Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Light


For the first time it is shown that carbon black inks on ancient Egyptian papyri from different time periods and geographical regions contain copper. The inks have been investigated using synchrotron-based micro X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and micro X-ray absorption near-edge structure spectroscopy (XANES) at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). The composition of the copper-containing carbon inks showed no significant differences that could be related to time periods or the geographical locations. This renders it probable that the same technology for ink production was used throughout Egypt for a period spanning at least 300 years. It is argued that the black pigment material (soot) for these inks was obtained as by-products of technical metallurgy. The copper (Cu) can be correlated with the following three main components: cuprite (Cu2O), azurite (Cu3[CO3]2[OH]2) and malachite (Cu2CO3[OH]2).

Concepts: X-ray, Light, Carbon, Copper, Pigment, Ancient Egypt, Carbon black, Papyrus


Alteration of leaf surface phenotypes due to virus infection has the potential to affect the likelihood of colonisation by insect vectors, or to affect their feeding activities. The aim of this study was to investigate whether viruses that rely on insects for their transmission, and which can be sensitive to the polarization of light, affect the percentage polarization of light reflected from leaves. We also set out to discover whether a correlation exists between the expression of ECERIFERUM (CER) genes involved in cuticular wax synthesis and the polarization of the light reflected from the leaf surfaces. It was found that the aphid-vectored viruses Potato virus Y and Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) caused significant reductions in the percentage polarization of light reflected from the abaxial surfaces of leaves of Nicotiana tabacum, whereas the non-insect-vectored viruses Tobacco mosaic virus and Pepino mosaic virus did not induce this effect. In Arabidopsis thaliana, there was little difference in the impacts of CMV and the non-insect-vectored Turnip vein clearing virus on polarization reflection, with both viruses increasing the percentage polarization of light reflected from the abaxial surfaces of leaves. There was a trend towards increased accumulation of CER6 transcripts in N. tabacum and A. thaliana when infected with aphid-vectored viruses. No significant effect of infection on trichome densities was found in A. thaliana, suggesting that alterations to the formation of cuticular waxes may be the more likely phenotypic change on the leaf surface contributing to the changes in polarization reflection. The possible impacts and adaptive significance of these effects with regard to viral transmission by insects are discussed.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Virus, Genome, Light, Arabidopsis thaliana, Arabidopsis, Viruses


In a dark time, the eye begins to see. - Theodore Roethke The clouds were heavier, the air thicker. The wind picked up. The news that the subways would be shut down at 7 p.m. spread quickly by word of mouth. The streets in our Greenwich Village neighborhood were filled with people carrying food and water to their apartments. From my home, I could see the lights of LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and the imposing red-brick power station with its four smokestacks on 14th Street and the East River. We spent the weekend filling our bathtub with water and all . . .

Concepts: Light, New York City, Manhattan, Greenwich Village, 14th Street, Barbra Streisand, Lower Manhattan, The Bitter End


Population surveys and species recognition for roosting bats are either based on capture, sight or optical-mechanical count methods. However, these methods are intrusive, are tedious and, at best, provide only statistical estimations. Here, we demonstrated the successful use of a terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) laser scanner for remotely identifying and determining the exact population of roosting bats in caves. LIDAR accurately captured the 3D features of the roosting bats and their spatial distribution patterns in minimal light. The high-resolution model of the cave enabled an exact count of the visibly differentiated Hipposideros larvatus and their roosting pattern within the 3D topology of the cave. We anticipate that the development of LIDAR will open up new research possibilities by allowing researchers to study roosting behaviour within the topographical context of a cave’s internal surface, thus facilitating rigorous quantitative characterisations of cave roosting behaviour.

Concepts: Mathematics, Optics, Light, Laser, Cave, 3D scanner, LIDAR, Bathymetry


Evidence suggests that light and circadian rhythms profoundly influence the physiologic capacity with which an organism responds to stress. However, the ramifications of light spectrum on the course of critical illness remain to be determined. Here, we show that acute exposure to bright blue spectrum light reduces organ injury by comparison with bright red spectrum or ambient white fluorescent light in two murine models of sterile insult: warm liver ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) and unilateral renal I/R. Exposure to bright blue light before I/R reduced hepatocellular injury and necrosis and reduced acute kidney injury and necrosis. In both models, blue light reduced neutrophil influx, as evidenced by reduced myeloperoxidase (MPO) within each organ, and reduced the release of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), a neutrophil chemotactant and key mediator in the pathogenesis of I/R injury. The protective mechanism appeared to involve an optic pathway and was mediated, in part, by a sympathetic (β3 adrenergic) pathway that functioned independent of significant alterations in melatonin or corticosterone concentrations to regulate neutrophil recruitment. These data suggest that modifying the spectrum of light may offer therapeutic utility in sterile forms of cellular injury.

