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5,148 Posts
Lamp invention puts a smile on inventor's face


A SHANGHAI university student has invented an energy-saving, light-emitting diode lamp which can entertain users by changing its shape and design, officials with East China Normal University announced.

The lamp invented by Yao Yi, an undergraduate student at ECNU's engineering design department, has won first prize in the Philips Lamp Contest, one of the city's top awards for lamp designers.

A lack of professional support has hampered Yao from producing and marketing the lamp, he said.

The lamp is made of a round base with more than 40 small LED lights and a balloon with a smiley face acts as the lamp shade.

The balloon can be blown up through a small ball-shaped air inflator, allowing the lamp to change shape and brightness. When the balloon expands, the lamp provides more light.

Yao said the use of LED lights makes it safe for children.

"LED lights don't heat up much when they are on, so the lamp won't expose children to the risk of getting burned when playing with the balloon," Yao said.

Meanwhile, LED lights are an environment friendly source of light.

LED lights use only 6 percent of the energy that an ordinary bulb does to create the same amount of light. LED materials can also be recycled without harming natural resources, unlike metal or fluorescent lamps, Yao said.

However, don't expect to see the award-winning invention in stores anytime soon.

"I designed and built the lamp on my own," Yao said. "But a stronger professional support team, including mechanical assistants, a structural designer and material professionals are needed to improve the design before it could reach the market."

5,148 Posts
China builds one of world's fastest supercomputer

Updated: 2008-06-25 19:56

Although missing the world's most extensive rankings for the best supercomputers, a Chinese-made high performance server rivals the 7th fastest for computing speed.

Dawning 5000A, with a capability of 160 trillions of computing operations per second, is signed to be installed in the Shanghai Supercomputer Center (SSC) which specializes in super computing outsourcing services for daunting jobs such as genome mapping, quake appraisal, precise weather forecast, mining survey and huge stock exchange data.

Nie Hua, vice president of Dawning Information Industry Co., said here Wednesday in an interview with Xinhua, "The delay in the delivery of AMD Barcelona quad-cores chips made us miss the latest rankings."

The International Supercomputing Conference released last week in Dresden, Germany, the latest competition results of the world's most powerful supercomputers, or TOP500.

The world's No. 1 system, "Roadrunner" which was built by IBM for the US Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), was so revolutionary that it exceeded the milestone of running one quadrillion computing operations a second, 5.4 times faster than that of Dawning 5000A.

While IBM "Roadrunner" was built for unspecified military applications, the Chinese fastest super system, covering a floor space of 75 square meters, focuses on commercial use. The vendor Dawning showcased its eye-catching performance of processing 36-hour weather forecast information on Beijing and vicinity within three minutes.

IBM occupied five slots of the top ten supercomputers. When comparing performance, Dawning 5000A followed the No. 6 IBM BlueGene/P system which has been installed in Germany at the Forschungszentrum Juelich (FZJ).

The scheduled completion of Dawning 5000A installation in the SSC in November might enable the system to compete the next world rankings in November.

Whether Dawning 5000A is able to remain among the top ten is questionable because of the swift development of the supercomputing industry. The FZJ IBM BlueGene/P, which computes 167.3 trillion times one second, was ranked the second in last November.

With an innovative energy-saving design, Dawning 5000A consumes 700 kilowatts per hour, beating most in TOP500 in average power efficiency except the well-known energy-efficient IBM BlueGene series.

The TOP500 list showed that 75 percent of the central processing units (CPUs) equipped in all the systems were from Intel while Dawning 5000A employed 6,600 AMD Barcelona quad-cores processors.

Previous industry analysis predicted Dawning might for the first time use the home-grown Godson chips in super servers, which breaks the hold of Intel and AMD in the high-end server CPU market. Godson chips were developed by a research team at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Computing Technology (ICT), which also holds the Dawning Company.

Nie explained why Godson chips were not used: "Our client (the SSC) required the major functions of the system should be accomplished in Microsoft Windows operating system whereas Godson chips primarily run the competing Linux operating system."

"We do develop the Godson-driven prototype servers, but we have to satisfy our clients first," said Nie, who also hinted that manufacturing capability and actual roll-outs of Godson chips were not what he expected.

Nie, nevertheless, did not rule out the possibility of using Godson chips in the Dawning 5000 series in the future, saying its next supercomputer, currently coded as Dawning 5000L which will be installed by 2010 and have a similar computing performance to IBM "Roadrunner," is likely to be equipped with Godson CPUs.

As with many Chinese manufacturing products, Dawning supercomputers enjoy big cost advantages.

Even with expensive imported AMD chips, Dawning 5000A costs only 200 million yuan (29 million US dollars), significantly lower than what the US Department of Energy spent on IBM "Roadrunner," 100 million US dollars.

Use of Chinese-made chips will further cut the cost for supercomputers, said Dr. Sun Ninghui, chief architect of the Dawning series.

Dawning is not a stranger to TOP500. A Dawning 4000A was ranked the tenth fastest in the world in June 2004.

Chinese computing scientists built in 1995 the country's first supercomputer, which only reached the major technical standards of what US companies produced eight years before. China is now getting closer to the US and is second in Asia, as Japan is losing ground.

