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Science & Technology News Bulletin

Every week, we editorially select the best S&T stories released from major news outlets. These stories are then ranked and posted (with appropriate credit and references to the originals) on our Blog by Friday afternoon. Hema Viswanath curates this content and has been doing so for ASDR&E's Office of Net Technical Assessments and Office of Technical Intelligence for over seven years before performing the same work for us. Currently, we are experimenting with distributing this content through a free, advertising-supported model. We intend to continue experimenting using paywalls, direct e-mail subscriptions and donations. Hosting this content is important to us and we would like to retain it on at least a revenue-neutral basis. We are also experimenting with enriching the content to make it more relevant to our Government clients.

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of July 31, 2020

01. Metal-breathing bacteria could transform electronics, biosensors, and more
02. New fabric could help keep you cool in the summer, even without A/C
03. Researchers create surface coating that can create false infrared images
04. Scientists develop novel transparent broadband electromagnetic interference shielding materials
05. Self-healing soft material outsmarts nature
06. Tailored meta-grid of nanoparticles boosting performance of light-emitting diodes
07. Army research enables conversational AI between soldiers, robot
08. ‘Drawn-on-skin’ electronics offer breakthrough in wearable monitors
09. Taking the guesswork out of twistronics
10. ‘Fool’s gold’ may be valuable after all

And others…

Back to the Lab? We Want to Hear From You
Magnetic nanoparticles change their magnetic structure in a magnetic field
Researchers develop a method for predicting unprecedented events
The solar cell you can print
Testing Chernobyl fungi as a radiation shield for astronauts

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of July 24, 2020

01. Physicists develop technology to transform information from microwaves to optical light
02. Nature provides inspiration for researchers developing selective membranes
03. New material can generate hydrogen from salt and polluted water
04. Researchers diffract a beam of organic molecules
05. Scientists strengthen quantum building blocks in milestone critical for scale-up
06. ‘Seeing’ and ‘manipulating’ functions of living cells
07. Geoengineering is just a partial solution to fight climate change
08. Shells and grapefruits inspire first manufactured non-cuttable material
09. A new species of darkling beetle larvae that degrade plastic
10. U.S. and Japan Seeking to Break China’s Grip on Rare Earths Production

And others…

China 2035 Plan is Half as Many Aircraft Carrier Groups as USA
New $25-million center to advance quantum science and engineering
Plato was right: Earth is made, on average, of cubes
Principles to enhance research integrity and avoid ‘publish or perish’ in academia
Solar Storms May Have Hindered SOS During Historic “Red Tent” Expedition

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of July 17, 2020

01. Artificial ‘neurotransistor’ created
02. UBCO researchers create liquid-repelling substance that works on all surfaces
03. Underused part of the electromagnetic spectrum gets optics boost from metamaterial
04. Tiny bubbles make a quantum leap
05. Using magnetic worms to engineer nanoscale communication systems
06. Recognising fake images using frequency analysis
07. New materials for extra thin computer chips
08. New organic material unlocks faster and more flexible electronic devices
09. ‘Blinking’ nanocrystals may convert CO2 into fuels
10. Seventy-Five Years After Trinity

And others…

Agriculture – a climate villain? Maybe not!
Corralling Groups of Photons
Liquid crystals create easy-to-read, color-changing sensors
A new path for electron optics in solid-state systems
Scientists build high-performing hybrid solar energy converter

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of July 10, 2020

01. Magnetic memory states go exponential
02. New biomaterial could shield against harmful radiation
03. Scaling up the quantum chip
04. Harvesting hydrogen from nanogardens
05. Scientists create new device to light up the way for quantum technologies
06. Shining light into the dark: New discovery makes microscopic imaging possible in dark conditions
07. Engineers design a reusable, silicone rubber face mask
08. Physics team observes extremely fast electronic changes in real time in a special material class
09. Porous graphene ribbons doped with nitrogen for electronics and quantum computing
10. Generator developed for harvesting energy from droplets

