How To Charge Your Electric Car Battery 200 Times Faster

 Despite the vast improvements in battery technology, today’s drivers of electric vehicles face another difficulty: slow battery charging speed. Currently, cars take about 10 hours to fully recharge at home. Even the fastest superchargers at the charging stations require up to 20 to 40 minutes to fully recharge the vehicles. This creates additional costs and inconvenience to the customers.

To address this problem, scientists looked for answers in the field of quantum physics. Their search has led to the discovery that quantum technologies may promise new mechanisms to charge batteries at a faster rate. Quantum battery technology was first proposed in a seminal paper published by Alicki and Fannes in 2012. It was theorised that quantum resources, such as entanglement, can be used to vastly speed up the battery charging process by charging all cells within the battery simultaneously in a collective manner.

This is particularly exciting, as modern, high-capacity batteries can contain numerous cells. Such collective charging is not possible in classical batteries, where the cells are charged in parallel independently of one another.

The advantage of this collective versus parallel charging can be measured by the ratio called the quantum charging advantage. Around 2017, researchers noticed that there can be two possible sources behind this quantum advantage—namely global operation (in which all the cells talk to all others simultaneously, i.e., “all sitting at one table”) and all-to-all coupling (i.e., “many discussions, but every discussion has only two participants”). However, it is unclear whether both these sources are necessary, and whether there are any limits to the charging speed that can be achieved.

Complex Systems within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) further explored these questions. The paper, which was chosen as an Editors Suggestion in the journal Physical Review Letters, showed that all-to-all coupling is irrelevant in quantum batteries and that the presence of global operations is the only ingredient in the quantum advantage. The group went further to pinpoint the exact source of this advantage while ruling out any other possibilities and even provided an explicit way of designing such batteries.

Is Alzheimer’s Caused By A Leaky Blood/Brain Barrier?

A new article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease Reports has proposed a novel hypothesis for the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. The article argues Alzheimer’s is caused by a damaged blood-brain barrier allowing fatty molecules known as lipids to invade the brain and trigger a cascade of events that result in neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.

There are currently more than six million Americans alone living with Alzheimer’s (and over 850,000 in the UK) and that number is expected to double by 2060. Despite decades of work and billions of dollars researchers have been unable to crack the mystery of this pervasive neurodegenerative disease.

At the beginning of the 20th century a German researcher by the name of Alois Alzheimer first reported a case of distinctive dementia in a 50-year-old woman. Over the course of the century the disease became known as Alzheimer’s disease and its pathology was robustly characterized.

 Since the 1990s the dominant hypothesis to explain the cause of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) focused on a pair of proteins known as amyloid and tau. The abnormal accumulation of these proteins in the brain is one of the clearest pathological signs of Alzheimer’s and most research has centred on finding a pharmaceutical way to stop, or reverse, the toxic build up of these proteins in a human brain.

 A Nasal Spray To Prevent Alzheimer’s

 With no apology for running another Alzheimer’s story, an international team of researchers has reported on the successful preclinical tests of a novel nasal spray developed to prevent neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment was effective at reversing the pathological signs of Alzheimer’s in mouse models and the researchers are looking to start human tests in two years.

The prevailing hypothesis driving most Alzheimer’s disease research is the idea that neurodegeneration is caused by the abnormal accumulation of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain. So the majority of pharmaceutical interventions over recent decades have focused on reversing, or preventing, those toxic protein aggregations.

But virtually every one of these novel drugs has failed at some stage of human trials. And many big pharmaceutical companies have pulled out of the Alzheimer’s drug development field altogether, putting the research into the “too-hard” basket.

This new research, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Translational Research & Clinical Interventions, comes from a biotech company called Neuro-Bio. The company was formed in 2013 by Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, building off decades of work investigating the origins of Alzheimer’s disease.

How Your Gut Controls Your Brain

New research published in the journal Science reports the discovery of a unique pathway by which bacteria in the gut can directly communicate with neurons in the brain responsible for regulating appetite and body temperature. The novel mechanism adds to our growing understanding of gut-brain communication pathways.

