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Science Linx News

News overview 2021


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University of Groningen scientists design superfast molecular motor
Posted on:17 June 2021

Light-driven molecular motors have been around for over twenty years. These motors typically take microseconds to nanoseconds for one revolution. Thomas Jansen, associate professor of physics at the University of Groningen, and Master’s student Atreya Majumdar have now designed an even faster molecular motor.

Workshop kunst in STEM onderwijs - STEAMitUP
Posted on:11 June 2021

Ben je docent in het STEM onderwijs en zou je meer kunstvormen/creativiteit in jouw lessen willen brengen, maar mis je handvatten en inspiratie? Doe dan mee met de STEAMitUP workshop op vrijdag 18 juni van 13:00 tot 17:00.

From burglar alarms to black hole detectors
Posted on:08 June 2021

Anupam Mazumdar, a physicist from the University of Groningen, suggests how quantum interference could be applied in the production of a sensitive instrument that could detect movements of objects ranging from butterflies to burglars and black holes.

An atom chip interferometer that could detect quantum gravity
Posted on:04 June 2021

Physicists in Israel have created a quantum interferometer on an atom chip. This device can be used to explore the fundamentals of quantum theory by studying the interference pattern between two beams of atoms. University of Groningen physicist Anupam Mazumdar describes how the device could be adapted to use mesoscopic particles instead of atoms.


UMARG project delivers augmented reality games
Posted on:27 May 2021

Thirty-two schoolteachers and researchers from Greece, Cyprus, Romania and the Netherlands participated at UMARG project’s Learning Teaching and Training Activity, organized by the University of Groningen, between April 19-23.

Resetting the biological clock by flipping a switch
Posted on:26 May 2021

The biological clock is present in almost all cells of an organism. As more and more evidence emerges that clocks in certain organs could be out of sync, there is a need to investigate and reset these clocks locally. Scientists from the Netherlands and Japan introduced a light-controlled on/off switch to a kinase inhibitor, which affects clock function. This gives them control of the biological clock in cultured cells and explanted tissue.

New material could create ‘neurons’ and ‘synapses’ for new computers
Posted on:18 May 2021

Physicists from the University of Groningen (the Netherlands) have used a complex oxide to create elements comparable to the neurons and synapses in the brain using spins, a magnetic property of electrons.

Towards 2D memory technology by magnetic graphene
Posted on:06 May 2021

In spintronics, the magnetic moment of electrons (spin) is used to transfer and manipulate information. Experiments by physicists at the University of Groningen suggest that magnetic graphene can be the ultimate choice for these 2D spin-logic devices as it efficiently converts charge to spin current and can transfer this strong spin-polarization over long distances.

Archaeal enzyme that produces membrane lipids is spectacularly promiscuous
Posted on:06 May 2021

When studying the enzyme that is responsible for producing cardiolipins in archaea (single-cell organisms that constitute a separate domain of life), biochemists at the University of Groningen made a surprising discovery. A single archaeal enzyme can produce a spectacular range of natural and non-natural cardiolipins, as well as other phospholipids.

Science LinX newsletter June 2021
Posted on:30 April 2021

Science LinX newsletter for June 2021


Oxygen migration enables ferroelectricity on nanoscale
Posted on:15 April 2021

Hafnium-based thin films, with a thickness of only a few nanometres, show an unconventional form of ferroelectricity. This allows the construction of nanometre-sized memories or logic devices. However, it was not clear how ferroelectricity could occur at this scale. A study that was led by scientists from the University of Groningen showed how atoms move in a hafnium-based capacitor: migrating oxygen atoms (or vacancies) are responsible for the observed switching and storage of charge.

Discount on charging electric cars helps to solve traffic jams
Posted on:13 April 2021

Charging electric cars can put a strain on the electricity grid. And commuting to work by car can cause traffic congestion. PhD student Carlo Cenedese linked energy use and transportation using Game Theory, and produced an algorithm that calculates how enough individuals can be persuaded to adapt their behaviour to prevent both. He defends his thesis on 16 April.


