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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 January 17, 2020

01. Can solar geoengineering mitigate both climate change and income inequality?
02. Bacteria-shredding tech to fight drug-resistant superbugs
03. Engineers develop ‘chameleon metals’ that change surfaces in response to heat
04. New approach for controlling qubits via microwave pulses reduces error rates and increases efficiency
05. Satellite constellations harvest energy for near-total global coverage
06. Slow light to speed up LiDAR sensors development
07. Influential electrons? Physicists uncover a quantum relationship
08. Carbon nanotube film produces aerospace-grade composites with no need for huge ovens or autoclaves.
09. Solving complex problems at the speed of light
10. Physicists design ‘super-human’ red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets

And others…

Foreign Interference in NIH Research: Policy Implications
Low-temp photocatalyst could slash the carbon footprint for syngas
Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future
Self-assembled artificial microtubules developed

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

01. Cutting through fog with laser focus
02. Nano antennas for data transfer
03. Nanomaterial fabric destroys nerve agents in battlefield-relevant conditions
04. Researchers build a particle accelerator that fits on a chip
05. Researchers develop universal flu vaccine that protects against 6 influenza viruses in mice
06. Scientists find new way to sustainably make chemicals by copying nature’s tricks
07. An 18-carat gold nugget made of plastic
08. Wearable air conditioning without needing electricity
09. Ending the Cycle of Crisis and Complacency in U.S. Global Health Security
10. Outbreak science: Infectious disease research leads to outbreak predictions

And others…

Animal life thriving around Fukushima
New method gives robust transistors
Next generation wound gel treats and prevents infections
Supercharging tomorrow: Monash develops world’s most efficient lithium-sulfur battery
U.S. R&D Increased by $32 Billion in 2017, to $548 billion; Estimate for 2018 Indicates a Further Rise to $580 billion

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of January 3, 2020

01. The experimental demonstration of a spin quantum heat engine
02. Scientists develop ceramic materials that are IR-transparent
03. High-performance anode for all-solid-state Li batteries is made of Si nanoparticles
04. Physicists find ways to overcome signal loss in magnonic circuits
05. Scientists create tiny lasers from nanoparticles and plastic beads
06. Buckyballs release electron-positron pairs in forward directions
07. Molecular Electronics Chip With 100 Million DNA Reading Devices
08. Soundwaves carry information between quantum systems
09. U.S. military tests radiation belt cleanup in space
10. Physics in the 2020s: what will happen over the decade ahead

And others…

These 6 Incredible Discoveries From The Past Decade Have Changed Science Forever
Back To The Elusive Future
More Chinese scientists in America are going back home

Top 10 Science and Technology Inventions for the Week of December 27, 2019

01. On-chip light source produces versatile range of wavelengths
02. Brain-like functions emerging in a metallic nanowire network
03. Computing with molecules: A big step in molecular spintronics
04. A fast and inexpensive device to capture and identify viruses
05. Space-time metasurface makes light reflect only in one direction
06. Scientists create thin films with tantalizing electronic properties
07. Scientists discover first antiferromagnetic topological quantum material
08. Electronics at the speed of light
09. Using a material’s ‘memory’ to encode unique physical properties
10. Paving the way for spintronic RAMs: A deeper look into a powerful spin phenomenon

And others…

Device splits and recombines superconducting electron pairs
In leap for quantum computing, silicon quantum bits establish a long-distance relationship
Lasers learn to accurately spot space junk
Tweaks behind the rebirth of nearly discarded organic solar technologies

RECENT POSTS

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

01. Can solar geoengineering mitigate both climate change and income inequality?
02. Bacteria-shredding tech to fight drug-resistant superbugs
03. Engineers develop ‘chameleon metals’ that change surfaces in response to heat
04. New approach for controlling qubits via microwave pulses reduces error rates and increases efficiency
05. Satellite constellations harvest energy for near-total global coverage
06. Slow light to speed up LiDAR sensors development
07. Influential electrons? Physicists uncover a quantum relationship
08. Carbon nanotube film produces aerospace-grade composites with no need for huge ovens or autoclaves.
09. Solving complex problems at the speed of light
10. Physicists design ‘super-human’ red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets

