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Rare Earth Metals in Smartphones Can Now Be Tracked

Extracting rare earths from the environment or from industrial samples, like waste water from mines or coal waste products, is generally very challenging and expensive.

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To develop the sensor, the researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the US used a protein they recently described and subsequently used to explore the biology of bacteria that use lanthanides. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a new protein-based sensor that can detect lanthanides, the rare earth metals used in smartphones and other technologies, in a more efficient and cost-effective way.

The sensor changes its fluorescence when it binds to these metals, according to the study published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

The protein undergoes a shape change when it binds to lanthanides, which is key for the sensor’s fluorescence to “turn on”, said the study.

smartpphone

“These elements are called rare earths, and they include chemical elements of atomic weight 57 to 71 on the periodic table,” Cotruvo added. Pixabay

To develop the sensor, the researchers from Pennsylvania State University in the US used a protein they recently described and subsequently used to explore the biology of bacteria that use lanthanides.

“Lanthanides are used in a variety of current technologies, including the screens and electronics of smartphones, batteries of electric cars, satellites, and lasers,” said Joseph Cotruvo, Assistant Professor at Penn State and senior author of the study.

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The sensor changes its fluorescence when it binds to these metals, according to the study published online in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Pixabay

“These elements are called rare earths, and they include chemical elements of atomic weight 57 to 71 on the periodic table,” Cotruvo added.

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Extracting rare earths from the environment or from industrial samples, like waste water from mines or coal waste products, is generally very challenging and expensive.

“We developed a protein-based sensor that can detect tiny amounts of lanthanides in a sample, letting us know if it’s worth investing resources to extract these important metals,” Cotruvo said. (IANS)

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EU Countries may Exclude High-Risk 5G Providers Under New Guidelines

EU countries can restrict or exclude high-risk 5G providers from core parts of their telecoms network

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A 5G logo is displayed on a screen outside the showroom at Huawei campus in Shenzhen city, China's Guangdong province. VOA

EU countries can restrict or exclude high-risk 5G providers from core parts of their telecoms network infrastructure under new science and technology guidelines to be issued by the European Commission next week, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

The non-binding recommendations are part of a set of measures aimed at addressing cybersecurity risks at national and bloc-wide level, in particular concerns related to world No. 1 player Huawei Technologies.

The guidelines do not identify any particular country or company, the people said.

“Stricter security measures will apply for high-risk vendors for sensitive parts of the network or the core infrastructure,” one of the people said.

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Australia’s ban on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s involvement in its future 5G networks and its crackdown on foreign covert interference are testing Beijing’s efforts to project its power overseas. Pixabay

EU digital economy chief Margrethe Vestager is expected to announce the recommendations on Jan. 29.

Other measures include urging EU countries to audit or even issue certificates for high-risk suppliers.

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EU governments will also be advised to diversify their suppliers and not depend on one company and to use technical and non-technical factors to assess them.

Europe is under pressure from the United States to ban Huawei equipment on concerns that its gear could be used by China for spying. Huawei, which competes with Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson has denied the allegations. (VOA)