‘Designer’ pore shows selective traffic to and from the cell nucleus
Posted on:31 March 2021

The nucleus is the headquarters of a cell and molecules constantly move across the nuclear membrane through pores. The transport of these molecules is both selective and fast; some 1,000 molecules per second can move in or out. Scientists from the University of Groningen and Delft University of Technology, both in the Netherlands, and a colleague from the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology, have developed an artificial model of these pores using simple design rules, which enabled them to study how this feat is accomplished.

Another Martini for better simulations
Posted on:29 March 2021

Simulating the interactions between atoms and molecules is important for many scientific studies. However, accurate simulations can take a long time, which limits their use. To speed up simulations without sacrificing too much detail, Siewert-Jan Marrink, Professor of Molecular Dynamics at the University of Groningen, designed a set of parameters that allow fast but accurate coarse-grained simulations. In a paper that was published on 29 March in Nature Methods, Marrink and his co-workers present a third release of what is known as the Martini forcefield.

Death enables complexity in chemical evolution
Posted on:16 March 2021

Simple systems can reproduce faster than complex ones. So, how can the complexity of life have arisen from simple chemical beginnings? Starting with a simple system of self-replicating fibres, chemists at the University of Groningen have discovered that upon introducing a molecule that attacks the replicators, the more complex structures have an advantage.

Recyclable bioplastic membrane to clear oil spills from water
Posted on:09 March 2021

Polymer scientists from the University of Groningen and NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences have developed a polymer membrane from biobased malic acid. It is a superamphiphilic vitrimer epoxy resin membrane that can be used to separate water and oil amd is fully recyclable.


New technique reveals switches in RNA
Posted on:22 February 2021

Scientists have developed a method to visualize and quantify alternative structures of RNA molecules. These alternative RNA ‘shapes’ can have important functional relevance in viruses and bacteria.

New insight into protein structures that could treat Huntington’s disease
Posted on:11 February 2021

In Huntington’s disease, a faulty protein aggregates in brain cells and eventually kills them. Such protein aggregates could, in principle, be prevented with a heat shock protein. However, it is not well known how these proteins interact with the Huntington’s disease protein. New research by Patrick van der Wel (University of Groningen, the Netherlands) and colleagues at the University of Texas explains how they work.

Evidence for substance on liquid-gas boundary on exoplanet WASP-31b
Posted on:03 February 2021

One of the properties that make a planet suitable for life is the presence of a weather system. Exoplanets are too far away to directly observe this, but astronomers can search for substances in the atmosphere that make a weather system possible. Researchers from SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research and the University of Groningen have now found evidence on exoplanet WASP-31b for chromium hydride, which at the corresponding temperature and pressure is on the boundary between liquid and gas.


Science LinX newsletter February 2021
Posted on:28 January 2021

Science LinX newsletter for February 2021

The surprises of colour evolution
Posted on:25 January 2021

The evolutionary interaction between insects and plants has created complex dependencies that can have surprising outcomes. Casper van der Kooi, a biologist at the University of Groningen, uses an interdisciplinary approach to analyse the interaction between pollinators and flowers. In January, he was first author of two review articles on this topic.

With a little help from their friends, older birds breed successfully
Posted on:19 January 2021

The Seychelles warbler is a cooperatively breeding bird species, meaning that parents often receive help from other birds when raising their offspring. A study led by biologists from the University of Groningen shows that the offspring of older females have better prospects when they are surrounded by helpers.

Physical virology shows the dynamics of virus reproduction
Posted on:14 January 2021

New physics-based technologies allow scientists to study the dynamics of viruses and may eventually lead to new treatments. In his role as physical virologist, Wouter Roos, a physicist at the University of Groningen, together with two longtime colleagues, has written a review article on these new technologies, which was published in Nature Reviews Physics on 12 January.

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