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Phosphorus a promising semiconductor

September 8, 2014 8:02 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Defects damage the ideal properties of many 2-D materials, like carbon-based graphene. Phosphorus just shrugs. That makes it a promising candidate for nanoelectronic applications that require stable properties, according to new research by Rice Univ. theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues.

Should scientists handle retractions differently?

September 5, 2014 7:33 am | by Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office | News | Comments

It’s one of the highest-profile cases of scientific fraud in memory: In 2005, South Korean researcher Woo-Suk Hwang and colleagues made international news by claiming that they had produced embryonic stem cells from a cloned human embryo using nuclear transfer. But within a year, the work had been debunked, soon followed by findings of fraud. South Korea put a moratorium on stem cell research funding.

Sprinkling spin physics onto a superconductor

September 2, 2014 12:03 pm | by E. Edwards, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Physicists studying the effects of embedding magnetic spins onto the surface of a superconductor recently report that the spins can interact differently than previously thought. This hybrid platform could be useful for quantum simulations of complex spin systems, having the special feature that the interactions may be controllable, something quite unusual for most condensed matter systems.

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Single laser stops molecular tumbling motion instantly

September 2, 2014 8:26 am | News | Comments

In the quantum world, making the simple atom behave is one thing, but making the more complex molecule behave is another story. Now Northwestern Univ. scientists have figured out an elegant way to stop a molecule from tumbling so that its potential for new applications can be harnessed: shine a single laser on a trapped molecule and it instantly cools to the temperature of outer space, stopping the rotation of the molecule.

Duality principle is “safe and sound”

August 28, 2014 10:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the Univ. of Rochester have cleared up an apparent violation of quantum mechanics’ wave-particle duality that was announced in 2012 by a team of scientists in Germany. They replicated the experiment, which simultaneously determined a photon’s path and observed high contrast interference fringes created by the interaction of waves. But they also found an undiscovered source of bias sampling that explained the strange results.

Astronomers see the birth of a massive galaxy, hidden by dust

August 28, 2014 9:17 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Yale Univ. astronomers have discovered a window into the early, violent formation of the cores of the universe’s monster galaxies, obscured behind walls of dust. After years of searching, scientists have observed one such turbulent, starbursting galactic core in the young universe using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and a telescope from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

Experiments explain why some liquids are fragile and others are strong

August 27, 2014 4:37 pm | by Diana Lutz, Washington Univ. in St. Louis | News | Comments

Only recently has it become possible to accurately “see” the structure of a liquid. Using x-rays and a high-tech apparatus that holds liquids without a container, a professor at Washington Univ. in St. Louis was able to compare the behavior of glass-forming liquids as they approach the glass transition.

Yellowstone super-eruption would send ash across North America

August 27, 2014 12:22 pm | News | Comments

According to a new study, in the unlikely event of a volcanic super-eruption at Yellowstone National Park, the northern Rocky Mountains would be blanketed in meters of ash, and millimeters would be deposited as far away as New York City, Los Angeles and Miami. An improved computer model finds that the hypothetical, large eruption would create a distinctive kind of ash cloud known as an umbrella, which expands evenly in all directions.

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Researchers film protein quake for the first time

August 27, 2014 9:53 am | by Anne Hansen, Technical Univ. of Denmark | News | Comments

One of nature’s mysteries is how plants survive impact by the huge amounts of energy contained in the sun’s rays, while using this energy for photosynthesis. The hypothesis is that the light-absorbing proteins in the plant’s blades quickly dissipate the energy throughout the entire protein molecule through so-called protein “quakes”. Researchers have now managed to successfully “film” this process.

Competition for graphene

August 26, 2014 1:56 pm | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new argument has just been added to the growing case for graphene being bumped off its pedestal as the next big thing in the high-tech world by the 2-D semiconductors known as MX2 materials. An international collaboration of researchers led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has reported the first experimental observation of ultrafast charge transfer in photo-excited MX2 materials.

Do we live in a 2-D hologram?

August 26, 2014 1:16 pm | by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

A unique experiment at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory called the Holometer has started collecting data that will answer some mind-bending questions about our universe—including whether we live in a hologram. Much like characters on a television show would not know that their seemingly 3-D world exists only on a 2-D screen, we could be clueless that our 3-D space is just an illusion.

Laser pulse turns glass into a metal

August 26, 2014 10:06 am | News | Comments

For tiny fractions of a second, when illuminated by a laser pulse, quartz glass can take on metallic properties. The phenomenon, recently revealed by large-scale computer simulations, frees electrons, allowing quartz to become opaque and conduct electricity. The effect could be used to build logical switches which are much faster than today’s microelectronics.