And others…

Call for immunology to return to the wild
Detecting hidden nanostructures by converting light into sound
The Locust Plague in East Africa Is Sending Us a Message, And It’s Not Good News
New process enables lithium mining in Germany
Thermophones offer new route to radically simplify array design, research shows

RECENT POSTS

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of July 31, 2020

01. Metal-breathing bacteria could transform electronics, biosensors, and more
02. New fabric could help keep you cool in the summer, even without A/C
03. Researchers create surface coating that can create false infrared images
04. Scientists develop novel transparent broadband electromagnetic interference shielding materials
05. Self-healing soft material outsmarts nature
06. Tailored meta-grid of nanoparticles boosting performance of light-emitting diodes
07. Army research enables conversational AI between soldiers, robot
08. ‘Drawn-on-skin’ electronics offer breakthrough in wearable monitors
09. Taking the guesswork out of twistronics
10. ‘Fool’s gold’ may be valuable after all

And others…

Back to the Lab? We Want to Hear From You
Magnetic nanoparticles change their magnetic structure in a magnetic field
Researchers develop a method for predicting unprecedented events
The solar cell you can print
Testing Chernobyl fungi as a radiation shield for astronauts

Army research enables conversational AI between soldiers, robot

EurekAlert  July 27, 2020
A team of researchers in the US (US Army, University of Southern California) supported by the Army Next Generation Combat Vehicle Army Modernization Priority and the Army Priority Research Area for Autonomy has developed the Joint Understanding and Dialogue Interface (JUDI) which enables bi-directional conversational interactions between soldiers and autonomous systems through bidirectional speech and dialogue in tactical operations. The technology gives the robot the ability to ask for clarification or provide status updates as tasks are completed. The dialogue processing is based on a statistical classification method. JUDI is designed for tasks that require reasoning in the physical world, where data is sparse because it requires previous human-robot interaction and there is little to no reliable cloud-connectivity…read more.

Back to the Lab? We Want to Hear From You

American Physical Society  July 27, 2020
As scientists around the world are slowly returning to their offices and labs APS News and Physics want to hear about their experiences. What plans have they made to keep themselves or their group safe? How is distancing affecting their interactions? How have months away from the lab affected their perspective? Tell them your story in a brief (100–200 words) letter to physics@aps.org. Pictures are welcome too. Each week, APS News and Physics will select a few of these letters and photos to share online…read more.

‘Drawn-on-skin’ electronics offer breakthrough in wearable monitors

EurekAlert  July 30, 2020
The existing wearable bioelectronics are susceptible to motion artifacts as they lack proper adhesion and conformal interfacing with the skin during motion. A team of researchers in the US (University of Houston, University of Chicago) has developed ultra-conformal Drawn-on-Skin (DoS) electronics as a new bioelectronic platform for on-demand multifunctional, motion artifact-free sensing. The devices are based on the Ag flakes/poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) (Ag-PEDOT:PSS) composite, poly(3-hexylthiophene-2,5-diyl) nanofibrils (P3HT-NF), and ion gel as the conductive, semiconducting, and dielectric inks, respectively. As a versatile platform, DoS electronics devices such as thin-film transistors, strain sensors, and electrophysiological sensors have been developed. It is stable in the presence of sweat, reliable capturing signals over a long duration, strong adherence to the skin, and immune to motion artifacts during sensing…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

DoS electronics platform featuring conductive and semiconducting inks. Credit: Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 3823 (2020) 

‘Fool’s gold’ may be valuable after all

Phys.org July 30, 2020
Magnetoionic devices either electrically tune a known ferromagnet or electrically induce ferromagnetism from another magnetic state which is a limitation for practical use. A team of researchers in the US (University of Minnesota, Augsburg University) took the non-magnetic iron sulfide material and put it in a device in contact with an ionic solution. When they applied as little as 1 volt positively charged molecules were moved to the interface between the electrolyte and iron sulfide, and induced magnetism. Importantly, they were able to turn off the voltage and return the material to its non-magnetic state. The research could be the first step in creating valuable new magnetic materials for more energy-efficient computer memory devices…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Measurement schematic and reversible voltage-induced surface insulator-metal transition. Credit: Science Advances 29 Jul 2020: Vol. 6, no. 31, eabb7721

