Applied Physics

Researchers have found that bricks made from fly ash--fine ash particles captured as waste by coal-fired power plants--may be even safer than predicted. Instead of leaching minute amounts of mercury as some researchers had predicted, the bricks apparently do the reverse, pulling minute amounts of the toxic metal out of ambient air.

You may not be able to relive your youth, but part of your brain can. Johns Hopkins researchers have found that newly made nerves in an adult brain's learning center experience a one-month period when they are just as active as the nerves in a developing child. The study, appearing this week in Neuron, suggests that new adult nerves have a deeper role than simply replacing dead ones.

Next time there is a global pandemic, contaminated water caused by flooding, or questionable-looking meat in a supermarket, we may be reaching for a piece of paper.

It won’t be just any type of paper but a Canadian-invented bioactive paper that contains the ingredients to detect and ward off life-threatening bacteria and viruses like E-coli, salmonella and SARS, to name just a few.

The hydrogen economy is not a futuristic concept. The U.S. Department of Energy's 2006 Advance Energy Initiative calls for competitive ethanol from plant sources by 2012 and a good selection of hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

Researchers at Virginia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and the University of Georgia propose using polysaccharides, or sugary carbohydrates, from biomass to directly produce low-cost hydrogen for the new hydrogen economy.

A new breakthrough in hydrogen storage technology could remove a key barrier to widespread uptake of non-polluting cars that produce no carbon dioxide emissions.

PN 35-07 atoms. CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE. Credit: EPSRC


Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine offer future patients greater options for treatment and cure of a wide array of urologic conditions, and controversies surrounding the sources of stem cells as well as their use have fueled increased research.

Here are highlights from the latest research:

ISOLATION OF HUMAN SPERMATOGONIAL STEM CELLS FROM TESTICULAR PARENCHYMA AND DIFFERENTIATION TOWARDS DIFFERENT TISSUES OF THE THREE HUMAN GERM LAYERS

As many homeowners know, when stacking firewood, pieces should be placed close enough to permit passage of a mouse, but not of a cat chasing the mouse.

Now, imagine a woodpile where all those mouse passageways are packed with ice, the wood carefully removed, and you have an idea of what the latest photonic structure built by researchers at the University of Illinois looks like.

Electrical engineers from the University of Delaware and Cambridge NanoTech have demonstrated for the first time how the spin properties of electrons in silicon--the world's most dominant semiconductor, used in electronics ranging from computers to cell phones--can be measured and controlled.

The discovery could dramatically advance the nascent field of spintronics, which focuses on harnessing the magnet-like "spin" property of electrons instead of solely their charge to create exponentially faster, more powerful electronics such as quantum computers.

The world's first silicon spin-transport devices, fabricated and measured in Ian Appelbaum's lab at the University of Delaware.


The research reactor at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory is back in action and better than ever.

After $70 million in renovations and more than a year of meticulous system checks, ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted this week, taken to 10 percent power, and reached its peak power of 85 megawatts Wednesday.

ORNL's High Flux Isotope Reactor has been used for neutron-scattering studies since 196g. Credit: ORNL


Combining statistics and chemistry, researchers are challenging the evidence for the lone-gunman theory in the 1963 assassination of United States President John F. Kennedy.

Texas A&M University professor of statistics Cliff Spiegelman recently teamed with former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent and forensic scientist William A. Tobin of Forensic Engineering International in Virginia and William D.