The only system installed in Asia to secure a berth in the latest top ten is funded by India's TATA group in a lab in Pune, India. But the vendor of the eighth-ranked EKA system, Hewlett-Packard, is from the US

5,148 Posts
Upgrading Li-battery performance via nanotechnology

June 24, 2008

(Nanowerk News) Lithium batteries, as a main power source or back-up power source for mobile communication devices, portable electronic devices and the like, have attracted much attention from the scientific and industrial fields due to their high electromotive force and high energy density. To meet the demand for batteries having higher energy density and improved cycle characteristics, in recent years, a great deal of attempt has been made to develop new electrode materials or design new structures of electrode materials.

With the support of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, researchers of the CAS Key Laboratory of Molecular Nanostructure and Nanotechnology have made progress in V2O5 hollow microspheres for high-performance cathode materials in lithium-ion batteries (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2005, 44, 4391-4395). More recently, they successfully designed and synthesized tin-based nanostructured anode materials for high-performance lithium-ion batteries. The work has been published in a recent issue of Adv. Mater. (2008, 20, 1160-1165).

Metallic tin is considered a very promising anode material for lithium-ion batteries because its theoretical specific capacity (Li4.4Sn, 992 mAh/g) is much higher than that of conventional graphite (LiC6, 372 mAh/g). However, the biggest challenge for employing metallic tin as applicable active anode materials is that it is suffering from huge volume variation during the lithium insertion/extraction cycle, which leads to pulverization of the electrode and very rapid capacity decay.

To solve the problem, a research team led by Prof. WANG Lijun, director of the CAS Institute of Chemistry, has designed a new approach to synthesize tin nanoparticles encapsulated elastic hollow carbon spheres (TNHCs) with uniform size. Via such a approach, multiple tin nanoparticles with a diameter of less than 100 nm were encapsulated in one thin hollow carbon sphere with a thickness of only about 20 nm, thus leading to both the content of Sn up to over 70% by weight and the void volume in carbon shell as high as about 70-80% by volume. This void volume and the elasticity of thin carbon spherical shell can efficiently accommodate the volume change of tin nanoparticles due to the Li-Sn alloying-dealloying reactions, and thus prevent the pulverization of the electrodes.

As a result, this type of tin-based nanocomposites have very high specific capacity of >800 mAh/g in the initial 10 cycles, and 550 mAh/g after the 100th cycle, as well as excellent cycling performance, exhibiting a great potential as anode materials in lithium-ion batteries.

The researchers say their results successfully demonstrate the power of the strategy of using elastic hollow carbon spheres as buffer and container and could be extended to other anode and cathode materials.

A schematic illustration of the structure and the lithiation process of the tin nanoparticles encapsulated with elastic hollow carbon spheres.

5,148 Posts
Supercomputer given a home


CHINA'S leading supercomputer, 20 times more powerful than the current one, will have a home in Shanghai by the end of this year.

A supercomputer demonstrates a country's IT development level because it is used for daily life, academic studies and industrial applications such as weather forecasts and gene studies, the Shanghai Supercomputer Center said yesterday.

The supercomputer, code-named Dawning5000, costs 200 million yuan (US$29 million), with the central and Shanghai governments contributing 100 million yuan each.

Dawning5000 has achieved a peak performance of 230 teraflops, or 230 trillion calculations per second. The computing capacity is based on how many calculations can be performed within one second.

It occupies 75 square meters and used 6,600 AMD quad-core chips, 20 times faster than the previous model Dawning4000 but only increasing power consumption by 50 percent.

"Now we invite people to give the model an impressive name, such as IBM's Blue Gene/L, before it's properly installed in Shanghai," said Xi Zili, the supercomputer center director.

At present the world's most powerful supercomputer is the IBM-developed Roadrunner with a peak performance of 1.026 petaflops, five times faster than Dawning5000.

The International Supercomputing Conference released last week in Dresden, Germany, the latest rankings of the world's most powerful supercomputers and Dawning would have been there.

Nie Hua, vice president of Dawning Information Industry Co, said yesterday in an interview with Xinhua: "A delay in the delivery of AMD Barcelona quad-cores chips made us miss the latest rankings."

In 2004 a Dawning 4000A was ranked the tenth fastest in the world.

While the IBM Roadrunner was built for unspecified military applications, the Chinese system focuses on commercial use, Xinhua reported. Dawning showcased its eye-catching performance by processing a 36-hour weather forecast on Beijing and its environs within three minutes.

Li Guojie, Dawning Information Industry Co's chairman, said China is researching a 1-petaflop supercomputer and the model will be available around 2010.

In 1995 Chinese computing scientists built the country's first supercomputer.

Visitors check out China's leading supercomputer, Dawning5000, at the Shanghai Supercomputer Center yesterday. The supercomputer has achieved a peak performance of 230 teraflops, or 230 trillion calculations per second, 20 times faster than the previous model Dawning4000.

5,148 Posts
China develops nuclear power plant training simulator 2008-06-30

BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- China has developed its own technology for nuclear power plant simulators, the China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) said here on Monday.