Magnetic nanoparticles change their magnetic structure in a magnetic field

Nanowerk  July 27, 2020
Up to now, scientists assumed that magnetism in a nanoparticle is essentially limited to this core area. Using neutron scattering on cobalt ferrite nanoparticles an international team or researchers (France, Germany, Czech Republic) has shown that the applied magnetic field causes some of the previously disordered magnetic moments in the surface region to become aligned, and thus ordered in a way comparable to the magnetization in the core region. However, a residual area with differently aligned spins remains on the surface, which cannot be ordered by the applied magnetic field. Overall, the research showed that the extent of disorder in the spins in the particle surface influences the size of the magnetic particle core…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Schematic of the structural and field-dependent magnetic NP morphology…Credit: Phys. Rev. X 10, 031019, 24 July 2020

Metal-breathing bacteria could transform electronics, biosensors, and more

Science Daily  July 28, 2020
Some bacteria that are adapted to specific geochemical or biochemical environments can create interesting and novel materials. Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute synthesised molybdenum disulfide nanomaterials at the site of S. oneidensis biofilms grown in the presence of molybdenum trioxide and sodium thiosulfate. Analysis revealed the presence of molybdenum disulfide nanoparticle aggregates 50–300 nm in diameter with both hexagonal and rhombohedral polytypes. The use of S. oneidensis offers the advantage of significantly reduced heat and chemical solvent input compared to conventional methods of synthesizing molybdenum disulfide nanoparticles. The process can be used for the generation of ‘living sensors’…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE 

New fabric could help keep you cool in the summer, even without A/C

Science Daily  July 29, 2020
When interspersed in fabric the thermally conductive boron nitride has the ability to transfer heat, allow moisture to evaporate from the skin and repel water. To improve the process researchers in China enabled boron nitride to better interpenetrate and remain porous. According to the researchers the material has improved thermal conductivity, moisture permeability, and better resistance to water penetrability and repellency…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Abstract. Credit: ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 28, 32078–32089,  July 1, 2020 

Researchers create surface coating that can create false infrared images

UC Berkeley  July 23, 2020
At certain temperature tungsten-doped vanadium dioxide can phase shift from an insulator to a metal. An international team of researchers (US Berkeley, Singapore, China) created special structures made from delicately engineered thin films of tungsten-doped vanadium dioxide. With judicious engineering of the doping profile, the insulator-metal phase transition can even out, allowing the substance to emit a constant level of thermal radiation over wide range of temperature variations (15-70 degrees Celsius). This state of equilibrium prevents a camera from detecting the true infrared signals that an object normally emits around room temperature. The coatings can be manipulated in a such way that a person trying to view the object would instead see a false image. According to the researchers this method provides better, more consistent camouflage because the product is mechanically flexible, power free and inherently self-adaptive to temporal fluctuation as well as spatial variation of the target temperature. The technology applications in military and intelligence agencies, and might incubate future encryption technology, allowing information to be safely concealed from unauthorized access…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

The letters C-A-L appear cool even when the environment is hot… the decoy could fool infrared cameras into perceiving a designated temperature rather than the actual temperature of the object. (Kechao Tang image)

Researchers develop a method for predicting unprecedented events

Science Daily  July 23, 2020
Challenging the quintessentially unpredictable nature of black swan events researchers at Stanford University developed a forecasting method based on natural systems. They leveraged increasingly available long-term high-frequency ecological tracking data, to analyze multiple natural and experimental ecosystems (marine plankton, deciduous forest), and recovered hidden linearity embedded in universal ‘scaling laws’ of species dynamics. They developed a method using these scaling laws to reduce data dependence in ecological forecasting and accurately predict extreme events beyond the span of historical observations in diverse ecosystems. They would like to expand the application of their method to other systems in which black swan events are also present, such as in economics, epidemiology, politics, and physics…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Ecological fluctuations show universal avalanche scaling laws. Credit: PLoS Comput Biol 16(6): e1008021.