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Smaller accelerators for particle physics?

May 27, 2014 12:14 pm | News | Comments

It took every inch of the Large Hadron Collider's 17-mile length to accelerate particles to energies high enough to discover the Higgs boson. New laser-plasma accelerators, which use lasers instead of high-power radio-frequency waves to energize electrons in very short distances, could do the same thing in a football field length or less. A new theoretical study predicts that this approach may be easier than previously thought.

New data say foreign graduate enrollment in S&E continues to rise

May 27, 2014 9:39 am | News | Comments

The number of citizens and permanent residents enrolled in S&E graduate programs in the United States declined in 2012, while the number of foreign students studying on temporary visas increased, according to new data from the National Science Foundation.

Molecules do the triple twist

May 27, 2014 9:28 am | News | Comments

They are 3-D and yet single-sided: Moebius strips. These twisted objects have only one side and one edge. Using this iconic form, an international team of scientists has succeeded in designing the world’s first “triply” twisted molecule. Because of their peculiar quantum mechanical properties these structures are interesting for applications in molecular electronics and optoelectronics.

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Tiny muscles help bats fine-tune flight

May 27, 2014 8:20 am | by David Orenstein, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

A new study of bats reveals a capability within their wondrous wings that may help them fine-tune their flight. Bats employ a network of nearly hair-thin muscles embedded in the membrane of their inherently floppy wing skin to adjust the wings’ stiffness and curvature while they fly, Brown Univ. researchers report.

Relaxation helps pack DNA into a virus

May 27, 2014 7:57 am | by Susan Brown, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Taking a moment to pause and relax can help if you find yourself in a tight spot. This strategy can work for molecules as well as people, it turns out. Researchers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have found that DNA packs more easily into the tight confines of a virus when given a chance to relax.

New concept to improve power production of wind turbines

May 23, 2014 12:46 pm | News | Comments

In a typical wind farm, the wind turbine located in the wakes of upstream turbines would experience a much different surface wind compared to the ones located upwind due to wake interferences. Scientists at Iowa State Univ. have completed a study on the effects of these relative rotation directions, using two tandem wind turbines as a model. They found a big difference in performance between co-rotating and counter-rotating turbines.

Optical antennas trap and control light with the help of graphene

May 23, 2014 12:35 pm | News | Comments

Researchers in Spain have introduced a platform technology based on optical antennas for trapping and controlling light with graphene. Their experiments show that the dramatically squeezed graphene-guided light can be focused and bent, following the fundamental principles of conventional optics. The work opens new opportunities for smaller and faster photonic devices and circuits.

Scientists discover new magnetic phase in iron-based superconductors

May 23, 2014 8:16 am | News | Comments

Scientists at the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a previously unknown phase in a class of superconductors called iron arsenides. This sheds light on a debate over the interactions between atoms and electrons that are responsible for their unusual superconductivity.

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Physics panel to feds: Beam us up some neutrinos

May 23, 2014 8:11 am | by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer | News | Comments

A committee of experts told the federal government Thursday that the U.S. should build a billion-dollar project to beam ghostlike subatomic particles 800 miles underground from Chicago to South Dakota. The proposed invisible neutrino beam, which would shed light on the behavior of these particles, would be the biggest U.S. particle physics projects in many years, but still much smaller than Europe's Large Hadron Collider.

Study probes resonant energy transfer from quantum dots to graphene

May 22, 2014 8:41 am | News | Comments

In recent work at Brookhaven National Laboratory, semiconductor quantum dots (QDs) have been combined with graphene to develop nanoscale photonic devices that can dramatically improve our ability to detect light. The research has demonstrated that the thickness of the organic molecule layer that typically surrounds the QDs is crucial in attaining sufficiently high efficiency of light/energy transfer into the graphene.

Why quantum dots suffer from “fluorescence intermittency”

May 22, 2014 8:12 am | News | Comments

Researchers have found that a particular species of quantum dots that weren't commonly thought to blink, do. So what? Well, although the blinks are short, even brief fluctuations can result in efficiency losses that could cause trouble for using quantum dots to generate photons that move information around inside a quantum computer or between nodes of a future high-security internet based on quantum telecommunications.

Improved computer simulations enable better calculation of interfacial tension

May 20, 2014 3:03 pm | News | Comments

Simulations in statistical physics are typically restricted to systems under 100,000 particles, many times smaller than the actual material quantities used in typical experiments. Finite-size corrections can adjust the results to the macroscopic scale. A team of researchers in Germany has now succeeded in better understanding how this technique works when it is used to assess interfacial tension, thus enabling more accurate predictions.

