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New catalyst efficiently produces hydrogen from seawater

Seawater is one of the most abundant resources on earth, offering promise both as a source of hydrogen—desirable as a source of clean energy—and of drinking water in arid climates. But even as water-splitting technologies capable of producing hydrogen from freshwater have become more effective, seawater has remained a challenge.

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Moving diagnostics out of the lab and into your hand

Handheld electrochemical sensors are part of the daily routine for millions of people with diabetes around the globe who monitor their blood sugar levels with electric glucometers. While such sensors have revolutionized at-home medical testing for diabetics, they have not yet been successfully applied to diagnosing other conditions. Sensors like glucometers detect glucose in blood based on the activity of an enzyme, and there are only a limited number of enzymes that can be used to sense biomarkers of human disease. An alternative detection strategy based on binding events between antibodies and their molecular targets have been investigated to expand the use of electrochemical sensors for medicine, but these sensors fall victim to the rapid accumulation of "fouling" substances from biological fluids on their conductive surfaces, which deactivate them. Existing antifouling coatings are difficult to mass-manufacture, suffer from quality and consistency issues, and are not very effective.

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What's the story, morning glory? Taxonomy, evolution and sweet potatoes

This indicates that the storage root was an already-existing trait that predisposed the plant for cultivation and not solely the result of human domestication, as previously thought. This discovery, published today in Nature Plants, is part of a comprehensive monographic study of the morning glories, the biggest study of this group of plants to date, which also contributes important insights to the taxonomy and evolution of this megadiverse group of plants.

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A cheaper way to scale up atomic layer deposition

Chemical engineers at EPFL have developed a new method for atomic layer deposition, a technique commonly used in high-quality microelectronics. The new method can be used in materials with larger surfaces much more cheaply than current approaches, while preserving quality and efficiency.

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Image: Hubble touts a team of stars

Within a galaxy hosting around 300 billion stars, here the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has captured a mere handful or two—just about enough to form a single football team. These stellar "teammates" play under the banner of NGC 1333, the cloud of gas and dust that formed them and that they continue to call home.

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Small satellite to study resources needed for sustained lunar presence

As we venture forward to the Moon and establish a sustained lunar presence, finding and understanding water on the lunar surface becomes increasingly important. Lunar water is largely in the form of, but not necessarily limited to, water ice. Astronauts on the Moon could use this ice for various crew needs, potentially including rocket fuel. The Lunar IceCube mission, led by Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, will study water distribution and interaction on the Moon. The mission will carry a NASA instrument called Broadband InfraRed Compact High-Resolution Exploration Spectrometer (BIRCHES) to investigate the distribution of water and other organic volatiles. NASA scientists will use this data to understand where the water is on the Moon, its origins and how we can use it.

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Smart metamaterials that sense and reprogram themselves

Materials scientists aim to engineer intelligence into the fabric of materials or metamaterials for programmable functions. Engineering efforts can vary from passive to active forms to develop programmable metasurfaces using dynamic and arbitrary electromagnetic (EM) wavefields. Such metasurfaces, however, require manual control to switch between functions. In a new study now published on Light: Science & Applications, Qian Ma and an interdisciplinary research team in the State Key Laboratory, Cyberspace Science and Technology, and the Department of Electronics in China engineered a smart metasurface for self-adaptive programmability.

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