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Water is surprisingly ordered on the nanoscale
May 24, 2017 08:45 AM - Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Nanometric-sized water drops are everywhere - in the air as droplets or aerosols, in our bodies as medication, and in the earth, within rocks and oil fields. To understand the behavior of these drops, it is necessary to know how they interact with their hydrophobic environment. This interaction takes places at the curved droplet interface, a sub-nanometric region that surrounds the small pocket of water. Researchers from EPFL, in collaboration with the institute AMOLF in the Netherlands, were able to observe what was going on in this particular region. They discovered that molecules on the surface of the drops were much more ordered than expected. Their surprising results have been published in Nature Communications. They pave the way to a better understanding of atmospheric, biological and geological processes.

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Flexible, organic and biodegradable: Stanford researchers develop new wave of electronics
May 2, 2017 09:48 PM - Sarah Derouin, Stanford University

As electronics become increasingly pervasive in our lives – from smart phones to wearable sensors – so too does the ever rising amount of electronic waste they create. A United Nations Environment Program report found that almost 50 million tons of electronic waste were thrown out in 2017—more than 20 percent higher than waste in 2015. Troubled by this mounting waste, Stanford engineer Zhenan Bao and her team are rethinking electronics. “In my group, we have been trying to mimic the function of human skin to think about how to develop future electronic devices,” Bao said. She described how skin is stretchable, self-healable and also biodegradable – an attractive list of characteristics for electronics. “We have achieved the first two [flexible and self-healing], so the biodegradability was something we wanted to tackle.”

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SPOTLIGHT

Birds sing shorter songs in response to traffic noise

Taylor & Francis Group via EurekAlert!

Birds sing differently in response to traffic noise, which potentially affects their ability to attract mates and defend their territory, according to research published in Bioacoustics. The study found that a species of North American flycatcher sings shorter songs at a lower range of frequencies in response to traffic noise levels. The researchers suggest traffic noise reduction, for example through road closures, is a viable option for mitigating this effect.

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