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A quantum leap in nanoparticle efficiency

October 31, 2014 12:55 pm | News | Comments

In an international study Univ. of Melbourne and NIST found that pairs of closely spaced nanoparticles made of gold can act as “optical antennas”. These antennae concentrate the light shining on them into tiny regions located in the gap between the nanoparticles. Researchers found the precise geometry of nanoparticle pairs that maximizes light concentration, resolving a hotly debated area of quantum physics.

Physicists pave the way for quantum interfaces

October 31, 2014 9:23 am | News | Comments

Researchers have succeeded in directing the fluorescence of ultracold atoms into surface plasmons, or light waves, oscillating across a metal surface. Physicists aim to create tiny systems in which things such as the interplay of light and matter may be observed at the level of individual photons. Such controlled systems hold the promise of applications such as transistors and switches depending on a single photon.

Lord of the microrings

October 31, 2014 8:39 am | by Lynn Yarris, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

A significant breakthrough in laser technology has been reported by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Berkeley. The team of scientists have developed a unique microring laser cavity that can produce single-mode lasing even from a conventional multi-mode laser cavity.

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Tiny nanopores make big impact

October 30, 2014 8:05 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboraotry | News | Comments

A team led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists has created a new kind of ion channel consisting of short carbon nanotubes, which can be inserted into synthetic bilayers and live cell membranes to form tiny pores that transport water, protons, small ions and DNA. These carbon nanotube “porins” have significant implications for future health care and bioengineering applications.

Imaging electrons moving at 80,000 m/sec in a semiconductor

October 29, 2014 12:45 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Japan have directly observed and recorded electron flow at 80,000 m/sec in a semiconductor. They did so by combining a new laser pulse light source and a photoemission electron microscope to develop an ultra high-speed microscope that enabled visualization of electrons on a 20 nm and 200 femtosec scale.

Can the wave function of an electron be divided and trapped?

October 28, 2014 5:55 pm | News | Comments

Electrons are elementary particles, indivisible, unbreakable. But new research at Brown Univ. suggests the electron's quantum state, known as the electron wave function, can be separated into many parts and trapped in tiny bubbles of liquid helium. That has some strange implications for the theory of quantum mechanics.

Plasma switch to help GE upgrade the U.S. power grid

October 28, 2014 12:58 pm | News | Comments

When researchers at General Electric Co. sought help in designing a plasma-based power switch, they turned to the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, which helped them develop a plasma-filled tube that would replace semiconductor switches used for changing direct current to alternating current. The proposed switch could contribute to a more advanced and reliable electric grid and help to lower utility bills.

Physicists find simple solution for quantum technology challenge

October 28, 2014 12:53 pm | News | Comments

Quantum technology devices, such as high-precision sensors and specialised superfast computers, often depend on harnessing the delicate interaction of atoms. However, the methods for trapping these tiny particles are hugely problematic because of the atoms’ tendency to interact with their immediate environment. Scientists in the U.K. have recently shown how to make a new type of flexibly designed microscopic trap for atoms.

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Physicists closer to understanding balance of matter, antimatter

October 28, 2014 11:08 am | News | Comments

Scientists at Syracuse Univ. have made important discoveries regarding Bs meson particles, something that may explain why the universe contains more matter than antimatter. Prof. Sheldon Stone and his colleagues recently announced their findings at a workshop at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.

New evidence for exotic, predicted superconducting state

October 27, 2014 12:35 pm | News | Comments

A research team led by a Brown Univ. physicist has produced new evidence for an exotic superconducting state, first predicted a half-century ago, that can arise when a superconductor is exposed to a strong magnetic field. This new understanding of what happens when electron spin populations become unequal could have implications beyond superconductivity.

Turning loss to gain

October 27, 2014 7:42 am | by Steven Schultz, Princeton Univ. | News | Comments

Lasers are so deeply integrated into modern technology that their basic operations would seem well understood. CD players, medical diagnostics and military surveillance all depend on lasers. Re-examining longstanding beliefs about the physics of these devices, Princeton Univ. engineers have now shown that carefully restricting the delivery of power to certain areas within a laser could boost its output by many orders of magnitude.

Liquid helium offers a fascinating new way to make charged molecules

October 24, 2014 9:36 am | News | Comments

Helium is a famously unreactive gas but when cooled to just above absolute zero it becomes a superfluid, a strange form of liquid. An Anglo-Austrian team has used this liquid to develop a completely new way of forming charged particles. The team’s key discovery is that helium atoms can acquire an excess negative charge which enables them to become aggressive new chemical reagents.

High field magnet exceeds expectations with 26-T test

October 24, 2014 9:30 am | News | Comments

Certain quantum physical phenomena in matter can only be clearly visualized in the presence of extreme magnetic fields. Physicists in Germany are developing a new high field magnet based on a hybrid design conceived in the U.S. On Oct. 16, 2014, scientists with the High Field Magnet project reported consistent magnetic fields of 26 T, higher than 25-T goal originally conceived.