One of the most compelling emerging areas in medical science is the relationship between the gut and the brain. Recent research has uncovered fascinating ways these two distinct parts of the body communicate with each other, from the discovery of novel gut cells that can nearly instantly engage neural synapses, to the revelation that certain types of bacteria in the gut can influence the activity of immune cells in the brain.

Most of these gut-brain discoveries involve bacteria indirectly influencing the brain, such as through releasing molecules that trigger cascades of other mechanisms. But this new study describes a novel way that bacteria can directly modulate the activity of certain clusters of neurons.

Is This The Key Protein For Controlling Body Weight?

 By studying the behaviour of a protein tightly linked with a wide range of cancers, scientists have uncovered the role it plays in regulating body weight. The discovery deepens our understanding of the way our bodies respond to food, or lack thereof, and opens up new possibilities when it comes to the treatment of metabolic disorders.

The breakthrough comes from medical scientists at Yale University, who were exploring the way a protein called augmentor-alpha contributes to human cancers. The protein is known to bind to a molecule called anaplastic lymphoma kinase receptor (ALK) that mutates and drives a range of cancers, and in an effort to learn more, the researchers sought to identify where the protein was most abundant.

Through experiments on mice, the scientists found augmentor-alpha was most strongly expressed in a brain region called the hypothalamus, which plays a role in many important functions including regulation of temperature, stress response and metabolism. More specifically, the scientists found augmentor-alpha expressed in high levels in what are called agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, which are known to promote hunger.

“AgRP neurons are so important for feeling hunger that without them, you wouldn’t eat. You’d die,” said Tamas Horvath, an author of the study. “So when it became clear that augmentor-alpha was dominantly expressed in these neurons, it immediately suggested that augmentor-alpha was involved in metabolism.”

An AI Tool May Be Able To Predict Heart Attacks

A new AI tool developed by researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center can accurately measure plaque deposits in coronary arteries and predict a patient’s risk of suffering a heart attack within five years. The tool needs further validation before being deployed in clinics, but it promises to automatically achieve in seconds what has previously taken trained experts up to 30 minutes to deliver.

A scan known as computed tomography angiography (CTA) is one of the best tools doctors currently have at their disposal to evaluate heart disease patients. CTA imaging of plaque deposits within coronary arteries has recently been found to be the best way to predict a patient’s likelihood of heart attack in the near future.

“Coronary plaque is often not measured because there is not a fully automated way to do it,” said senior author of the new study, Damini Dey, from the Biomedical Imaging Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai. “When it is measured, it takes an expert at least 25 to 30 minutes, but now we can use this program to quantify plaque from CTA images in five to six seconds.”

To create the tool the researchers first trained an algorithm to recognise plaque deposits using a dataset of CTA images from 921 patients. The tool was then validated on a test set of images from several hundred patients, delivering results in close to complete agreement with human expert readers.

Alpaca Biology May Be Able To Ease Your Pain

By tapping into the unique immune system of alpacas, scientists have developed a promising technique for tempering chronic inflammation associated with conditions such as arthritis. The breakthrough hinges on what are known as nanobodies, which when taken from the woolly mammals were shown to neutralize the alarm system for the immune system and, in doing so, treat excessive inflammation in unhealthy mice.

The research was carried out by scientists at Germany’s University of Bonn and Brazil’s University of São Paulo, who were taking aim at something they refer to as ASC specks. These are large molecular complexes made up of ASC proteins, which are critical to the immune response in human cells, acting as an alarm system when they sense an attack from a pathogen, for example, and banding together.

The resulting ASC specks trigger the accumulation of large numbers of messenger substances that call for help from the immune system, and also bust holes in the cell membrane, enabling the messenger molecules to escape and sound their alarm. But these pores also ultimately lead to the dramatic downfall of the cell.

