Scientists at The Univ. of Texas at Austin have developed a new method to estimate gas production from hydraulically fractured wells in the Barnett Shale. The approach, which uses a simple physics theory called scaling, is intended to help the energy industry accurately identify low- and high-producing horizontal wells, as well as accurately predict how long it will take for gas reserves to deplete in the wells.
Sometimes big change comes from small beginnings. That’s especially true in the research of Anatoly Frenkel, a prof. of physics at Yeshiva Univ., who is working to reinvent the way we use and produce energy by unlocking the potential of some of the world’s tiniest structures: nanoparticles.
The decades-long effort to create practical superconductors moved a step forward with the discovery at Rice Univ. that two distinctly different iron-based compounds share common mechanisms for moving electrons. Samples from two classes of iron-based superconductors, pnictides and chalcogenides, employ similar coupling between electrons in their superconducting state.
In a recent experiment, quantum bits of information, "qubits", were put into a "superposition" state in which they can be both 1s and 0s at the same time—enabling them to perform multiple calculations simultaneously. This normally fragile quantum state has been shown to survive at room temperature for a world record 39 minutes, overcoming a key barrier towards building ultrafast quantum computers.
Scientists in Japan have recently shown that structural control of small magnetic vortex structures called skyrmions could lead to a compact, low-power alternative to conventional magnetic data storage. Skyrmions occur rarely in certain magnetic compounds, but after it was discovered that they can exist near room temperature and can be manipulated with little current, research interest has grown.
Back in 1991, Nature published a picture from the IMAX movie Antarctica, pointing out that emperor penguins can accelerate from 0 to 7 m/s in less than a second. That got the attention of Flavio Noca, now an aerodynamics professor in Switzerland, who will present a new spherical joint mechanism inspired by penguin propulsion at the next American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Pittsburgh.
Stingrays swim through water with such ease that researchers from the Univ. at Buffalo and Harvard Univ. are studying how their movements could be used to design more agile and fuel-efficient unmanned underwater vehicles. The vehicles could allow researchers to more efficiently study the mostly unexplored ocean depths, and they could also serve during clean up or rescue efforts.
The phonon, like the photon or electron, is a physical particle that travels like waves, representing mechanical vibration. Phonons transmit everyday sound and heat. Recent progress in phononics by a research scientist at Georgia Institute of Technology has led to the development of new ideas and devices that are using phononic properties to control sound and heat, even to the point of freeing bustling city blocks from the noise of traffic.
Superfluidity refers to a state in which matter behaves like a liquid with zero viscosity. With a few exceptions, superfluidity has generally been regarded as a macroscopic phenomenon, resulting from “bulky” collections of particles rather than individual atoms. Scientists in Switzerland have now provided the first experimental evidence of superfluidity at the nanoscale, shedding light on the fundamental basis of the phenomenon.
Invisibility cloaking is no longer the stuff of science fiction: Two researchers at the Univ. of Toronto have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different objects. The team designed and tested a new approach to cloaking—by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object.
A recently developed plasma-based chip fabrication technique affords chip makers unprecedented control of plasma thanks to a population of suprathermal electrons. This is critical to modern microchip fabrication, but how the beam electrons transform themselves into this suprathermal population has been a puzzle. New computer simulations reveal how intense plasma waves generate suprathermal electrons.
The rain in Spain may lie mainly on the plain, but the location and intensity of that rain is changing not only in Spain but around the globe. A new study by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists shows that observed changes in global (ocean and land) precipitation are directly affected by human activities and cannot be explained by natural variability alone.
The first solids to form in the solar system contain unusual isotopic signatures that show a nearby supernova injected material within ~100,000 years of their formation. That supernova, caused from the cataclysmic death of a star, could have even triggered the birth of the sun.
When an earthquake and tsunami struck Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011, crews sprayed cooling seawater on the reactors, but to no avail. One possible reason: Droplets can’t land on surfaces that hot and instantly begin to evaporate, forming a thin layer of vapor and then bouncing along it. Now, MIT researchers have come up with a way to cool hot surfaces more effectively by keeping droplets from bouncing.
The Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a six-tailed asteroid in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Scientists say they've never seen anything like it. Incredibly, the comet-like tails change shape as the asteroid sheds dust. The streams have occurred over several months.
A pioneering technology called an atom interferometer promises to detect tiny perturbations in the curvature of space-time. With its potential picometer-level sensitivity, the instrument may one day detect what so far has remained imperceptible: gravitational waves or ripples in spacetime caused when massive celestial objects move and disrupt the space around them.
Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich have developed a new method of using nanotubes to detect molecules at extremely low concentrations enabling trace detection of biological threats, explosives and drugs.
An international team of engineers has now fabricated arrays of silver nanoscale pillars that can selectively reflect light of any desired color. The team, led by Jinghua Teng and Yan Jun Liu at the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore, show that the color can be selected by varying the size of the pillars.
Playing pop and rock music improves the performance of solar cells, according to new research. The high frequencies and pitch found in pop and rock music cause vibrations that enhanced energy generation in solar cells containing a cluster of 'nanorods', leading to a 40 percent increase in efficiency of the solar cells.
In a demonstration at the Vienna Univ. of Technology in Austria, scientists have shown that light can be switched between two fiber optic cables with just a single rubidium atom. The breakthrough relies on light capture devices called “bottle resonators”. The switch could enable quantum phenomena to be used for information and communication technology.
From supersensitive detections of magnetic fields to quantum information processing, the key to a number of highly promising advanced technologies may lie in one of the most common defects in diamonds. Researchers have taken an important step towards unlocking this key with the first ever detailed look at critical ultra-fast processes in these diamond defects.
An international team of researchers has used pioneering electron microscopy techniques to discover an important mechanism behind the reaction of metallic nanoparticles with the environment. Crucially, the research led by the Univ. of York, shows that oxidation of metals proceeds much more rapidly in nanoparticles than at the macroscopic scale.
For the past eight years, two French researchers have been bouncing droplets around a vibrating oil bath and observing their unique behavior. What sounds like a high school experiment has in fact provided the first ever evidence that the strange features of the quantum world can be reproduced on a macroscopic scale.
Doom may be averted for the Smith Cloud, a gigantic streamer of hydrogen gas that is on a collision course with the Milky Way Galaxy. Astronomers have discovered a magnetic field deep in the cloud’s interior, which may protect it during its meteoric plunge into the disk of our galaxy. This discovery could help explain how so-called high velocity clouds remain mostly intact during their mergers with the disks of galaxies.
In the hugely popular game Minecraft, players can freely build and create their own world by mining and stacking different types of bricks in a sandbox-like environment. Because of its customizable dynamic, the game has also become a background platform for many user-generated modifications, or "mods". Researchers and the developers of Minecraft have built a new Google-funded mod that introduces quantum mechanics into the game's landscape.