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Researchers predict the electrical response of metals to extreme pressures

June 3, 2014 10:50 am | News | Comments

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute scientists have developed a method that can predict how subjecting metals to severe pressure can lower their electrical resistance. The finding which involved theoretical predictions, use of a supercomputer, and equipment capable of exerting pressures up to 40,000 atmospheres, could have applications in computer chips and other materials that could benefit from specific electrical resistance.

Researchers predict the electrical response of metals to extreme pressures

June 3, 2014 8:32 am | by Mary Martialay, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute | News | Comments

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences makes it possible to predict how subjecting metals to severe pressure can lower their electrical resistance, a finding that could have applications in computer chips and other materials that could benefit from specific electrical resistance.

Physicist builds useful light source from harmonic generation

June 2, 2014 11:12 am | News | Comments

A Kansas State Univ. physicist's proposal may lead to a new way of creating tabletop light sources in the laboratory. The team is developing a way to greatly enhance the generation of high-order harmonics to create powerful small tabletop light sources that are important to science and technology. The researchers are building theoretical framework and providing experimental guidance in the area of strong-field physics.

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Neutrons, x-rays reveal structure of high-temperature liquid metal oxides

June 2, 2014 8:16 am | by Katie Bethea, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

By levitating a bead of ceramic oxide, heating it with a 400-W carbon dioxide laser, then shooting the molten material with x-rays and neutrons, scientists with Oak Ridge and Argonne national laboratories have revealed unprecedented detail of the structure of high-temperature liquid oxides.

Rush a light wave and you’ll break its data

May 30, 2014 10:44 am | News | Comments

Scientists at NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have shown how attempts to "push" part of a light beam past the speed of light results in the loss of the quantum data the light carries. The results could clarify how noise might limit the transfer of information in quantum computers.

Zeroing in on the proton's magnetic moment

May 30, 2014 8:32 am | News | Comments

As part of a series of experiments designed to resolve one of the deepest mysteries of physics today, researchers have made the most precise ever direct measurement of the magnetic moment of a proton. The measurement, based on spectroscopy of a single particle in a Penning trap, was completed at a fractional precision of 3 parts per billion, improving the 42-year-old "fundamental constant" by a factor of three.

The pirate in the microbe

May 29, 2014 11:25 am | News | Comments

Bacteria use threadlike appendages, called pili, to creep along a surface, and some disease-causing microbes extend pili in all directions to move. But until now researchers have been unable to explain why bacteria like these are able to travel in a straight line consistently. A new model developed to describe this movement shows that bacteria do not act as randomly as they appear to when moving.

A cure for dry eye could be a blink away

May 29, 2014 8:37 am | by Susan Gawlowicz, Rochester Institute of Technology | News | Comments

A treatment for dry eye, a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea, could someday result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye. To understand dry eye, the team had to begin with the physics and chemistry of tears.

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A path toward more powerful tabletop accelerators

May 29, 2014 7:39 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

Making a tabletop particle accelerator just got easier. A new study shows that certain requirements for the lasers used in an emerging type of small-area particle accelerator can be significantly relaxed. Researchers hope the finding could bring about a new era of accelerators that would need just a few meters to bring particles to great speeds, rather than the many kilometers required of traditional accelerators.

Insights into the stages of high-temperature superconductivity

May 28, 2014 8:39 am | News | Comments

An international team of researchers from the USA and Japan, including Takao Sasagawa at Tokyo Institute of Technology, have uncovered a two-stage transition in lanthanum-strontium-copper-oxide high-temperature superconductors (LSCOs), leading to the first complex phase diagram of the behavior of LSCOs. This research could improve understanding of high-temperature superconductivity under magnetic fields.

New engine design could reduce aircraft fuel consumption by 15%

May 27, 2014 12:20 pm | by Christian Johansson, Chalmers University of Technology | News | Comments

According to new research from Sweden, two aircraft engine concepts, a geared turbofan and an open rotor, can enable a significant reduction to aircraft fuel consumption. With an open rotor, the potential reduction is 15%. An open rotor engine generates most of the thrust from two counter-rotating propellers instead of a ducted fan. This enables a larger engine diameter and a higher propulsive efficiency.

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.

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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.

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.

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”.

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.

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