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Gizmorama - October 19, 2016

Good Morning,

It seems that silkworms are able to create super strong threads after they feast upon graphene, aka carbon nanotubes. What's on my mind is I'm wondering whether or not graphene tastes like chicken.

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Graphene-eating silkworms spin super strong threads --*

BEIJING - When fed graphene, or carbon nanotubes, silkworms become like Spider-Man, spinning reinforced silk threads.

Domesticated silk moths, Bombyx mori, normally subsist on mulberry leaves. The worms are bred for one purpose, to spin silk threads.

Researchers at Tsinghua University and Donghua University in China sprayed the worms' normal mulberry meal with a solution containing single-walled carbon nanotubes. It's not the first time researchers have incorporated nanoparticles into the worm's diet to yield new and improved threads. Still, the results of the latest experiment proved noteworthy.

The graphene-enhanced silk threads were able to withstand twice as much stress as normal silk threads and were 50 percent tougher. When the researchers heated the threads to carbonize the silk proteins, they found the hybrid threads conducted electricity.

Yaopeng Zhang, a materials scientist from Donghua University, told Chemical & Engineering News their study offers an "easy way to produce high-strength silk fibers on a large scale."

Zhang and the research team say their findings -- published in the journal Nano Letters -- present new questions.

Scientists aren't sure exactly how the nanotubes are incorporated into the secreted silk solution inside the worms. They're also not sure how much of the graphene is incorporated and how much is excreted as waste.

*-- Physicists break the Rayleigh limit on resolution --*

MADRID - The time-honored Rayleigh's curse has been dispelled in a study researchers say can lead to an overall improvement in various imaging technologies.

Optical systems such as telescopes or cameras have been limited by a phenomenon scientist call the Rayleigh criterion, which refers to the effects light has on attempts to resolve a point in an image. Due to the wave nature of light, points are blurred due to diffraction, effectively limiting the resolution. However, an international research team managed to break this limit in a study published in the journal Optica.

"Textbook Optics should be reconsidered and Rayleigh's limit shall be placed in a broader context," researcher Sánchez Soto said in a press release. "So far, all our telescopes or microscopes directly observed intensity. Here we propose a scheme that optimizes the information obtainable and can exceed the Rayleigh limit."

Prior to the study, Rayleigh's curse limited the minimum distance that can be distinguished with visible light. In the recent experiment led by Complutense University physicists in Spain, investigators observed images with resolutions up to 17 times lower than previously thought possible.

The research team's findings have been hailed as a breakthrough in optics-related science. Complutense University officials say several companies have already expressed interest in the discovery.


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