Snippets - January 2

Research Matters, Science Daily Jan 1 2018, 21:05 IST
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A research team has introduced the Hybrid-Solid Electrolysis Cell system with highest reported electrochemical performance in hydrogen production.

For efficient hydrogen production

A joint research team, affiliated with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, has introduced the Hybrid-Solid Electrolysis Cell (Hybrid-SOEC) system with highest reported electrochemical performance in hydrogen production.

The proposed system has attracted much attention as a new promising option for cost-effective and highly-efficient hydrogen production. A solid oxide electrolyser cell (SOEC) consists of two electrodes and an electrolyte that are all in solid state. They are strongly desired as candidates for the hydrogen production as there is no need to replenish lost electrolytes.

The research team reported their findings by exploring a SOEC base on a mixed-ion conductor that can transport both oxygen ion and proton at the same time, which is denoted as Hybrid-SOEC. In comparison to other SOECs, the proposed system demands less electricity for hydrogen production, while exhibiting good electrochemical performance with stability. Also, the Hybrid-SOEC exhibits no observable degradation in performance after continuous use.

Water's unusual properties

Using X-ray lasers, researchers at Stockholm University have been able to map out how water fluctuates between two different states when it is cooled. Many more properties such as compressibility and heat capacity become increasingly strange as water is cooled. Now, with the help of ultra-short X-ray pulses at X-ray lasers in Japan and South Korea, researchers have succeeded in determining that water reaches the peak of its strange behaviour at -44 °C.

Water is unique, as it can exist in two liquid states that have different ways of bonding the water molecules together. It is this ability to shift from one liquid state into another that gives water its unusual properties.

Novel antimicrobial peptides developed

Scientists from CSIR-Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu and the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research, New Delhi have now synthesised hybrid protein sequences with antimicrobial properties, by using a mixture of natural and synthetic analogues of amino acids. Various multicellular organisms produce short sequences of proteins called antimicrobial peptides that are capable of acting as natural antibiotics against a host of pathogens.

Drawing inspiration from the antimicrobial peptides, scientists have been trying to come up with artificial varieties of such proteins in order to help develop new antibiotics against specific microbes. One such strategy employed is the use of beta- and gamma-amino acids. For the study, the researchers synthesised several hybrid antimicrobial peptides by using a mixture of alpha, beta and gamma amino acids.

The researchers then studied their properties further and found that a particular hybrid peptide made up of alpha and gamma amino acids was very effective against the pathogens like Pseudomonas aeruginosa. They also tested the peptide's effect on human cells and found that it was one of the least harmful peptides among the hybrid peptides they had synthesised.

How hard can you bite?

Scientists from Indian Institute of Science have developed a novel device made of a fibre Bragg grating (FBG) to measure the force exerted with a bite. The force is a result of three components: muscle of mastication, the jaw and teeth. The measure of force is considered as a good indicator of the state of the masticatory system. To measure the force, the scientists made use of the FBG, a device which acts as an optical filter allowing certain wavelengths of lights to pass through, while blocking others. Sensors made of the FBG can be used to measure the differences in force. The novel Bite Force Measurement Device (BMFD) consists of a non-invasive intraoral device, which when bit into, can transfer the bite force into strain variations on a metal plate.

Neutrino: Measuring the Unexpected

The neutrinos are the core mysteries which have enticed and confounded physicists throughout time. How has the sun managed to burn and illuminate for so many millions of years? Early on, our universe was made up of equal parts of matter and antimatter, yet very little antimatter exists in our world today.

Why? The answers could lie in the study of the neutrino. In the documentary, Neutrino: Measuring the Unexpected, directed by Javier Diez, a trio of physicists take us on a guided tour through a series of experiments that uncover the true nature of the neutrino. To watch the documentary, visit www.bit.ly/2zBlGs3.

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