Calculating conditions at the birth of the universe

August 26, 2014 8:06 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

Using a calculation originally proposed seven years ago to be performed on a petaflop computer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers computed conditions that simulate the birth of the universe. When the universe was less than one microsecond old and more than one trillion degrees, it transformed from a plasma of quarks and gluons into bound states of quarks.

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Physicists remove outcome unpredictability of three atoms binding at ultracold temperatures

August 25, 2014 1:20 pm | News | Comments

Findings from a physics study by a Kansas State Univ. researcher are helping scientists accurately predict the once unpredictable. They looked at theoretically predicting and understanding chemical reactions that involve three atoms at ultracold temperatures. Their findings help explain the likely outcome of a chemical reaction and shed new light on mysterious quantum states.

New technique for measuring nanostructures

August 25, 2014 1:17 pm | by Robert Emmerich, Julius-Maximilians-Universität | News | Comments

A team of scientists from Germany, Canada, and the United States has now developed a promising new measurement method that works without destroying anything yet offers nanoscale resolution. The method, an enhancement of resonant x-ray reflectometry identifies the chemical elements involved and is able to determine both the magnetic order and the electron distribution.

Quenching one's thirst for knowledge by studying beer foam

August 25, 2014 7:46 am | by Sarah Perrin, EPFL | News | Comments

A mechanical engineering student at EPFL in Switzerland wanted to understand the reason behind the formation of a “foam volcano” after tapping the neck of a bottle of beer. He studied the phenomenon with a high-speed camera and compared it to the outcome of applying the same action to sparkling water. His work offers insights into the behavior of cavitation nuclei.

Team finds first evidence of spin symmetry in atoms

August 22, 2014 9:07 am | by Laura Ost, NIST | News | Comments

Just as diamonds with perfect symmetry may be unusually brilliant jewels, the quantum world has a symmetrical splendor of high scientific value. Confirming this exotic quantum physics theory, JILA physicists have observed the first direct evidence of symmetry in the magnetic properties—or nuclear “spins”—of atoms.

Electric sparks may alter evolution of lunar soil

August 22, 2014 8:18 am | by David Sims, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space, Univ. of New Hampshire | News | Comments

The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking—a finding that could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.

Clues uncovered to role of magnetism in iron-based superconductors

August 22, 2014 7:57 am | by Morgan McCorkle, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

New measurements of atomic-scale magnetic behavior in iron-based superconductors by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt Univ. are challenging conventional wisdom about superconductivity and magnetism. The study provides experimental evidence that local magnetic fluctuations can influence the performance of iron-based superconductors, which transmit electric current without resistance at relatively high temperatures.

Researchers map quantum vortices inside superfluid helium nanodroplets

August 22, 2014 7:41 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists have, for the first time, characterized so-called quantum vortices that swirl within tiny droplets of liquid helium. The research, led by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the Univ. of Southern California and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, confirms that helium nanodroplets are in fact the smallest possible superfluidic objects and opens new avenues for studying quantum rotation.

Yale’s cool molecules are a hot item

August 21, 2014 10:03 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

It’s official. Yale Univ. physicists have chilled the world’s coolest molecules. The tiny titans in question are bits of strontium monofluoride, dropped to 2.5 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero through a laser cooling and isolating process called magneto-optical trapping. They are the coldest molecules ever achieved through direct cooling, and they represent a physics milestone.

Univ. of Washington project becomes focal point in hunt for dark matter

August 21, 2014 8:47 am | by Vince Stricherz, News and Information, Univ. of Washington | News | Comments

Three major experiments aimed at detecting elusive dark matter particles believed to make up most of the matter in the universe have gotten a financial shot in the arm. Two of the projects are at large national laboratories; the other is at the Univ. of Washington (UW). The selection will bring greater intensity to the UW research, with more equipment and scientists involved in the work.

Engineers take step toward photonic circuits

August 20, 2014 8:35 am | by Richard Cairney, Univ. of Alberta | News | Comments

The invention of fiber optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we’d only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the Univ. of Alberta are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips.

Bubbling down: Discovery suggests surprising uses for common bubbles

August 20, 2014 8:29 am | by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Anyone who has ever had a glass of fizzy soda knows that bubbles can throw tiny particles into the air. But in a finding with wide industrial applications, Princeton Univ. researchers have demonstrated that the bursting bubbles push some particles down into the liquid as well.

NMR using Earth’s magnetic field

August 20, 2014 8:19 am | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Earth’s magnetic field, a familiar directional indicator over long distances, is routinely probed in applications ranging from geology to archaeology. Now it has provided the basis for a technique which might, one day, be used to characterize the chemical composition of fluid mixtures in their native environments.

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