Experts believe that 70 percent of nuclear incidents result from human error. The full-scope simulator will improve operators' training.

"China's nuclear power plants were co-built with foreign countries. The previous simulators were built by foreign companies," a source with CNNC said.

"The simulator must be upgraded when power plants are expanded," said the official who preferred to remain anonymous. "However, it would take too long and cost too much to ask foreign experts to come and do that."

The third phase of the Qinshan nuclear power plant added 8 megawatts to each of its two reactors. The simulator, therefore, needed improvement.

"Our research institution developed the core technology as we tried to upgrade the Qinshan simulator," CNNC's deputy general manager Yu Jianfeng said. "After two years' efforts, we are able to build our own simulators."

CNNC also signed framework agreements with the Fangjiashan and Fuqing nuclear power plants to use the simulators when they go into operation in 2014, according to media reports.

5,148 Posts
Breakthrough in next-generation Long March rocket


BEIJING -- China has made a breakthrough in developing its next generation of space-launch vehicle Long March V, which is scheduled for operation by 2014, said sources with the nation's launch vehicle academy.

Significant progress has been made on the rocket engine and the building of a production plant.

The rocket's 120-tonne liquid oxygen-kerosene engine had passed initial tests and would be put into field tests by the year end, said Liang Xiaohong, vice president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology

Li Hong, president of the launch vehicle academy, said the Long March V would meet the requirement of large-payload low Earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous transfer orbit (GEO) missions for the next two to three decades.
With four boosters, the 59.5-meter-high environmentally friendly rocket's launching weight would reach 643 tonnes. It would be able to deliver a 25-tonne payload to an LEO, compared with the present 10 tonnes, and a 14-tonne payload to a GEO, compared with 5.5 tonnes now, said China Central Television in a report.

The 14-tonne payload to a GEO means the rocket can carry a heavier satellite or more satellites at one time while the 25-tonne payload to an LEO will enable it to carry the Shenzhou-series spacecraft, said Li Dong, a designer of Long March V.

The rocket is five meters wide and cannot be transported via railway or expressway to any of the nation's current launch centers. As a result, a production plant has been built in the coastal Tianjin where the rockets will be shipped by sea to a new launch facility at Wenchang in the southern province of Hainan.

The plant has a total investment of 4.5 billion yuan (657 million U.S. dollars). The first phase of its construction will be completed at the end of next year.

The Long March rockets have carried out 107 missions since 1970. The first rocket of the Long March family was launched on April 24, 1970, sending China's first satellite Dongfanghong-1 into space.

Most recently, a Long March-3B rocket lifted a new telecommunications satellite, Zhongxing-9, into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern Sichuan Province on June 9.

Zhongxing-9, a satellite ordered by China Satcom from the France-based Thales Alenia Space, will be used for live television broadcast and put into use before the Beijing Olympic Games next month.

The next-generation rocket was also expected to contribute in the nation's space probe.

Zhang Bainan, chief designer of Shenzhou VII, said Tuesday that the research team that developed the spacecraft, China's third manned space launch, would start final testing after arriving at a northwestern satellite launch center in a few days.

China successfully put two manned spacecraft into orbit in 2003 and 2005. Shenzhou VII is expected to be launched in October this year.

5,148 Posts
Coated fullerenes might be a new hydrogen-storage material

July 8, 2008

(Nanowerk News) In cooperation with their US co-workers, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) researchers recently discovered a new nano-material with high-capacity hydrogen storage. Their work was published in a recent issue of Physics Review Letter.

Because of their promising prospects for hydrogen storage, carbon-based nano-materials are in the spotlight of the global community of physics over the past decade, However, the poor absorption of hydrogen molecules on the surface of the materials hinders their practical use under room temperature and pressure. To overcome the technical snag, scientists have contrived many methods to modify the carbon-based materials, including coating the surfaces with transition or alkali metals, substitutionally dope the nano-structures with light elements. Still, the resultant effects are unsatisfactory.

Teaming up with ZHANG Zhenyu and his coworkers with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Prof. WANG Enge with the CAS Institute of Physics and his doctorate student YANG Shenyuan conducted the theoretical exploration of the feasibility to functionalize the carbon-based nanostructures in search for the characterization of their properties of hydrogen storage and concentrated their research attention on the coating of C60 fullerenes with light alkaline-earth metals.

They explored theoretically the feasibility of functionalizing carbon nanostructures for hydrogen storage, focusing on the coating of C60 fullerenes with light alkaline-earth metals. Their first-principles density functional theory studies show that both Ca and Sr can bind strongly to the C60 surface, and highly prefer monolayer coating, thereby explaining existing experimental observations. The strong binding is attributed to an intriguing charge transfer mechanism involving the empty d levels of the metal elements. The charge redistribution, in turn, gives rise to electric fields surrounding the coated fullerenes, which can now function as ideal molecular hydrogen attractors. With a hydrogen uptake of >8:4 wt%on Ca32C60, Ca is superior to all the recently suggested metal coating elements.

The research work has been funded by the CAS and the National Foundation for Natural Sciences of China in the latter's funding program specially designed for communities of innovative research.

