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Computational Model Could Boost Plant Oil Production

Brookhaven National Laboratory researchers have developed a computational model that scientists can use to analyze the metabolic processes in rapeseed plants. This information could help scientists figure out how to optimize plant oil production and ultimately improve the production of plant-derived biofuels. To better understand the plant, the researchers created a complex computational model of a large-scale metabolic network of developing rapeseed (Brassica napus) embryos. They gathered information from various sources, eventually including 572 biochemical reactions in the model; each of these has a role in either the seed’s metabolism or seed oil production.  They can use the information to model conditions that might change the plant’s ability to produce oil, such as varied nutrients or changes in available light. They can also examine the potential changes of any genetic modifications through simulation. The researchers say they are refining the model and want to extend it for use with other plants. ( National Laboratory)

Researchers Demonstrate New Switching Technology

Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have successfully created a novel piezoelectric resistive switching device based on zinc oxide nanowires on a flexible substrate. The write-read access of its memory cells can be controlled mechanically, which the researchers claim could help them create biological interfaces. They demonstrated the technology by constructing a storage device that writes and reads data and can also be erased for reuse. The devices might be used in applications such as creating self-powered nanoelectromechanical systems on a chip. The full work is described in Nano Letters. ( Tech)

New Type of Photonic Crystal Created

University of Illinois researchers have made the first optoelectronically active 3D photonic crystal. Photonic crystals can control or manipulate light in ways that traditional materials cannot. They are being studied for their potential use across numerous applications, including for creating lasers, solar cells, LEDs, and metamaterials. Other types of 3D photonic crystals created to date have been optically active, not electronically active; this new crystal has both properties. The crystal was created using tiny spheres packed together in a template or form into which gallium arsenide was deposited to fill the gaps. The researchers successfully created a working device and are now working toward optimization of the LED for specific applications. The complete research details were published in Nature Materials. ( of Illinois)(Nature Materials)

Scottish Researchers Create Music using GPUs

A couple of Edinburgh-based researchers are using graphical processor units (GPUs) to synthesize musical sounds. Chris Maynard, a computer scientist from the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre, and Stefan Bilbao of the Edinburgh School of Music say this area of research has stagnated; most synthesized sounds we hear today are created using algorithms developed in the 1960s and 1970s. The researchers claim they can model musical instruments’ sounds faithfully using GPUs as well as create new types of virtual instruments. The work thus far has been to create a proof of concept. The duo is now forging ahead, rendering traditional instruments using GPUs. In 2012, they plan to continue developing the technology such that they can produce virtual music in real time.  (International Science Grid This Week)(University of Edinburgh)

Researchers Develop Soft Memory Device

North Carolina State University researchers say they have developed a memory device that is soft and able to operate in wet environments. The device, created from a liquid alloy of gallium and indium metals that are placed in water-based gels, promises to advance biocompatible electronic devices. The device functions like a memristor; however, the prototypes created to date have reportedly not yet been made to hold a significant amount of memory. Because the gels used are biocompatible, the device might be used in applications such as biological sensing or medical monitoring. The complete research results were published in Advanced Materials. (North Carolina State University)(Advanced Materials)


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