Concepts: Biology, Light, Photoreceptor cell, Blue, Red, Circadian rhythm, Spectrum, Visible spectrum


The grand vision of manufacturing large-area emissive devices with low-cost roll-to-roll coating methods, akin to how newspapers are produced, appeared with the emergence of the organic light-emitting diode about 20 years ago. Today, small organic light-emitting diode displays are commercially available in smartphones, but the promise of a continuous ambient fabrication has unfortunately not materialized yet, as organic light-emitting diodes invariably depend on the use of one or more time- and energy-consuming process steps under vacuum. Here we report an all-solution-based fabrication of an alternative emissive device, a light-emitting electrochemical cell, using a slot-die roll-coating apparatus. The fabricated flexible sheets exhibit bidirectional and uniform light emission, and feature a fault-tolerant >1-μm-thick active material that is doped in situ during operation. It is notable that the initial preparation of inks, the subsequent coating of the constituent layers and the final device operation all could be executed under ambient air.

Concepts: Cathode, Vacuum tube, Light, Solar cell, Electrode, Light-emitting diode, Diode, Light-emitting diodes


Silicon photonics enables large-scale photonic-electronic integration by leveraging highly developed fabrication processes from the microelectronics industry. However, while a rich portfolio of devices has already been demonstrated on the silicon platform, on-chip light sources still remain a key challenge since the indirect bandgap of the material inhibits efficient photon emission and thus impedes lasing. Here we demonstrate a class of infrared lasers that can be fabricated on the silicon-on-insulator (SOI) integration platform. The lasers are based on the silicon-organic hybrid (SOH) integration concept and combine nanophotonic SOI waveguides with dye-doped organic cladding materials that provide optical gain. We demonstrate pulsed room-temperature lasing with on-chip peak output powers of up to 1.1 W at a wavelength of 1,310 nm. The SOH approach enables efficient mass-production of silicon photonic light sources emitting in the near infrared and offers the possibility of tuning the emission wavelength over a wide range by proper choice of dye materials and resonator geometry.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Electromagnetic spectrum, Photonics, Silicon photonics, Silicon on insulator


Combining carbon nanotubes (CNTs), graphene or conducting polymers with conventional silicon wafers leads to promising solar cell architectures with rapidly improved power conversion efficiency until recently. Here, we report CNT-Si junction solar cells with efficiencies reaching 15% by coating a TiO(2) antireflection layer and doping CNTs with oxidative chemicals, under air mass (AM 1.5) illumination at a calibrated intensity of 100 mW/cm(2) and an active device area of 15 mm(2). The TiO(2) layer significantly inhibits light reflectance from the Si surface, resulting in much enhanced short-circuit current (by 30%) and external quantum efficiency. Our method is simple, well-controlled, and very effective in boosting the performance of CNT-Si solar cells.

Concepts: Light, Carbon, Solar cell, Energy conversion, Energy conversion efficiency, Germanium, P-n junction


Billions of birds are estimated to be killed in window collisions every year, worldwide. A popular solution to this problem may lie in marking the glass with ultraviolet reflective or absorbing patterns, which the birds, but not humans, would see. Elegant as this remedy may seem at first glance, few of its proponents have taken into consideration how stark the contrasts between ultraviolet and human visible light reflections or transmissions must be to be visible to a bird under natural conditions. Complicating matters is that diurnal birds differ strongly in how their photoreceptors absorb ultraviolet and to a lesser degree blue light. We have used a physiological model of avian colour vision to estimate the chromatic contrasts of ultraviolet markings against a natural scene reflected and transmitted by ordinary window glass. Ultraviolets markings may be clearly visible under a range of lighting conditions, but only to birds with a UVS type of ultraviolet vision, such as many passerines. To bird species with the common VS type of vision, ultraviolet markings should only be visible if they produce almost perfect ultraviolet contrasts and are viewed against a scene with low chromatic variation but high ultraviolet content.

Concepts: Human, Mathematics, Light, Bird, Color, Estimation, Visible spectrum, Color vision


The control of nuclear spin polarization is important to the design of materials and algorithms for spin-based quantum computing and spintronics. Towards that end, it would be convenient to control the sign and magnitude of nuclear polarization as a function of position within the host lattice. Here we show that, by exploiting different mechanisms for electron-nuclear interaction in the optical pumping process, we are able to control and image the sign of the nuclear polarization as a function of distance from an irradiated GaAs surface. This control is achieved using a crafted combination of light helicity, intensity and wavelength, and is further tuned via use of NMR pulse sequences. These results demonstrate all-optical creation of micron scale, rewritable patterns of positive and negative nuclear polarization in a bulk semiconductor without the need for ferromagnets, lithographic patterning techniques, or quantum-confined structures.

Concepts: Electron, Optics, Spin, Light, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Gallium arsenide, Germanium, Spintronics