5,148 Posts
Satellite Heart

The usefulness of China's own global navigation system is being extended by technological breakthroughs

China has successfully developed the country's first navigation chip that is expected to be the heart of the country's satellite-based navigation system, according to a report released on February 21.

The Navigation I chip, developed by the Shanghai Fukong Hualong Micro-system Tech Co., can be applied to the country's homemade Beidou satellite navigation system, said an article in the Shanghai Morning Post.

The chip offers better pricing and functionality than foreign products, the company's Marketing Director Yang Hong said, adding that Navigator I will replace foreign-made chipsets used in the Beidou system.

"We started to develop the chip at the end of 2006 and have invested tens of millions of yuan into research," Yang said. "Navigation I is a first-generation product, and the second-generation chip is under research and development."

Backed up by self-developed chip technology, the Beidou system can provide both open services and authorized services, according to Shi Lei, Chairman of Shanghai Commercial Investment Co. Ltd., the parent company of Fukong Hualong.

Open services are provided free of charge, including positioning and speed measurement. Authorized services are more secure and provided to subscribers only, such as positioning, speed measurement and communications.

"The advantage of our navigation system is that it allows interactive communication. Users cannot only locate themselves, but can tell others where they are, which will be useful for rescue efforts in deserts and oceans," Shi said.

More civil use

On January 17, the China Satellite Navigation Engineering Center (CSNEC) announced that China had put a homemade monitoring system into operation to oversee the transport of hazardous chemicals using Beidou navigation satellites.

The monitoring system provides data on hazardous chemical transport to Beidou navigation satellites, which in turn gives corresponding operational orders, according to experts who were engaged in the research and development of the navigation system.

"This signals new progress in the civilian use of the Chinese satellite navigation system, and is a prominent stride toward a stage of large-scale civilian applications," the center said.

Vehicles that transport hazardous chemicals are equipped with certain sensors that collect data and information on both vehicles and traffic conditions. The information is stored in a black box and transmitted to the satellites. Corresponding operational signals are then sent to the land control center.

"In recent years, there have been frequent accidents during transportation. Attention should be given to such hidden dangers," a CSNEC expert said. Statistics show that there are more than 110,000 vehicles across China engaged in transporting hazardous chemicals.

The monitoring system, which oversees the entire transport process, is expected to greatly reduce the number of accidents and enhance the management of the transport process of hazardous chemicals.

When a vehicle is involved in a traffic accident, staff at the land control center call the police and give timely rescue instructions using orders from the satellites, experts said. The whole process, from the accident occurring to the information being sent to the land control center, takes just 0.01 second. This is much more advanced and less time-consuming than the monitoring system assisted by the traditional Global Positioning System.

In addition, the Beidou system can monitor whether a driver is impaired, because censors installed in the cab can detect alcohol levels. If he or she is beyond the limit, the control center can cut off the fuel-supply to prevent drunk driving.

The Beidou system not only offers domestic security services, but covers neighboring countries and regions as well.

Extended space net

On February 3, 2007, China launched its fourth Beidou, or Big Dipper, navigation satellite to provide all-weather and all-day navigation and positioning information. The previous three satellites were put into space on October 31, 2000, December 21, 2000 and May 25, 2003, respectively.

Experts said China is establishing the Compass Navigation Satellite System on the basis of the Beidou system. The Compass Navigation Satellite System will gradually extend to be a global satellite navigation and positioning system after network building and experiments are completed.

According to Ran Chengqi, Deputy Director of CSNEC, the Beidou system will also be used in guiding traffic and monitoring sports venues during the Beijing Olympics in August.

Integrating five positioning satellites that are orbiting the Earth, the Beidou system will help ease traffic problems during the forthcoming Olympic Games by offering detailed positioning information to individual drivers, Ran said. The Chinese system will be compatible with the prevailing Global Positioning System while serving the Olympics.

The Beidou system integrates the advantages of traditional astronomy navigation and positioning and ground radio navigation and positioning, equal to an air radio navigation station, which can determine a user's latitude, longitude and altitude positions at any time and place.

Apart from the contributions to transportation and the Olympics, the Beidou system will also have wider applications in areas such as fishing, mining, wildfire surveillance, disaster forecasts and telecommunications.

China's Beidou system has become the world's third navigation and positioning system in service after those developed by the United States and Russia. In 2007, the UN recognized four global navigation systems, including China's Beidou system, the U.S. GPS system, the Glonass system of Russia and the EU's Galileo system as core suppliers of navigation and positioning services throughout the world.

Unlike GPS, Glonass and Galileo systems, which use medium Earth orbit satellites, the Beidou system uses satellites in geostationary orbit. This means that the system does not require a large constellation of satellites, but it also limits coverage to areas on Earth where the satellites are visible, experts said.

As for future market competition, it is still not clear how the Chinese system will rival the American GPS or the EU's Galileo system, which was built with Chinese participation, said a spokesperson for CSNEC.

