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Heat transfer sets noise floor for ultra-sensitive electronics

November 11, 2014 8:10 am | by Ken Than, Caltech | News | Comments

A team of engineers and scientists has identified a source of electronic noise that could affect the functioning of instruments operating at very low temperatures, such as devices used in radio telescopes and advanced physics experiments. The findingscould have implications for the future design of transistors and other electronic components.

The missing piece of the climate puzzle

November 11, 2014 7:49 am | by Genevieve Wanucha | Program in Atmospheres Oceans and Climate | MIT | News | Comments

In classrooms and everyday conversation, explanations of global warming hinge on the greenhouse gas effect. In short, climate depends on the balance between two different kinds of radiation: The Earth absorbs incoming visible light from the sun, called “shortwave radiation,” and emits infrared light, or “longwave radiation,” into space.

Milestone hit in accelerating particles with plasma

November 10, 2014 9:09 am | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists from SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Los Angeles have shown that a promising technique for accelerating electrons on waves of plasma is efficient enough to power a new generation of shorter, more economical accelerators. This could greatly expand their use in areas such as medicine, national security, industry and high-energy physics research.

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Shifts in states of matter: It’s complicated

November 7, 2014 3:23 pm | by Anne M. Stark, LLNL | News | Comments

The process of phase changes- those transitions between states of matter- is more complex than previously thought. A team researchers has found that we may need to rethink one of science’s building blocks and illustrate how a proper theoretical description of transitions has remained unclear.

Maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle, after all

November 7, 2014 2:58 pm | by Univ. of Southern Denmark | News | Comments

Last year CERN announced the finding of a new elementary particle, the Higgs particle. But, maybe it wasn't the Higgs particle– maybe it just looks like it. And maybe, it is not alone.

New model predicts how traffic will flow

November 7, 2014 10:01 am | by David Chandler, MIT | News | Comments

A reliable way of predicting the flow of traffic could be a great convenience for commuters, as well as a significant energy-saver. Now a team of researchers from MIT, the Univ. of Notre Dame, and elsewhere has devised what they say is an effective and relatively simple formula for making such predictions.

Researchers hit milestone in accelerating plasma particles

November 6, 2014 3:04 pm | by SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | News | Comments

Scientists from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Univ. of California, Los Angeles have shown that a promising technique for accelerating electrons on waves of plasma is efficient enough to power a new generation of shorter, more economical accelerators.

Dark matter may be massive

November 4, 2014 2:37 pm | by Case Western Reserve Univ. | News | Comments

The physics community has spent decades searching for and finding no evidence that dark matter is made of tiny exotic particles. Case Western Reserve Univ. theoretical physicists suggest researchers consider looking for candidates more in the ordinary realm and, well, more massive. Dark matter is unseen matter, that, combined with normal matter, could create the gravity that, among other things, prevents spinning galaxies from flying apart.

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Physicists narrow search for solution to proton spin puzzle

November 4, 2014 9:11 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Results from experiments at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, a particle collider located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, reveal new insights about how quarks and gluons, the subatomic building blocks of protons, contribute to the proton’s intrinsic angular momentum, a property more commonly known as “spin.”

Outsmarting thermodynamics in self-assembly of nanostructures

November 3, 2014 1:56 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you can uniformly break the symmetry of nanorod pairs in a colloidal solution, you’re a step ahead of the game toward achieving new and exciting metamaterial properties. But traditional thermodynamic-driven colloidal assembly of these metamaterials, which are materials defined by their non-naturally-occurring properties, often result in structures with high degree of symmetries in the bulk material.

String field theory: The foundation of quantum mechanics?

November 3, 2014 1:23 pm | by Robert Perkins, Univ. of Southern California | News | Comments

Two Univ. of Southern California researchers have proposed a link between string field theory and quantum mechanics that could open the door to using string field theory as the basis of all physics. In their paper, which reformulated string field theory in a clearer language, they showed a set of fundamental quantum mechanical principles known as “commutation rules’’ that may be derived from the geometry of strings joining and splitting.

Ultracold disappearing act

November 3, 2014 8:09 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | Videos | Comments

A disappearing act was the last thing Rice Univ. physicist Randy Hulet expected to see in his ultracold atomic experiments, but that is what he and his students produced by colliding pairs of Bose Einstein condensates (BECs) that were prepared in special states called solitons. Hulet’s team documented the strange phenomenon in a new study published online in Nature Physics.

Computational model predicts superconductivity

November 1, 2014 11:34 am | by Katie Elyce Jones, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Researchers studying iron-based superconductors are combining novel electronic structure algorithms with the high-performance computing power of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Titan supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to predict spin dynamics, or the ways electrons orient and correlate their spins in a material.

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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.

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.

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.

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