Week in Science (21 – 27 Mar 2021)

Science News related to ‘Massless’ Energy Storage, Enhancing Quantum Information Transfer, Ultra-Sensitive Flow Microsensors, Environmental Monitoring Tools, Magnetic Structures Near Supermassive Black Hole, First Structures in The Universe, Floating Solar Farms, Revealing the Nano Big Bang, 5G Network Powering IoT Devices, Turning Wood into Plastic, Harvesting Energy from Radio Waves, Protein Fingerprinting


Note: None of the news bits (and cover picture) given here are written/owned by NewAnced's authors. The links on each of the news bits will redirect to the news source. Content given under each headline is a basic gist and not the full story.

1. Big Breakthrough For ’Massless’ Energy Storage


Source: Chalmers University of Technology 22 Mar 2021


Researchers have produced a structural battery that performs ten times better than all previous versions. It contains carbon fibre that serves simultaneously as an electrode, conductor, and load-bearing material. Their latest research breakthrough paves the way for essentially ’massless’ energy storage in vehicles and other technology.

2. Machine Learning Shows Potential to Enhance Quantum Information Transfer


Source: U.S. Army Research Laboratory 22 Mar 2021


Researchers exploited a type of machine learning to correct for information distortion in quantum systems composed of photons. The team demonstrated that machine learning techniques using the self-learning and self-evolving features of artificial neural networks can help correct distorted information. The results outperformed traditional protocols that rely on conventional adaptive optics.

3. Researchers Develop Ultra-Sensitive Flow Microsensors


Source: University of Massachusetts Amherst 22 Mar 2021


A team of researchers has developed the thinnest and most sensitive flow sensor, which could have significant implications for medical research and applications. The findings pave the way for future research on all-electronic in-vivo flow monitoring investigating ultra-low-flow life phenomena that is yet to be studied in metabolism processes, retinal hemorheology and neuroscience.

4. Mussel Sensors Pave the Way for New Environmental Monitoring Tools


Source: North Carolina State University 23 Mar 2021


Researchers have designed and demonstrated a new system that allows them to remotely monitor the behavior of freshwater mussels. The system could be used to alert researchers to the presence of toxic substances in aquatic ecosystems. One of the things the researchers are already doing with the new sensor system is monitoring mussel behavior to determine if there are harmless circumstances in which mussels may all close their shells at the same time.


Original written by: Matt Shipman

5. New Images Reveal Magnetic Structures Near Supermassive Black Hole


Source: National Radio Astronomy Observatory 24 Mar 2021


A new view of the region closest to the supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy Messier 87 (M87) has shown important details of the magnetic fields close to the black hole and hints about how powerful jets of material can originate in that region. A team measured a signature of magnetic fields — called polarization — around the black hole. Polarization is the orientation of the electric fields in light and radio waves and it can indicate the presence and alignment of magnetic fields.

6. The Very First Structures in The Universe


Source: University of Göttingen 24 Mar 2021


The very first moments of the Universe can be reconstructed mathematically even though they cannot be observed directly. Physicists have greatly improved the ability of complex computer simulations to describe this early epoch. They discovered that a complex network of structures can form in the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. The behaviour of these objects mimics the distribution of galaxies in today's Universe.

7. Floating Solar Farms Could Help Reduce Impacts of Climate Change on Lakes and Reservoirs


Source: Lancaster University 25 Mar 2021


Floating solar farms could help to protect lakes and reservoirs from some of the harms of climate change, a new study suggests. Their results show that floating solar arrays can cool water temperatures by shading the water from the sun. At scale, this could help to mitigate against harmful effects caused by global warming, such as blooms of toxic blue green algae, and increased water evaporation, which could threaten water supply in some regions.

8. Revealing the Nano Big Bang – Scientists Observe the First Milliseconds of Crystal Formation


Source: DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 25 Mar 2021


A team reveals that rather than grouping together one-by-one or making a single irreversible transition, gold atoms will instead self-organize, fall apart, regroup, and then reorganize many times before establishing a stable, ordered crystal. Using an advanced electron microscope, the researchers witnessed this rapid, reversible nucleation process for the first time. Their work provides tangible insights into the early stages of many growth processes such as thin-film deposition and nanoparticle formation.


Original written by: Clarissa Bhargava

9. Leveraging the 5G Network to Wirelessly Power IoT Devices


Source: Georgia Institute of Technology 25 Mar 2021


Researchers have uncovered an innovative way to tap into the over-capacity of 5G networks, turning them into “a wireless power grid” for powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices that today need batteries to operate. They have developed a flexible Rotman lens-based rectifying antenna (rectenna) system capable, for the first time, of millimeter-wave harvesting in the 28-GHz band.


Original written by: Anne Wainscott-Sargent

10. Turning Wood into Plastic


Source: Yale School of the Environment 25 Mar 2021


A research team has created a high-quality bioplastic from wood by-products that they hope can solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. The researchers say the resulting material shows a high mechanical strength, stability when holding liquids, and UV-light resistance. It can also be recycled or safely biodegraded in the natural environment, and has a lower life-cycle environmental impact when compared with petroleum-based plastics and other biodegradable plastics.


Original written by: Josh Anusewicz

11. Researchers Harvest Energy from Radio Waves to Power Wearable Devices


Source: Penn State 25 Mar 2021


A team has developed a way to harvest energy from radio waves to power wearable devices. The researchers developed a stretchable wideband dipole antenna system capable of wirelessly transmitting data that is collected from health-monitoring sensors. The system consists of two stretchable metal antennas integrated onto conductive graphene material with a metal coating.


Original written by: Tessa M. Pick

12. Protein Fingerprinting in Minutes


Source: Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin 25 Mar 2021


Researchers have developed a mass spectrometry-based technique capable of measuring samples containing thousands of proteins within just a few minutes. It is faster and cheaper than a conventional blood count. To demonstrate the technique’s potential, the researchers used blood plasma collected from COVID-19 patients. Using the new technology, they identified eleven previously unknown proteins which are markers of disease severity.


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