And others…

Foreign Interference in NIH Research: Policy Implications
Low-temp photocatalyst could slash the carbon footprint for syngas
Response to fire impacts water levels 40 years into future
Self-assembled artificial microtubules developed

Bacteria-shredding tech to fight drug-resistant superbugs

Science Daily  January 13, 2020
An international team of researchers (Australia, USA – North Carolina State University) has shown that when gallium-based liquid metal (LM) droplets are exposed to a low-intensity rotating magnetic field, the LM droplets become physically actuated and transform their shape, developing sharp edges. When placed in contact with a bacterial biofilm, the movement of the particles resulting from the magnetic field physically ruptures the bacterial cells and the dense biofilm matrix is broken down. They tested the efficacy of the magnetically activated LM particles against both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacterial biofilms. After 90 min over 99% of both bacterial species became nonviable, and the destruction of the biofilms was observed. This proof-of-concept offers a groundbreaking new direction in the search for solutions to the deadly problem of antibiotic resistance…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Abstract. Credit: ACS Nano 2020, XXXX, XXX, XXX-XXX January 10, 2020 

Can solar geoengineering mitigate both climate change and income inequality?

Science Daily  January 13, 2020
An international team of researchers (University of California, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of California, Cornell University, Switzerland, Canada) applied macroeconomic impact models and combined historical evidence with climate simulations of mean annual temperature and precipitation. They found that the impacts of climate changes on global GDP-per-capita by the end of the century are temperature-driven, highly dispersed, and model dependent. Across all model specifications, however, income inequality between countries is lower with solar geoengineering. They found that precipitation has little to no effect on GDP growth in our results, but there is a relationship for temperatures. Applying these historical relationships for different models, they found that if temperatures cooled there would be gains in GDP per capita. For some models, these gains are up to 1,000 percent over the course of the century and are largest for countries in the tropics, which historically tend to be poorer…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

County-level income projections over the 21st century with and without solar geoengineering. Credit: Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 227 (2020) 

Carbon nanotube film produces aerospace-grade composites with no need for huge ovens or autoclaves.

MIT News  January 13, 2020
A team of researchers in the US (MIT, industry) utilized a nanomaterial with morphology‐controlled nanoscale capillaries to manufacture aerospace‐grade advanced carbon fiber composites without utilizing pressure from an autoclave. They demonstrated that the capillary pressure from a nanoporous film replaces the need for applied pressure to manufacture void‐free layered polymeric architectures. The nanomaterial‐enabled capillary pressure is quantified as 50% greater than typical pressures used in such processing. The technique may help to speed up the manufacturing of airplanes and other large, high-performance composite structures, such as blades for wind turbines…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Engineers develop ‘chameleon metals’ that change surfaces in response to heat

Phys.org  January 13, 2020
Researchers at Iowa State University started with a liquid metal alloy of gallium, indium and tin synthesized into particles covered with a smooth oxide shell that has been chemically stabilized. As the particles are heated, the surface thickens and stiffens and begins to behave more like a solid. Eventually the surface breaks, allowing the liquid metal inside to come to the surface. The most reactive, gallium, breaks through first. More heat brings indium to the surface. And the highest heat—about 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit—brings out florets of tin. Time, temperature and oxygen levels are carefully controlled by the researchers. As this behavior applies to metals in general, other metals subject to the same treatment will behave the same way. The research could be used for designing ‘smart’ alloy systems for applications ranging from sensing to catalysis…read more. Open Access TECHNICAL ARTICLE

a) Schematic of oxide transformation mechanism for ternary core–shell liquid metal particle. b) SEM image of different oxidation steps correlating with the mechanisms displayed above. Credit: Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2019) 

