Salt lowers water's melting point, which is why it's useful for de-icing roads. And the higher the solute concentration, the slower ice forms. That's why solutes, or cryoprotectants, are added to proteins, cells, tissues, and even dead bodies to slow down ice formation during cryopreservation. Intrigued by this rather poorly understood process, Cornell University physicists have discovered that, for a variety of common cryoprotectants, the time for ice to form has a simple exponential variation with concentration.
Recent research offers a new spin on using nanoscale semiconductor structures to build faster computers and electronics. Literally. Researchers have revealed a new method that better preserves the units necessary to power lightning-fast electronics, known as qubits. Hole spins, rather than electron spins, can keep quantum bits in the same physical state up to 10 times longer than before, the report finds.
As of Monday, the Wikipedia entry for the hummingbird explains that the bird’s flight generates in its wake a single trail of vortices that helps the bird hover. But after conducting experiments with hummingbirds in the lab, researchers at the University of California, Riverside propose that the hovering hummingbird instead produces two trails of vortices—one under each wing per stroke—that help generate the aerodynamic forces required for the bird to power and control its flight.
Researchers in Finland have shown experimentally that vacuum has properties not previously observed. Vacuum contains momentarily appearing and disappearing virtual pairs, which can be converted into detectable light particles. The researchers conducted a mirror experiment to show that by changing the position of the mirror in a vacuum, virtual particles can be transformed into real photons that can be experimentally observed. In a vacuum, there is energy and noise, the existence of which follows the uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics.
In Spiderman 2, the superhero uses his webbing to bring a runaway train to a standstill moments before it plummets over the end of the track. But could a material with the strength and toughness of spiders’ web really stop four crowded subway cars? According to University of Leicester physics students, the answer is yes.
National Science Foundation-funded researchers at Amherst College in Massachusetts and the University of Texas at Austin have described a new technique based in particle physics that might one day reveal, in more detail than ever before, the composition and characteristics of the deep Earth. There's just one catch: the technique relies on a fifth force of nature that has not yet been detected, but some particle physicists think it might exist.
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a way to melt or “weld” specific portions of polymers by embedding aligned nanoparticles within the materials. Their technique, which melts fibers along a chosen direction within a material, may lead to stronger, more resilient nanofibers and materials.
According to a new report from the National Research Council, although ignition of fusion fuel has not yet been achieved, the potential benefits of inertial fusion energy justify investment in fusion energy research and development. Scientific and technological progress in inertial confinement fusion over the past decade has been substantial, but continued progress will require a large and concerted effort.
Understanding exactly how droplets and bubbles stick to surfaces is a 100-year-old problem that has eluded experimental answers. Furthermore, it's a question with implications for everything from how to improve power plant efficiency to how to reduce fogging on windshields. Now, thanks to the help of a team from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a scanning electron microscope, this longstanding problem has finally been licked.
Lizards and frogs are about to take up residence in the laboratories of Virginia Tech's College of Engineering. The National Science Foundation has awarded engineers and scientists at Virginia Tech a little over a half a million dollars to investigate the water entry and exit problems that are apparent in engineering mechanics based on a better understanding of biology.
A team of researchers in Canada has proposed a new computational model that may become the architecture for a scalable quantum computer. They say the model should use multi-particle quantum walks for universal computation. In a multi-particle quantum walk, particles live on the vertices of a graph and can move between vertices joined by an edge. Furthermore, nearby particles can interact with each other.
The Lycurgus cup was created by the Romans in 400 A.D. Made of a dichroic glass, the famous cup exhibits different colors depending on whether or not light is passing through it; red when lit from behind and green when lit from in front. It is also the origin of inspiration for all contemporary nanoplasmonics research—the study of optical phenomena in the nanoscale vicinity of metal surfaces. Scientists have recently used these optical characteristics to create a novel, ultra-sensitive tool for chemical, DNA, and protein analysis.
