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The birth of topological spintronics

July 24, 2014 | Comments

Research led by Penn State Univ. and Cornell Univ. physicists is studying "spintorque" in devices that combine a standard magnetic material with a new material known as a topological insulator. The new insulator, which is made of bismuth selenide and operates at room temperature, overcomes one of the key challenges to developing a spintronics technology based on spin-orbit coupling.

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A transistor-like amplifier for single photons

July 28, 2014 11:19 am | by Olivia Meyer-Streng, Max Planck Institute | Comments

With the help of ultracold quantum gas, physicists have achieved a 20-fold amplification of single-photon signals, a step that could aid all-optical data processing efforts. The breakthrough was made with the invention of a new type of optical transistor build from a cloud of rubidium atoms, held just above absolute zero, that is transparent to certain wavelengths of light.

Graphene surfaces on photonic racetracks

July 28, 2014 11:12 am | Comments

Scientists in the U.K. recently published work that describes how graphene can be wrapped around a silicon wire, or waveguide, and modify the transmission of light through it.  These waveguide loops, called “racetrack resonators” because of their shape, could help form a device architecture that would make graphene biochemical sensors a reality.

Measuring the smallest magnets

July 28, 2014 11:05 am | Comments

A wildly bouncing tennis ball that travels a millions times the distance of its own size would be difficult to measure. But attaching the same ball to a measuring device would eliminate the “noise”. Researchers in Israel recently used a similar trick to measure the interaction between the smallest possible magnets (two electrons) after neutralizing magnetic noise that was a million times stronger than the signal they needed to detect.

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UConn makes 3-D copies of antique instrument parts

July 28, 2014 10:57 am | by Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press | Comments

The medical practice of Dr. Robert Howe, a reproductive endocrinologist in Massachusetts, introduced him to how computerized tomography could make precise 3-D images of body parts. As a student of music history, he realized the same technology could help him study delicate musical instruments from the past. With the help of engineers, these rare instruments are now being both imaged and printed printed in 3-D.

Not in my backyard: U.S. sending dirty coal abroad

July 28, 2014 10:48 am | by Dina Cappiello, Associated Press | Comments

As the Obama administration weans the U.S. off dirty fuels blamed for global warming, energy companies have been sending more of America's unwanted energy leftovers to other parts of the world where they could create even more pollution. This fossil fuel trade threatens to undermine the president's strategy for reducing the gases blamed for climate change and also reveals a side effect of countries acting alone on a global problem.

U.S. plans wide seismic testing of sea floor

July 28, 2014 10:45 am | by Wayne Parry, Associated Press | Comments

The U.S. Geological Survey plans this summer and next to map the outer limits of the continental shelf, and also study underwater landslides that would help predict where and when tsunamis might occur. But environmentalists say it could cause the same type of marine life damage they fought unsuccessfully to prevent this month off the coast of New Jersey.

Technology translation engine launches “organs-on-chips” company

July 28, 2014 10:07 am | Comments

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard Univ. announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products.

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NIST develops prototype meter test for hydrogen refueling stations

July 28, 2014 9:55 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | Comments

To support the fair sale of gaseous hydrogen as a vehicle fuel, researchers at NIST have developed a prototype field test standard to test the accuracy of hydrogen fuel dispensers. Once the standard is field tested, it will serve as a model for constructing similar devices for state weights and measures inspectors to use.

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Climate change, air pollution will combine to curb food supplies

July 28, 2014 9:18 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | Comments

Many studies have shown the potential for global climate change to cut food supplies. But these studies have, for the most part, ignored the interactions between increasing temperature and air pollution. A new study shows that these interactions can be quite significant, suggesting that policymakers need to take both warming and air pollution into account in addressing food security.

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Understanding the source of extra-large capacities in promising Li-ion battery electrodes

July 28, 2014 8:15 am | by Laura Mgrdichian, Brookhaven National Laboratory | Comments

Lithium (Li)-ion batteries power almost all of the portable electronic devices that we use every day, including smartphones, cameras, toys and even electric cars. Researchers across the globe are working to find materials that will lead to safe, cheap, long-lasting and powerful Li-ion batteries.

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The source of the sky’s x-ray glow

July 28, 2014 8:02 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | Comments

In findings that help astrophysicists understand our corner of the galaxy, an international research team has shown that the soft x-ray glow blanketing the sky comes from both inside and outside the solar system. The source of this "diffuse x-ray background" has been debated for the past 50 years.

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Building invisible materials with light

July 28, 2014 7:51 am | Comments

A new method of building materials using light, developed by researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge, could one day enable technologies that are often considered the realm of science fiction. Although cloaked starships won’t be a reality for quite some time, the technique which researchers have developed for constructing materials with building blocks a few nanometers across can be used to control the way that light flies through them.

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Magnets may act as wireless cooling agents

July 28, 2014 7:40 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | Comments

The magnets cluttering the face of your refrigerator may one day be used as cooling agents, according to a new theory. The theory describes the motion of magnons. In addition to magnetic moments, magnons also conduct heat; from their equations, the researchers found that when exposed to a magnetic field gradient, magnons may be driven to move from one end of a magnet to another, carrying heat with them and producing a cooling effect.

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Virus drugmaker fights pediatricians' new advice

July 28, 2014 12:17 am | by Lindsey Tanner - AP Medical Writer - Associated Press | Comments

A costly drug given mostly to premature babies is at the center of a clash between the manufacturer and the nation's leading pediatrician's group, which recommends scaling back use of the medicine. The dispute involves new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which say medical evidence shows the drug benefits few children other than very young preemies.

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Laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms within an ultra-cold cluster

July 25, 2014 5:11 pm | Comments

A new study by researchers in the U.K. used a new laser technique to examine in rich detail the structure and internal atomic motion of a small cluster containing an acetylene molecule and a single helium atom. The insight into this tiny structure could help unlock the potential to create new materials using nanosized “building blocks”.

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