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Mid-IR frequency combs enable high-resolution spectroscopy for sensitive gas sensing

March 11, 2015 8:15 am | by Ghent Univ. | News | Comments

A frequency comb source is a light source with a spectrum containing thousands of laser lines. The development of these sources has been revolutionary for fundamental science. It has allowed the construction of a link between the optical part of the electromagnetic spectrum and the radio frequency part. As such, it has allowed researchers to determine optical frequencies with an unprecedented precision.

Researchers snap-shot fastest observations of superconductivity yet

March 11, 2015 7:51 am | by Chris Balma, Univ. of British Columbia | News | Comments

An international team of researchers has used infinitely short light pulses to observe ultrafast changes in the electron-level properties of superconductors, setting a new standard for temporal resolution in the field. The scientists liken the new technique to the development of high-speed film capture in the early days of photography.

Determining structural evolution under pressure

March 6, 2015 10:46 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

The study of material properties under the conditions of extreme high pressures and strain rates is very important for understanding meteor, asteroid or comet impacts, as well as in hyper velocity impact engineering and inertial confinement fusion capsules. In a recent study, a team scientists report an important finding that can be used to determine the evolution of structures under high pressure and strain rates.

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When temperature goes quantum

March 6, 2015 8:23 am | by Daniel Stolte, Univ. of Arizona Communications | News | Comments

Imagine setting a frying pan on the stove and cranking up the heat, only to discover that in a few spots the butter isn't melting because part of the pan remains at room temperature. What seems like an impossible scenario in the kitchen is exactly what happens in the strange world of quantum physics, researchers at the Univ. of Arizona have discovered.

Mathematicians model fluids at the mesoscale

March 6, 2015 8:13 am | by Julie Chao, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When it comes to boiling water, is there anything left for today’s scientists to study? The surprising answer is, yes, quite a bit. How the bubbles form at a surface, how they rise up and join together, what are the surface properties, what happens if the temperature increases slowly versus quickly. While these components might be understood experimentally, the mathematical models for the process of boiling are incomplete.

Breakthrough in nonlinear optics research

March 5, 2015 9:29 am | by Verity Leatherdale, Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

A method to selectively enhance or inhibit optical nonlinearities in a chip-scale device has been developed by scientists, led by the Univ. of Sydney. The breakthrough is a fundamental advance for research in photonic chips and optical communications.

New way to control information by mixing light and sound

March 5, 2015 8:59 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

For once, slower is better in a new piece of technology. A Yale Univ. lab has developed a new, radio frequency processing device that allows information to be controlled more effectively, opening the door to a new generation of signal processing on microchips. One of the keys to the technology involves slowing information down.

Strength in numbers

March 4, 2015 4:37 pm | by Sonia Fernandez, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

When scientists develop a full quantum computer, the world of computing will undergo a revolution of sophistication, speed and energy efficiency that will make even our beefiest conventional machines seem like Stone Age clunkers by comparison. But, before that happens, quantum physicists will have to create circuitry that takes advantage of the marvelous computing prowess promised by the quantum bit.

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Higgs particle can disintegrate into particles of dark matter

March 4, 2015 11:30 am | by Chalmers Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

The Standard Model of particle physics successfully describes the smallest constituents of matter. But the model has its limitations: It does not explain the dark matter of the universe. A research scientist at Chalmers Univ. of Technology has found a solution; and his theories are now being tested at the particle physics laboratory CERN.

Experiment and theory unite in debate over microbial nanowires

March 4, 2015 11:12 am | by Janet Lathrop, Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst | News | Comments

Scientific debate has been hot lately about whether microbial nanowires, the specialized electrical pili of the mud-dwelling anaerobic bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens, truly possess metallic-like conductivity as its discoverers claim. But now a Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst team says they settled the dispute between theoretical and experimental scientists by devising a combination of new experiments and better theoretical modeling.

Breakthrough in OLED technology

March 2, 2015 12:27 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are made from carbon-containing materials, have the potential to revolutionize future display technologies, making low-power displays so thin they'll wrap or fold around other structures, for instance. Conventional LCD displays must be backlit by either fluorescent light bulbs or conventional LEDs whereas OLEDs don't require back lighting.