Foreign Interference in NIH Research: Policy Implications

Global Biodefense  January 12, 2020
An NIH investigation, conducted in partnership with FBI uncovered numerous potential violations of laws and policies (some confirmed, others subject to ongoing investigation), including: Scientists involved in the NIH peer review process sharing details of research proposals with foreign entities; Failure of scientists to disclose foreign ties or funding from foreign governments; and Research fraud, involving scientists signing employment contracts and earning salary from both U.S. and foreign institutions for concurrent positions. The focus of current concern was China—but this issue is not unique to China. NIH highlighted the Thousand Talents recruitment program, which encourages participants to transfer research and other propriety information from the United States to China. As a condition of receiving NIH grant funds, scientists and research institutions must comply with NIH grant policies based on relevant laws and regulations. Such policies include those related to financial conflicts of interest (FCOI), research misconduct, and reporting of other research support…read more.

Influential electrons? Physicists uncover a quantum relationship

Science Daily  January 13, 2020
Topological insulators’ surface states can be manipulated by the interface environment to display various emergent phenomena. An international team of researchers (New York University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University, MIT) used spectromicroscopy, which can track how the motion of surface electrons differs from region to region within a material, to study bismuth selenide collecting data from nearly 1,000 smaller regions. They observed signatures of quantum hybridization in the relationships between moving electrons, such as a repulsion between electronic states that come close to one another in energy. Measurements from this method illuminated the variation of electronic quasiparticles across the material surface. The results provide new insight into the physics of topological insulators by providing the first direct measurement of quantum hybridization between electrons near the surface…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Low-temp photocatalyst could slash the carbon footprint for syngas

Science Daily  January 10, 2020
Traditional thermocatalytic processes to produce syngas require high temperatures and suffer from coke-induced instability. A team of researchers in the US (Rice University, Princeton University, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara) has developed a plasmonic photocatalyst consisting of a Cu nanoparticle ‘antenna’ with single-Ru atomic ‘reactor’ sites on the nanoparticle surface, ideal for low-temperature, light-driven methane dry reforming. This catalyst provides high light energy efficiency when illuminated at room temperature. In contrast to thermocatalysis, long-term stability (50 h) and high selectivity (>99%) were achieved in photocatalysis. This photocatalyst design could be relevant for future energy-efficient industrial processes…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

New approach for controlling qubits via microwave pulses reduces error rates and increases efficiency

Phys.org  January 10, 2020
Microwave trapped-ion quantum logic gates avoid spontaneous emission as a fundamental source of decoherence. However, microwave two-qubit gates are still slower than laser-induced gates and hence more sensitive to fluctuations and noise of the motional mode frequency. In order to reduce error rates even further and provide reliable operations much faster researchers in Germany have developed a method where ions are trapped under vacuum by using electric fields above a chip structure. Qubit operations are implemented by sending microwave signals through special conductor loops embedded in the chip structure. Using microwave fields has the advantage that they are both relatively easy to control and it is a highly mature technology. After demonstrating that basic operations with low error rates are feasible, they are working to achieve less than one error in every ten thousand operations, which is when scaling to many qubits becomes efficient…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE

Interior of the apparatus in which the ions are trapped. The close-up shows an image of two single 9Be+ ions used for the quantum logic gates. Credit: T. Dubielzig, H. Hahn (LUH/PTB)

Physicists design ‘super-human’ red blood cells to deliver drugs to specific targets

Science Daily  January 16, 2020
An international team of researchers (Canada, Germany) has developed a method to combine synthetic material with biological material and created a new structure. They opened the red blood cell, modified its outer cell wall, and replaced its contents with a drug molecule, which would then be injected back into the body. The hybrid appears and behaves as a normal red blood cell but has a sticky surface which can attach itself to bacteria, for example, open and release antibiotics exactly where they are needed. This targeted delivery method could help to minimize dosages and therefore, potential side effects. This is particularly important for very potent drugs used in cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and the treatment of infections of potentially resistant bacteria…read more. TECHNICAL ARTICLE