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Gizmorama - January 25, 2017

Good Morning,

Wouldn't you like to improve your memory? Researchers have developed a non-invasive way to stimulate the brain and improve a certain type of memory. The mind definitely matters.

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

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists unlock graphene's superconductive powers --*

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Scientists have found a way to turn graphene into a superconductor. Materials scientists at the University of Cambridge successfully unlocked the material's ability to carry current without resistance.

Previously, graphene-derived superconductors required the use of superconducting additives. Unfortunately, these superconducting materials corrupted graphene's other qualities, super strength and flexibility.

"Placing graphene on a metal can dramatically alter the properties so it is technically no longer behaving as we would expect," Cambridge scientist Angelo Di Bernardo said in a news release. "What you see is not graphene's intrinsic superconductivity, but simply that of the underlying superconductor being passed on."

During lab experiments, researchers found a new superconducting material, praseodymium cerium copper oxide, PCCO, that can initiate graphene's innate superconducting abilities without compromising its other qualities.

"It has long been postulated that, under the right conditions, graphene should undergo a superconducting transition, but can't," explained Cambridge researcher Jason Robinson. "The idea of this experiment was, if we couple graphene to a superconductor, can we switch that intrinsic superconductivity on? The question then becomes how do you know that the superconductivity you are seeing is coming from within the graphene itself, and not the underlying superconductor?"

Researchers were able to differentiate between the superconductive signature of PCCO and the superconductive signature observed in PCCO-enhanced graphene. Pairs of electrons interact differently, inhabiting different spin states, depending on the type of superconductor and superconductivity.

Scientists observed a unique spin state among the electron pairs moving through the graphene superconductor.

"What we saw in the graphene was, in other words, a very different type of superconductivity than in PCCO," Robinson said. "This was a really important step because it meant that we knew the superconductivity was not coming from outside it and that the PCCO was therefore only required to unleash the intrinsic superconductivity of graphene."

The discovery -- detailed in the journal Nature Communications -- could pave the way for a variety of new and innovative superconducting devices.

*Scientists use non-invasive brain stimulation to improve memory*

EVANSTON, Ill. - Researchers from Northwestern University are using a new method to non-invasively stimulate the brain to improve a certain type of memory.

The research involves using brain stimulation to target a person's precise memory, which is used to remember specific details like shapes, colors and locations of things. Precise memory is usually lost in people with memory disorders.

Researchers used electromagnets to stimulate the area of the brain responsible for spatial memory, finding that it also improved precise memory and the improvements lasted 24 hours. MRIs were used to identify the memory-related brain networks in study participants.

"We show that it is possible to target the portion of the brain responsible for this type of memory and to improve it," Joel Voss, assistant professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said in a press release. "People with brain injuries have problems with precise memory as do individuals with dementia, and so our findings could be useful in developing new treatments for these conditions."

The study improves understanding of how memory can be improved through non-invasive measures where in previous studies, this type of stimulation only had limited, short-term effects.

"We improved people's memory in a very specific and important way a full day after we stimulated their brains," Voss said.

The study was published in Current Biology.


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