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

Concept: SI prefix


The advent of devices based on single dopants, such as the single-atom transistor, the single-spin magnetometer and the single-atom memory, has motivated the quest for strategies that permit the control of matter with atomic precision. Manipulation of individual atoms by low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscopy provides ways to store data in atoms, encoded either into their charge state, magnetization state or lattice position. A clear challenge now is the controlled integration of these individual functional atoms into extended, scalable atomic circuits. Here, we present a robust digital atomic-scale memory of up to 1 kilobyte (8,000 bits) using an array of individual surface vacancies in a chlorine-terminated Cu(100) surface. The memory can be read and rewritten automatically by means of atomic-scale markers and offers an areal density of 502 terabits per square inch, outperforming state-of-the-art hard disk drives by three orders of magnitude. Furthermore, the chlorine vacancies are found to be stable at temperatures up to 77 K, offering the potential for expanding large-scale atomic assembly towards ambient conditions.

Concepts: Density, SI prefix, Magnetic field, Earth's magnetic field, Computer, Hard disk drive, Solid-state drive, Atom


Reverse electrodialysis allows for the capture of energy from salinity gradients between salt and fresh waters, but potential applications are currently limited to coastal areas and the need for a large number of membrane pairs. Using salt solutions that could be continuously regenerated with waste heat (≥40°C) and conventional technologies would allow much wider applications of salinity-gradient power production. We used reverse electrodialysis ion-exchange membrane stacks in microbial reverse-electrodialysis cells to efficiently capture salinity-gradient energy from ammonium bicarbonate salt solutions. The maximum power density using acetate reached 5.6 watts per square meter of cathode surface area, which was five times that produced without the dialysis stack, and 3.0 ± 0.05 watts per square meter with domestic wastewater. Maximum energy recovery with acetate reached 30 ± 0.5%.

Concepts: Energy, Square, Thermodynamics, Heat, SI prefix, Ammonia, Area, Water


Acoustic telemetry is a principle tool for observing aquatic animals, but coverage over large spatial scales remains a challenge. To resolve this, Australia has implemented the Integrated Marine Observing System’s Animal Tracking Facility which comprises a continental-scale hydrophone array and coordinated data repository. This national acoustic network connects localized projects, enabling simultaneous monitoring of multiple species over scales ranging from 100 s of meters to 1000 s of kilometers. There is a need to evaluate the utility of this national network in monitoring animal movement ecology, and to identify the spatial scales that the network effectively operates over. Cluster analyses assessed movements and residency of 2181 individuals from 92 species, and identified four functional movement classes apparent only through aggregating data across the entire national network. These functional movement classes described movement metrics of individuals rather than species, and highlighted the plasticity of movement patterns across and within populations and species. Network analyses assessed the utility and redundancy of each component of the national network, revealing multiple spatial scales of connectivity influenced by the geographic positioning of acoustic receivers. We demonstrate the significance of this nationally coordinated network of receivers to better reveal intra-specific differences in movement profiles and discuss implications for effective management.

Concepts: Metre, Aquatic plant, Hydrophone, Aquatic animal, SI prefix, Cluster analysis, Tracking, The Network


A fundamental mystery for dengue and other infectious pathogens is how observed patterns of cases relate to actual chains of individual transmission events. These pathways are intimately tied to the mechanisms by which strains interact and compete across spatial scales. Phylogeographic methods have been used to characterize pathogen dispersal at global and regional scales but have yielded few insights into the local spatiotemporal structure of endemic transmission. Using geolocated genotype (800 cases) and serotype (17,291 cases) data, we show that in Bangkok, Thailand, 60% of dengue cases living <200 meters apart come from the same transmission chain, as opposed to 3% of cases separated by 1 to 5 kilometers. At distances <200 meters from a case (encompassing an average of 1300 people in Bangkok), the effective number of chains is 1.7. This number rises by a factor of 7 for each 10-fold increase in the population of the "enclosed" region. This trend is observed regardless of whether population density or area increases, though increases in density over 7000 people per square kilometer do not lead to additional chains. Within Thailand these chains quickly mix, and by the next dengue season viral lineages are no longer highly spatially structured within the country. In contrast, viral flow to neighboring countries is limited. These findings are consistent with local, density-dependent transmission and implicate densely populated communities as key sources of viral diversity, with home location the focal point of transmission. These findings have important implications for targeted vector control and active surveillance.

