Week in Science (2 – 8 May 2021)

Science News related to Anode-Free Sodium Battery, Finding Habitable Planets Using Geology, Cell Phone – Powerful Chemical Detector, Hard Brain Implants, Modeling Saturn’s Interior, Monitoring Blood Glucose Without Finger Pricks, Leather-like Material from Silk Proteins, Hidden Side of Magnetized Universe, Laser Pulses with Record-Breaking Intensity


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. Stable, Efficient, Anode-Free Sodium Battery


Source: Washington University in St. Louis 3 May 2021


A researcher has developed a stable sodium ion battery that is highly efficient, will be less expensive to make and is significantly smaller than a traditional lithium ion battery due to the elimination of a once-necessary feature. In this newly designed battery, only a thin layer of copper foil was used on the anode side as the current collector, i.e., the battery has no active anode material.


Original written by: Brandie Jefferson

2. Geology to Help Astronomers Find Habitable Planets


Source: University of British Columbia Okanagan campus 4 May 2021


Astronomers have identified more than 4,000, and counting, confirmed exoplanets — planets orbiting stars other than the sun — but only a fraction have the potential to sustain life. Now, new research is using the geology of early planet formation to help identify those that may be capable of supporting life.

3. Cellphone Converts into Powerful Chemical Detector


Source: American Institute of Physics 4 May 2021


Scientists have developed an extension to an ordinary cellphone that turns it into an instrument capable of detecting chemicals, drugs, biological molecules, and pathogens. Modern cellphones include high-quality cameras capable of detecting low levels of light and eliminating digital noise through software processing of the captured images. Recent work has taken advantage of this sensitivity to produce cellphone cameras that can be used as portable microscopes and heart rate detectors.

4. A Sweet Solution to Hard Brain Implants


Source: McGill University 4 May 2021


By using silicone polymers, widely known for their medical applications, the scientists were able to make the softest brain implant to date with the thickness of a thin sewing thread (~0.2 mm), and the consistency of soft pudding - as soft as the brain itself. They were then able to implant it into the brain using a trick from the cookbook.

5. Scientists Model Saturn’s Interior


Source: Johns Hopkins University 5 May 2021


New simulations offer an intriguing look into Saturn’s interior, suggesting that a thick layer of helium rain influences the planet’s magnetic field. The models also indicate that Saturn’s interior may feature higher temperatures at the equatorial region, with lower temperatures at the high latitudes at the top of the helium rain layer.

6. Personalized Sweat Sensor Reliably Monitors Blood Glucose Without Finger Pricks


Source: American Chemical Society 5 May 2021


Many people with diabetes endure multiple, painful finger pricks each day to measure their blood glucose. Now, researchers have developed a device that can measure glucose in sweat with the touch of a fingertip, and then a personalized algorithm provides an accurate estimate of blood glucose levels.

7. Leather-like Material from Silk Proteins


Source: Tufts University 5 May 2021


Engineers were able to break down the fibers from silkworm cocoons into their protein components, and re-purpose the proteins to form the leather-like material. The silk-based leather can be printed into different patterns and textures, has similar physical properties to real leather, and can withstand the folding, piercing, and stretching typically used to create leather goods, including the ability to stitch together pieces of material and attach hardware such as rivets, grommets, handles and clasps.

8. A New Window to See Hidden Side of Magnetized Universe


Source: National Institutes of Natural Sciences 6 May 2021


New observations and simulations show that jets of high-energy particles emitted from the central massive black hole in the brightest galaxy in galaxy clusters can be used to map the structure of invisible inter-cluster magnetic fields. These findings provide astronomers with a new tool for investigating previously unexplored aspects of clusters of galaxies.

9. Researchers Produce Laser Pulses with Record-Breaking Intensity


Source: The Optical Society 6 May 2021


Researchers have demonstrated a record-high laser pulse intensity of over 10^23 W/cm^2 using the petawatt laser. It took more than a decade to reach this laser intensity, which is ten times that reported by a team at the University of Michigan in 2004. These ultrahigh intensity light pulses will enable exploration of complex interactions between light and matter in ways not possible before.


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