“At some point, the cell basically explodes and empties its entire contents into the tissue,” said study author Bernardo Franklin of the Institute of Innate Immunity at the University Hospital Bonn. “The messenger substances that are now abruptly released then act like a last great cry for help. This triggers the immune system to mount a strong inflammatory response that contains the infection.”

How To Store Solar Energy In A Liquid

 Back in 2017 the world caught wind of an interesting energy system from researchers at Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology designed to store solar energy in liquid form. By hooking it up to an ultra-thin thermoelectric generator, the team has now demonstrated that it can produce electricity, a development it believes lays the groundwork for self-charging electronics that use solar power on demand.

Called the MOlecular Solar Thermal (MOST) system, the technology has been in the works for more than a decade and centres on a specially designed molecule of carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. When it comes into contact with sunlight, the atoms within the molecule are rearranged to change its shape and turn it into an energy-rich isomer, which can be stored in liquid form.

The energy captured by the MOST system can be stored in this liquid state for up to 18 years, before a specially designed catalyst returns the molecule to its original shape and releases the energy as heat. The Chalmers team has now collaborated with scientists at China’s Shanghai Jiao Tong University, who have used a compact thermoelectric generator to turn that heat into electricity.

“The generator is an ultra-thin chip that could be integrated into electronics such as headphones, smart watches and telephones,” said researcher Zhihang Wang from Chalmers University of Technology. “So far, we have only generated small amounts of electricity, but the new results show that the concept really works. It looks very promising,”

How We Can Get High Using Just Sounds

 Humans have an uncanny knack for finding interesting new ways to get off their faces. This usually involves sniffing, snorting, licking, chewing, or even injecting various substances.

In a new study, researchers examined a relatively new way to alter minds, which makes use of digital sounds to feed conflicting frequencies into each ear. By tuning in to these ‘binaural beats‘, some people report they can drop out, reduce pain, enhance memory, and ease anxiety and depression.

To determine what kind of crossover might exist between the use of more traditional psychoactive substances and experimentation with binaural beats, a team of researchers from Australia and the UK dug into the 2021 Global Drug Survey, a survey of more than 30,000 individuals from 22 countries.

They found around 5 percent of those surveyed had dabbled with the use of binaural beats sometime in the last year. Of those, just over one in ten were doing it purely for recreational purposes.

Most users were in their late teens to early 20s, had used prohibited substances such as MDMA or cannabis, and were from the US, Mexico, UK, Brazil, and Poland.

Beyond seeking a high, their reasons for experimenting with binaural beats were as varied as they were.

“It’s very new, we just don’t know much about the use of binaural beats as digital drugs,” says lead author Monica Barratt, a social scientist from RMIT University in Australia.

New Hydrogen Tanks Could Make Jet Kerosene Obsolete

 A revolutionary cryogenic tank design promises to radically boost the range of hydrogen-powered aircraft – to the point where clean, fuel-cell airliners could fly up to four times farther than comparable planes running on today’s dirty jet fuel.

Weight is the enemy of all things aerospace – indeed, hydrogen’s superior energy storage per weight is what makes it such an attractive alternative to lithium batteries in the aviation world. We’ve written before about HyPoint’s turbo air-cooled fuel cell technology, but its key differentiator in the aviation market is its enormous power density compared with traditional fuel cells. For its high power output, it’s extremely lightweight.

Now, it seems HyPoint has found a similarly-minded partner that’s making similar claims on the fuel storage side. Tennessee company Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories (GTL) has been working for many years now on developing ultra-lightweight cryogenic tanks made from graphite fibre composites, among other materials.

GTL claims it’s built and tested several cryogenic tanks demonstrating an enormous 75 percent mass reduction as compared with “state-of-the-art aerospace cryotanks (metal or composite).” The company says they’ve tested leak-tight, even through several cryo-thermal pressure cycles, and that these tanks are at a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6+, where TRL 6 represents a technology that’s been verified at a beta prototype level in an operational environment.