5,148 Posts
3G high-speed wireless WAN card available

July 16, 2008

China's independently developed 3G high-speed wireless WAN card has been put on the market officially in Chongqing recently. Nie Nen, chairman of the Chongqing Chongyou Information Technology (Group) Co. LTD, the company that researched and developed the WAN card, said that its Internet speed is 4 to 8 times faster than current mainstream wireless WAN on the market, according to Guangming Daily.

The commercial wireless WAN card not only provides faster Internet access and uses fewer wireless resources, but also has stylish and simple built-in stealth antennas, strong signal reception, and is portable. The wireless WAN card uses standard interfaces with strong compatibilities; and can be connected to desktop computers, notebook computers, and Pocket PCs. In the TD-HSDPA network environment, you can use high-speed wireless data transfer, a high-speed online download streaming media player, engage in high-speed Internet browsing, send and receive e-mail, voice calls and send and receive text messages and more.

5,148 Posts
China to use intelligent robot in Arctic expedition


ABOARD XUELONG -- Chinese scientists will use an intelligent robot for the first time in the country's scientific expedition to the North Pole, Zhang Haisheng, chief scientist of the expedition said Wednesday.

The robot, named North Pole ARV, is the first Autonomous and Remote operated Vehicle (ARV) developed independently by Chinese scientists.

It will be used to monitor the Arctic Ocean and carry scientific equipment during China's third scientific expedition to the region, which began last week.

"It will be the first time that China will use an intelligent robot made by Chinese scientists on its Arctic expedition," said Zhang Haisheng.

North Pole ARV, a product of China's national "863 plan" in the marine technique field, was mainly developed by the Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA), along with the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of Sciences.

As the first underwater vehicle of its kind with an autonomous-and-remote hybrid working mode under an ice monitoring system, the robot can be remote-operated as well as be autonomously navigated according to a pre-programmed mission, said Li Shuo, associate professor of SIA and leader of the project.

According to Li, the North Pole ARV with built-in power can communicate with the surface system through micro-optical fiber. It can work as a ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) to precisely survey in a suspended position and as an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) to measure a certain range to obtain full data in real time.

The North Pole ARV weighs 350 kg, with a working depth of 100 meters and a working radius of 3 kilometers.

"As a motion measurement platform with acoustic and optical equipment under the ice, North Pole ARV will be deployed under the ice to obtain valuable information, such as the formation of the bottom of the ice, the thickness of the ice, and salinity and temperature at different depths in the ocean," Li said.

He added that the North Pole ARV was designed to investigate under the ice in the Arctic Ocean in a three-dimensional field in order to provide a modern technical means for marine scientific exploration, as it is difficult to observe under the ice, especially with regard to multiple synchronous measurements.

China launched its third scientific expedition to the North Pole on July 11.

The team, comprised of 122 scientists and logistics staff, will study the polar region's distinctive maritime resources and air quality, and also conduct comprehensive research on geological and meteorological conditions during the 75-day expedition.

5,148 Posts
Nanotubes bring artificial photosynthesis a step nearer

11 July 2008

Carbon nanotubes are the crucial chemical ingredient that could make artificial photosynthesis possible, say a team of Chinese researchers. The team has found that nanotubes mimic an important step in photosynthesis that chemists have been unable to copy until now.

Artificial photosynthesis has the potential to efficiently produce hydrogen that could be used as a clean fuel for vehicles. It could also be used to mop up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Photosynthetic organisms use the energy from light to break down water into oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen then reacts with carbon dioxide to help synthesise carbohydrates, the molecules organisms use to store energy.

Chemists have long tried in vain to reproduce the process, but one key step in particular has proven impossible to copy.

Visible photons can only contribute a limited amount of energy towards a chemical reaction. This energy is absorbed by electrons involved in the reaction.

Elusive goal
Reactions that require more energy, such as the synthesis of carbohydrates, can only proceed when several energised electrons are available to contribute. For that reason, chemists say the photosynthesis falls into a class of reactions known as multiple electron systems.

But nobody has succeeded in making artificial multiple electron systems that could provide the necessary energy for artificial photosynthesis.

Such a system would comprise of a donor molecule that can absorb visible light and release many electrons, and a receiver molecule capable of accepting and storing those electrons. Existing systems can donate and receive only one electron at a time.

Nanotube key
Now, a team led by Xian-Fu Zhang at the Hebei Normal University of Science and Technology in Qinhuangdao, China, has found that single-walled carbon nanotubes could act as the chemical heart of a multiple electron system.

A carbon nanotube can accept one electron for every 32 carbon atoms it contains, and so even a short nanotube accepts many electrons, says Zhang. That means a carbon nanotube could act as the receiver molecule in artificial photosynthesis.

Although there are no known small molecules capable of releasing a large number of electrons after absorbing visible light, a class of molecule called the phthalocyanines (PCs) does release a single electron when it absorbs light.

Zhang's team realised that by covalently bonding a large number of PC molecules to a carbon nanotube, they could create a multiple electron system activated by visible light.

'Basic requirement'
They found that they could bond 120 PC molecules to a nanotube just 1 micrometer long, and that about 25% of the electrons donated from those PCs end up being stored in the nanotube.

"We decided to create this system initially simply to efficiently convert solar energy into electricity," says Zhang.

