon device fabrication approaching its physical limits, many researchers believe graphene can provide a new platform material that would allow the semiconductor industry to continue its march toward ever-smaller and faster electronic devices -- progress described in Moore's Law. Though graphene will likely never replace silicon for everyday electronic applications, it could take over as the material of choice for high-performance devices.

Posted: Jan 7th, 2011

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