Forbidden quantum leaps possible with high-res spectroscopy

March 2, 2015 11:27 am | by Nicole Casal Moore, Univ. of Michigan | News | Comments

A new twist on an old tool lets scientists use light to study and control matter with 1,000 times better resolution and precision than previously possible. Physicists at the Univ. of Michigan have demonstrated "ponderomotive spectroscopy," an advanced form of a technique that was born in the 17th century when Isaac Newton first showed that white light sent through a prism breaks into a rainbow.

Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel

March 2, 2015 10:38 am | by Lund Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from institutions including Lund Univ. have taken a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. In a new study, they have successfully tracked the electrons' rapid transit through a light-converting molecule. The ultimate aim of the present study is to find a way to make fuel from water using sunlight.

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First ever photograph of light as both a particle and wave

March 2, 2015 8:34 am | by EPFL | Videos | Comments

Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists at EPFL have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior.

Moving molecule writes letters

February 27, 2015 11:55 am | by Andreas Battenberg, TUM | News | Comments

On the search for high-performance materials for applications such as gas storage, thermal insulators or dynamic nanosystems it’s essential to understand the thermal behavior of matter down to the molecular level. Classical thermodynamics average over time and over a large number of molecules. Within a 3-D space single molecules can adopt an almost infinite number of states, making the assessment of individual species nearly impossible.

Research signals big future for quantum radar

February 27, 2015 7:55 am | by David Garner, Univ. of York | News | Comments

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the Univ. of York. The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity, such as cancer cells or aircraft with a stealth capability.

Physicists find new form of quantum friction

February 26, 2015 11:40 am | by Ike Sweitlitz, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Physicists at Yale Univ. have observed a new form of quantum friction that could serve as a basis for robust information storage in quantum computers in the future. The researchers are building upon decades of research, experimentally demonstrating a procedure theorized nearly 30 years ago.

Warming up the world of superconductors

February 26, 2015 8:50 am | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

A superconductor that works at room temperature was long thought impossible, but scientists at the Univ. of Southern California may have discovered a family of materials that could make it reality. The team found that aluminum "superatoms" appear to form Cooper pairs of electrons at temperatures around 100 K. Though 100 K is still pretty chilly, this is an increase compared to bulk aluminum metal.

Physicists offer solution to puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe

February 25, 2015 10:11 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. New research offers a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe.

New “knobs” can dial in control of materials

February 25, 2015 9:52 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Designing or exploring new materials is all about controlling their properties. In a new study, Cornell Univ. scientists offer insight on how different “knobs” can change material properties in ways that were previously unexplored or misunderstood.

Why a latte is less likely to spill than a coffee

February 24, 2015 2:49 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Carrying a full cup of coffee from the kitchen to the dining room can be precarious for a sleepy-eyed caffeine addict who might accidentally send a wave of java sloshing over the rim. But add a bit of foam to the top and the trip becomes easier. Scientists have found that just a few layers of bubbles can significantly dampen the sloshing motion of liquid.

Optical nanoantennas set the stage for a NEMS lab-on-a-chip revolution

February 24, 2015 11:19 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Newly developed tiny antennas, likened to spotlights on the nanoscale, offer the potential to measure food safety, identify pollutants in the air and even quickly diagnose and treat cancer. The new antennas are cubic in shape. They do a better job than previous spherical ones at directing an ultra-narrow beam of light where it is needed, with little or no loss due to heating and scattering.

Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron “twisters”

February 24, 2015 11:11 am | by Phil Sneiderman, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Superconductor materials are prized for their ability to carry an electric current without resistance, but this valuable trait can be crippled or lost when electrons swirl into tiny tornado-like formations called vortices. These disruptive mini-twisters often form in the presence of magnetic fields, such as those produced by electric motors.

Simulating superconducting materials with ultracold atoms

February 23, 2015 11:46 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Using ultracold atoms as a stand-in for electrons, a Rice Univ.-based team of physicists has simulated superconducting materials and made headway on a problem that's vexed physicists for nearly three decades. The research was carried out by an international team of experimental and theoretical physicists and appears online in Nature. The work could open up a new realm of unexplored science.

Motor proteins prefer slow, steady movement

February 23, 2015 10:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

It takes at least two motor proteins to tango, according to Rice Univ. scientists who discovered the workhorses that move cargo in cells are highly sensitive to the proximity of their peers. The study suggests that the collective behavior of motor proteins like kinesins keeps cellular transport systems robust by favoring slow and steady over maximum movement.

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