But he thinks the nanosystem could form a key component of an artificial photosynthesis model. The extra electrons stored in the nanotubes could be used to convert a chloroplast chemical called NADP into NADPH, which could then reduce carbon dioxide to carbohydrates.

James Barber at Imperial College London, UK, is an expert in photosynthesis. "A lot of people working in this area don't address a basic requirement – that you need to have multiple electrons in photosynthesis," he says. "I think these researchers are right to make this an issue."

The chemical reactions of photosynthesis require more energy than can be imparted by visible light to single electrons. Chinese scientists have developed a nanotech solution to harvest energy from multiple electrons—something alternative approaches to artificial photosynthesis have not yet managed to do.

5,148 Posts
Major breakthrough made on lightning diversion


Chinese scientists are now able to harness lightning. A research project has found ways to draw lightning down to designated areas for disaster prevention and use.

"The two-year project, which will be completed next month, can successfully capture lightning and transmit the energy to a ground collection system," for research and use, Qie Xiushu, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), said Thursday.

"The project's technology can also divert lightning to safe places to prevent disasters," Qie told China Daily.

Special rockets equipped with conductors capture the lightning and draw the energy to the ground.

The lightning diversion rocket - YL-1 - developed by the institute, passed national scientific tests earlier this month and will be put into mass production.

The rocket, which is very light and can be retrieved with a parachute, must be launched into a thunderstorm minutes before lightning occurs.

"Timing is very important for launching the rocket," Qie said. "With ground monitoring and experience, we have gained a 70 percent success rate."

"Great economic losses can be avoided in the country with the wide use of this technology in the future."

Scientists have begun to use the electromagnetic radiation produced by lightning to genetically modify plants and to change the some of the earth's chemical elements.

Lightning diversion can also help reduce the frequency of hailstorms, Zhang Yijun, director of the Lightning Physics Laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, said.

The technology is expected to be used in the fields of meteorology, forestry and agriculture, scientists said.

In China, some 1,000 people are killed by lightning annually and economic losses average 1 billion yuan ($143 million). It is the third largest natural disaster to affect the country, after floods and landslides.

The country began to study lightning diversion in 1989 and has achieved rapid progress in recent years along with four other countries - the United States, France, Japan and Brazil.

A bolt of lightning can generate several hundred billion kilowatts of electricity, more than 1,000 times the total capacity of the Three Gorges hydropower plant, the world's largest, scientists said.

The world experiences more than 100 bolts of lightning every second, discharging a huge amount of energy.

5,148 Posts
China technology: gotta dig it


THERE were high fives galore in Shanghai yesterday when the massive shield digging the Xizang Road S. Tunnel broke through to the Huangpu River's west bank.

Officials of the Shanghai No. 2 Engineering Co said the twin-passage tunnel would connect the two sides of the river and be open in time for the 2010 World Expo to be held in the city.

The eastern passage of the tunnel was the first to break through to the west bank, or Puxi side, of the river, engineers said yesterday.

The 2.67-kilometer tunnel will run under the river from the junction of Xizang Road S. and Zhongshan Road S. in Puxi to Pudong Road S. and Gaoke Road W. in Pudong.

Construction of the two 11.58-meter wide tunnels is due to be completed next September, but the tunnels will be dug by next month.

Engineers said yesterday there was just 150 meters left in the second tunnel.

The company made its own shield to dig the eastward tunnel - the largest so far built in China - while a shield was imported from Japan to dig the westward passage.

The company first imported the giant shield from Japan to penetrate under the river for the west passage and learned from that experience to invent its own tool to dig the east passage.

"At the closest point, the tunnel is only 2.68 meters below Metro Line 8 in Pudong," said project manager Chen Yong. "That's one of the several rare challenges we have conquered."

About 60,000 to 70,000 vehicles are expected to use the tunnel every day during 2010 World Expo. After the Expo ends in October that year, the tunnel will be open to ordinary traffic.

The Xizang Road S. Tunnel will connect the Expo zone on both sides of the Huangpu.

Constructors work in the Tercel No. 2 tunnel shield yesterday, when the biggest Chinese-made shield started digging the Xizang Road S. tunnel from Pudong across the Huangpu River.

5,148 Posts
China finishes retooling its biggest scientific experimental device


A Beijing-based electron-positron accelerator -- China's biggest scientific experimental device -- has been retooled successfully for trial operation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) said on Tuesday.

The upgraded device, called the Beijing Electron-Positron Collider II (BEPCII), was retooled at the Institute of High Energy Physics under the CAS. The project started in January 2004 and cost 640 million yuan ($93.8 million).

The Beijing Electron-Positron Collider (BEPC), the BEPCII's predecessor, was originally built in 1988. It was previously the world's eighth largest high-energy accelerator experiment center.

Institute director Chen Hesheng revealed the upgrade would help the BEPC attain its forward status as one of the most advanced ideal colliding experiment facilities of its kind; it would maintain the leading forward role of China in the field of global high-energy physics.

To add a new storage ring to the existing ring of the collider to spur the electron and positron beams' movement and collision in the colliding zone, the retooled collider BEPCII had 93 pairs of electron beams against the original's one pair. Its luminosity, a leading parameter, was 100 times stronger than that of the original BEPC.