Concepts: Metre, Pathogen, SI prefix, Demography, Kilometre, Population ecology, Population, Population density


Cometary nuclei consist mostly of dust and water ice. Previous observations have found nuclei to be low-density and highly porous bodies, but have only moderately constrained the range of allowed densities because of the measurement uncertainties. Here we report the precise mass, bulk density, porosity and internal structure of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on the basis of its gravity field. The mass and gravity field are derived from measured spacecraft velocity perturbations at fly-by distances between 10 and 100 kilometres. The gravitational point mass is GM = 666.2 ± 0.2 cubic metres per second squared, giving a mass M = (9,982 ± 3) × 10(9) kilograms. Together with the current estimate of the volume of the nucleus, the average bulk density of the nucleus is 533 ± 6 kilograms per cubic metre. The nucleus appears to be a low-density, highly porous (72-74 per cent) dusty body, similar to that of comet 9P/Tempel 1. The most likely composition mix has approximately four times more dust than ice by mass and two times more dust than ice by volume. We conclude that the interior of the nucleus is homogeneous and constant in density on a global scale without large voids. The high porosity seems to be an inherent property of the nucleus material.

Concepts: Volume, Comet, Porosity, SI prefix, Stardust, Density, Mass, Bulk density


Among all cloud-aerosol interactions, the invigoration effect is the most elusive. Most of the studies that do suggest this effect link it to deep convective clouds with a warm base and cold top. Here, we provide evidence from observations and numerical modeling of a dramatic aerosol effect on warm clouds. We propose that convective-cloud invigoration by aerosols can be viewed as an extension of the concept of aerosol-limited clouds, where cloud development is limited by the availability of cloud-condensation nuclei. A transition from pristine to slightly polluted atmosphere yields estimated negative forcing of ~15 watts per square meter (cooling), suggesting that a substantial part of this anthropogenic forcing over the oceans occurred at the beginning of the industrial era, when the marine atmosphere experienced such transformation.

Concepts: Progressive rock, Global warming, SI prefix, Weather, Water pollution, Rain, Cloud computing, Global dimming


Despite remarkable strides in science and technology, the strategy for spilled oil collection has remained almost the same since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. The graphene vessel devised here can bring about an important yet basic change in the strategy for spilled oil collection. When it is placed on the oil-covered seawater, the graphene vessel selectively separates the oil, then collects and stores the collected oil in the vessel all by itself without any external power inputs. Capillarity and gravity work together to fill this proto-type graphene vessel with the spilled oil at a rate that is higher than 20,000 liters per square meter per hour (LMH) with oil purity better than 99.9%, and allow the vessel to withstand a water head of 0.5 m. The vessel also has a superb chemical stability and recyclability. An expanded oil contact area, considerably greater than the thickness of the oil layer, forms at the reduced graphene oxide (rGO) foam interface upon contact with the spilled oil. This expanded contact area does not change much even when the oil layer thins out. As a result, the high oil collection rate is maintained throughout the recovery of spilled oil.

Concepts: Petroleum, Graphene, SI prefix, Area, Liquid, Exxon Valdez oil spill, Oil spill, Water


Membranes with unprecedented solvent permeance and high retention of dissolved solutes are needed to reduce the energy consumed by separations in organic liquids. We used controlled interfacial polymerization to form free-standing polyamide nanofilms less than 10 nanometers in thickness, and incorporated them as separating layers in composite membranes. Manipulation of nanofilm morphology by control of interfacial reaction conditions enabled the creation of smooth or crumpled textures; the nanofilms were sufficiently rigid that the crumpled textures could withstand pressurized filtration, resulting in increased permeable area. Composite membranes comprising crumpled nanofilms on alumina supports provided high retention of solutes, with acetonitrile permeances up to 112 liters per square meter per hour per bar. This is more than two orders of magnitude higher than permeances of commercially available membranes with equivalent solute retention.

Concepts: SI prefix, Area, Solubility, Solvent, Legal separation, Separation, Solution, Orders of magnitude


We report a facile single-step synthesis of ternary hybrid nanoparticles (NPs) composed of multiple dumbbell-like iron-silver (FeAg) cores encapsulated by a silicon (Si) shell using a versatile co-sputter gas-condensation technique. In comparison to previously reported binary magneto-plasmonic NPs, the advantage conferred by a Si shell is to bind the multiple magneto-plasmonic (FeAg) cores together and prevent them from aggregation at the same time. Further, we demonstrate that the size of the NPs and number of cores in each NP can be modulated over a wide range by tuning the experimental parameters.

Concepts: Report, The Advantage, Nanocrystalline silicon, SI prefix, Nanoparticle, Silicon


The net effect of anthropogenic aerosols on climate is usually considered the sum of the direct radiative effect of anthropogenic aerosols, plus the indirect effect of these aerosols through aerosol-cloud interactions. However, an additional impact of aerosols on a longer time scale is their indirect effect on climate through biogeochemical feedbacks, largely due to changes in the atmospheric concentration of CO(2). Aerosols can affect land and ocean biogeochemical cycles by physical forcing or by adding nutrients and pollutants to ecosystems. The net biogeochemical effect of aerosols is estimated to be equivalent to a radiative forcing of -0.5 ± 0.4 watts per square meter, which suggests that reaching lower carbon targets will be even costlier than previously estimated.

Concepts: Eutrophication, SI prefix, Climate change, Water pollution, Ecology, Addition, Climate, Summation