Science & Research

Science & Research Roundup: April 7, 2015

By
Science & Research Editor
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Researchers outline diagnosis criteria for pregnant women with headaches

A recent study led by a physician affiliated with the Alpert Medical School suggests a framework for diagnosing pregnant women who come to the emergency room with headaches. The paper detailing this framework was published in last month’s issue of the Western Journal of Emergency Medicine.

A pregnant woman’s headache could be harmless, or it could be a warning sign of more dangerous conditions such as preeclampsia, a potentially fatal condition in pregnancy characterized by high blood pressure; carbon monoxide toxicity; cerebral venous thrombosis, the presence of a blood clot in the cerebral sinuses; arterial dissection, the tearing of the inner lining of the arterial walls; or pituitary apoplexy, the loss of blood flow to the pituitary gland in the brain. To determine whether it is an ordinary headache, all of these other conditions should be ruled out initially, according to the study.

The research team included Jessica Schoen, teaching fellow in emergency medicine, and Ronna Campbell and Annie Sadosty of the Mayo Clinic.

Since radiation and contrast agents, which are used for imaging, can harm the fetus, the researchers instead advise using magnetic resonance imaging if possible, as it does not involve any radiation exposure.

If the patient’s history and physical examination include symptoms such as high blood pressure, fever and a headache above the baseline, the most likely diagnoses are preeclampsia and carbon monoxide toxicity, according to the study. In the absence of these and other symptoms, the headache should be treated as a standard headache.

Geobaramoter developed to better understand supervolcanoes

A novel type of geobarometer that measures the pressure of magma originating from supervolcanoes provides more accurate data to understand the chain of events behind the destructive events, according to a study published in the Journal of Mineralogy and Petrology last month.

“We’re always striving to get new and better barometers,” said Ayla Pamukcu, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate in earth, environmental and planetary sciences, in a University press release. “The fact that this one is more widely applicable is exciting.”

Another benefit of the new geobarometer is its ability to exclude data from rocks that have undergone changes post-erruption, which would supply inaccurate data, according to the release.

Super volcanoes are classified as those that can erupt more than 1,000 cubic kilometers of lava. Though a super volcano has not erupted in human history, the research suggests that a super volcano could erupt under the right conditions in the future, according to the release.

The research focused on a super erruption that occurred 19 million years ago in the area that is now Arizona, California and Nevada, according to the release. As different minerals are found in the magma depending on the pressure and depth under which it was stored, the geobarometer can determine where the magma originated.

Researchers produce microscopic semiconductors with potential technological benefits

University researchers recently developed new nanoribbons and nanoplates — microscopically small structures used as semiconductors — from silicon telluride that could have commercial applications, according to a University press release.

The team of researchers — including Assistant Professor of Chemistry Kristie Koski, Sean Keuleyan GS, Mengjing Wang GS, Frank Chung ’15 and Jeffrey Commons ’15 — examined how to synthesize these nanomaterials. Their paper, which details the findings, was published March 12 in the journal Nanoletters.

“Silicon-based compounds are the backbone of modern electronics processing,” Koski said in the release. “Silicon telluride is in that family of compounds, and we’ve shown a totally new method for using it to make layered, two-dimensional nanomaterials.”

The researchers found that factors such as temperature and the process used to create the nanomaterials affected the size and shape of the final nanoribbons and nanoplates produced, according to the release.

Following this work, the team aims to examine the nanomaterials usage in optics and electronics, Koski said in the release.