Research carried out by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and The University of Manchester has revealed new insights into how cells stick to each other and to other bodily structures, an essential function in the formation of tissue structures and organs. It's thought that abnormalities in their ability to do so play an important role in a broad range of disorders, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reveals details of living tissues, diseased organs and tumors inside the body without x-rays or surgery. What if the same technology could peer down to the level of atoms? Physicists in New York and Germany have worked together to make this type of nanoscale MRI possible. To do this, researchers used the tiny imperfections in diamond crystals known as nitrogen-vacancy centers.
Physicists in Finland have successfully connected a superconducting quantum bit, or qubit, with a micrometer-sized drum head. With this invention they have transferred information from the qubit to the resonator and back again. This work represents the first step towards creating exotic mechanical quantum states which can preserve the qubit’s information (as a vibration) for a longer period of time.
University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their edges, but act as an insulator inside. These materials, called organic topological insulators, could shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers and other high-speed electronic devices.
Wireless communications and optical computing could soon get a significant boost in speed, thanks to “slow light” and specialized metamaterials through which it travels. Researchers have made the first demonstration of rapidly switching on and off “slow light” in specially designed materials at room temperature. This work opens the possibility to design novel, chip-scale, ultrafast devices for applications in terahertz wireless communications and all-optical computing.
According to Jay Melosh, a distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and physics and aerospace engineering at Purdue University, if the asteroid rapidly approaching us this week were to impact rather than nearly miss Earth, it would explode with a four-megaton force near what the military calls optimum height for damage. This asteroid would release only half the energy of the Siberian strike in 1917, but the 30,000-foot detonation height could cause significant property damage and loss of life.
Researchers in Austria have succeeded in constructing a novel matter wave interferometer which enables new quantum studies with a broad class of particles, including atoms, molecules, and nanoparticles. hese lumps of matter are exposed to three pulsed laser light gratings which are invisible to the human eye, exist only for a billionth of a second and never simultaneously.
Researchers in Europe have recently developed an analysis method that allows objects to be imaged using X-rays or visible light with high accuracy despite fluctuations in wavelength or vibrations. Their method is based on a technique called ptychography, which was invented in the 1960s for microscopy using electrons and has further been developed during recent years to be a reliable high-resolution microscopy technique applicable with X-rays and visible light.
One of the surprising predictions of quantum mechanics is that uncharged conductors can attract each other over small distances, even in empty space. While the resulting “Casimir force” has been accurately measured and calculated for simple flat conductors, researchers have solved the much more complicated problem of calculating this force between metal plates with complicated periodic nanoscale structures on their surfaces.
Scientists have long dreamed of creating a quantum computer—a device rooted in the bizarre phenomena that transpire at the level of the very small, where quantum mechanics rules the scene. It is believed that such new computers could process currently unsolvable problems in seconds. Researchers have tried using various quantum systems, such as atoms or ions, as the basic, transistor-like units in simple quantum computation devices. Now Caltech researchers are laying the groundwork for an on-chip optical quantum network.
A material that could enable faster memory chips and more efficient batteries can switch between high and low ionic conductivity states much faster than previously thought, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University researchers have determined. The key is to use extremely small chunks of it.
Ever since Austrian scientist Erwin Schrodinger put his unfortunate cat in a box, his fellow physicists have been using something called quantum theory to explain and understand the nature of waves and particles. But a new paper by physics professor Andreas Albrecht and graduate student Dan Phillips at the University of California, Davis makes the case that these quantum fluctuations actually are responsible for the probability of all actions, with far-reaching implications for theories of the universe.
Low-energy radiation particles, known as beta particles, are often used in radiation treatments for cancer patients. For years, scientists have been studying how to use alpha particles, which are far higher in energy, for the same treatments. The challenge has been finding ways to focus these powerful particles on target cancers without hurting other tissues. A collaboration of scientists have recently created a gold nanoparticle that can transport powerful alpha particles directly to tumors for treatment.