The electron-positron collider is now applied to a range of research topics covering material, pharmaceutical, semi-conductor and micro-electronic researches.

14,079 Posts
First batch of innovative firms named in China

BEIJING, July 29 -- Ninety-one out of 103 trial innovative firms were named "National Innovative Enterprises" Monday after a two-year long trial operation to accelerate the country's technical innovation, Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said.

The 91 companies, including China Aerospace Science and Technology Co, China Aluminum Co and Lenovo Group, are the first batch of firms to win the honor.

They have passed expert panel evaluations jointly conducted by MOST, the State Council's Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) and the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

The three government organizations selected the first 103 trial innovative firms, all of which have patented technologies and well-known brands, a strong international competitive edge and technological sustainable development potential, in July 2006.

"Key national laboratories and industrial R&D centers will be set up within these national innovative enterprises that provide management and IPR protection training," Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, said Monday at the ongoing China-ASEAN education exchange week in Guiyang, Guizhou province.

"We will also increase investment in technical research and personnel training to promote innovation," he said. "Qualified enterprises and organizations are encouraged to invest in basic technical research, establish laboratories jointly with universities and institutes and actively carry out technological innovation."

"Joining the trial innovative firms program has helped companies strengthen their innovative capacity," SASAC Deputy Director Shao Ning said.

The 91 firms' R&D funds increased to 82.9 billion yuan (12 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007, 52.1 percent higher than 2005. The average R&D fund accounted for 6.74 percent of each company's sales revenue in 2007, as compared with the country's large and medium-sized industrial enterprise average of 0.77 percent.

The companies' total patent applications rose to 17,180 in 2007, 84.7 percent higher than 2005, and their total R&D personnel hit 220,100 in 2007, 26.4 percent more than in 2005.

"These firms, all of which are large, are already leaders in their sectors. Their independent core technology will help them become the country's technology leaders," Shao said.

Chinese companies now have a greater interest in controlling core technologies by developing major equipment manufacturing industries, such as automobile and shipbuilding, in which homegrown or innovative hi-tech technologies products can substitute for imports, said Liu Yong, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(Source: China Daily)

5,148 Posts
Superconductor breakthroughs abound: some like it hot

April 20, 2008

Normally, big discoveries in a given field come at the rate of a few a year, if that. However, the past six weeks have seen not one, but a series of announcements that may change the face of superconductivity research. Starting with a publication in the February 23rd edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society and ending with three separate announcements from various Chinese research groups, these last few weeks have given us the description of a previously unknown class of high temperature superconductors.

When electrons flow through a conductor, they scatter due to thermal vibrations and material impurities—the amount of scattering is measured as the electrical resistance. For most materials, as the temperature drops towards absolute zero, the electrical resistance asymptotically reaches the material's inherent conductivity. However, once some materials drop below a critical temperature, the resistance drops to zero: these materials are known as superconductors. If one constructs a loop of superconducting material and sends an electric current moving through it, that current will persist for all time, since there is no resistance to stop it. The current explanation for superconductivity is that conducting electrons form coordinated pairs that are inefficiently scattered; since conductance is inversely proportional to scattering, this leads to infinite conductance.

The temperature at which a material begins superconducting—the critical temperature—is very low. Titanium will superconduct below 0.40 K; the figure for lead is all the way up at 7.19 K. Some alloys are known to exhibit superconductivity at higher temperatures than pure compounds—Nb3Al has a critical temperature of 18.9 K. According to the canonical explanation for superconductivity, the BCS theory, nothing should be able to exhibit superconductivity at a temperature above 30 K. In 1986 this prediction was shown to be false with the discovery of the cuprate high temperature superconductors. The first, La1.15Ba0.85CuO, discovered in 1986 by Muller and Bednorz, was shown to have a critical temperature of 35 K. The discovery was so ground breaking, it netted the pair the Nobel Prize in Physics the following year.

In the intervening 20 years, new materials in the cuprate high temperature superconductor family have been discovered. Probably the most well known is the yttrium-barium-copper oxide (YBa2Cu3O7) which was the first superconducting material shown to superconduct at a temperature of 92 K, well above the boiling point of nitrogen. The current record holder for high temperature superconductor is mercury thallium barium calcium copper oxide (Hg12Tl3Ba30Ca30Cu45O125) which transitions into superconductive state at a whopping 138 K—with some reports this can be raised to 164 K at high pressures. However, these are still all well short of room temperature, 298 K.

Up until late February, all known high-temperature superconducting materials were some variation of a copper oxide. In the month's final edition of JACS, a research team from the Tokyo Institute of Technology reported on the groundbreaking discovery of a lanthanum oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (LaO1-xFxFeAs)* that exhibits superconductivity at 26 K. About a month later, researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei announced that they had synthesized a samarium oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (SmO1-xFxFeAs)** ceramic that exhibited superconductivity at 43 K. Continuing the groundbreaking results, a second Chinese team, this one at the Institute of Physics (IoP) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, reported three days later that they had succeeded in creating praseodymium oxygen fluorine iron arsenide (PrO1-xFxFeAs)*** which had a critical temperature of 52 K. They made a second announcement a few weeks later, in which they reported that the superconducting temperature of their praseodymium compound could be raised to 55 K by growing it under pressure.