Scientists discover how to turn light into matter after 80-year quest

May 20, 2014 9:45 am | by Gail Wilson, Imperial College London | News | Comments

In 1934, physicists Breit and Wheeler suggested that it should be possible to turn light into matter by smashing together only two particles of light (photons), to create an electron and a positron. New research in the U.K. shows for the first time how Breit and Wheeler’s theory could be proven in practice using what’s called a “photon-photon collider”.

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Scientists use nanoparticles to control growth of materials

May 20, 2014 7:59 am | by Matthew Chin, UCLA | News | Comments

A team led by researchers from the Univ. of California, Los Angeles has developed a new process to control molecular growth within the "building block" components of inorganic materials. The method, which uses nanoparticles to organize the components during a critical phase of the manufacturing process, could lead to innovative new materials, such as self-lubricating bearings for engines.

“Smoking gun” evidence for theory that Saturn’s collapsing magnetic tail causes auroras

May 19, 2014 9:47 am | News | Comments

Researcher in the U.K. has recently shown that Saturn’s auroras are caused by the same phenomenon which leads to dramatic auroral displays on Earth. The finding originates in stunning new images of Saturn’s auroras as the planet’s magnetic field is battered by charged particles from the Sun.

Electrons hurtle into the interior of a new class of quantum materials

May 16, 2014 9:55 am | by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research | News | Comments

As smartphones get smarter and computers compute faster, researchers actively search for ways to speed up the processing of information. Now, scientists at Princeton Univ. have made a step forward in developing a new class of materials that could be used in future technologies.

Tricking the uncertainty principle

May 16, 2014 8:11 am | by Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Caltech | News | Comments

Caltech researchers have found a way to make measurements that go beyond the limits imposed by quantum physics. Today, we are capable of measuring the position of an object with unprecedented accuracy, but quantum physics and the Heisenberg uncertainty principle place fundamental limits on our ability to measure.

Researchers make breakthrough in terahertz technology

May 15, 2014 9:54 am | News | Comments

Culminating a ten-year development effort, Teraphysics Corp. scientists have demonstrated the emission of terahertz light by passing electron beams through a gold coil, smaller in diameter than a human hair, supported by a diamond structure. The detection of a terahertz signal provided proof of concept for Teraphysics’ suite of microfabricated vacuum electronic devices.

Scientists unleash highest-energy beam ever at Jefferson Lab

May 14, 2014 2:22 pm | News | Comments

The Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility at the U.S. Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility has achieved the final two accelerator commissioning milestones needed for approval to start experimental operations following its first major upgrade. In the early hours of May 7, the machine delivered its highest-energy beams ever, 10.5 billion electron-volts through the entire accelerator.

Using nature as a model for low-friction bearings

May 14, 2014 9:30 am | News | Comments

The mechanical properties of natural joints are considered unrivalled. Cartilage is coated with a special polymer layer allowing joints to move virtually friction-free, even under high pressure. Using simulations, scientists in Europe have developed a new process that technologically imitates biological lubrication and even improves it using two different types of polymers.

Physicists find new evidence of quantum phenomenon known as the Efimov state

May 13, 2014 12:30 pm | News | Comments

Some years ago, a team of quantum physicists in Austria provided experimental proof of Efimov states, a phenomenon that until then had been known only in theory. Now, they have also measured the second Efimov resonance of three particles in an ultracold quantum gas. This, they say, proves the periodicity of this universal physical phenomenon experimentally.

Observing electron clouds, scientists could improve chemical processes

May 13, 2014 8:28 am | News | Comments

With the help of an x-ray laser, a team of international researchers has looked more precisely than ever before into the electron cloud, a bunch of charged tiny particles orbiting molecules. The team managed to document changes in the states of electrons in a similar way to how pictures taken at different times can be assembled to become a movie.

Computing with a quantum trick

May 13, 2014 8:23 am | News | Comments

Physicists in Germany have recently developed a new type of an essential logic element for quantum computers: the quantum gate. As a central element of their quantum gate, the Max Planck Institute scientists are using an atom trapped between two mirrors of a resonator. By reflecting the photon off the resonator with the atom, they are able to switch the state of the photon.

All in the rotation

May 12, 2014 3:10 pm | News | Comments

In new work, a research team has shed light on a type of molecular motor used to package the DNA of a number of viruses, including such human pathogens as herpes and the adenoviruses. The scientists found that this viral packaging motor exerts torque to rotate DNA and adapts to changing conditions in order to coordinate its mechano-chemical activity.

Exploring the magnetism of a single atom

May 9, 2014 8:53 am | News | Comments

A research collaboration has combined several experimental and computational methods to measure, for the first time, the energy needed to change the magnetic anisotropy of a single cobalt atom. Their methodology included the use of inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy to determine a cobalt atom’s “stubbornness”, or preference toward specific magnetic direction.

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