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Physicists offer solution to puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe

February 25, 2015 10:11 am | by Stuart Wolpert, Univ. of California, Los Angeles | News | Comments

Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. New research offers a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe.

New “knobs” can dial in control of materials

February 25, 2015 9:52 am | by Anne Ju, Cornell Univ. | News | Comments

Designing or exploring new materials is all about controlling their properties. In a new study, Cornell Univ. scientists offer insight on how different “knobs” can change material properties in ways that were previously unexplored or misunderstood.

Why a latte is less likely to spill than a coffee

February 24, 2015 2:49 pm | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Carrying a full cup of coffee from the kitchen to the dining room can be precarious for a sleepy-eyed caffeine addict who might accidentally send a wave of java sloshing over the rim. But add a bit of foam to the top and the trip becomes easier. Scientists have found that just a few layers of bubbles can significantly dampen the sloshing motion of liquid.

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Optical nanoantennas set the stage for a NEMS lab-on-a-chip revolution

February 24, 2015 11:19 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Newly developed tiny antennas, likened to spotlights on the nanoscale, offer the potential to measure food safety, identify pollutants in the air and even quickly diagnose and treat cancer. The new antennas are cubic in shape. They do a better job than previous spherical ones at directing an ultra-narrow beam of light where it is needed, with little or no loss due to heating and scattering.

Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron “twisters”

February 24, 2015 11:11 am | by Phil Sneiderman, Johns Hopkins Univ. | News | Comments

Superconductor materials are prized for their ability to carry an electric current without resistance, but this valuable trait can be crippled or lost when electrons swirl into tiny tornado-like formations called vortices. These disruptive mini-twisters often form in the presence of magnetic fields, such as those produced by electric motors.

Simulating superconducting materials with ultracold atoms

February 23, 2015 11:46 am | by Jade Boyd, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

Using ultracold atoms as a stand-in for electrons, a Rice Univ.-based team of physicists has simulated superconducting materials and made headway on a problem that's vexed physicists for nearly three decades. The research was carried out by an international team of experimental and theoretical physicists and appears online in Nature. The work could open up a new realm of unexplored science.

Motor proteins prefer slow, steady movement

February 23, 2015 10:43 am | by Mike Williams, Rice Univ. | News | Comments

It takes at least two motor proteins to tango, according to Rice Univ. scientists who discovered the workhorses that move cargo in cells are highly sensitive to the proximity of their peers. The study suggests that the collective behavior of motor proteins like kinesins keeps cellular transport systems robust by favoring slow and steady over maximum movement.

What to expect next from the world’s largest particle accelerator

February 23, 2015 7:56 am | by Kate Greene, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

In March, when researchers flip the switch to the world’s largest, most powerful particle accelerator, scientists from all over the world will be watching. Physicists expect the refurbished, higher-energy Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will build on the 2012 discovery of the Higgs particle and crack open even more mysteries of the universe.

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Igniting the air for atmospheric research

February 19, 2015 9:14 am | by Vienna Univ. of Technology | News | Comments

Scientists have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.

Building a more versatile frequency comb

February 17, 2015 7:25 pm | by Amanda Morris, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Frequency combs are the rulers of light. By counting a wavelength's many oscillations, they measure distance and time with extraordinary precision and speed. Since the discovery of optical frequency combs in the 1990s, many applications in metrology, spectroscopy and frequency synthesis have emerged.

Researchers develop algorithm to make simulation of ultra-fast processes possible

February 17, 2015 7:17 pm | by Rachel Berkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory | News | Comments

When electronic states in materials are excited during dynamic processes, interesting phenomena such as electrical charge transfer can take place on quadrillionth-of-a-second, or femtosecond, timescales. Numerical simulations in real time provide the best way to study these processes, but such simulations can be extremely expensive.

New spin on spintronics

February 17, 2015 11:18 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

A team of researchers from the Univ. of Michigan and Western Michigan Univ. is exploring new materials that could yield higher computational speeds and lower power consumption, even in harsh environments. Most modern electronic circuitry relies on controlling electronic charge within a circuit, but this control can easily be disrupted in the presence of radiation, interrupting information processing.

First glimpse of a chemical bond being born

February 13, 2015 1:49 pm | by Andrew Gordon, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory | Videos | Comments

Scientists have used an x-ray laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory to get the first glimpse of the transition state where two atoms begin to form a weak bond on the way to becoming a molecule. This fundamental advance, long thought impossible, will have a profound impact on the understanding of how chemical reactions take place.