These four materials represent an entire new class of superconducting compounds, and their discovery could provide a big boost to our theoretical knowledge of superconductivity. The field hasn't come to an agreement on to how to account for the behavior of cuprate high-temperature superconductors. It is believed that the layered structure of the cuprates, the ability of electrons to hop from copper ion to copper ion, and the shielding provided by copper-free layers all contribute to the superconductivity. Since these new materials also have a similar-ish layered structure, are bad conductors before they transition, and exhibit antiferromagnetism, it is hoped that they can offer new insights into a general mechanism(s) of high-temperature superconductivity.

According to Steven Kivelson, a theoretical physicist at Stanford, "[there exist] enough similarities that it's a good working hypothesis that they're parts of the same thing." However, not everyone hopes the mechanism is the same. Philip Anderson, a Nobel Laureate and theoretical physicist at Princeton, says that an entirely new mechanism of superconductivity would be far more important than if they mimicked the current understanding of superconductivity. "If it's really a new mechanism, God knows where it will go," says Anderson.

5,148 Posts
China's first transgenic cow born to help fight cancer


BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese scientists announced on Monday that they have bred a genetically altered cow capable of producing cancer fighting proteins for humans.

The cow, which can produce CD20 antibodies in its milk, was born in Beijing on Aug. 2 and a dozen more are due to be born next month.

Researchers said mass breeding of the animal would enable China to mass produce the therapeutic proteins cheaply.

The human monoclonal (produced from a single cell) antibodies could be purified from the milk of the transgenic cow, and used to treat B cell lymphomas and leukemias and some auto-immune diseases, said research team leader Li Ning, an academician with China Academy of Engineering.

"After 10 days of careful observation, we are happy to see the cow is very healthy," said Li, whose laboratory is based in the China Agriculture University.

The calf weighed 38 kg at birth. In seven to eight months, the research team would induce lactation to test its antibody expression.

The development is expected to significantly lower the costs ofCD20 antibody production, which currently uses chimeric anti-CD20 CHO (Chinese hamster ovary) cells.

The low antibody expression level and high cost of cell culture has been a stumbling block in the industrial production of the antibody drug, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997.

CD20 cell-surface proteins found in mature B cells become cancerous in patients who suffer from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, which accounts for about 40 percent of all new cases of lymphoma. It is identified as the target in the treatment of lymphomas.

"The objective of our research is to make the transgenic animal express the antibody at high levels," said Li, adding that transgenic mice had been able to express 10 mg/ml of CD20 antibody on average in tests.

The U.S.-based Business Communication Corp. has estimated the worldwide market for transgenically sourced therapies at more than1 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, and 18.6 billion dollars by 2013.

Li said his group planned to complete the clinical study of the first functional food with the antibody in three years, and apply for production authorization from China's food and drug authorities, and the first functional drug could be expected in five years.

5,148 Posts
FACTBOX: Science and technology cause in China


BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- The opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics showcased the progress of China's technology sector.

Here are some facts and figures about the sector through 2006, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MST).


GROSS DOMESTIC EXPENDITURE ON RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT(R&D): 300.3 billion yuan (about 43.8 billion U.S. dollars)







-- AIRCRAFT AND SPACECRAFT:82.8 billion yuan



-- MEDICAL EQUIPMENT AND METERS: 242.1 billion yuan

-- PHARMACEUTICALS: 501.9 billion yuan

TOP SCIENCE AWARD: The State Scientific and Technological Award, a 5 million yuan top award, was established in 2000. Qualified recipients must have made great breakthroughs or have prominent establishments in modern science. In addition, their research must have produced tremendous economic or social benefit. The prize, usually presented by the country's president, is annually granted to no more than two outstanding scientists.

Wu Wenjun, a mathematician, and Yuan Longping, a leading hybrid-rice expert, were the first two to win the prize back in 2000. Only 12 scientists have received the award to date.

5,148 Posts
China plans first 1m kw air-cooling systems at plants


BEIJING -- China will be the first country to install million-kilowatt (kw) air-cooling systems in ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants, an official with the China Huadian Corp. said here on Thursday.

China Huadian is a state-owned power generation company.

The cooling facilities, which were entirely domestically designed and built, will be part of the Huadian Lingwu power plant project, located in the northwestern coal-rich and arid Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

The project will have two ultra super-critical generating units of 1 million kw each, which will start up around 2011, said the official who asked not to be identified. No cost estimates were given.

Ultra super-critical thermal generation is a clean coal technology that relies on very high pressures and temperatures to achieve greater efficiency of fuel use. Because it is more efficient, there is less waste heat (the amount not converted to electricity), but still, almost half of the heat generated isn't converted.

Air-cooling saves huge amounts of water, a key consideration in such arid areas as Ningxia.

Using this cooling technique will save an estimated 70 percent of the water that would have been used in conventional water-cooled power units. In this case, it means 24 million tonnes of water annually, enough for the consumption of nearly 800,000 people for a year.
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