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Cooling to near absolute zero with magnetic molecules

October 23, 2014 12:56 pm | News | Comments

An international team of scientists have become the first to successfully reach temperatures below -272.15 C, which is just above absolute zero, using magnetic molecules. The effort, which avoids the use of helium, depends on a form of gadolinium that appropriately has a structure resembling a snowflake.

What a “Star Wars” laser bullet really looks like

October 22, 2014 2:50 pm | News | Comments

Action-packed science-fiction movies often feature colorful laser bolts. But what would a real laser missile look like during flight, if we could only make it out? How would it illuminate its surroundings? The answers lie in a film made by researchers in Poland who have captured the passage of an ultrashort laser pulse through the air.

Could I squeeze by you?

October 22, 2014 8:15 am | by Breehan Gerleman Lucchesi, Communications Specialist, Ames Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have developed deeper understanding of the ideal design for mesoporous nanoparticles used in catalytic reactions, such as hydrocarbon conversion to biofuels. The research will help determine the optimal diameter of channels within the nanoparticles to maximize catalytic output.

Physicists build reversible tractor beam

October 21, 2014 9:45 am | News | Comments

Laser physicists in Australia have built a tractor beam that can repel and attract objects, using a hollow laser beam that is bright around the edges and dark in its center. It is the first long-distance optical tractor beam and has moved particles one-fifth of a millimeter in diameter a distance of up to 20 cm, around 100 times further than previous experiments.

Puzzling new behavior found in high-temperature superconductors

October 21, 2014 9:11 am | by SLAC Office of Communications | News | Comments

Research by an international team of scientists has uncovered a new, unpredicted behavior in a copper oxide material that becomes superconducting at relatively high temperatures. This new phenomenon presents a challenge to scientists seeking to understand its origin and connection with high-temperature superconductivity. Their ultimate goal is to design a superconducting material that works at room temperature.

Restoring order: A spin Hall effect without the fuss

October 21, 2014 9:09 am | by S. Kelley, Joint Quantum Institute | News | Comments

Joint Quantum Institute scientists have been developing a model for what happens when ultracold atomic spins are trapped in an optical lattice structure with a “double-valley” feature, where the repeating unit resembles the letter “W”. This new theory result opens up a novel path for generating what’s known as the spin Hall effect, an important example of spin-transport.

Protons hog the momentum in neutron-rich nuclei

October 20, 2014 8:36 am | by Jared Sagoff, Argonne National Laboratory | News | Comments

Like dancers swirling on the dance floor with bystanders looking on, protons and neutrons that have briefly paired up in the nucleus have higher-average momentum, leaving less for non-paired nucleons. Using data from nuclear physics experiments, researchers have now shown for the first time that this phenomenon exists in nuclei heavier than carbon, including aluminum, iron and lead.

A 3-D map of the adolescent universe

October 20, 2014 8:18 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Using extremely faint light from galaxies 10.8-billion light-years away, scientists have created one of the most complete, 3-D maps of a slice of the adolescent universe. The map shows a web of hydrogen gas that varies from low to high density at a time when the universe was made of a fraction of the dark matter we see today.

Rivers flow differently over gravel beds, study finds

October 16, 2014 11:00 am | by Liz Ahlberg, Univ. of Illinois | News | Comments

River beds, where flowing water meets silt, sand and gravel, are critical ecological zones. Yet how water flows in a river with a gravel bed is very different from the traditional model of a sandy river bed, according to a new study that compares their fluid dynamics. The findings establish new parameters for river modeling that better represent reality, with implications for field researchers and water resource managers.

Computing with magnetic “tornadoes”

October 16, 2014 10:27 am | News | Comments

Magnetic materials store the vast majority of the 2.7 zettabytes of data that are currently held worldwide. In the interest of efficiency, scientists have begun to investigate whether magnetic materials can also be used to perform calculations. In a recent paper, researchers in the U.K. detail their plan to harness swirling “tornadoes” of magnetization in nanowires to perform logic functions. They plan to soon build prototypes.

Serendipitous holography reveals hidden cracks in shocked targets

October 15, 2014 8:35 am | by Breanna Bishop, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

In a recent article published in the Review of Scientific Instruments, a research team led by scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory describe a technique for 3-D image processing of a high-speed photograph of a target, "freezing" its motion and revealing hidden secrets. This technique is particularly applicable in targets that are "shocked."

Earth’s magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime

October 15, 2014 7:56 am | by Robert Sanders, Univ. of California, Berkeley Media Relations | News | Comments

It’s not as bizarre as it sounds. Earth’s magnetic field has flipped many times throughout the planet’s history. Its dipole magnetic field, like that of a bar magnet, remains about the same intensity for thousands to millions of years, but for incompletely known reasons it occasionally weakens and, presumably over a few thousand years, reverses direction.

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