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Getting in shape

February 13, 2015 1:25 pm | by Kaoru Natori, OIST | News | Comments

New research from the Micro/Bio/Nanofluidics Unit at OIST looks at how to create various non-spherical particles by releasing droplets of molten wax into a cool liquid bath. The physics behind this research shows how a range of non-spherical shapes can be produced and replicated with many possible industrial applications.

Correlations of quantum particles help in distinguishing physical processes

February 13, 2015 10:29 am | by Univ. of Strathclyde | News | Comments

Communication security and metrology could be enhanced through a study of the role of quantum correlations in the distinguishability of physical processes, by researchers at the Univs. of Strathclyde and Waterloo. The study involved analyzing the impact of quantum steering.

Exotic states materialize with supercomputers

February 13, 2015 9:03 am | by Jorge Salazar, TACC | News | Comments

Scientists used supercomputers to find a new class of materials that possess an exotic state of matter known as the quantum spin Hall effect. The researchers published their results in Science in December 2014, where they propose a new type of transistor made from these materials. The team calculated the electronic structures of the materials using the Stampede and Lonestar supercomputers of the Texas Advanced Computing Center.

Find Key to Solving 30-year-old 'Hidden Order' Mystery

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by Rutgers Univ. | News | Comments

A new explanation for a type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium may lead to enhanced computer displays and data storage systems, and more powerful superconducting magnets for medical imaging and levitating high-speed trains, according to a team of research physicists.

Mapping Can Recover Serial Numbers in Metals

February 13, 2015 7:00 am | by NIST | News | Comments

Researchers have demonstrated a technique for mapping deformation in metals that can recover destroyed serial numbers on metal objects such as firearms, a common challenge in forensics. The technique might also meet other forensic needs such as reconstructing vehicle identification numbers or imprints on ammunition casings.  

Polarized Protons Uncover Secrets

February 12, 2015 7:00 am | by Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

If you want to unravel the secrets of proton spin, put a "twist" in your colliding proton beams. This technique orients the colliding protons' spins in a particular direction, somewhat like tiny bar magnets with their North poles all pointing up.

To make novel atomic properties, engineers change electron trajectories

February 10, 2015 2:23 pm | by Yale Univ. | News | Comments

How do you make nickel look and behave like copper? A team of scientists at Yale Univ. has done just that by developing a novel technique to artificially alter a material’s atomic properties by substantially modifying the orbital properties of electrons. The electrons can also be tunably configured in orbital patterns with unique magnetic, superconductive and optical properties.

Electronics you can wrap around your finger

February 10, 2015 11:51 am | by American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Electronic devices have shrunk rapidly in the past decades, but most remain as stiff as the same sort of devices were in the 1950s: a drawback if you want to wrap your phone around your wrist when you go for a jog or fold your computer to fit in a pocket. Researchers from South Korea have taken a new step toward more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful electric and magnetic properties even when highly curved.

Cesium atoms shaken, not stirred, to create elusive excitation in superfluid

February 6, 2015 8:04 am | by Steve Koppes, The Univ. of Chicago | News | Comments

Scientists discovered in 1937 that liquid helium-4, when chilled to extremely low temperatures, became a superfluid that could leak through glass, overflow its containers or eternally gush like a fountain. Future Nobel laureate Lev Landau came along in 1941, predicting that superfluid helium-4 should contain an exotic, particle-like excitation called a roton.

Noncommittal material could make for hypersensitive magnetic direction detector

February 4, 2015 11:07 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

While the mysterious, unseen forces magnets project are now (mostly) well understood, they can still occasionally surprise us. For instance, thin films of cobalt have been observed to spontaneously switch their poles: something that typically doesn’t happen in the absence of an external magnetic field. Physicists at NIST and the Univ. of Maryland have measured this phenomenon on the largest scale yet.

Industrial pump inspired by flapping bird wings

February 4, 2015 8:26 am | by Jason Socrates Bardi, American Institute of Physics | News | Comments

Birds are unwitting masters of fluid dynamics: They manipulate airflow each time they flap their wings, pushing air in one direction and moving themselves in another. Two New York Univ. researchers have taken inspiration from avian locomotion strategies and created a pump that moves fluid using vibration instead of a rotor.

Hidden uncertainties uncovered in nuclear forensic measurement

February 3, 2015 12:16 pm | by Ryan Fitzgerald, NIST | News | Comments

A little detective work by nuclear physicists has uncovered hidden uncertainties in a popular method for precisely measuring radioactive nuclides, often used to make reference materials for forensic analyses such as radioactive dating. The much-used method, called α/β-γ anticoincidence counting, has long relied on simplified assumptions. Now researchers from NIST have produced a more realistic model.

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